In Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Concord Community Schools, (7th Cir., March 21, 2018), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a revised version of an annual Christmas Spectacular put on by an Elkhart, Indiana high school does not violate the Establishment Clause.  The court describes the revised pageant’s challenged second half:the show spends about four and a half minutes each explaining and performing a song to represent Hanukkah and another for Kwanzaa. Images are projected onto large screens to accompany both songs. For the remaining 20 minutes, students perform numerous Christmas songs that are more religious in nature (e.g., “Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head,” “O Holy Night”). During one of the songs, a nativity scene appears on stage for two minutes. The manger uses mannequins, not student actors. There are no New Testament readings.The court explained its conclusion as follows, in part:It is worth emphasizing that no one factor alone—the secular first half, the nativity’s lack of prominence, the inclusion of other holidays—leads us to conclude that the 2015 Spectacular passes muster under the endorsement test. Overall, the 2015 performance in its current form would not cause a reasonable observer to believe that Concord is signing off on a particular religious message….Although the matter is not open‐and‐shut, we see no reason to reverse the district court’s conclusion on summary judgment that the 2015 show did not pressure individuals to support any religious beliefs.Education Week reports on the decision.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/03/7th-circuit-schools-christmas-pageant.html

Many modern NLP systems rely on word embeddings, previously trained in an
unsupervised manner on large corpora, as base features. Efforts to obtain
embeddings for larger chunks of text, such as sentences, have however not been
so successful. Several attempts at learning unsupervised representations of
sentences have not reached satisfactory enough performance to be widely
adopted. In this paper, we show how universal sentence representations trained
using the supervised data of the Stanford Natural Language Inference dataset
can consistently outperform unsupervised methods like SkipThought vectors on a
wide range of transfer tasks. Much like how computer vision uses ImageNet to
obtain features, which can then be transferred to other tasks, our work tends
to indicate the suitability of natural language inference for transfer learning
to other NLP tasks. Our sentence encoder is publicly available.

Source: http://arxiv.org/abs/1705.02364v3

A large scale federal survey has documented the continuing rise in severe obesity, which increases the risks for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/health/obesity-us-adults.html?partner=rss

Buy Clotilde’s latest book, The French Market Cookbook!

The story of this mushroom buckwheat soup starts with a dinner date with Maxence.
With two little boys and rich work lives, we make it a point to book baby-sitters on a regular basis, in order to enjoy an evening just for us grownups. Sometimes we go see a movie (a movie! in an actual movie theater! oh, the thrill!), sometimes we catch up with friends (uninterrupted conversations! swearing allowed!), sometimes we go to a party (an actual party! with music! and dancing! this is too much!), but most of the time, we have dinner just the two of us at a restaurant in our neighborhood, which — lucky for us — is rife with wonderful places.
I get ridiculously excited about those evenings. I think it is one of the many convoluted gifts life hands you along with small children: yes, time for yourself becomes pretty scarce. But when it does come, you drink it up and bathe in it and cherish every drop like it’s the very nectar of the Gods.

On that particular night, we decided to go to Le Pigalle. This is a hip little hotel in an area dubbed SoPi (South of Pigalle), a nickname that started out as a joke twelve years ago but has, against all odds, stuck. (Though I’ve never seen anyone actually use it in a sentence without simultaneously rolling their eyes, shrugging a blasé shoulder, or calling air quotes to the rescue. But maybe I hang out with the wrong crowd. Not that I hang out with any kind of crowd. I’m not a fan of crowds.)
Anyway. The ground floor of Le Pigalle operates as a café, bar and restaurant, but it’s not one of those intimidating hotel lobbies where you step in and the quality of the air changes and you feel like any minute someone is going to ask to see some kind of tax return to show you belong. No. This is a hip, but casual restaurant that offers simple, small dishes made with ingredients from neighboring artisans, such as cheeses aged by the cheesemonger at the bottom of rue des Martyrs, and the robust sourdough bread baked by Thierry Breton on rue de Belzunce.

The menu claims that the food is more cuisine d’assemblage (“assembly cooking”) than actual cuisine, and it was soon apparent that this was just their way to underpromise and overdeliver. The plates we tasted that night were delightful, vibrantly fresh and perfectly seasoned, a mix of French classics with a twist, humble and straight to the point.
The dish that stole my heart was the mushroom and buckwheat soup with a poached egg. Such a simple, such a winning combination! The smoky buckwheat notes matched the earthiness of the mushrooms, and there was the sweet velvet of the poached egg, and the crunchy toasted buckwheat to keep you entertained right down to the bottom of the bowl.

This is the kind of dish I live to cook in my kitchen, and it wasn’t long before I made a version of my own, which I give to you today.
Nothing simpler than this soup; I even give you permission to use frozen mushrooms to cut down on prep time.
I recommend you use untoasted buckwheat groats (the light green ones) as opposed to kasha (the reddish-brown ones) for a more delicate flavor that won’t overpower the mushrooms. Also: this was my first time toasting buckwheat to use as a topping, and it won’t be the last: what a neat way to add crunch to a soup!

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PrintMushroom Buckwheat Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutesCook Time: 20 minutesTotal Time: 30 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients1 tablespoon olive oil or other cooking fat
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, halved
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
800 grams (1 3/4 pounds) brown mushrooms, quartered
150 grams (3/4 cup) untoasted buckwheat groats (the pale greenish ones, not reddish-brown kasha)
480 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock or chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 poached or soft-boiled eggs, for serving
A few stems flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, for serving
Freshly ground black pepperInstructionsHeat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the sliced onions, garlic, and salt, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
Add the mushrooms, stir to combine, and cook for 5 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring regularly.
Add in the 100 grams (1/2 cup) of the buckwheat (reserve the rest for sprinkling), pour in the stock and 480 ml (2 cups) water, cover, and bring to a simmer.

Once at a simmer, cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through and the buckwheat has