The IM Saturday Brunch: Nov. 25, 2017 — After the Feast Edition


”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

• • •


• • •

List of reasons for ADMISSION TO AN INSANE ASYLUM from the late 1800s

• • •


Flat-earther Mike Hughes got some bad news this past week, but thankfully it has only delayed his plans to prove the earth is flat.

[The] California man who planned to launch himself 1,800 feet high on Saturday in a homemade scrap-metal rocket – in an effort to “prove” that Earth is flat – said he is postponing the experiment after he couldn’t get permission from a federal agency to do so on public land.

Instead, Mike Hughes said the launch will take place sometime next week on private property, albeit still in Amboy, California, an unincorporated community in the Mojave Desert along historic Route 66.

Assuming the 500-mph, mile-long flight through the Mojave Desert does not kill him, Hughes told the Associated Press, his journey into the atmosflat will mark the first phase of his ambitious flat-Earth space program.

“It’ll shut the door on this ball earth,” Hughes said in a fundraising interview with a flat-Earth group for Saturday’s flight. Theories discussed during the interview included NASA being controlled by round-Earth Freemasons and Elon Musk making fake rockets from blimps.

Hughes promised the flat-Earth community that he would expose the conspiracy with his steam-powered rocket, which will launch from a heavily modified mobile home – though he acknowledged that he still had much to learn about rocket science.

“This whole tech thing,” he said in the June interview. “I’m really behind the eight ball.”

• • •


From CNN:

Artificial lighting at night is contributing to an alarming increase in light pollution, both in amount and in brightness, affecting places all over the world, a new study has found.
Some regions have showed a steady increase in light pollution aligned with economic development, but more developed nations that were thought to be “going dark” by switching to energy-saving LEDs showed no apparent decline in their rates of light pollution.

Globally, there has been a push toward more energy- and cost-efficient light sources, such as LEDs, but this has directly contributed to an alarming increase in light pollution, the researchers believe. Using the first calibrated satellite radiometer for night lights, which can detect radiance, a team of scientists found a 2.2% increase in the Earth’s outdoor artificial lighting each year between 2012 and 2016.

…The study concluded that a steady increase in the use of energy-efficient lights that are cheap and readily available will result in even more light pollution and a reduction of natural day-night light cycles in areas that still experience them.

Light pollution poses a threat to 30% of vertebrates and more than 60% of invertebrates that are nocturnal, including plants, microorganisms and, most alarmingly, human health, the researchers add.

• • •


TIME considered hundreds of inventions from around the world and boiled down their considerations to a list of the 25 best.

Here are a few of the most interesting:

Ember Mug

Anyone who’s ever sipped coffee knows how temperature can affect taste: if it’s too hot, it’ll scald your mouth; too cold and it’s barely worth drinking. By one estimate, you have only about 37 seconds to enjoy the brew at an ideal level of warmth. “That didn’t make any logical sense to me,” says Clay Alexander, CEO and founder of Los Angeles–based Ember Technologies. So he invented a solution: the stainless-steel Ember mug. Reinforced in white ceramic coating, it keeps coffee or tea at a precise temperature—anywhere from 120°F to 145°F, set through an app—for about an hour on its own and for an unlimited amount of time on its charging saucer. It’s the second in Ember’s series of smart drinking devices, following a temperature-control tumbler last year. And it may be poised to become a desktop staple: the mug launched on Nov. 9 and is already being sold in 4,600 U.S. Starbucks stores. —Melissa Chan

Michelin Vision Concept

In the future, our cars will be smart, and our tires will be smarter. Or so suggests Michelin. Its Vision concept—unveiled this year to demonstrate the potential of tire technology—certainly makes a compelling case. For starters, it’s airless, eliminating the need to worry about pounds per square inch. It’s also made from recycled materials in an effort to reduce waste. But the most impressive fea­ture may be its 3­D-­printed treads, which can be swapped in and out to accommodate various road conditions—without changing the tire itself. The challenge will be fig­uring out a way to do it quickly, says Terry Gettys, who helped lead the project, “because consumers are going to want their tires [ready to go] in just a few minutes.” Michelin estimates that a tire this advanced may still be as far as 20 years away. But some of its features, like airless designs and sensors that flag driv­ers when treads are wearing down, could become mainstream over the next several years. —Lisa Eadicicco


