That was the place*

I'm back from Salt Lake City, where city blocks are 660 feet long and there's not much to do after nine o'clock at night other than send e-mail over the Internet-equipped TV in one's hotel room, a bit of backward technological wizardry that's like sending a fax by toaster. I was there for this conference. Some of the most interesting research presented there had to do with the epidemiology of New York. One abstract presented claims that educational (as opposed to, say, income) inequality is not associated with deleterious health effects at the neighborhood level. The theory, I suppose, is that a handful of PhDs benefit their environment in a way that a handful of rich folks do not. Again, this result is not to be hyped with abandon, merely chewed over and followed up on. Perhaps it might even turn out to be true.

Another study showed that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets (and we all know which those are) might be associated with increased mortality. These and more juicy morsels of half-cooked scientific progress can be browsed (or ignored) here.

On Friday I went to Temple Square and let the Mormons try to convert me. I very much enjoyed it. How often does one have access to someone whose job it is to answer questions about their religion?

Where did I spend Shabbos, you ask? Thereby hangs a tale. I was a good boy, ideologically consistent to a fault, and called the Conservative synagogue in Salt Lake City. The friendly secretary let me know that the shul wasn't really "set up" for that sort of thing, and suggested I call Chabad. Instead, I had recourse to the hospitality of this very friendly community. Outside of New York, egalitarianism and Sabbath observance often seem to be mutually exclusive. (This is neither logically nor conceptually necessary, but it is the fact of the matter.)

Meanwhile, my friends have been keeping up their e-mails about the construction of modern Jewish culture. It's like a machine for the hands-free generation of blog posts! I'll get those out sometime, but maybe not until I'm back from Germany. (A wedding, mainly. Also, a talk in Hamburg, at the Salomo-Birnbaum-Gesellschaft, on June 30th, on today's Yiddish poetry. Books available for purchase too, of course. . .)

Didja know that folks are writing today in Yiddish? It's true, but not necessarily in the way you expected.

*"This is the place": What Brigham Young is supposed to have said as he leaned out his wagon to survey what would become Salt Lake City, otherwise known to Mormons as "Zion."

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