Ezra Pound

Today in 1949 – Ezra Pound is awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

At the time Pound, an American, was locked in St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Washington, D.C., where he stayed for 12 years. He had been charged with treason but was never tried. His fellow artists helped secure his release in 1958, and he went to Italy, where he died in 1972. Here’s his mug shot when he was arrested.

Garlic Fresh Cheese

Garlic Fresh Cheese

Foraging is integral to the rural Scandinavian way of life and each season offers some delicious ingredient from nature’s bounty. Scandinavians actively seek out wild garlic when it’s in season so if you’re out in the woods in spring, collect a few leaves.  This garlic fresh cheese is delicious with sourdough.

2 lbs. 4oz Greek yogurt *

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

small bunch of garlic leaves (preferably wild), finely chopped

½  lemon, zest and juice (optional)

Stir the yogurt in a large bowl with the sea salt. Transfer to a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin and set over a large bowl. Wrap up the ends of the muslin tightly, twisting and securing with an elastic band. Leave in a cool place to drain for 24 hours.

The following day, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan and add the wild garlic. Sauté for a minute or so until wilted. Allow to cool.

Unwrap the drained yogurt and place in a bowl, discarding the liquid. Stir in the wild garlic and season with pepper and a little lemon juice and zest, if desired, for a tangier version. Adjust the salt to taste, then drizzle over the remaining oil before serving.

*Real Greek yogurt is best as the original kind from Greece is properly strained and has the right consistency for this recipe. Do not use ‘Greek-style’ yogurt as this description can mean anything, and won’t necessarily have as good a texture or as delicious a flavour.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) “Worst Colleges for Free Speech”

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) awards its yearly “Worst Colleges for Free Speech”

University of Tennessee, UT Health Science Center, Memphis, TN. A doctoral student in pharmacy was investigated for her excessive “sexuality” in her social-media posts, even though she didn’t identify herself as a student in the program. She’s sued the university.

St. John’s University, Queens, NY. A professor was removed from the classroom indefinitely for asking students whether the transatlantic slave trade had any positive effects on biodiversity. He didn’t try to justify slavery; this was part of a course on the effects of transatlantic ship traffic on biodiversity. He’s sued the University.

Collin College, McKinney, TX. A history professor criticized Mike Pence on Twitter during the Vice-Presidential debate, saying that the moderator “needs to talk over Mike Pence until he shuts his little demon mouth up.”  The college issued a statement condemning her tweets and gave her a written warning despite the fact that her tweets were protected by the First amendment. Collin College then refused to renew her contract. Collin College did several other questionable things that are detailed in the piece.

Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, KS. This is a publicly-funded school. It kicked out a student during the pandemic, forcing him to sleep in his car, for criticizing a university official. It also tried to order the student newspaper not to criticize the University.

New York University, New York, NY. NYU’s school of medicine tried to prevent its doctors from making any public comments about the coronavirus without consulting the University. This constitutes “prior restraint”. (NYU is a private school but swears to uphold free speech.)

Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. A professor gave a student permission to say the n-word during a class discussion about why it’s inappropriate to use the word. The prof didn’t say the word, but allowed a student to do so pedagogically. The professor was removed from the class and then suspended for seven months without pay, including mandatory training.  The prof has hired an attorney.

Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD. Like NYU, this school told its employees not to speak to the media about how the school was handling the pandemic. (That’s illegal, as this is a public school.) It then investigated and harassed a reporter for the student newspaper who criticized the school’s pandemic response.

Northwestern University in Qatar, Doha, Qatar. This Qatari branch of the Chicago school canceled a rock band concert because the lead singer was openly gay, citing “safety concerns.” They had the event on the U.S. campus, but violated freedom of expression overseas.

University of Illinois at Chicago. A law professor asked a hypothetical question on a law-school exam using redacted words. The question included an assertion that a person said they were called “a ‘n______’ and ‘b_______’. (profane expressions for African Americans and women”  Yes, the words were censored on the exam. And how could he have posed a hypothetical any more sensitively? After all, to judge the case you need some idea how the words were used. Nevertheless, UIC opened an investigation into the professor’s exam. This is chilling of speech, pure and simple.

Fordham University, New York, NY. Fordham has repeatedly refused to recognize a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine because “its sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group.” This has been going on for four years. As I’ve said, I consider SJP an Islamist organization, but it’s both illegal and unethical to not recognize it when it recognizes other organizations with political agendas. The school also suspended a student for legal postings on his Instagram account.