For decades, football players have worn the same kind of head protection: hard, plastic helmets. About four years ago, Sam Browd, a pediatric neurosurgeon, started thinking about how to approach them differently. What if, he wondered, the outer shell were made of a flexible polymer? That way, helmets could work like car bumpers, reducing the force (and the sound) of a collision immediately on impact. He sketched a prototype on a napkin and brought it to contacts at the University of Washington; together they founded a startup, VICIS, to make it a reality. “We wanted to build the safest helmet ever made,”says Dave Marver, the company’s CEO. The result, made possible by some $40 million in investments, is the Zero1, which earned top marks in the NFL’s annual helmet testing for its ability to reduce the forces that can cause brain injury. It’s now being used by players on 18 NFL teams, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, and about 20 college teams. Next up: versions for younger athletes. —Jenny Vrentas

GreenWave 3D Ocean Farm

The future of farming is growing oysters, mussels, clams and seaweed on ropes anchored to the ocean floor. So says Bren Smith, a commercial fisherman turned director of GreenWave, a Connecticut nonprofit doing just that. The concept isn’t as wild as it may seem. As land farming becomes increasingly problematic—it accounts for a growing portion of the planet’s greenhouse­-gas emissions—and oceans get overfished, humans will need to develop alternative food sources. GreenWave’s crops offer compelling advantages: they’re protein-­rich, self­-sufficient (no fertilizer needed) and they even help combat climate change (by sequestering carbon as they grow). Of course, getting Westerners to center their diet on mollusks and seaweed is a stretch. Still, GreenWave sees potential: the group has helped fishermen establish 14 farms along the coast of New England since 2013, and now has plans to expand in California, the Pacific Northwest and Europe. —Julia Zorthian

• • •


At RNS, Jim West argues that Huldrych Zwingli is the actual winner of the “reformer whose ideas stuck” competition.

Won what? Won the battle of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Won the central conflict of 16th-century theological warfare. How? By winning more people to his view than Luther or Calvin were able to win to theirs.

Baptists, the spiritual heirs of Zwingli in terms of their understanding of the Lord’s Supper, far outnumber both Lutherans and Presbyterians in the United States. Indeed, there are more Baptists than Lutherans and Presbyterians combined.

Zwingli, it turns out, is far more important to modern Christianity than Luther or Calvin. But you hardly ever hear his name anymore because Luther was more bombastic and Calvin more dictatorial.

…Zwingli won because his theology has proved itself victorious for centuries and will continue to be victorious — even over the bellicose old Luther — as long as there are Baptists in the land.

• • •


Check out the fascinating piece at NPR about Frances Glessner Lee, the “godmother of forensic science.” The video below will take you into her fascinating world.

At the turn of the century, miniature model making was a popular hobby among wealthy women. Lee adapted the the techniques she’d mastered building dollhouses to make tiny crime scenes that she used in the classroom at Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, which she founded. She called her series, “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”

“They do something that no other medium can do. You can’t do it with film, you really couldn’t do it with still images. Even today I don’t think there’s a computer simulation that does what the nutshells can do,” says Bruce Goldfarb. He oversees the collection at its permanent home at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, Md. The models are so convincing that they’re still being used to train criminal investigators from around the country. “She knew that she was dealing with hard-boiled homicide detectives and so there couldn’t be anything remotely doll-like about them. They were not toys,” Goldfarb says.

• • •


Atlas Obscura tells the story of the effort to revive the Wampanoag language, spoken by the indigenous people that met with the Pilgrims for the first Thanksgiving.

