Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 9th, 2019

What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know – Neal Barnard MD

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Very interesting talk. It’s 55 minutes.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2019 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

The Goldilocks Cake: Lemon Pistachio Layer Cake

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The Niece is a baker, and she has a post that makes one drool:

She writes:

If you are a long time reader, you may be aware that I have been on a multi-year quest to make a lemon layer cake that is juuuuust right. I’ve made many, many attempts – the first one, with dense layers and teeth-achingly sweet cream cheese frosting; this meringue-topped beaut that introduced me to Tartine’s fantastic lemon cream; this lemon, blackberry and white chocolate behemoth; a cake with wonderfully soft and light layers but disasterously drippy frosting; another lemon and blackberry behemoth with more drippy frosting; and most recently, one that featured a brilliant lemon curd formula and was so pretty – but all were too dense or too sweet or too drippy, and still not juuuuust right.

While all this Goldilocks-style trial and error was a bit onerous, it did allow me to pinpoint exactly what I was looking for in this elusive cake: a light lemon sponge with egg yolks for moisture and flavour plus whipped egg whites for loft, a double layer filling of creamy lemon curd and lemon whipped cream, vanilla Swiss meringue frosting on the outside, and buttercream and lemon curd piped in St-Honoré-style chevrons à la Thida Bevington on top. At the last minute, inspired by this yummy pistachio petit four cake, I decided to include pistachios in the cake layers – essentially making the cake version of these dreamy cookies. And wouldn’t you know it – my perfect lemon layer cake, the one that is neither too dense nor too sweet nor too drippy but juuuuust right – my Goldilocks cake! – is actually a lemon pistachio layer cake!

So, friends, my quest is over! If you, too, have been searching for the perfect lemon layer cake, I urge you to try this one. If the addition of pistachios offends your inner-lemon-layer-cake-purist, you can certainly omit them from the cake recipe, but I think you might find they are juuuuust right 😉 . . .

Continue reading for complete guide to making the cake..

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2019 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

The times they are a-changing: Crusading Bloggers Expose Abuse in Protestant Churches

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Sarah Stankorb reports in the Washington Post:

During the fall of 2017, along with the rest of the country, Jules Woodson watched the Me Too movement play out in the media. As women came forward to expose the predatory behavior they’d survived, the Colorado Springs-based flight attendant reflected on a night in 1998, when Andy Savage, the youth pastor at her local church in her hometown of The Woodlands, Tex., offered her a ride home. At some point, Woodson says, Savage passed the turn to her home and drove down a dirt road, where he reached a dead end and switched off the headlights. He unzipped his jeans and asked Woodson, then 17, to perform oral sex. A few minutes later, she says, Savage jumped from the truck, fell to his knees and told Woodson she must take what happened to the grave.

The next day, terrified and traumatized, Woodson told the church’s assistant pastor what happened; she says he asked if she’d “participated.” While Savage continued as youth pastor — even leading a True Love Waits event encouraging youth to abstain from all physical contact, not just from sex — Woodson sank into shame and a deep depression. Although she retained her faith, she eventually left the church.

Twenty years later, Woodson found Savage’s email and sent him a note with the subject line: “Do you remember?” She asked if he recalled the night he was supposed to drive her home — “and instead drove me to a deserted back road and sexually assaulted me?” She signed off with “#metoo.”

When Woodson Googled his name, along with “sex abuse in church” and “youth pastor sex abuse,” she found a blog dedicated to Christian survivor stories called the Wartburg Watch; there, she read a post about an alleged abuse coverup at a church affiliated with Savage’s current church. About a month later, Woodson submitted her own first-person account about her abuse to the Wartburg Watch and a similar Christian survivor blog called Watch Keep. When the blogs simultaneously published her story, Woodson figured that maybe a hundred people would read it — but by that afternoon, the posts had spread enough that Savage responded with a statement. On the website of the Highpoint Church in Memphis — where he worked at the time — Savage described a regretful “sexual incident with a female high school senior” 20 years prior. For his mea culpa at church that Sunday, Savage’s congregation gave him a standing ovation. Within days, Savage responded to Woodson’s email, saying, in part: “I am genuinely sorry for the pain this has caused you and I ask for your forgiveness.”