And. . . . a school gets a Lifetime Censorship Award for repeated violations of its free-speech code! Voilà:

There’s too much to recount, but here’s one paragraph:

Even inaugurating a new chancellor in 2014 did not stem the tide of student rights abuses — Kent Syverud oversaw the dismantling of an entire engineering fraternity and the expulsion of several members in 2018 over their private satirical “roast.” Syracuse claims that the voluntary skit constituted “conduct that threatens the mental health” of others once it was leaked to the public — an assertion so preposterous that it led to lawsuits in state and federal court, where university attorneys attested, under oath, that the school’s speech promises are, in fact, worthless. Syracuse concluded the decade by rejecting a Young Americans for Freedom chapter over its conservative viewpoints, banning all fraternity social activity despite no evidence of misconduct by any of the students, and, most recently, placing a professor on leave for writing “Wuhan Flu or Chinese Communist Party Virus” on his course syllabus.

It’s sadly ironic that the university itself argues that its promises of free expression are worthless. Parents, don’t let your children grow up to be Syracuse students!

As a palliative, here are FIRE’s top five for free speech:

  1. The University of Chicago
  2. Kansas State University
  3. Texas A&M University
  4. University of California, Los Angeles
  5. Arizona State University

Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour

2 tablespoons potato flour or ground yellow maize flour

2 tablespoons coconut flour

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

1/8 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1½ cups coconut milk

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1–2 teaspoons grapeseed oil

To make the pancakes, combine the buckwheat flour, potato flour, coconut flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Add the coconut milk, coconut oil and ½ cup water and whisk well. The amount of water you need depends on how thick you prefer your batter; add a bit more for thinner batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Brush the pan with some of the grapeseed oil.

Pour ¼ cup of the batter into the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Cook the remaining batter in the same way, adding more grapeseed oil to the pan as needed. You should have enough batter to make eight pancakes.

Sam the Trinity Fox

As the Irish Times reports:

Sam, the fox living on the grounds of Trinity College in Dublin, and who was seen wandering the streets of Dublin during the first lockdown, has found love and is pregnant.

Last year the health of the vixen was of concern as she appeared emaciated. With all restaurants and bars closed and the city centre all but deserted during the first lockdown she was deprived of scraps. She also developed mange on her tail.

In response, staff at Trinity College Dublin left out meat infused with an antibiotic for her and she has not looked back.

The latest development involving Sam the fox happened last month, when she was in heat.

She attracted two suitors, who have been named Prince and Scar by college staff, who fought for her affections.

The festival of Lupercalia

The festival of Lupercalia

The ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia (celebrated to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility) has been one of the earliest records of the term Valentine’s Day. But the holiday isn’t what you would imagine.

The event, which was held February 13 to February 15, began with the traditional sacrifice of an unlucky goat and dog.

A group of priests called the Luperci then cut off a piece of the skin of the two animals, touched it to their foreheads and then struck it against every woman nearby. The thinking, it was said, is that the women hoped it would help make them more fertile.

By the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I had seen enough — he replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day.

Stonehenge: Was it Relocated?

The discovery of a dismantled stone circle—close to Stonehenge’s bluestone quarries in west Wales—raises the possibility that a 900-year-old legend about Stonehenge being built from an earlier stone circle contains a grain of truth. Radiocarbon and OSL dating of Waun Mawn indicate construction c. 3000 BC, shortly before the initial construction of Stonehenge. The identical diameters of Waun Mawn and the enclosing ditch of Stonehenge, and their orientations on the midsummer solstice sunrise, suggest that at least part of the Waun Mawn circle was brought from west Wales to Salisbury Plain. This interpretation complements recent isotope work that supports a hypothesis of migration of both people and animals from Wales to Stonehenge.

In the oldest story of Stonehenge’s origins, the History of the Kings of Britain (c. AD 1136), Geoffrey of Monmouth describes how the monument was built using stones from the Giants’ Dance stone circle in Ireland. Located on legendary Mount Killaraus, the circle was dismantled by Merlin and shipped to Amesbury on Salisbury Plain by a force of 15,000 men, who had defeated the Irish and captured the stones. According to the legend, Stonehenge was built to commemorate the death of Britons who were treacherously killed by Saxons during peace talks at Amesbury. Merlin wanted the stones of the Giants’ Dance for their magical, healing properties.