English words like “pumpkin,” “skunk,” and “Massachusetts” are derived from Wampanoag words, but until recently the language itself was lost. In 1993, Jessie Little Doe Baird, then in her 20s, had a series of dreams about her ancestors. In the dreams, they were speaking to her but she couldn’t understand them. The tribe had a prophecy which said that their lost language would come back when they were ready for it, revived by the children of those who had broken the language cycle. Baird saw the dreams as a sign.

Baird worked with Kenneth Hale, her thesis advisor at MIT, an expert in indigenous languages, and a descendant of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. She also collaborated with fellow tribe members and other Native Americans, making use of Algonquin languages, which are related and still spoken. In 2000, she published a grammar and has since put together a dictionary of the Wampanoag language. She then received a MacArthur Fellowship and helped launch an immersion school that teaches the language to Wampanoag children.

For the first time in over a century, Wampanoag people can celebrate Thanksgiving in the language of those who first observed the feast.

• • •


I’m always on the lookout for good singer-songwriters. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Phoebe Bridgers, and I find that her songs fit the increasingly bare November landscape perfectly. In the linked NPR piece,  Stephen Thompson writes about Bridgers’s haunting single, Smoke Signals:

Like fellow rising stars Julien Baker (with whom she’s toured) and Julia Jacklin, Bridgers immediately presents as a formidable talent: She’s got a voice powerful enough to command any stage, but with intimate phrasing that cries out for late-night drives and walks under headphones. In “Smoke Signals,” she crams a relationship’s worth of emotions, milestones and small details — a week in the wilderness, the deaths of Lemmy and Bowie, the scene surrounding a Holiday Inn — into five and a half slowly but powerfully unfurling minutes.

71 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Brunch: Nov. 25, 2017 — After the Feast Edition

  1. It’s hard to read the news these days. As I write this, wildfire rages uncontained in my old hometown of Santa Rosa, California, and other parts of Sonoma and Napa counties, taking out friends’ homes and familiar haunts. We’re barely two weeks out from the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, and hurricanes have devastated Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment have opened the floodgates for women across industries to share devastating stories about their abusers. My heart can barely take it.
    If you’re like me, the only way to cope with the weight of so much tragedy is to go numb. But that numbness can also lead to gnawing guilt. If we don’t empathize, does that mean we’re losing our humanity?
    As it turns out, empathy may be overrated—or at least inaccurately held up as a gold standard of mental health. In fact, according to psychologist Paul Bloom, empathy can do more harm than good.


  2. Oh, those people. I am sincerely sorry.

    And I live in the center of an urban neighborhood – no prowlers here either. But still some cluelessly placed flood lights serving no earthly purpose.


  3. I do apologize for my own lack of sensitivity to the human cost of the event.

    Yes, it’s a horrible crime, with unimaginable consequences. It’s unspeakable.


  4. It’s a horrible, horrible crime. I imagine everyone in your area is just in shock. We here do sympathize, and I know that the people in his church are devastated, particularly the youth he pastored. I hope everyone here remembers to include these people in their prayers.


  5. “Stir up Sunday”.
    Collect for same:-

    “Stir up, we beseech thee,O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people: that they plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

    This Sunday is also celebrated as The Feast of Christ the King.
    We gave a rousing rendition of “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His Throne.”
    I am sure the Angels heard us and joined in!

    May you coming Sunday be joyful.



  6. Speaking as a neighbor, in Chesterfield county, VA, I appreciate the surgical precision with which the facts were restated. I also appreciate the lack of empathy, shock, grief or reflection. Thanks for making this an opportunity to score theological or sociological points.


  7. Agreed. We moved to the country years ago. One of the features is how dark it is. I can see the Milky Way on a good clear night. We can easily pick out the planets and constellations. However, we got new neighbors, fleeing the city ‘crime wave’ and wanting to farm. (5 wooded acres. really? a half dozen chickens and a pot belly pig a farm do not make) well, their first move was to install klieg lights because it was too dark. What about prowlers?! Uh, we don’t have any at night! People are at home.