Woodson soon found herself at the center of a media storm. The hashtag #JusticeForJules bubbled up on Twitter. On a CNN commentator’s radio show, Savage described the incident as an “organic sexual moment.” The New York Times ran a news story the next week and, two months later, a video piece in which Woodson detailed her story. Eleven days after the video came out, Savage resigned from Highpoint Church, acknowledging that his “relationship” with Woodson was “not only immoral, but meets the definition of abuse of power.” The same day, Savage emailed Woodson to again apologize and to say his initial in-church statement and the church’s response were “defensive and self-serving.” (Savage did not respond to my requests for comment.)

Savage’s ouster was a direct result of Woodson’s posts on the Wartburg Watch and Watch Keep, blogs that are part of a larger constellation of “Christian watchdog” outlets. While clergy sex abuse within the Catholic Church has been in the headlines for years, it’s only more recently that abuses within Protestant churches have started to draw mainstream media attention. Much of the credit for this quickening churn goes to a circle of bloggers — dozens of armchair investigative journalists who have been outing abuse, one case and one congregation at a time, for over a decade now, bolstering their posts with court records, police reports, video clips of pastors’ sermons, and emails, often provided to them by survivors.

Most of these bloggers are women; many come from churches that teach women’s submission and deny women’s spiritual authority. “Investigative blogger women started a revolution at their kitchen tables,” says pastor Ashley Easter, who hosts the Courage Conference, a Christian, survivor-focused gathering. They have advocated “for victims of abuse from where they were, where they could find a platform — blogs and social media.”

Recently, a younger cohort of “ex-vangelicals” and online activists have joined the fold, and in late 2017 #ChurchToo started to trend on Twitter. In turn, a wave of secret-smashing tweets blossomed into reported pieces at publications like Mother Jones and the New Yorker. Yet the bloggers who built the foundation for this activist network are known mainly to church abuse survivors and reporters covering these stories. To the rest of the world, their efforts have mostly blended into the joint backgrounds of the clergy sex abuse scandal and #MeToo.

The Wartburg Watch is run by Darlene Parsons, a 65-year-old former home health nurse who goes by “Dee” online; Watch Keep was founded by Amy Smith, a 50-year-old Houston mother of four. Both sites have covered numerous stories of abuse in recent years. Posts on both blogs, for instance, helped a missionary’s wife in Dallas put pressure on her church after she said she was disciplined for requesting an annulment (her then-husband had admitted to watching child pornography and being attracted to children, according to a report Smith obtained from the missionary organization where he worked at the time). And a Pennsylvania minister resigned three months after a woman alleged on the Wartburg Watch that he’d molested and raped her 40 years before, when he was a teenager and the woman was a child. Parsons believes her post had something to do with his resignation, as the minister’s attorney reached out with a letter demanding she stop writing about the man. She was unfazed: “I knew I didn’t do anything wrong, so I wasn’t worried about it,” she told me.

Parsons, one of the first watchdog bloggers, isn’t a trained journalist — but she hawkishly covers any credible allegation of church-based abuse she finds. It’s no wonder, then, that a year ago reporters for the Houston Chronicle contacted Parsons and Smith — along with others in the watchdog blog world — for the paper’s joint investigation with the San Antonio Express-News that uncovered 700 sexual abuse victims over a 20-year span in Southern Baptist churches. Much of what Parsons and Smith had to offer had already appeared on their blogs.