This 900-year-old legend is fantasy: the Saxons arrived not in prehistory, but only 700 years before Geoffrey’s own time, and none of Stonehenge’s stones came from Ireland. Yet the fact that Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’ derive from Wales—far to the west of Salisbury Plain—has led to speculation that there may be some truth in Geoffrey’s pseudo-history. Moreover, at the time Geoffrey was writing, this region of south-west Wales was considered Irish territory. One possibility is that the bluestones did indeed derive from a stone circle in west Wales, which was dismantled and re-erected as Stonehenge. A similar conclusion was reached a century ago by geologist Herbert Thomas, who established that the spotted dolerite bluestones at Stonehenge originated in the Preseli Hills of west Wales, where, he suspected, they had originally formed a “venerated stone-circle”

Source: Journal Antiquity

Arctic Permafrost Releases More Carbon Dioxide Than Once Believed

Rising global temperatures are causing frozen Arctic soil— permafrost—in the northern hemisphere to thaw and release CO2 that has been stored within it for thousands of years. The amount of carbon stored in permafrost is estimated to be four times greater than the combined amount of CO2 emitted by modern humans.

Research results from an international team, which includes a researcher from the University of Copenhagen among others, suggests that the newly discovered phenomenon will release even larger quantities of CO2 than once supposed from organic matter in permafrost—a pool of carbon previously thought to be bound tightly and safely sequestered by iron.

The amount of stored carbon that is bound to iron and gets converted to CO2 when released is estimated to be somewhere between two and five times the amount of carbon released annually through anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions.

Iron doesn’t bind organic carbon after all

Researchers have long been aware that microorganisms play a key role in the release of CO2 as permafrost melts. Microorganisms activated as soil thaws convert dead plants and other organic material into greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

What is new, is that the mineral iron was believed to bind carbon even as permafrost thawed. The new result demonstrates that bacteria incapacitate iron’s carbon trapping ability, resulting in the release of vast amounts of CO2. This is an entirely new discovery.

“What we see is that bacteria simply use iron minerals as a food source. As they feed, the bonds which had trapped carbon are destroyed and it is released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gas,” explains Associate Professor Carsten W. Müller of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management. He elaborates:

“Frozen soil has a high oxygen content, which keeps iron minerals stable and allows carbon to bind to them. But as soon as the ice melts and turns to water, oxygen levels drop and the iron becomes unstable. At the same time, the melted ice permits access to bacteria. As a whole, this is what releases stored carbon as CO2,” explains Müller.

The study has just been published in Nature Communications.

Absent from climate models

Although the researchers have only studied a single bog area in Abisko, northern Sweden, they have compared their results with data from other parts the northern hemisphere and expect their new results to also be valid in other areas of permafrost worldwide.

“This means that we have a large new source of CO2 emissions that needs to be included in climate models and more closely examined,” says Carsten W. Müller.

Even though carbon stored in permafrost has a major impact on our climate, researchers know very little about the mechanisms that determine whether carbon in soil is converted into greenhouse gases.

“The majority of climate research in the Arctic focuses on the amount of stored carbon and how sensitive it is to climate change. There is a great deal less of a focus on the deeper mechanisms which trap carbon in soil,” says Carsten W. Müller.

Researchers remain uncertain about how much extra carbon from soil could potentially be released through this newly discovered mechanism. Closer investigation is needed.

Source: University of Copenhagen

Green New Deal Polling

Green New Deal Polling:

Green New Deal Very General Summary: The proposal would achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by creating millions of green jobs and investing in a new, clean-energy infrastructure.

Research shows that age strongly predicts support for the Green New Deal, even controlling for several variables like party, ideology, and race. One wonders if this is because young people, unlike older generations, must contemplate living through the worst effects of climate change a few decades down the line.

Polling Question: “Would you support or oppose a Green New Deal to end fossil fuel use in the United States and have the government create clean energy jobs? The plan would be paid for by raising taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions.”

Reference: Millennials as ages 18–37, Generation X as 38–53, baby boomers as 54–72, and Silent as 72 or older.

Note: “Data For Progress” who conducted the poll is a progressive think tank.

#GreenNewDeal #ClimateChange