Some Saturday Stuff- June 8th

Good Saturday morning! The remnants of Andrea have passed, and the sun is out shining brightly here in Dirty Jerz. I’m in a mess of pain- back, legs, particularly my left thigh, and shoulders. I took Zoe out alone on Thursday, and have been paying for it since. Thing is, we live in an apartment building and in order to get in or out, we must traverse a small flight of stairs and a decent length of halls (one friend once quipped that it reminded her of “The Shining”). Zoe has mastered going up stairs unassisted, but down is another question. Since stairs are a tricky mater for me all by myself due to the CIDP, I refuse to have her walk down yet with me. So I loaded her into the baby backpack, something I haven’t done since last year. And well, she is FAR heavier now. We made it down fine, and then headed to Starbucks for lunch, then to the park, and then over to my dad and stepmom’s. Dad didn’t stick around long. He had to take nephew Justin to the dentist, but stepmom Kathy and I talked for hours. It was a good day. This soreness is anything but. So, enough about me, and on to the links.


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My goddaughter Sapphira, enjoying her morning cup of joe.



First, this piece from the New York Times on coffee, a cup of which I’d love to have right about now (I’m waiting on K to get some… might be a long wait):


For hundreds of years, coffee has been one of the two or three most popular beverages on earth. But it’s only recently that scientists are figuring out that the drink has notable health benefits. In one large-scale epidemiological study from last year, researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study. It’s not clear exactly what coffee had to do with their longevity, but the correlation is striking.


Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence.


Perhaps most consequential, animal experiments show that caffeine may reshape the biochemical environment inside our brains in ways that could stave off dementia. In a 2012 experiment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, mice were briefly starved of oxygen, causing them to lose the ability to form memories. Half of the mice received a dose of caffeine that was the equivalent of several cups of coffee. After they were reoxygenated, the caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33 percent faster than the uncaffeinated. Close examination of the animals’ brain tissue showed that the caffeine disrupted the action of adenosine, a substance inside cells that usually provides energy, but can become destructive if it leaks out when the cells are injured or under stress. The escaped adenosine can jump-start a biochemical cascade leading to inflammation, which can disrupt the function of neurons, and potentially contribute to neurodegeneration or, in other words, dementia.


I know that many people swear caffeine is a substance straight from the pits of hell, but considering it’s helped knock out some of the heaches I’ve had of late, I’ll keep on sipping, whether it be in coffee or tea. Also from the NYT, this story on an Evangelical church in Austin, dealing with changing and intersecting cultures.


Last Sunday at Vox Veniae, a 200-person church in working-class East Austin, the volunteer baristas showed up an hour before worship services to make locally sourced coffee in the vaunted Chemex system, beloved of connoisseurs. To enhance the java-snob appeal, no milk or sugar was provided. “It’s a purist thing,” one barista said.


“Keep Austin Weird,” the local slogan goes. And the approach to coffee is just one unusual feature of this rule-breaking church in the notably alternative Texas capital.


There’s the building, for example. The church meets in what used to be Chester’s, an after-hours B.Y.O.B. club that shut down in 2007 after a fatal shooting close by. Members of Vox, as the church is known, cleaned up the building, christened it Space 12 and made it a hub for Austin-style activity. It’s their church hall, yes, but also a Wi-Fi-equipped space that freelancers can use for a small daily donation; a yoga studio; an art gallery; and the home of the Inside Books Project, which sends books to prison inmates.


But what’s really unexpected about Vox, to anyone who knows American Protestantism, is that what began as a church for Chinese-Americans quickly became multiracial. Last Sunday morning, whites were in the majority, and in addition to Asian-Americans, there were Latinos and African-Americans in the pews — or, rather, the metal folding chairs around the small stage where a six-piece band played before the pastor, the Rev. Gideon Tsang, delivered his sermon.

In a country that is growing more racially diverse, and in an evangelical movement that is becoming more politically diverse, Vox Veniae, which is Latin for “voice of forgiveness,” may be, as Jesus said, a sign of the times.


Racially diverse churches are often led by white pastors who recruit in minority communities, usually by hiring nonwhite assistant pastors. It is less common to see an ethnic church attract whites. It may be that white people avoid churches where at first they will be outnumbered. Or perhaps the ethnic churches’ worship styles feel alien (especially if prayers and sermons are in a foreign language). Whatever the reason, white churches sometimes succeed in drawing minority worshipers, but minority churches rarely attract white people.


I think we’ll be seeing more and more of this type of diversity as our country’s racial and ethnic landscape continues to change. If you click the link, you’ll notice an accompanying video.


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My friend Aja (I hope you and baby Theo are doing well) passes along this story about the “You Can Touch My Hair” exhibit from Around the Way Curls. I had read about it, and um… okay, I “get” it, but no, no, strangers, you better not come up to me stroking my poof like I’m grandma’s poodle. I don’t know where your hands have been, and I’m not trying to wind up with some weird infection. Or ringworm, which isn’t that weird, but is hella gross.


From Coloures, an e-exhibit of sorts of 16 of the most beautiful Black iconic stars, such as Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross and Josephine Baker, pictured below.






Lastly, 22 maps which show in bright color, just how divided the U.S. of A. truly is, and not just in politics. We’re talking linguistics here. Beg my pardon if you find this a bore, but remember I did major in English, and vocabulary, accents and pronounciation is pretty fascinating stuff to me. From Business Insider:


Everyone knows that Americans don’t exactly agree on pronunciations. 


Regional accents are a major part of what makes American English so interesting as a dialect.


Joshua Katz, a Ph. D student in statistics at North Carolina State University, just published a group of awesome visualizations of Professor Bert Vaux and Scott Golder’s linguistic survey that looked at how Americans pronounce words. (via detsl on /r/Linguistics)


For the record, I know more than a couple of NY/NJ folks who say, “yous”. I usually switch between “you guys” and “y’all”, which I guess is what happend when you’re from the North but your family has roots in the South.


And now that I’ve got some southern thoughts, here’s Andre 3000 with Prototype. Have a great day, y’all. 😉

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