Discussion thread

July 14, 2021 • 12:00 pm

There is lots to do today, and to be sure there isn’t much news, nor any articles that interest me sufficiently to write about. It may be that I’m suffering from malaise, but no, I’m not getting the usual articles from readers about stuff that bothers or excites them. Many posts here are inspired by stuff sent by readers.

I’m wondering if I can get the readers to talk amongst themselves.  There are many news topics: Cuba, booster shots, where you want to travel now that restrictions are loosening, how Biden is doing, what will happen to Afghanistan,  and so on.

Or, what is bothering you today? We all have our worries, and maybe it’s something like the leak in my office ceiling I found this morning, which was repaired by a fantastic guy from facilities who performed technical feats I never could have done (it was a loose gasket in a very old copper pipe way up above the ceiling). Now it’s better.

Or what are you feeling good about? I’m taking pride in rescuing 8 ducklings from Botany Pond, including every one of a brood of six that was dumped into the water without a mother. (Try rescuing a one-day-old duckling and you’ll see what I mean).

Or how about them Cubs? (They suck, but the White Sox are at the top of the American League.)

These threads always seem to go better than I imagine, and I will feel I’ve succeeded if I get 50 responses.

Or, if you wish, ask me a question (not too personal!), and I’ll go through the thread later and provide what answers I can.

194 thoughts on “Discussion thread

  1. OK, I’ll bite, and this is NOT aimed at JC–in fact your comment about the guy fixing something in your office seems downright respectful. But especially having now lived in a rural TX county for almost two years (total population 4,000, half of whom in the county seat which still lacks a stoplight), I’m ever more convinced we liberals, especially those of us who’ve been career academics, too often don’t ACTUALLY have that much respect for truly working class people. Sure, we need them to wash our dishes at restaurants, fix our cars, and so forth, but I fear a fair amount of our current progressive discourse is actually quite tone-deaf, and thus insulting to those folks. And I very much fear this will hurt us with generally leftist views in the coming elections (I am one of 496 out of ~2500 voters in my county who went for Biden-Harris).

    1. If you mean “respect” as synonymous with “admiration”, then I think the reason why working class people don’t get as much of it as, say, MDs or engineers, is simply because that type of respect seems to work as a currency along supply and demand lines. People think of janitors and plumbers as people whose occupations do not require much in the way of skills and therefore there are more of them than meet the demand. Famous authors garner more respect because they thought to be rather rare in a population.

      There is another popular conception of ‘respect’ that really just means being kind to our neighbors regardless of what they do for a living, but here I don’t see the kind of disparity you note.

    2. Maybe because you live in a rural area, you see people thinking that way. I have homes in suburban Massachusetts and suburban south Florida and I see and hear a lot of respect for working class people from liberals. It is usually the conservative Trumpanzees who disdain the “foreigners”.

      1. Certainly take your point about the conservatives disdain, but my comment flows from 40+ years at Berkeley and Cornell, especially the latter, an Ivy League school in a very much rural context–and where I sometimes heard fellow (liberal) faculty refer to working class folks as “Woodchucks.” Wondering (no snarkiness intended) if you view the explosion of Wokey vocabulary and presumption everyone is up on it as respectful of working-class people?

      2. I have homes in suburban Massachusetts and suburban south Florida …

        A regular Lawrence of Suburbia there, ain’tcha, Bob? 🙂

      3. Trumpanzees,LOL?! I ‘ve seen that many times in recent years and have found in insulting; to the chimps! Anyone else agree? I wonder who started calling the supporters this and why.
        Either way, Make Apes Great Again!
        Today is World Chimpanzee Day, BTW…..

    3. I can well understand that concern. Although we educated liberal types are also roundly dissed by blue collar conservatives. I for one say over and over again that among the smartest people I know, who have the greatest practical knowledge, are skilled tradesmen. They use the scientific method (broadly construed) to figure out and solve problems that I can’t even get my head around.

      1. +1

        We have amazing technicians at my workplace. Magicians with their hands and brains. All could have been good engineers if they had wanted to go that route.

