Monday, January 24, 2022

David Potter on three historical conditions for societal disruption


David Potter in Aeon: "What can disruptions of the past – with their diverse outcomes – tell us today? The value of history is that it enables us to detect patterns of behaviour in the present that have had serious consequences in the past."

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Potter, D. (2022). A history of disruption, from fringe ideas to social change in Aeon Essays. Melbourne, Australia: Aeon Media Group. Retrieved 24 January 2022 from

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Early tobacco smoking may make great-granddaughters fatter

This UK study follows up previous evidence that sons of fathers who started smoking regularly before puberty had increased fat mass during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. These new analyses show that if the paternal grandfather had started smoking pre-puberty, then his granddaughters (but not grandsons) had evidence of excess fat mass at age 17 and again at age 24. The excess weight varied by age and was typically around 3 to 5 kg (7 to 13 pounds).

It goes even further. When fathers of maternal grandfathers had started smoking pre-puberty, their great-granddaughters (but not great-grandsons) had excess body fat at age 17 again at age 24. The excess weight varied by age and was typically around 5 to 6 kg (11 to 13 pounds).

This appears to be one of the first human demonstrations of transgenerational effects of an environmental exposure across four generations.

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[Open access full-text in HTML]

Golding, J., Gregory, S., Northstone, K. et al. Human transgenerational observations of regular smoking before puberty on fat mass in grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sci Rep 12, 1139 (2022).




Saturday, January 22, 2022

Federal judge rules that University of Florida may not restrict right of professors to testify

The issue probably isn't over, but a federal court ruled that the Florida's flagship state university may not prohibit its faculty members from testifying in court in litigation against the state. (The case in question regarded voting rights.)

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Walker's 74-page decision contains some forceful language, and opens with a description of how Chinese political suppression has led to serious harm to Hong Kong universities.

More on the story from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Remembering Meat Loaf (1947—2022) and his greatest album

The thing about Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell (as with many things that Jim Steinman helped create) is that it is so vastly over the top that it seems like we are supposed to enjoy it as a novelty, a goof, a Springsteen parody for Halloween — and yet every single note, every lick, every yelp is presented with such earnest passion, with such desperation, with such musical force that you cannot help but be moved.

This is sweaty, silly, and yet genuinely moving opera. This is tumescent Grand Guignol in the parking lot of the Homecoming dance. This is every cheesy date night horror movie, every misshapen romance, every facemelting rock and roll dream. Through it all is that voice, that impossibly beautiful voice, that lusty, heroic, angelic voice.

I have listened to this album at least a few times a month every month for FORTY-FIVE YEARS now and each time it makes me smile. Every time it makes me feel as clammy and powerful and ridiculous as the first time I heard it. I adore every moment of it.

Godspeed to you, Mr. Loaf. Hell is going to be rocking and rolling tonight.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Derek van Beever's "Living With A Ghost"


I have listened all day long to this new album from Derek van Beever, in which he faces faces crushing grief and seeks some path to continue on. His songs bristle with sharp and hurtful moments, and stark glimpses of loss and sorrow — and yet we are left moved and inspired by his love, and in the end we are made whole by his immense and abundant heart. This is an intimate and powerful work, and I urge you to give it a listen.

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