For me the year has been a nasty one... in honor of that and hope for something better neat year, I'm leaving a day of blogging buffer space. Hopefully next year will be better although it is clear there will be formidable challenges.
A subsequent article by Claiborne landed Kennedy her first book deal with Harpers Row. She spent much of the next two years travelling to remote corners of Mexico talking to humble cooks, documenting old family recipes, and learning traditional preparation and cooking techniques. The Essentials of Mexican Cooking published in 1972 was an instant classic, and introduced the English-speaking world to authentic Mexican cuisine.
Each subsequent book was similarly fastidiously researched by Kennedy, and together they read like a collection of anthropological essays on regional cultures explained through native plants, rituals and recipes.
“These are culinary adventures that nobody will ever have. The cooks don’t exist any more, the ambience is not there any more … I learned my trade travelling the length and breadth of Mexico, sleeping in my Nissan truck. Every book is a different phase of my life and learning,” she said.
Until recently, flying squirrels were assumed to be passive gliders, using their expansive patagium—the furry wing membrane that spans from the squirrel’s neck to its forelimbs and back to its hind limbs—to simply prolong jumps across canopy gaps, and to lessen impacts upon landing. During passive gliding, travel occurs along a declining linear path. This is what paper airplanes do, trading height for horizontal distance. Although gliding like this is the cheapest form of locomotion, it is also the least stable, because any change in posture, wing symmetry, or weight distribution has the potential to disrupt the glide and result in an uncontrollable fall. Imagine a paper airplane with the sudden addition of a heavy weight on one side, or with one wing that suddenly changes size or shape.
Once scientists began studying flying squirrels in the lab, it didn’t take long to discover that there is nothing passive or constant about the species’ flight. Researchers would ultimately document in flying squirrels a wider variety of aerodynamic modifications and flight types than had been described in any other species of animal glider. In a single flight episode, a flying squirrel might use a dozen separate flight-control techniques and—frustratingly for the graduate students and research assistants tasked with documenting the patterns—different squirrels would use different combinations of these techniques. Ironically, the one type of flight that has never been observed in this species is passive gliding.
As more and more squirrels flew through wind tunnels and along blocked-off biology department corridors, it became clear that flying squirrels have a marked disregard for basic aerodynamic constraints. For example, the squirrels were frequently recorded moving through the air with extraordinarily high “angles of attack,” which is the angle between the wing—in this case the patagium—and the direction of oncoming airflow. Aircraft typically stall when their angle of attack reaches 15 to 20 degrees. Flying squirrels routinely reach 60 degrees, far exceeding values that would result in the stall and crash of even the most advanced military jets. Stalling is caused by a loss of lift. This occurs when the main source of lift, air vortices—the swirls of air that form at the leading edge of a wing as a result of differences in the pressure below and above the wing—essentially slide down the wing surface at high angles. Except, evidently, when the wing belongs to a flying squirrel.
Elkhart is a case study in how Democrats lost the 2016 elections despite the economic resurgence the country experienced under Obama. It shows how, in an increasingly polarized country, an improving economy is not enough to get Republicans to vote for Democrats, in part because they don’t give Democrats any credit for fixing the economy. Gallup, for instance, found that while just 16 percent of Republicans said they thought the economy was getting better in the week leading up to the election, 49 percent said they thought it was getting better in the week after the election. And in a Pew poll in 2015, one in three Republicans said the economy wasn’t recovering at all, while just 7 percent of Democrats said that. This bias is true for Democrats, too, of course. Before the election, according to the Gallup poll, 35 percent thought the economy was getting worse, while after the election, 47 percent of Democrats thought that.
These biases are only increasing as the country becomes increasingly polarized. As people become increasingly loyal to their parties, they are unlikely to give leaders from the other party credit for much of anything positive. Both sides are instead more likely to believe narratives that suggest that the other party has only made things worse.
“People’s predispositions affect their factual beliefs about the world,” said Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College who has researched why people believe what they do about politics. “What we want to be true influences what we believe to be true.”
Indeed, as the economy began improving, Elkhart voters grew less likely to support Democratic candidates for president. Obama won 44 percent of the vote in Elkhart County in 2008, 36 percent in 2012, and Clinton received just 31 percent in 2016.
Of course, there are many reasons why people in Elkhart might dislike Obama that have nothing to do with his role in the economy. Ed Neufeldt, whose daughter and two son-in-laws now work in the RV industry after losing their jobs in it during the recession, told me he thought Obama was responsible for improving the economy in Elkhart, but that he still didn’t like the president because of his stance on abortion.