        I work with my hands a lot too; and I enjoy it — probably because it’s not for putting food on the table and paying the mortgage. If it doesn’t involve high ladders, rooftop work, or certain difficult or dangerous electrical work*, I do all the work on our house.

        Very recently: Replaced several doors: Slabs, hung steel doors, and sliding patio doors. Replacing wood lap siding and sealing/painting it. Replacing all of our (large) decks and their railing (done in pieces/stages). Adding a 10-camera video CCTV recording system to the house. Etc.

        (* I have added several circuits to our house, including 220V.)

      2. There’s a tv show on the BBC that has proved to be a surprise hit here in the UK called ‘The Repair Shop’. It’s a gentle, slow-paced show whose formula involves members of the public bringing in much loved but damaged objects such as paintings, furniture, old toys, musical instruments and so on. The appeal is based on several factors – the emotional back-story (often a link to some deceased but beloved relative who originally owned the object), the attractive location and the personable charm of the team, but a key element is watching skilled crafts-people at work putting new life back into objects that are seemingly damaged beyond repair. The calm assurance with which they diagnose the problems and fix them is admirable and fascinating.

            1. I’ve watched it on Netflix over the past couple of years. As far as I know it is still available on Netflix.

              It’s something that gives you hope that humanity might still have a chance.

              1. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available on Canuck Netflix.You’d think we’d have more access to British shows up here, what with the Queen and all. No fair🙀

              2. Yeah, that is weird. Do you get any of the BBC channels? It is actually a BBC show so may be available on a BBC channel.

                Don’t know if you use the BBC iPlayer at all, but some episodes are available there.

                BBC iPlayer, The Repair Shop

              3. Thanks. Only seems to work in UK. I’m going to try to request that my library buy it.🤞

    4. As an arborist and blue-collar worker my experience isn’t uniform. My best customers are not always, but mostly liberal. In fairness, I have some fine and respectful conservative clients.

      After 25 years of tree work, I have concluded that the top-tier intelligent arborists are more interesting to converse with than the dumbest bankers and lawyers (insert random white-collar job). Let me define dumb as not recognizing the expertise it takes to perform a difficult tree removal safely or to diagnose a disease or insect problem with dozens of common tree species in a given geographic area.

      I do my best to be respectful to every working person, and I abhor the “do you want fries with that?” lingo as a slur against food service workers. A nation can educate 100% of its citizens with Master’s Degrees and someone still has to do the cooking and cleaning.

      Illusory superiority plagues the masses, well-educated or not, blue-collar or white.

      1. If we lack respect for trained arborists, I put it down to the endlessly amusing “fail” videos on YouTube where the tree goes crashing into a house or a car. Of course, they are probably amateurs, if not before then definitely after.

      2. Totally agree with you, Glenn. I miss common courtesy. I miss manners. I miss a basic level of respect for people in general. And I am so tired of the attitude that “the rules don’t apply to ME!”

      3. As an arborist, do you have any advice on tools for trimming cycads damaged by the freeze?

        1. I would recommend using the International Society of Arboriculture’s web site. They have a database where you can query for Certified Arborists in your geographic area. Any arborist’s expertise is tied directly to the local climate, soils, and common tree species where they work. I have zero practical experience with cycads.

      4. After 25 years of tree work, I have concluded that the top-tier intelligent arborists are more interesting to converse with than the dumbest bankers and lawyers

        Surely that’s true of any two areas of human endeavour.

        ” the top-tier intelligent X are more interesting to converse with than the dumbest Y”

        where X and Y are any two areas of human endeavour.It’s the intelligence and the dumbness that is the deciding factor, not the particular values of X and Y, nor what colour collars they wear.

        1. Yea, that’s sort of, my point – that perhaps there is little socioeconomic overlap, (and hence respect in the US) according to job title, yet we should be more cautious in stereotyping according to job title.

          Maybe it was too trivial to post, but hey it was an open discussion thread.

  2. I just want to thank you Professor for maintaining such an outstanding discussion site. Your loyal readers likely do not tell you that enough!!

