Washington, Jefferson, and Sun Tea

One of the little-known bits of the early history of our country involves an argument between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson over this new beverage called sun tea.

Washington wanted a law passed to ban it, at least in his home state of Virginia, because he thought it unsanitary and “a Danger to the publick Health”. Jefferson told him such a ban would be in violation of the newly-ratified Constitution.

Sorely puzzled, Washington pored over the document line-by-line. He didn’t find anything that looked like it would even remotely address the issue. He asked some of his friends, and they were all similarly stymied.

Finally, he asked James Madison for his opinion. Madison, after all, had written many of the so-called Federalist Papers, and was deeply involved in drafting the Constitution. If anyone knew where the document might be construed to prevent any ban of sun tea, Madison would.

For days, Washington heard nothing. Finally, after two weeks, he received a letter from Madison, outlining his findings. The letter is lost to history, but it remains famous for its first sentence:

“Yes, Virginian, there is a Sun Tea Clause.”

(From the Official Manual for Spice Cadets)

The Rare Fighter Against Bigotry Who Actually Fights It Instead Of Spreading It

I encountered Chloe Valdary on Twitter maybe four years ago. Can’t recall how long I’ve been following her, but I have always been relieved and enlightened by her tweets.

At a time when so many are pushing a new kind of racism — damning white people — as a religion, she’s a lone voice of reason and balance in the story.

Conor Friedersdorf profiles her in The Atlantic

Source: The Rare Fighter Against Bigotry Who Actually Fights It Instead Of Spreading It


Protection against dengue?

The dengue virus uses a particular protein, called Non-Structural Protein 1 (NS1), to latch onto the protective cells around organs. It weakens the protective barrier, allowing the virus to infect the cell, and may cause the rupture of blood vessels. The research team’s antibody, called 2B7, physically blocks the NS1 protein, preventing it from attaching itself to cells and slowing the virus’s spread. Moreover, because it attacks the protein directly and not the virus particle itself, 2B7 is effective against all four dengue virus strains.

Source: Protection against dengue?

We’re going to see a lot of gains from designer antibodies.

Science Isn’t Dead, But It Is Ailing – Part 5

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to reflect on this many times, and consequently have given it considerable thought. Before starting with the minutiae of particular subjects, Guevara University would spend the first few weeks of the first year with a grounding in basic intellectual skills that transcend the choice of subject matter.

What would those skills entail?

I’d start with the following tips on how to study, which for some reason no one is ever taught.

• skim the material quickly in advance of a lecture

• take telegraphic notes (short phrases)

• later recopy those notes, augmenting them

• read the material again, this time carefully, taking notes on it

• if possible, read a different source on the same topic

Ace of Spades

Marginal Revolution Trek

Not many people know this obscure episode, because it was shot during the third season as an “extra,” to be used in a fourth season that never materialized.  But here is the basic plot line.  Kirk and the Enterprise visit a planet that, by mistake, received errant TV transmissions of “The Beverly Hillbillies” centuries ago.  The inhabitants of that planet, being highly impressionable, have since organized their society along those principles and with Appalachian clothing, albeit with less couth manners.  These creatures are mostly backward, but they have two special powers.  First, neither Vulcan neck pinches nor phasers “set on stun” affect them, and second they have the ability to just walk through the otherwise protective shields of the Starship Enterprise.

Marginal Revolution

There are quite a few Star Trek posts at the website.

2020 Did Bring Some Good News

Was 2020 the worst year ever? The media keep saying that. We did have the pandemic, a bitter election, unemployment, riots, and a soaring national debt. But wait, look at the good news, says historian Johan Norberg . His new book, Open: The Story of Human Progress , points out how life keeps getting better, even if people just don’t realize it. 2020 was “the best year in human history to face a pandemic,” he says.

Had the pandemic happened in 2005, “You wouldn’t have the technology to create mRNA vaccines.”

“In 1990,” he continues, “we wouldn’t have a worldwide web. If we had had this pandemic in 1976, we wouldn’t have been able to read the genome of the virus. And…in 1950, we wouldn’t have had a single ventilator.”


“If you look at specifics like global poverty, child mortality, chronic undernourishment, and illiteracy,” Norberg replies, “they all declined faster than ever.”

Those things are pretty good measures of quality of life.

“Literacy might be the most important skill,” says Norberg. “It’s the skill that makes it possible to acquire other skills. We’ve never seen literacy at these high levels ever before. [Even] in the most problematic countries around the world, it’s better than it was in the richest countries 50, 60 years ago. That’s most important for those who have the least.”

Source: 2020 Did Bring Some Good News