Saturday, December 5, 2015

[TITW] Nestlé, Kwanzaa, foreign languages, hangry negotiations, spider plants, Catholicism, kangaroo courts

Nestlé baby formula

I generically referred to our office's filtered water dispenser as a Poland Springs water dispenser and it's actually Nestlé AccuPure, which prompted a sad on my part because Nestlé baby formula -- for which the second Google result is the "Nestlé boycott" Wikipedia article:

Baby milk issue

Groups such as the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and Save the Children argue that the promotion of infant formula over breastfeeding has led to health problems and deaths among infants in less economically developed countries.[1][2] There are four problems that can arise when poor mothers in developing countries switch to formula:

  • Formula must normally be mixed with water, which is often polluted in poor countries, leading to disease in vulnerable infants.[3] Because of the low literacy rates in developing nations, many mothers are not aware of the sanitation methods needed in the preparation of bottles. Even mothers able to read in their native language may be unable to read the language in which sterilization directions are written.
  • Although some mothers can understand the sanitation standards required, they often do not have the means to perform them: fuel to boil water, electric (or other reliable) light to enable sterilisation at night. UNICEF estimates that a formula-fed child living in disease-ridden and unhygienic conditions is between 6 and 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child.[4]
  • Many poor mothers use less formula powder than is necessary, in order to make a container of formula last longer. As a result, some infants receive inadequate nutrition from weak solutions of formula.[5]
  • Breast milk has many natural benefits lacking in formula. Nutrients and antibodies are passed to the baby while hormones are released into the mother's body.[6] Breastfed babies are protected, in varying degrees, from a number of illnesses, including diarrhea, bacterial meningitis, gastroenteritis, ear infection, and respiratory infection.[7][8][9] Breast milk contains the right amount of the nutrients essential for neuronal (brain and nerve) development.[10] The bond between baby and mother can be strengthened during breastfeeding.[8] Frequent and exclusive breastfeeding can also delay the return of fertility, which can help women in developing countries to space their births.[11] The World Health Organization recommends that, in the majority of cases, babies should be exclusively breast fed for the first six months.[12]
Advocacy groups and charities have accused Nestlé of unethical methods of promoting infant formula over breast milk to poor mothers in developing countries.[13][14] For example, IBFAN claim that Nestlé distributes free formula samples to hospitals and maternity wards; after leaving the hospital, the formula is no longer free, but because the supplementation has interfered with lactation, the family must continue to buy the formula. IBFAN also allege that Nestlé uses "humanitarian aid" to create markets, does not label its products in a language appropriate to the countries where they are sold, and offers gifts and sponsorship to influence health workers to promote its products.[15] Nestlé denies these allegations.[16]

Kwanzaa symbols vs. menorahs

A conversation about Starbucks, including red cups, led to a conversation about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah symbols.

Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed: corn (Mahindi) and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles (Mishumaa Saba), a communal cup for pouring libation (Kikombe cha Umoja), gifts (Zawadi), a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.[7]
The primacy visual difference is that the kinara holds 7 candles, while the menorah holds 9.


subversive Arabic graffiti

The news about this incident with the set of the tv show Homeland broke on October 15, 2015 -- e.g. this Atlantic piece.


hangry negotiations

Lakshmi Balachandra's HBR article asserts:

The students who ate together while negotiating — either at a restaurant or over food brought into a business conference room — created significantly increased profits compared to those who negotiated without dining. (Individuals who negotiated in restaurants created 12% greater profits and those who negotiated over food in a conference room created 11% greater profits.) This suggests that eating while deciding important matters offers profitable, measurable benefits through mutually productive discussions.
I remember reading something about being more successful negotiating for a raise if you're hungry, but I couldn't (re)find it. :/

While not what I was thinking of, Jack (who brought up the Balachandra research) found for me:

Always Gamble on an Empty Stomach: Hunger Is Associated with Advantageous Decision Making. PLOS ONE. Denise de Ridder, Floor Kroese, Marieke Adriaanse, Catharine Evers. Published: October 23, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111081
General Discussion