  3. My pet peeve right now is that I must fill in my email address and name every time I enter a comment, even though I check the box for “Save my name…”

    This has occured on my iPhone for months and now is occurring on my PC. Something is broken, WordPress.

    None of the login by icon work at all. If clicked is says “Connecting to WordPress | Google” forever and requires a cancel.

      1. My issue, although tolerable, is that when I post a comment it will sometimes appear quickly, or not appear at all until about 5 minutes later. It seems very much hit or miss, and it does not matter what web browser I use. I know its posted (and possibly visible to others) b/c if I go to your page within WordPress I will right away see my comment even while its not visible to me from the stand-alone links in Firefox or Safari.

        1. I have had that issue off and on on my iPad but, knock on wood, lately it’s been smooth sailing.

      2. I’ve got the same fill-in-the-name-and-email-every-time issue as Bob and the same occasionally, temporarily disappearing comment issue as Mark. Plus, still no edit function. Woe is me.

      3. Yes, I have this issue too. Around the same time it started, I also lost the function in the top right corner to see if a comment had been replied to.

      4. Still can’t edit, which is annoying just because a one time I could. If I knew of an easy-to-use app that would let me preview italic formatting that would be helpful.

    1. I always must put the email and name in as well. but all it requires is the first letter to get it. Continue to have no edit feature. I am on a mac-pro and use chrome.

        1. I’m on a Samsung Galaxy tablet with Chrome. I get an instant response with edit function if I need it. I’m in the UK. The world is full of anomalies.

        2. That’s definitely not true. I have been using Chrome and the edit function definitely worked for a little while. Also, I am pretty sure there’s nothing edgy about how these edit functions are implemented. These are all rock-solid web standards at this point. It’s likely some sort of interaction in the website’s configuration. Everything is done in this sort of website with components that come from a myriad of sources. They try to stay out of each other’s way but occasionally fail.

          1. Chrome worked briefly for me when the feature first started. Then it stopped (no option for it). Then is was intermittent for a short while; and now has been gone for good for a month or three.

            Edge works fine.

            1. Considering Chrome is used by 80% of everyone , WordPress needs to fix it. I use Chrome on phone and PC. PC just stopped working.

        3. I use google chrome on an MS PC and when the edit function was first introduced, and for quite some time after, I would always get the edit countdown when I commented and was able to use the function. I can’t say when, other than it’s been a while, but the function stopped showing up at some point and I haven’t seen it since.

          1. Ditto.
            Now my edit works on the iPad and not on the PC. Computers already figured out AI on their own against WordPress. Their ultimate goal of infallible frustration is going according to plan.

    2. I was just getting ready to say “me too” but this time I see that my email address is saved. Usually it is not, however.

    3. I think part of the problem is that WordPress uses a cookie to maintain login information but Apple’s browsers, by default, don’t allow cross site cookies. I had to disable the privacy option “prevent cross site tracking” to make my wordpress login work here.

    1. Not wearing a mask in public…I’m Pfizered up, so don’t know if it’s actually dangerous, but that’s about my limit this year. 😉

  4. Any coin collectors out there? I have a bunch of gold/silver coins, most graded by PCGS/NGC that I’m thinking about selling. I have no idea where to start. Ebay or another auction house? A local coin buyer? I’m not trying to make a profit, hopefully just break even, but I don’t want to get fleeced, either…obviously.

      1. Thanks, didn’t think of that…I don’t do social media or have any accounts. That might be a last resort. 🙂

        1. In San Antonio one of the jewelers buys and sells gold and silver bullion at current spot prices (Kitco) and also coins for historical value. You might check jewelers in your area.

    1. I recall that there used to be a price guide (probably more than one) for coins, and I suspect that there still is. Try Amazon. Obviously, those prices may not perfectly reflect the market when you try to sell, but it will give you an idea of what to expect.

      1. +1. Less of a Wild West than ebay in my experience.

        But beware of high prices where there is a single item for sale (only one person has it and puts it out there at a hope-inflated price).

