In Doe v. Boyertown, (3d Cir., July 26, 2018), the U.S. 3d Circuit Court of Appeals in a revised panel decision refused to enjoin a Pennsylvania school district from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities instead of  the sex they were assigned at birth. Te court rejected privacy, Title IX and state tort claims, saying in part:As we have already noted, we do not intend to minimize or ignore testimony suggesting that some of the appellants now avoid using the restrooms and reduce their water intake in order to reduce the number of times they need to use restrooms under the new policy. Nor do we discount the surprise the appellants reported feeling when in an intimate space with a student they understood was of the opposite biological sex. We cannot, however, equate the situation the appellants now face with the very drastic consequences that the transgender students must endure if the school were to ignore the latter’s needs and concerns. Moreover, as we have mentioned, those cisgender students who feel that they must try to limit trips to the restroom to avoid contact with transgender students can use the single-user bathrooms in the school.Yesterday following the issuance of the revised panel decision, the full court denied an en banc rehearing in the case, with 3 judges dissenting from the denial. (Full text of order and dissent.) The dissenters argued:The revised panel opinion rightly acknowledges that a school policy addressing transgender students’ use of bathrooms and locker rooms is a matter of high importance to Boyertown and its students. Given that public importance and the obvious sensitivity of the issues involved, one would have thought that the opinion would address only the facts at issue and then only to the extent necessary. But the panel went beyond what was necessary when it chose to address Boyertown’s tangential argument that the school district would have run afoul of Title IX had it implemented a policy that confined transgender students to use of bathrooms and locker rooms designated for their biological sex….The Morning Call reports on the decisions.


Washington Post reported yesterday that President  Trump thought he had struck a deal with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the recent NATO meeting for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been held by Turkey for two years on supposed terrorism charges:The deal was a carom shot, personally sealed by Trump, to trade a Turkish citizen imprisoned on terrorism charges in Israel for Brunson’s release. But it apparently fell apart on Wednesday, when a Turkish court, rather than sending the pastor home, ordered that he be transferred to house arrest while his trial continues.Thursday morning, after a rancorous phone call with Erdogan, Trump struck back. The United States “will impose large sanctions” on Turkey, he tweeted. “This innocent man of faith should be released immediately.”


In Welson v. Sessions, (6th Cir, July 26, 2018), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reopen a petition for refugee status filed by an Egyptian Coptic Christian.  The immigration judge had held that petitioner was notcredible and had not demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution in Egypt. The 6th Circuit said in part:In support of his motions to reopen, Welson chiefly relies on articles describing various recent acts of terrorism perpetrated by ISIL, including: the December 2016 bombing of a Coptic cathedral in Cairo; the April 2017 bombing of two Coptic churches, both in Northern Egypt, on Palm Sunday; and a May 2017 incident in Southern Egypt where gunmen fired on vehicles carrying Coptic Christians. However, as the BIA reasoned, these articles describe events which, while indisputably terrible and tragic, are nevertheless similar to those conditions considered by the IJ at Welson’s individual hearing. Moreover, none of the additional reports and articles disturbs a key portion of the IJ’s reasoning—namely, that Welson’s family continues to live in Sohag, Egypt, unharmed, and that the Egyptian government under the leadership of President elSisi has undertaken to improve conditions for Coptic Christians. These new articles accordingly do not show that if the case were reopened Welson would likely prevail on his asylum claim.[Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.] 


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.


Best of January

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

How are things? I hope this fresh new year is smiling its freshest, brightest smile at you already. That’s how I feel myself!
• This month, I went with my father to see the exhibition about René Goscinny at the Jewish Art and History Museum in Paris. His name may not ring a bell, but I’m sure you’re familiar with his work.

He is the co-creator and/or script writer for some of France’s most successful bandes dessinées series (comics), in particular Astérix, Lucky Luke, Iznogoud, and Le Petit Nicolas. The former three played a huge part in my childhood, and it was a treat to see some behind the scenes documents and original strips in the company of my dad, who had filled an entire room of our apartment with bandes dessinées that us kids could read our way through, and did, dozens and dozens of times for some.
• We celebrated the Epiphany with several galettes des rois, which I did not hand-make this year, but rather purchased — one from Utopie downstairs from my friend’s house, and two from Pain Pain around the corner from us. Both are excellent, but I particularly liked Utopie’s, which had coarsely milled almonds in the filling, creating a really wonderful texture.

My cousin Delphine, who runs the popular lifestyle blog Deedee Paris, did a taste test to compare fifteen galettes this year. Here are the rankings she and the jury established (in French, but the pictures are worth a thousand words and some!).
• We also celebrated Maxence’s birthday with dinner at Dersou, an exciting restaurant where the tasting menu (5 to 7 courses) cooked by Japanese chef Taku Sekine is paired with cocktails mixed by French mixologist Amaury Guyot.

• I took (too short) a trip to Marseille to visit Céline de Cérou, the talented food stylist and photographer who will be shooting the recipe pictures for Chocolate

How to start an Etsy shop

If you’re an artist or creative, consider setting up an Etsy shop to market your products around the world. Discover how here…In Start-up guides


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1. Hash Browns

Get the recipe here.

2. Cinnamon Rolls

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3. Brownies

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4. Cheeseburgers

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5. S’mores

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6. Soft Pretzels

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7. Panini

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8. Scrambled Eggs

Learn how here.

10. Falafel

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12. French Toast

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14. Chocolate Chip Cookies

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15. Macaroni and Cheese

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16. Philly Cheesesteak

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17. Hot Dogs

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1. During his appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show last night, Kanye discussed his fashion aspirations.