  8. Maybe everybody should look to put out their own fire if their house goes up in flames, too. After all, volunteer fire departments are getting slim-to-no young recruits.

    Every man, woman and child for themselves! Where’s my blunderbuss?


  9. WOW!

    Ahhh….nothing like the holiday season in ‘Murica…fights over soon-to-be-outdated TV sets and Christmastime firearms.


  10. Well some group of Americans is being invited to surrender their liberties. If it is choice between the right to peaceably assemble in public without constant fear of violence and the right to have as many guns as one can possibly afford, well to me that is a no brainer.


  11. Undoubtedly you are correct but I simply note that sinful countries with strict gun laws have far fewer gun related deaths than sinful countries with lax gun laws.


  12. Yes.

    I would add restrictions for anything approaching an automatic weapon. Private citizens have no need of them; I don’t care how much fun it is to shoot them.



  13. Everybody looks to their own defense.

    Hmmm. That goes a little farther down the ladder of sodality than I’m willing to go at this time, but something like what you propose is actually pretty close to my political philosophy.


  14. I mean, if you think about it, why even have a military or police force at all? Criminals are going to commit crimes and kill no matter what, regardless if there are laws, so we may as well accept that reality and make everything legal.


  15. You couldn’t get any bill through this Congress, and if Trump gets to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court, you wouldn’t get it through the Court even if all the people in the red states died of a designer virus and Congress was full of Leon Trotsky clones.

    Choose your fights. A frontal attack on the 2nd Amendment will make Trump’s polarization of the country look like National Brotherhood Week.

    Focus on restricting access to ammunition, and make it a public health issue.


  16. “Salvation Army” is the commitment reason that intrigued me, along with “shooting of daughter”.

    “Marriage of son” could be either being distraught over a son’s marriage, or a marriage of a mother to her son. Or a father, although that wouldn’t have been legal at that time.


  17. You’re right, so therefore nothing in the entire universe should ever be outlawed.

    Calculus problem: if the number of flawed, irresponsible (not even necessarily criminal) human owning guns goes down, will the time rate of change of guns death be greater than, equal to, or less than 0? Answer: LESS THAN


  18. 300 million privately held guns; 4 million military and police guns.

    What’s your [ practical-workable ] plan Robert F?

    Math problem for utopians:

    If a criminal has 5 guns and you outlaw 4 of them, how many guns does the criminal have?


  19. But I do think the article is dead wrong in calling Zwingli the father of modern Baptists. Certainly, his view concerning the Holy Communion is theirs, to a large degree. But he was completely opposed to the modern Baptist view on the necessity of believer’s baptism, and their opposition to infant baptism, which is after all what the Baptists as a denomination are named for. If a group of modern Baptists were to have miraculously materialized in Zwingli’s Switzerland, he would’ve supported their condemnation, and even execution, as fully as he did the that of the Anabaptist Christians of his time.


  20. And by loons I’m not referring to those with mental illness, but to irresponsible, uneducated and untrained owner/operators of firearms.


  21. But the article is specifically talking about who was most influential of the Reformers, and how credit for influence is given where it shouldn’t be. There is much talk about Luther and Calvin, but in the Protestant world, and worldwide, the Zwinglian view on Holy Communion and the Anabaptist view on baptism prevail among Protestants (in terms of numbers).


  22. Definitely. It’s a sin that there are so many loons with so many guns in this country, not to mention semi-automatics and bump stocks.

    Is it the wrong time to talk about gun control? Oh, I forgot: It’s always the wrong time to talk about gun control, because large numbers of Americans are being killed by them every day, and we shouldn’t politicize their deaths.