    2. Actually, you could take pictures and maybe Jerry would post them here as a kind of broadened Readers’ Wildlife Photos set. It would be interesting, and I’m curious to see these things now. Knowledgeable people might magically appear to tell us about them.

    3. I collect old beer cans from the 1950s and 60s. How is that for weird ???

      Prices for all kinda collectibles are up significantly in the past year. Maybe coins are up also.

      I recently inherited a bunch of silver dollars from 1921 and 22, but I haven’t received them yet. My research determined that they may be worth as much as $135k each (extremely rare in uncirculated condition) down to $32 each (the price for an ounce of silver, ie, you’re paying for the metal, not the coin, as coins themselves are worthless) Hope this helps

    4. Thanks everyone for your suggestions, I appreciate it very much.

      Mark, I LOL’d when I thought about sending Jerry some coin photos. Some are very interesting…maybe if Jerry had a “Readers’ Collectible photos” category. Might be fun. I actively collect Marvel comic books, and that would be even more off kilter for WEIT. 🙂

      Dr. Brydon, I looked up price guides on Amazon, and there were so many, I got a little flustered, esp. since I have ancient coins that I can’t identify or grade and didn’t know if the books could help in that regard. I might just pick up a “US Coin guide” since that’s the majority of the collection, and US coins are straight forward. I think it would be a good benchmark at least.

      XCellKen: Beer cans from the 50’s and 60’s? I’d like to see some of those. My grandfather used to have a beer in his garage fridge. “Billy Bud?” I can’t remember, but I think it was from the 60’s. I just remember him telling my brother and I (as if we drank beer as children), “don’t drink my Billy Bud beer!”…I knew he was joking, sort of. And when it comes to coin-pricing discrepancy, yeah, I’m with you…it’s all about rarity, grade, and demand, just like any collectible. But that’s not always easy to find out. Good luck with your Silver Dollar inheritance. I presume Peace dollars or Morgans during those two years. Might be exciting.

      1. Here is a link to the album on my Facebook page which shows some of my collection: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.130257177025146&type=3

        And here is the article about my collection which appeared in the Houston Chronicle in 2013: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/food/article/Tour-a-chance-to-crack-open-a-can-of-nostalgia-5031962.php?t=9fc17ea78f97c6371e

        Are you sure your father wasn’t drinking Billy Beer? Came out in 1977, named after Billy Carter. The consensus was that it was gawdawful, and was gone before the year was out.

        I had my father purchase three cases of Billy Beer for my collection. It was his intention to drink the beer. He took one sip, spit it out, and told me he refused to drink any more. I then bottom opened the rest of the cans (leaving the top unmolested), and poured the beer down the sewer in front of our house. I pity your father if he was drinking Billy Beer.

        1. Congrats on your highlights by Houston Chronicle. Those are some nice labels. And YES it was Billy Beer. Haha, thanks! My grandfather was pretty much a racist guy, and he hated Carter, so don’t know why he cherished that beer, perhaps a sarcastic token. He was a Bircher for fuck’s sake. And I’ll add, that even know he was a bigot, he was a man of his times, and I’ve never judged him since his death 10+ years ago. Still love the man and the memories, no matter his misguided regard for human diversity and what it means. We’re all moving forward, I hope, but that doesn’t mean disregarding how we got here, and the humanist travails we still must face.

      2. What part of the country are you in? I know a few dealers who I’d trust.

        Otherwise, pick a few of what you have in the same condition and go on eBay to find something similar and put it on your watch list. Then you can find out what it sold for.

    1. Alexandra Petri’s list of 1-star comments from the mega-rich spoiled youth space tourists of the future was quite amusing and/or ugly—e.g.–

      “It was fine I guess but for the same amount of money you can shoot an endangered wolf from a helicopter and to me that’s more fun.”

      (A Drumpf dumbnut offspring?)

      “No gift shop!

      For what it costs it’s fine but the seats were tiny. I used it as an opportunity to imagine what it would be like if I ever flew commercial!

      Wouldn’t let me drive it even though that would have looked a lot cooler in the souvenir photo.

