Ever since my very first exposure to it in 1979 as part of a Smithsonian Institution art-history seminar, one of my favorite art venues in Washington, DC, has been the venerable Phillips Collection, a few blocks east and perhaps a block south of the DuPont Circle DC Metro stop.
The Phillips Collection
There are many reasons for my respect and enthusiasm for “the Phillips,” but certainly one of the most salient reasons for my “evangelical” work on behalf of the Collection is that the Phillips houses Pierre Auguste Renoir’s great Luncheon of the Boating Party (hereafter Luncheon). (I refuse to call it, as some critics do, Boatman’s Lunch. Computers are expensive and I would rather not throw up on mine.) Aside from the sheer beauty of the painting itself, I enjoy watching others’
I have been reading for at least the second time, maybe the third, Richard Dawkins’ magisterial book about evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth (hereafter Show). Like the other one or two times I have read Dawkins’ book, it was an exhilarating ride. Until I read the appendix, which pertains to how the theory of evolution is, to this day, received in the US and non-Scandinavian Europe. That appendix to Show is a real downer. (I reacted similarly when I first read the book.) It turns out that, even in the supposedly enlightened First World – again, the Scandinavian countries are the blessed exception -- around 80% of respondents accept a theory of evolution that accommodates some kind of supernatural explanation, e.g., God did it all according to a literal reading of Genesis, chapter 1; o
Over the last several years, there has been a lot of chatter in the media about the obesity epidemic afflicting the United States, especially young teenagers of junior-high age. I will not rehearse the linked statistics here: you probably know them better than I, since, unlike your faithful Skeptic-In-Residence, most of my “Skeptic’s” readers are parents. (However, in fairness, I do have a PhD in being a kid ... a fat kid in particular. So I do have some modest competence to say what I say below.) I have even written humorously here and, somewhat humorously, here about my own struggles with weight, body image, and exercise. But this is really no laughing matter. Now, as far as the biological, somatic, and nutritional dimensions of the problem are concerned, basically no one is laugh