This series of studies set out to test the hypothesis that hot states may benefit, rather than compromise, advantageous decision making insofar it concerns complex decisions with uncertain outcomes. Based on the notion that intuition and emotions may improve this specific category of decisions [10], [12], [13], we argued that hot states, which are known to make people more reliant on their feelings, improve their decisions. This assumption follows from theories on intuitive decision making but so far has not been tested explicitly by directly manipulating hot states. Our findings lend credit to these expectations: people who were moderately hungry or had a moderate appetite, compared to people who were satiated or had a lower appetite, made more advantageous decisions as witnessed by their performance on the IGT (Studies 1 and 2) and a delay discounting task (Study 3). These findings were obtained for both visceral (Studies 1 and 3) and non-visceral (Study 2) manipulations of a hot state. Importantly, Study 3 also revealed that a hot state (resulting from hunger or appetite) did not affect willingness to take risks in spite of the perception of an increased rewarding value of desired objects (food and money) as well as a neutral object, although the latter finding was unexpected. These findings speak directly to the mechanism involved in complex decision making under uncertain conditions. Typically, strategic decision making in complex situations without being certain what these decisions bring in the future may be conceived of as a trade-off between risk and reward, as exemplified in the IGT presenting people with decks of cards either involving big rewards but also a higher chance of loss or small rewards that are accompanied by lower chances of loss. In order to make decisions that are advantageous in the long run people thus must recognize the risk of loss when being tempted by a bigger reward. Our findings show that people in a hot state are better able to do so, as witnessed by their capability to make advantageous decisions (assessed by the IGT or a delay discounting task), while perceiving larger rewards (size perception task) but not taking more risks (BART performance). It has been demonstrated in many studies employing the IGT in clinical samples (with deficits in emotion processing) that not being able to use one's emotions for recognizing risk and resisting decisions that involve huge but risky rewards compromises complex decision making in uncertain conditions. [14], [15], [16], [17] However, it has not been examined previously that manipulating hot states in normal people without emotion processing deficits improves such decisions and has straightforward beneficial effects, presumably by making people rely more on their intuition and emotion.


Together, these studies for the first time provide suggestive evidence that hot states improve complex decision making under uncertain conditions, lending support to our assumption that being able to recognize and use one's emotions benefits complex decisions. Apparently, our findings stand in sharp contrast with previous studies showing that hot states in general and visceral drives in particular compromise decision making. These studies generally assume that hot states make people more impulsive and disregard the risks of a behavior that seem so evident under cooler conditions. However, most studies so far either tested these assumptions in samples with impulsive pathology or used simple decision tasks that allowed for a straightforward comparison of the options involved. Also, previous studies did not manipulate hot states directly but, for example, compared the virtual versus tangible presence of cookies. [5] Our findings show that under the typical hot condition of hunger or appetite, an increased willingness to take risks is absent, even when an increased motivation for getting the reward is present.


Our findings bear important implications for theorizing about the role of hot states in decision making. It may be, as suggested in the foregoing, that hot states in general, and hunger and appetite in particular, do not necessarily make people more impulsive but rather make them rely more on their gut feeling which benefits complex decisions with uncertain outcomes. Alternatively, it may be that hot states do increase impulsivity but that impulsivity is not necessarily bad. Such a conceptualization of good' impulsivity aligns with recent notions that negative consequences are not inherent in impulsive behavior. Being in an impulsive state entails that people are more inclined to make decisions quickly with little or no deliberation which may turn out either favorable or unfavorable depending on the demands of the situation. [39], [40] Adopting the view that impulsivity implies acting swiftly means that impulsivity brings an advantage as in a greater tendency to rely on emotions when confronted with the complex self-regulation dilemma of choosing between small immediate benefit versus delayed but larger benefit. This line of reasoning concords with recent critical notions about dual-system accounts of behavioral regulation, distinguishing between reflective (rational and cool) and reflexive (emotional and hot) systems. [19] Typically, dual-systems accounts conceive of the reflective system as being responsible for adaptive behavior in accordance with long-term goals and the reflexive system as being responsible for an impulsive breakdown that accounts for abandoning long-term goals, thus equating the process (reflective vs. reflexive) with the outcome (adaptive vs. non-adaptive. [3] However, recent research challenges this sharp distinction by showing evidence indicating that impulsive states can sometimes generate adaptive behavior. [20], [41], [42] By the same token, it has also been shown that reflective processes may be required to engage in bad' behavior, such as overcoming the initially aversive taste of alcohol or nicotine [43] or deliberate reasoning to find justifications for otherwise forbidden indulgent behavior [44]. Our finding that hot states promote advantageous decision making thus contributes to novel theorizing about impulses that were hitherto considered as compromising adaptive behavior.


Sábado Gigante

Sábado Gigante finished (after 53 years) in September of this year (2015).

From its start in 1962, it was hosted by Chilean TV star Mario Kreutzberger under the stage name of Don Francisco. Pedro de Pool and Rolando Barral began serving as co-hosts in 1986; that role was taken over by Javier Romero in 1991.



foreign languages

Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast had a bunch of the same ideas as I did about why foreign languages sound faster than our native language:

So, here's how Paul Pimsleur described this problem back in the 1970s. He said: "The foreign words reach the listener's ear so rapidly that they soon pile up. The short-term memory overloads and the listener simply 'tunes out.' It is important to be able to control this factor in order to teach listening effectively."