2. And, specifically, the fashion roadblocks he’s facing.

All we want to do is make awesome stuff. All we want is a real shot. I understand about quality, I understand fabrics, I spent 10,000 hours about this, [I’ve] dedicated my life to this.

Michael Jackson had to fight to get his videos on MTV because he was considered [too] urban. So for me, think about this, when I’m in Paris and I’m sitting at fashion week for nine years and South Park makes fun of [my] outfits or people don’t understand why I’m there and I’m getting called names, stuff you can’t even say on TV, and I still can’t break that wall down, at a certain point it’s like Michael Jackson trying to get his videos on. Who do you know who’s known more for clothes than me?

4. Kanye’s not wrong here. He presented two collections in Paris (spring 2012 and later fall 2012) to an unnecessarily derisive fashion crowd.

S/S 2012 Kanye West

S/S 2012 Kanye West


5. In particular, critics panned his fall 2012 line — a little unfairly.

A/W 2012 Kanye West

A/W 2012 Kanye West

A/W 2012 Kanye West


Were the clothes perfect? No. Were they any/much worse than those of other rising designers often championed by the industry? Also no.

6. Anyway, more of the epic Kanye monologue:

So if I do a Nike Yeezy or Louis Vuitton shoot, the production around it was at the same level as the production on my CD… but if i go out and make my own T-shirt or something and call it ‘Kanye’ everyone’s gonna think about when I just called myself a creative genius and say ‘what’s so genius about this?’ But when people line up for the Yeezy, they say, ‘Oh wow this is really genius.’ You need that production — but currently in fashion there’s no black guy at the end of the runway in Paris.

7. And on this last point, Kanye’s not wrong either.

The spring 2014 Paris Fashion Week show schedule featured 99 shows. Of those 99, not one collection came courtesy of a black designer — male or female. (Though one major fashion house, Balmain, is currently led by a biracial designer, Olivier Rousteing.)

8. Important note: Olivier Rousteing is beautiful.


Following his appointment at Balmain in 2011, a spokesperson for the label explained that, having been raised in a French orphanage, Rousteing “doesn’t know the exact origins of his birth parents, but he identifies as a person of mixed race.”

9. So meet Patrick Kelly, the first African American designer to woo the Parisian fashion scene.

Think of him as Kanye’s predecessor — if Kanye wore more overalls, that is.

10. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Kelly’s love of fashion developed as a child.

A scene recounted in biographies/retrospectives of his work is that of his grandmother bringing a fashion magazine home. Six-year-old Kelly asks why there are no black women featured, and his grandmother says the magazines “had no time for them.” So lil’ Patrick is determined to change that. And he does.

11. A perfect Kelly quote on his hometown:

At the black Baptist church on Sunday, the ladies are just as fierce as the ladies at Yves Saint Laurent haute couture shows.

12. All grown up, Kelly moved to Atlanta where he opened a vintage clothing store. He’d upcycle designs, adding frills, buttons and an enticing sense of fun.

He also helped curate the window displays at an Yves Saint Laurent boutique in the city, and worked as a Barbizon modeling coach. Barbizon! And he became friends with the model Pat Cleveland, who pushed him to develop his aesthetic by moving to New York. New York! There, Kelly enrolled at Parsons to study fashion design… and then Pat Cleveland told him to move again, this time to Paris. Paris!

13. Kelly could not afford the move — but a one-way ticket soon popped up, anonymously, in his mailbox. So off he went. And it’s there he made his name.

He began work as a costume designer in a ritzy nightclub, selling his own designs on the side. His clothes proved popular, and he’d soon been offered space to both to create and show off his work in a Parisian boutique. His namesake label, Patrick Kelly Paris, followed.

Kelly pictured here with Iman, Grace Jones and Naomi Campbell.

15. Often described as “fun,” “frivolous,” “goofy” and “exotic,” Kelly’s work featured bold colors and oversize, novelty accessories like bows and buttons.

Vanity Fair / Via

16. His work often played with stereotypical, racially-charged representations of black and African American culture.


Watermelon hats (pictured left) and golliwogs popped up often — Kelly went as far as to use a golliwog as the logo for his brand. He owned a collection of over 3,000 “black dolls” which, he said in a People magazine profile, might have angered the NAACP but “they give me pleasure.”

18. And there were almost always lots of gaudy buttons.


20. Bette Davis was a big fan of his clothes. Now that’s an endorsement.

Pictured here wearing a Patrick Kelly sweater featuring his signature heart motif and colorful buttons.

21. And so was Grace Jones. Again, a ringing endorsement.

Among other celebrity clients: Princess Diana, Iman and Isabella Rossellini.

22. Also: here’s Madonna wearing a Patrick Kelly gown (and a really bad wig) in a 1989 edition of Vogue.

23. At the start of each show, Kelly would pop up on the runway and spray paint a large heart.

This became another of his trademarks.

24. In 1988, he was awarded membership of the prestigious Parisian Chambre Syndicale.

This is the French fashion industry’s governing body, in charge of the official Paris Fashion Week show schedule. As the first African American designer voted into the group, Kelly’s admission broke boundaries.

25. Patrick Kelly died on New Years Day, 1990, following medical complications brought by his HIV positive status.

(His passing was originally reported as a result of bone marrow cancer.)

26. In 2004, the Brooklyn Museum hosted a fantasic retrospective of his work, featuring over 60 original designs.

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