Gloria Allred’s story

If you follow US political news at all, you have undoubtedly heard of Gloria Allred, the attorney who has represented many female clients in high-profile gender-related cases and who is currently taking on Donald Trump on behalf of Summer Zervos who says that she was defamed by Donald Trump when he publicly called her a liar for saying that he sexually assaulted her in 2007. Allred has been portrayed negatively by her opponents as a publicity-seeker whose expertise mostly lies in getting attention for her press conferences with the victims of abuse.
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When you meet a Trump supporter up close

For most of us, because we associate with others largely by choice, the people in our social circle tend to be those who share our worldview in general, especially when it comes to political and social issues. Thus political discussions usually take place upon generally agreed principles and within common frameworks, and such discussions tend to be more analytical and less emotional and confrontational. This is not the case when it comes to family members who can be all over the map and problems can also arise when the two groups overlap. Thus the advice to avoid topics like politics and religion at social gatherings where people might have widely differing views is quite sound.
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How the shutdown is viewed in China

Politicians in the US love to prate on and on about how the US is the world’s greatest system of government. The US senate is routinely referred to, by its own members of course, as the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’, despite all evidence to the contrary. But things like having periodic government shutdowns must surely make such boasts ring hollow. How can any government fail at its most basic task of keeping the lights on? I myself am aghast that such a thing could happen at all in any country, let alone one with the largest economy and military, and yet we have had a shut down in 2013, almost another one in 2015, and yet another one going on right now. It is becoming routine.
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What to do if you are trapped in quicksand

Quicksand used to be a common plot device in adventure films, with people inadvertently stepping into it and being slowly sucked under while others were helpless to extricate them. But it turns out that what is more likely to happen is that as long as you don’t thrash around, you will sink about halfway and stop. But getting yourself out is not easy and requires considerable force. This is what a paper in the 29 September 2005 issue of Nature (vol. 437, p. 635) says.
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Trumpers don’t like being called a cult

What happens when you put a group of old white people who voted for Donald Trump in a room and one of them who is disillusioned with him calls them a cult? Pretty much what you’d expect. (If you cannot access the video below, try this.)

Forcing students to attend classes

A Chinese college has stirred some controversy by putting photographs of seven people on the final exams and asking students to identify the one who is their teacher and write the name underneath. Those who were unable to do so were penalized. The goal was to see who had been attending classes, because apparently skipping classes has become a problem.
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The important role of the cricket pitch

I am sure that all the cricket fans out there (yes, both of you) have been waiting for another post about his game.

One of the key things that distinguishes cricket from baseball is that after the bowler releases the ball, it bounces on the ground before it reaches the batter. This has enormous consequences because how the ‘pitch’ (which is how cricket aficionados refer to the central playing area between the wickets) is prepared can greatly affect the motion of the ball after hitting the ground. Pitches that result in the ball bouncing a lot and/or unpredictably or allows the ball to change direction sharply after bouncing makes life harder for the batters and easier for the bowlers. Conversely, pitches where the ball bounces a predictable low height and does not produce much turn are easier for the batters.
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