Weekly Meanderings, 30 January 2016

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 10.53.39 AMA bright morning with Bright Farms, by Whitney Pipkin:

An unseasonably warm sun beamed heat into the refurbished greenhouse more than an hour outside Washington, making it feel like a place where tomatoes might not mind growing, even in mid-December.

The plants already reached waist high, rooted in plastic-sheathed blocks of finely woven rockthat allow almost all the water to be reused in this hydroponic system. Here, a careful concoction of nutrients and cardboard-box hives filled with bees primed for pollinating would all but guarantee vine-ripeness by February, when the tomatoes will begin appearing in BrightFarms clamshells in 100 Washington-area supermarkets.

Virginia’s governor had cut the ribbon on this more than $8 million facility in Culpeper County a couple months before, and a half-dozen employees in BrightFarms T-shirts were already at work tending to vines. Nearby, construction workers put the finishing touches on the larger of two greenhouses totaling 160,000 square feet, where arugula, baby spinach and other lettuce mixes would soon sprout on floating boards.

All this — the jobs, the investment, the futuristic food growing — was supposed to be in the District’s Ward 8, where, even BrightFarms chief executive Paul Lightfoot admits, “no one needed it more.” Two dozen greenhouse jobs would have been welcome in the ward with the city’s highest unemployment rate, nearly 15 percent. The facility had the potential to transform a blighted area east of the Anacostia River, turning it into a producer of the healthful food that is often out of reach for its residents.

Kate Wallace Nunneley:

I have to admit, since that conversation I have been on high alert for every mention of “male headship” in Evangelical churches. I have heard it in many different contexts, and every single time it was used to elevate men over women – in the family, in marriage, in the Church.

It occurred to me that although Evangelicals are known for diving into scripture and analyzing it word for word, we have failed to do this with “headship” in scripture. Someone tells us it is synonymous with “authority” and we leave it at that – no word study, no look at context, no observing original language.

This has led to 5 myths about “male headship” that have weeded their way into our theology. Although I am far from being the first to write about this, my hope is that this post will help bring false thinking to light and challenge us to dig a little deeper.

Another Kate, this one Kate Taylor, reports what a food poisoning expert says not to eat.

On back pain, from Gretchen Reynolds:

Lower back pain is an almost universal if unwelcome experience. About 80 percent of those of us in the Western world can expect to suffer from disruptive lower back pain at some point in our lives. But if we begin and stick with the right type of exercise program, we might avoid a recurrence, according to a comprehensive new scientific review of back pain prevention.

Lower back pain develops for many reasons, including lifestyle, genetics, ergonomics, sports injuries, snow shoveling or just bad luck. Most often, in fact, the underlying cause is unknown.

For most people, a first episode of back pain will go away within a week or so….

Such success, as it turned out, was discouragingly limited. Educational efforts by themselves showed essentially zero ability to prevent a recurrence of back pain, the researchers found. Back belts and orthotics likewise were almost completely ineffective, leaving people who employed either of those methods very prone to experiencing more back pain within a year.

But exercise programs, either with or without additional educational elements, proved to be potent preventatives, the researchers found.

In fact, “the size of the protective effect” from exercise “was quite large,” said Chris Maher, a professor at the George Institute, who oversaw the new review. “Exercise combined with education reduced the risk of an episode of low back pain in the next year by 45 percent. In other words, it almost halved the risk.”

Seth Davis on John Higgins, America’s most recognized referee:

In each of the last four seasons, Higgins worked more than 90 games. “There is what I call a law of diminishing returns in that you cannot possibly be 100% physically and mentally sharp 10 nights in a row,” Adams says. “But because they are independent contractors, you can’t limit their ability and you can’t collude. These referees are like professional athletes. Their high-earning window is not open very long.”

Thus does Higgins represent a central dichotomy regarding top officials. The reason why fans dislike them the most is because the fans recognize them, and that’s because they work the most important games. If Higgins weren’t so widely respected, he wouldn’t have so many high-profile opportunities. “I think he’s one of the great refs. He understands the pressures coaches are under, and he has a really good feel for what’s happening in the game,” says one Big 12 head coach.

Another coach in the league concedes that he has to mind his manners when Higgins is working his games, but he still likes having him between the lines. “He’s quicker than some of the younger guys to tee you up if you complain,” he says. “So as a coach, you have to know that going in.”

Being the most traveled, most recognized, most wanted, most mocked and most loathed referee in college basketball can be exhausting and unsettling, but for Higgins it remains great fun. “I’m a basketball junkie, and I enjoy the camaraderie I have with all my referee buddies,” he says. “We’re kind of like police officers. They hate us, but they have to have us. If you can’t take everything that comes with it, then you’re not going to last long in this business.”

Those ancient Babylonians were not so ancient:

Ancient Babylonian astronomers were way ahead of their time, using sophisticated geometric techniques that until now had been considered an achievement of medieval European scholars.

That is the finding of a study that analysed four clay tablets dating from 350 to 50 BC featuring the wedge-shaped ancient Babylonian cuneiform script describing how to track the planet Jupiter‘s path across the sky.

“No one expected this,” said Mathieu Ossendrijver, a professor of history of ancient science at Humboldt University in Berlin, noting that the methods delineated in the tablets were so advanced that they foreshadowed the development of calculus.

“This kind of understanding of the connection between velocity, time and distance was thought to have emerged only around 1350 AD,” Professor Ossendrijver added.

The methods were similar to those employed by 14th century scholars atUniversity of Oxford’s Merton College, he said.

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