I [recall] what Harry Osser and Frederick Peng said at the end of their study of Japanese and English. They formulated a hypothesis that went something like this: "When we, as native English speakers, listen to English we attend to the way in which the speaker distributes his speech and his pauses over time, i.e. we hear the speech and the gaps between the speech. However, when we listen to a foreign language being spoken we do not hear the pauses (other than the very long ones), rather we hear 'a continuous flow of speech.' ... As our acquaintance with a foreign language develops, we learn more and more about the units in the flow of speech, so that we are more likely to be able to judge the actual rate of speech correctly."

That makes a lot of sense to me. I think, you know, earlier I was saying how when I took that French immersion course I found it hard to imagine how I would be able to tease these words apart that were coming at me, but of course once you gain a familiarity with the language and the words then you do. Your ear develops in that way. And I'll just read to you one more thing that Osser and Peng wrote about this hypothesis. They talked more specifically about Japanese and English and they said, "When the Japanese speaker hears the bundle of dense consonant clusters of English he hears them in terms of the syllabic structure of Japanese, which of course does not have so many consonant clusters, and he therefore judges the speech to be faster than it really is." And then they said, "Similarly when an English speaker hears the successive vowel" sounds in Japanese, which we don't have as much of in English, that we judge Japanese to be faster.

There's additional info about e.g. data-density in different languages in this Time article.


spider plants
If you have had a spider plant you will already know that periodically the plant will send down stems with little plants, or spiders on them. If you look closely you can see that there are roots starting to develop on some of these baby spiders. Carefully hold the baby spider plant and separate it from the stem being sure not to break the roots off of it.




I apparently cannot remember how many books are in the Bible (though I correctly estimated that the difference between Protestant and Catholic Bibles is approximately a half a dozen -- 7, if you want to be technically, plus some extra bits of some shared books). I also keep forgetting that Ecclesiasticus=Sirach.

Wikipedia helpfully informs me that the Tanakh consists of 24 books, the Protestant Old Testament 39 (due solely to how we separate out books -- primarily that we separate the twelve "minor" prophets into 12 books), the Catholic OT 46, and the Eastern Orthodox 51 (mostly they have even more Esdras and Maccabees, apparently).

We've generally agreed on 27 New Testament books.


Henry the 8th was approximately contemporaneous with the Protestant Reformation (Henry was 28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547 and e.g. Martin Luther was 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546).

Henry is generally credited with initiating the English Reformation – the process of transforming England from a Catholic country to a Protestant one – though his progress at the elite and mass levels is disputed,[186] and the precise narrative not widely agreed.[60] Certainly, in 1527, Henry, until then an observant and well-informed Catholic, appealed to the Pope for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine.[60] No annulment was immediately forthcoming, the result in part of Charles V's control of the Papacy.[187] The traditional narrative gives this refusal as the trigger for Henry's rejection of papal supremacy (which he had previously defended), though as historian A. F. Pollard has argued, even if Henry had not needed a divorce, Henry may have come to reject papal control over the governance of England purely for political reasons.[188]

In any case, between 1532 and 1537, Henry instituted a number of statutes that dealt with the relationship between king and pope and hence the structure of the nascent Church of England.[189]



Apparently the Vulgate refers to the official Latin version of the Bible -- not to vernacular translations (which is how I’d been using the term). And there have been vernacular translations of the Bible since antiquity.
Innocent III, heretical movements and translation controversies

Church attitudes toward written translations and the use of the vernacular in Mass varied by date and location. For example, whereas the acts of Saint-Gall contain a reference to the use of a vernacular interpreter in Mass as early as the seventh century, and the 813 Council of Tours acknowledge the need for translation,[6] in 1079, Duke Vratislaus II of Bohemia asked Pope Gregory VII for permission to use Old Church Slavonic translations of the liturgy, to which Gregory did not consent.[7]

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, demand for vernacular translations came from groups outside the Roman Catholic Church such as the Waldensians, Paterines, and Cathars. This was probably related to the increased urbanization of the twelfth-century, as well as increased literacy among educated urban populations.[8][9]

A well-known group of letters from Pope Innocent III to the diocese of Metz, where the Waldensians were active, is sometimes taken as evidence that Bible translations were forbidden by the church, especially since Innocent's first letter was later incorporated into canon law.[10]

Margaret Deanesly's study of this matter in 1920 was influential for many years, but later scholars have challenged its conclusions. Leonard Boyle has argued that, on the contrary, Innocent was not particularly concerned with the translations, but rather with their use by unauthorized and uneducated preachers.[11] "There is not in fact the slightest hint that Innocent ever spoke in any way, hypothetically or not, of suppressing the translations."[12] The thirteenth-century chronicler Alberic of Trois Fontaines does say that translations were burned in Metz in 1200, and Deanesly understood this to mean it was ordered by Innocent in his letters from the previous year, but Boyle pointed out that nowhere in the letters did Innocent actually prohibit the translations.[13] While the documents are inconclusive about the fate of the specific translations in question and their users, Innocent’s general remarks suggest a permissive attitude toward translations and vernacular commentaries provided that they are produced and used with church oversight.