  23. And as evidence the author only used stats from the US. Also ignoring the Catholic view is ignoring the giant in the room; they certainly did not stay out of the argument in the 16th century. Admittedly I suspect a lot of Christians probably would have difficulty in correctly giving their denomination’s official view on the eucharist (and if they know it might not agree with it). Catholics have done surveys but I’m not sure other Christians have.


  24. We have a little coffee cup sized hot plate on my desk for keeping the mug hot – nice low tech solution. Mostly required as I like yo work with the window and door open until it is below 45F. The breeze will quickly cool the coffee.


  25. Yeah, the premise of he article is bogus. It doesn’t have anything to do with the light generating technology used, and everything to do with the physical design of street lights.

    This gets hashed in local civics circles regularly. Of course, who wants to use scarce funds to replaces WORKING street lights? Nobody.


  26. I have yet to see any appreciable signs of remorse; I don’t think silence can be interpreted as its presence.


  27. If it is now thought, as the article states, that the use of more and more energy efficient technology in lighting will result in even more light pollution, then what are the solutions? More taxation on light bulbs? Or another new technology, which would almost certainly itself have unintended negative consequences, just like LED lighting?


  28. I am visiting my family in Georgia (where I am writing this) and am surrounded by Trump supporters but absolutely nothing has been mentioned at any point so far. I suspect buyer’s remorse may be starting to settle in. I was privy to a discussion as to whether or not a certain brand of energy drink was operated by Satanists based on the iconography on their label. I learned long ago only to give an opinion hereabouts when I am directly asked for it.


  29. As an amateur astronomer I can tell you that light pollution is a serious issue. There are solutions but the hard part is convincing people there is a problem.


  30. The few times national politics came up, it was in connection with that one name, specifically as it was given as a negative answer to party game that we were playing after dinner at the table. For instance, to one of the open-ended questions posed by the game, “Who would you least like to sit next to during an airline flight?”, two people answered, “Donald Trump”. At another time, one person rhetorically asked another, a member of their family, “So why haven’t you moved to Canada yet?” Local politics came up because three people at the table work at civil service jobs in the local political arena, but there was no rancor or anger around that; it was discussed calmly and as a matter of fact, and with tolerance for differing political positions. But the man himself, and his name, is a divider of households.


  31. Which factor do you think played the most part here in the commission of this horrible deed? Being a Lutheran or easy access to guns?


  32. A Lutheran youth pastor from Virginia was arrested Thanksgiving night after he allegedly killed three people. Christopher R. Gattis, 58, was found at the Chester home, when officers reported to the scene where his wife, Jeanett Gattis, 58, , her daughter, Candice Kunze, 30, and the daughter’s boyfriend, Andrew Buthorn, 36, were shot dead. Startled neighbors heard the gunshots just before midnight. When officers scoped the scene, they discovered the women’s bodies inside the home and the man’s, in the front yard. The suspect was a full-time cleric at Grace Lutheran Church. The pastor has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is being held without bond in the Chesterfield County Jail.


  33. How come there were never any people who were identified just as as Anti Obama or Anti Clinton? If I agree that the illegal alien situation must be addressed am I automatically pro Trumper or would that be a stereotype? If I believe that Affordable Health Care Act was not a good idea am I a Anti Obamaer or against the policy? If I think that G.W. Bush was on one of the worst Presidents , based on his decisions am I a anti Busher? Bush was the decider , just a terrible one, but I classify myself as anti Bush decider. . I agree with Robert F. about coffee, he is right on . Am I anti artificial warming of coffee or pro natural cooling. We getting lectured all the time about code words, buzz words and dog whistles on many media sources who then Identify someone as anti Trump and off they go.. Just musing as I drink my natural induced cooling coffee sitting is a part of the world that does seem flat. The natural order must be preserved, leave coffee alone as well as old mobile homes.


  34. Clearly, the reference to Zwingli and the theological kerfluffles between Baptists, Lutherans, Calvinists, etc. was included as an example of what inspired the excellent “Tom’s Doubts” cartoon.