Parsons runs the Wartburg Watch from the kitchen of her brick Colonial outside Raleigh, N.C. Online, she’s forceful and fearless, tagging celebrity pastors, churches and Christian publications alike; her Twitter profile photo is the Church Lady, Dana Carvey’s famously prim, purse-lipped and piously judge-y “Saturday Night Live” character. Parsons is nervous to meet a reporter in person, she admits, offering me a plate of cookies while her three rescue pugs skitter across the tile floor. It’s hard to fathom that this suburban mom of three, with her tidy cardigan and sensible bob, is the same person online haters have called “the Wartburg witch,” a “feminist heretic,” an “e-pharisee” and a “minion of Satin [sic].”

In 2006, leaders at Parsons’s former church, Providence Baptist, called in Parsons and other parents for a meeting. A seminary student and church volunteer who led a youth Bible study, Brian “Doug” Goodrich, had been found with a child in a local park. That child, it seemed, was not the only suspected victim. “We’re so sorry there were some boys who were harmed,” Parsons says she recalls the church leaders saying; she also remembers them saying they hadn’t received any prior reports of wrongdoing and that, “if you have any information, let us know. The police are involved.” The church leaders asked the parents not to talk among themselves to figure out which boys had been victims, to protect their privacy. (Parsons’s son had soccer practice during Goodrich’s Bible study and wasn’t part of the core group of boys who regularly interacted with Goodrich.)

A few weeks later, a friend and fellow congregant, Janet Wilson, told Parsons her elder son was one of the boys involved. Parsons was afraid to talk about it, since the parents had been instructed not to; besides, she trusted the matter was being well handled by law enforcement and the church.

In 2007, Goodrich was convicted on 10 charges of statutory sex offense, indecent liberties and first-degree sex exploitation, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Wilson was understandably distressed during the investigation, and after the conviction she stopped by Parsons’s house, wracked with guilt. Wilson wished she’d done more, she told Parsons, because the church leaders had known about Goodrich before the 2006 incident. In 2005, Wilson says that she and her husband had described incidents with Goodrich to two youth pastors. Goodrich had exposed himself to a group of boys, including Wilson’s eldest son, at church camp, Wilson told Parsons, and encouraged them to reciprocate.

At the time, Wilson had been too embarrassed to tell anyone else about the flashing, or about the conversation with the youth pastors in which she and her husband reported Goodrich’s behavior. But Wilson knew her son was not the only boy hurt by Goodrich’s abuse. “My kids were okay,” she told Parsons that day, “but I feel terrible that these other boys have been harmed.” Wilson told me, “I felt guilty because the church knew about it. They didn’t feel guilty, but I did.”

Parsons was appalled — and decided to do something about it. She, Wilson and a few church friends wrote a letter to the church elders reminding them of the earlier incident. She expected the pastors would say they’d made a horrible mistake. When they didn’t, and the church instead began an internal investigation, Parsons and her group wrote another letter to the entire congregation. Fed up, Parsons and her cardiologist husband, Bill, left Providence Baptist to join another church.

(Goodrich’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. Brian Frost, senior pastor at Providence Baptist, confirmed that the church’s internal investigation was motivated by Parsons’s group letter, and said church policies have since changed: Now, any report or allegation of abuse by an employee or volunteer triggers a leave of duty until an investigation is completed, and all allegations of abuse must be reported to police.)

During their second week at the new church, Parsons says, she saw a man she knew to be a convicted pedophile. (His wife used to teach at her kids’ school, so news of the man’s conviction had circulated among the parents.) “I thought God was playing a joke,” she says. Two churches, two convicted sex offenders. She remembers thinking, “God, this is really not funny.”

Parsons decided to turn to the Internet. . .

Continue reading.

Before the internet, there was no way for these stories to get out save very limited word of mouth.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2019 at 8:49 am

Doublethink Is Stronger Than Orwell Imagined

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In the Atlantic George Packer reviews The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984, by Dorian Lynskey:

No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984. The title, the adjectival form of the author’s last name, the vocabulary of the all-powerful Party that rules the superstate Oceania with the ideology of Ingsoc—doublethinkmemory holeunpersonthoughtcrimeNewspeakThought PoliceRoom 101Big Brother—they’ve all entered the English language as instantly recognizable signs of a nightmare future. It’s almost impossible to talk about propaganda, surveillance, authoritarian politics, or perversions of truth without dropping a reference to 1984.Throughout the Cold War, the novel found avid underground readers behind the Iron Curtain who wondered, How did he know?