There is no evidence of any official decision to universally disallow translations following the incident at Metz until the Council of Trent, at which time the Reformation threatened the Catholic Church, and the rediscovery of the Greek New Testament presented new problems for translators. However, some specific translations were condemned, and regional bans were imposed during the Albigensian Crusade: Toulouse in 1229, Taragona in 1234 and Beziers in 1246.[14] Pope Gregory IX incorporated Innocent III’s letter into his Decretals and instituted these bans presumably with the Cathars in mind as well as the Waldensians, who continued to preach using their own translations, spreading into Spain and Italy, as well as the Holy Roman Empire. Production of Wycliffite Bibles would later be officially banned in England at the Oxford Synod in the face of Lollard anticlerical sentiment, but the ban was not strictly enforced and since owning earlier copies was not illegal, books made after the ban are often inscribed with a date prior to 1409 to avoid seizure.

As Rosemarie Potz McGerr has argued, as a general pattern, bans on translation responded to the threat of strong heretical movements; in the absence of viable heresies, a variety of translations and vernacular adaptations flourished between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries with no documented institutional opposition.[15] Still, translations came late in the history of the European vernaculars and were relatively rare in many areas. According to the Cambridge History of the Bible, this was mainly because "the vernacular appeared simply and totally inadequate. Its use, it would seem, could end only in a complete enfeeblement of meaning and a general abasement of values. Not until a vernacular is seen to possess relevance and resources, and, above all, has acquired a significant cultural prestige, can we look for acceptable and successful translation."[16] The cost of commissioning translations and producing such a large work in manuscript was also a factor; the three copies of the Vulgate produced in 7th century Northumbria, of which the Codex Amiatinus is the only survivor, are estimated to have required the skins of 1,600 calves.[17] Manuscript copies of the Bible historiale and, even more so, the usually lushly illuminated Bible moralisée were large, deluxe manuscripts, which only the wealthiest nobility (such as the French royal family) could afford.


The Council [of Trent], in the Canon of Trent, officially accepted the Vulgate listing of the Old Testament Bible which included the deuterocanonical works (also called the Apocrypha by Protestants) on a par with the 39 books customarily found in the Masoretic Text. This reaffirmed the previous Council of Rome and Synods of Carthage (both held in the 4th century, A.D.) which had affirmed the Deuterocanon as Scripture.[5]



kangaroo court
Although the term kangaroo court has been erroneously explained to have its origin from Australia's courts while it was a penal colony,[2] the first published instance is from an American source in the year 1850. Some sources suggest that it may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849, along with mustang court,[3] as a description of the hastily carried-out proceedings used to deal with the issue of claim jumping miners.[2] Ostensibly the term comes from the notion of justice proceeding "by leaps", like a kangaroo.[4] Another possibility is that the phrase could refer to the pouch of a kangaroo, meaning the court is in someone's pocket. The phrase is popular in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand and is still in common use.[5]


OED lists the first printed usage as 1853 (not 1850, as Wiki states -- though it concurs that the early usages were in American presses).
kangaroo court n. orig. U.S. an improperly constituted court having no legal standing, e.g. one held by strikers, mutineers, prisoners, etc.

1853 ‘P. Paxton’ Stray Yankee in Texas 205 By a unanimous vote, Judge G—— was elected to the bench and the ‘Mestang’ or ‘Kangaroo Court’ regularly organized.
1895 Harper's Mag. Apr. 718/2 The most interesting of these impromptu clubs is the one called in the vernacular the ‘Kangaroo Court’. It is found almost entirely in county jails.
1931 ‘D. Stiff’ Milk & Honey Route 209 Kangaroo court, mock court held in jail for the purpose of forcing new prisoners to divide their money.
1935 A. J. Pollock Underworld Speaks 66/1 Kangaroo Court, a jail tribunal comprised of inmates which collects money from prisoners awaiting trial to supply the needy with tobacco, food and a few luxuries—its decision regarding disputes is final.
1966 Times 14 Mar. 10/1 Shop stewards at Theale are to meet tomorrow to consider paying back the sums levied by a kangaroo court.
1971 Times 20 Jan. 15/3 Citizens who live in the riotous areas [of N. Ireland] deserve protection from..kangaroo courts.
1973 C. Mullard Black Brit. iii. vii. 81 Such practices are surely more like those of a kangaroo court than those that the Race Relations Board should encourage.


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