    Well played.


  35. I’ll just continue to drink my coffee during its natural heat-death life cycle. It’s perishablity is part of its personality, and I’ve learned to appreciate how variable its flavor is at different temperatures. There are elements in its flavor more readily discernible at cooler rather than warmer temps, and even at room temperature. I never go “Ugh! anymore in response to the tepid coffee left in my cup; I actually like it. But most of the time I drink it before it gets cold anyway.


  36. This Thanksgiving I was sitting at the table with pro and anti-Trumpers, and it was so hard to refrain from getting into that conversation/argument. A couple of back-and-forth comments were traded between family members of our hosts, but thankfully an argument didn’t break out. Like walking on eggshells.


  37. So LED lights seem to have inadvertently made the problem of light pollution worse. The Law of Unintended Negative Consequences should never be underestimated in the deployment of any new technology, but it always is.


  38. The article is talking about which among the Magisterial Reformers has had the most influence with regard to Holy Communion, not whether Protestant or Catholic ideas of it are more “successful”. Since worldwide Protestant Christianity, which is increasingly Pentecostal/Evangelical, generally embraces the idea of Communion as symbolic memorial rather than Real Presence, I think it is correct to say that Zwinglian ideas have prevailed in regard to it among modern Protestants. With regard to Baptism, I think the Radical Reform Annabaptist practice of believer’s/credo-baptism has had the most influence on modern Protestantism, not Zwingli’s or any of the other Magisterial Reformers.


  39. I’m all in favor of reinstating “political excitement” and “politics” as reasons for institutionalization… but it’d be hard to lock all 300 million of us up. :-/


  40. There is a place in the Administration for flat earth Mike Hughes. That thinking is downright presidential. Don’t let the fake news tell you otherwise Mike! Secretary of Education. Transportation. NASA. Something. Our Donald values like-minded big thinkers. (Sorry for the spasm of Antitrumpianisticness. It just bursted out like an uncontrolable sneeze.)


  41. Interesting that CM titled this “after the feast”: tomorrow is Stir-Up Sunday in the UK, when the first preparations for the big feast in December take place.

    The raisins and sultanas will be soaking in rum later this morning, ready to add to the fruit cake!


  42. I spent some years out of paid employment (long story), during which I volunteered at the local archive as a transcriber. My project was the admissions book for Jersey Hospital – which in those days (1870s) was the poor-house and a detention centre as well as a place to take the sick.One person I saw was admitted at the start of the book for constipation: they were still there at the end of the book ten years later…


  43. I’m not sure how far you (general you, not specifically West, Mike or Erp) can get basing winning off of having the most numbers. I didn’t read them all but have yet to see a verse here that specifically correlated the two: I did see victory is in the Lord a few times though…

    Also, my invention of the year (when it finally gets released) is the Amabrush. 10 seconds to brush all your teeth at once (supposedly 6x longer each tooth normally gets)!


  44. I would say the Catholics are still winning on the meaning of the Lord’s supper given there are more of them than Baptists, Presbyterians, or Lutherans in the world (in the US they are the largest single group though together the Protestants outnumber them). In addition I wasn’t aware that the US was the only place to matter. Though Baptists outnumber Presbyterians and Lutherans in the US that does not necessarily hold true elsewhere (then there are the Methodists/Anglicans and the Pentecostals).

    I would also say you can’t look at just one item that is considered fundamental to determine who is currently ‘winning’. For instance the meaning of baptism would be just as important for most groups.


  45. Judging from the list I should have been committed years, (or decades) ago!

    Considering my husband’s dementia condition I am so glad we have made huge strides re what does and does not constitute insanity.
    Medical and scientific studies have progressed immensely so that problems of the brain/mind can be treated more logically and humanely.
    My husband is loved, cared for competently, washed, fed and given encouragement to participate as best he can in activities. He is as happy as he can express in a limited fashion.

    Happy Saturday,


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