Merry Christmas 2015!

Wishing you peace on your bit of the Earth, wherever you may be!

RANGPUR LIME [LILIKOI] PIE


Makes 1 large (9 inch) pie. For four smaller pies such as with Mi-Go brand 
8 inch gingerbread pie crust, triple filling and quadruple topping amounts.

Ingredients

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs or ¾ cup raw mac nuts and ¾ cup graham 
cracker type crumbs, salted to taste 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter melted
or a large premade pie crust

Filling:
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh lime Rangpur lime juice
2 whole large eggs or 3 medium eggs
2 tablespoons lime zest

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon finely ground vanilla bean

Optional Top Glaze:
¼ cup fresh lilikoi (passionfruit) juice, strained of seeds
1 tbsp powdered sugar
Up to 1 tsp xanthan or carob bean gum

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands. 

Press the mixture firmly into an 8-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, 
about 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. 

In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, 
the filling portion of the zest, and eggs. 

Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the cooled pie shell. 

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator 
for at least 2 hours (otherwise the filling will be too runny).
 
Once chilled, combine the sour cream, ground vanilla bean, and powdered sugar. 
Spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. 

Mix the lilikoi juice and powdered sugar, then very gradually 
add the vegetable gum until the mixture begins to thicken 
(you don't need more than this). 

Pour over the sour cream topping and stir lightly into upper topping.

Sprinkle the remaining lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream.

Serve chilled.

Dengue on the Big Island 2015: a Worrisome Reporting Change

Dengue in humans is a brief but painful experience, with symptoms that are usually worse, but much less in duration than more common viral infections such as the common cold or influenza. Most symptoms of dengue last 1 to 8 days.

There have been over 150 cases of dengue on Hawai'i Island since September 2015, and this week the health department said it plans to change its reporting from incidence (the cases this year) to prevalence (the number of people with active infection, currently just 5).

This probably seemed like a good way to de-emphasize the risk to the usual influx of tourists this season, and indeed the chance of any one tourist getting dengue on the Big Island is well under one in a thousand. But the very fact that the local dengue statistics are being converted to prevalence worries me.

Prevalence is how we measure endemic (persistent in a region) illnesses. Let's hope that does not happen. Dengue must not become endemic here.

21st Century Phrenology, Part 2: The Argument from Similarity

Here's Science magazine on a study showing that MRIs of male and female subjects overlap in characteristics. The text then talks about how this proves that men and women are more alike than we thought, and uses this to support the current cultural and governmental elitist trend toward redefining gender as a social choice.

The majority of the brains were a mosaic of male and female structures, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Depending on whether the researchers looked at gray matter, white matter, or the diffusion tensor imaging data, between 23% and 53% of brains contained a mix of regions that fell on the male-end and female-end of the spectrum. Very few of the brains—between 0% and 8%—contained all male or all female structures. “There is no one type of male brain or female brain,” Joel says. So how to explain the idea that males and females seem to behave differently? That too may be a myth, Joel says. Her team analyzed two large datasets that evaluated highly gender stereotypical behaviors, such as playing video games, scrapbooking, or taking a bath. Individuals were just as variable for these measures: Only 0.1% of subjects displayed only stereotypically-male or only stereotypically-female behaviors. “There is no sense in talking about male nature and female nature,” Joel says. “There is no one person that has all the male characteristics and another person that has all the female characteristics. Or if they exist they are really, really rare to find.” The findings have broad implications, Joel says. For one, she contends, researchers studying the brain may not need to compare males and females when analyzing their data. For another, she says, the extreme variability of human brains undermines the justifications for single-sex education based on innate differences between males and females, and perhaps even our definitions of gender as a social category.

--Science Magazine, November 30, 2015.

But of course there is overlap between male and female in brain structure. Why should there not be? Measures of height or lifespan in men and women are prime examples of how other generalizations based on secondary sexual characteristics often fail. Yet the early 21st century tendency in Western society to ignore primary sexual characteristics in assignment to places such as locker rooms or bathrooms in our schools is still absurd.

Showing that MRI phrenology fails to give reason to account for sex does not mean we should not account for sex. It means we should not use MRI phrenology in doing so.

An alternative to Kim's physicalism

In his book Physicalism, or Something Near Enough , Jaegwon Kim says: The final picture that has emerged is this: P is a cause of P*, wi...