It was also assigned reading for several generations of American high-school students. I first encountered 1984 in 10th-grade English class. Orwell’s novel was paired with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, whose hedonistic and pharmaceutical dystopia seemed more relevant to a California teenager in the 1970s than did the bleak sadism of Oceania. I was too young and historically ignorant to understand where 1984 came from and exactly what it was warning against. Neither the book nor its author stuck with me. In my 20s, I discovered Orwell’s essays and nonfiction books and reread them so many times that my copies started to disintegrate, but I didn’t go back to 1984. Since high school, I’d lived through another decade of the 20th century, including the calendar year of the title, and I assumed I already “knew” the book. It was too familiar to revisit.

So when I recently read the novel again, I wasn’t prepared for its power. You have to clear away what you think you know, all the terminology and iconography and cultural spin-offs, to grasp the original genius and lasting greatness of 1984. It is both a profound political essay and a shocking, heartbreaking work of art. And in the Trump erait’s a best seller.

The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984, by the British music critic Dorian Lynskey, makes a rich and compelling case for the novel as the summation of Orwell’s entire body of work and a master key to understanding the modern world. The book was published in 1949, when Orwell was dying of tuberculosis, but Lynskey dates its biographical sources back more than a decade to Orwell’s months in Spain as a volunteer on the republican side of the country’s civil war. His introduction to totalitarianism came in Barcelona, when agents of the Soviet Union created an elaborate lie to discredit Trotskyists in the Spanish government as fascist spies.

Left-wing journalists readily accepted the fabrication, useful as it was to the cause of communism. Orwell didn’t, exposing the lie with eyewitness testimony in journalism that preceded his classic book Homage to Catalonia—and that made him a heretic on the left. He was stoical about the boredom and discomforts of trench warfare—he was shot in the neck and barely escaped Spain with his life—but he took the erasure of truth hard. It threatened his sense of what makes us sane, and life worth living. “History stopped in 1936,” he later told his friend Arthur Koestler, who knew exactly what Orwell meant. After Spain, just about everything he wrote and read led to the creation of his final masterpiece. “History stopped,” Lynskey writes, “and Nineteen Eighty-Four began.”

The biographical story of 1984—the dying man’s race against time to finish his novel in a remote cottage on the Isle of Jura, off Scotland—will be familiar to many Orwell readers. One of Lynskey’s contributions is to destroy the notion that its terrifying vision can be attributed to, and in some way disregarded as, the death wish of a tuberculosis patient. In fact, terminal illness roused in Orwell a rage to live—he got remarried on his deathbed—just as the novel’s pessimism is relieved, until its last pages, by Winston Smith’s attachment to nature, antique objects, the smell of coffee, the sound of a proletarian woman singing, and above all his lover, Julia. 1984 is crushingly grim, but its clarity and rigor are stimulants to consciousness and resistance. According to Lynskey, “Nothing in Orwell’s life and work supports a diagnosis of despair.”

Lynskey traces the literary genesis of 1984 to the utopian fictions of the optimistic 19th century—Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888); the sci-fi novels of H. G. Wells, which Orwell read as a boy—and their dystopian successors in the 20th, including the Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). The most interesting pages in TheMinistry of Truth are Lynskey’s account of the novel’s afterlife. The struggle to claim 1984 began immediately upon publication, with a battle over its political meaning. Conservative American reviewers concluded that Orwell’s main target wasn’t just the Soviet Union but the left generally. Orwell, fading fast, waded in with a statement explaining that the novel was not an attack on any particular government but a satire of the totalitarian tendencies in Western society and intellectuals: “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.” But every work of art escapes the artist’s control—the more popular and complex, the greater the misunderstandings.

Lynskey’s account of the reach of 1984 is revelatory. The novel has inspired movies, television shows, plays, a ballet, an opera, a David Bowie album, imitations, parodies, sequels, rebuttals, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Black Panther Party, and the John Birch Society. It has acquired something of the smothering ubiquity of Big Brother himself: 1984 is watching you. With the arrival of the year 1984, the cultural appropriations rose to a deafening level. That January an ad for the Apple Macintosh was watched by 96 million people during the Super Bowl and became a marketing legend. The Mac, represented by a female athlete, hurls a sledgehammer at a giant telescreen and explodes the shouting face of a man—oppressive technology—to the astonishment of a crowd of gray zombies. The message: “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’ ”

The argument recurs every decade or so: Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating. But Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning. And it’s as a warning that 1984 keeps finding new relevance. The week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, when the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway justified his false crowd estimate by using the phrase alternative facts, the novel returned to the best-seller lists. A theatrical adaptation was rushed to Broadway. The vocabulary of Newspeak went viral. An authoritarian president who stood the term fake news on its head, who once said, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” has given 1984 a whole new life.

What does the novel mean for us? Not Room 101 in the Ministry of Love, where Winston is interrogated and tortured until he loses everything he holds dear. We don’t live under anything like a totalitarian system. “By definition, a country in which you are free to read Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the country described in Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Lynskey acknowledges. Instead, we pass our days under the nonstop surveillance of a telescreen that we bought at the Apple Store, carry with us everywhere, and tell everything to, without any coercion by the state. The Ministry of Truth is Facebook, Google, and cable news. We have met Big Brother and he is us.

Trump’s election brought a rush of cautionary books with titles like On TyrannyFascism: A Warning, and How Fascism Works. My local bookstore set up a totalitarian-themed table and placed the new books alongside 1984. They pointed back to the 20th century—if it happened in Germany, it could happen here—and warned readers how easily democracies collapse. They were alarm bells against complacency and fatalism—“the politics of inevitability,” in the words of the historian Timothy Snyder, “a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done.” The warnings were justified, but their emphasis on the mechanisms of earlier dictatorships drew attention away from the heart of the malignancy—not the state, but the individual. The crucial issue was not that Trump might abolish democracy but that Americans had put him in a position to try. Unfreedom today is voluntary. It comes from the bottom up.

We are living with a new kind of regime that didn’t exist in Orwell’s time. It combines hard nationalism—the diversion of frustration and cynicism into xenophobia and hatred—with soft distraction and confusion: a blend of Orwell and Huxley, cruelty and entertainment. The state of mind that the Party enforces through terror in 1984, where truth becomes so unstable that it ceases to exist, we now induce in ourselves. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2019 at 7:14 am

Exploring the “Should we have a baby?” question

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I’m long past this question, but in case any readers are still thinking about it, this little self-quiz is well thought out and helps one think through the reasons for and against having a baby. The quiz description:

Number a sheet of paper from 1 to 70. Beside each number rate how important each statement is to you. Zero (0) means that the statement is not very important or is least descriptive of you. Five (5) means that the statement is very important or very descriptive of you. Use the numbers between 0 and 5 to show graduations between these extremes. If the statement doesn’t seem to apply to your situation, place an X beside it. There are no right or wrong answers. Have your spouse take the evaluation separately. Then compare the two answer sheets and discuss where you agree and differ.

STATEMENTS:

1 – 6 pertain to couple’s needs or considerations
7 – 20 pertain to internal needs (ego needs)
21 – 38 pertain to life-style needs
39 – 62 pertain to external pressures (needs of others)
63 – 70 pertain to parenting/nurturing needs

Obviously, this quiz does not produce a score so much as a structure for thinking about and then discussing the key decision drivers. Seems worthwhile. Pass along to any who are facing the issue.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2019 at 6:36 am

Posted in Daily life

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