      Should have gotten a Lamborghini instead 🙁

      I was forbidden from bringing my emotional support peacock despite his being very well-behaved. I was so worried about him that I didn’t really enjoy it.

      Wouldn’t let us get out and didn’t even visit any other planets.

      Fine but setting fire to my Mercedes on TikTok was more fun and got way better engagement.”

  5. I have a few things to get done on my house at present. Insulating the ceiling in the garage and then putting in insulated doors. They don’t do these things in houses unless you get it done when building new so just do it later. The difference it makes temperature wise is amazing both winter and summer. If you live in rural America or a very red state you will all have the same problem as the comment from Texas indicates. You will not find much conversation, at least not the kind you want or that makes any sense. I just saw something the other day concerning Oklahoma. It does not make any difference what county you are in there, they are all red. They all voted Trump. So my advice, stay away from that state if you can. In fact, if you drive straight north from Texas to get away from it, you will not get out of the red until you hit Canada. Just fix up your house and stay in more until the virus is over. There are lots of unvaccinated idiots out there.

    1. Governments should be subsidizing interest-free loans on the capital costs of replacing old coal, oil, and even natural gas furnaces with geothermal heating.

      I did so, guessed the savings would obliterate the relatively high capital expense in about 10 years, but it looks more like about 8.

      Then it’s heating and air conditioning cost reduced by about 75% pure ‘profit’, quite apart from the environmental advantages. That’s the Canadian southern Ontario climate, so approx. > $4000 down to $1000 in higher electric bills (per year).

      Electric cars are more like 60% less as long as you start driving pretty conservatively like I did. Used to go skiing at ~ 95 k.p.h., just under the cops’ likely fining you—now barely bigger than the 80 k.p.h. speed limit.

  6. I am traveling next week for business for the first time since before Covid. I’ve flown once in the interim, but for some reason I am nervous. Not about Covid or fights on planes. I just feel so out of practice. I’ve been flying for business for over twenty years. It’s like a kind of agoraphobia.

    1. I haven’t been on a plane since pre-Covid either. I don’t have any plans to, but I’m sure I’ll be nervous as well. I don’t like flying anyway, so that adds to the anxiety. Good luck and safe journey.

      1. My wife and I have flown and my daughter, son-in-law and 2 granddaughters flew. My daughter-in law and 2 other granddaughters flew. Everyone was masked. These were either 1400 mile or 3000 mile flights in May or June. Everyone is fine (all adults are vaccinated).

        My son drove his Tesla from Seattle to Boston (5 days) because the dog (a rescue) is too nervous to fly.

    2. I suspect that flying right now is somewhat hellish for lots of reasons. There’s the angry anti-maskers on the plane, the gradual ramp-up of the airlines in bringing back planes and personnel, same for TSA people, and the sudden desire for everyone to leave town. I’m going to let the dust settle a while longer before taking flight. Good luck though.

      1. Especially if it is a stationary bike. No traffic. i stopped getting on commercial airplanes when I retired, so about 2003. I use to fly all the time for work things but now, I just do not care for the travel. Maybe I’m traveled out.

        1. The universe is expanding, so there is much more of it for you to see since you stopped flying.

          1. I have flown across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans many times but I would not mind going back to the first overseas place I lived many years ago. That was England and I never got back again. I was still a teenager at the time and it was just the beginning.

  7. Afghanistan: I reanimated a laptop from 1995 today and the first document I saw was an article on the then Taliban takeover in Afghanistan from ca 1998, first sentence ran something like this: The international intervention in Afghanistan was an attempt to turn an ethnically divided and tribalistic society into a modern nation state without even the minimal preconditions for such an endeavor.
    Recently I shuddered over a sentence from Ann Coulter from 2001 cited by someone, it went something like this: We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. A moment later, I realized that the whole Western establishment professed to something just as jingoistic and crazy: They invaded their countries, killed their leaders and tried to convert them to liberal democracy. In a country like Afghanistan, it might be easier to convert the average person to Christianity than convince them that all persons are equal in law and the laws of God and ancient tribal tradition can and should be overturned by a democratic majority if they run counter to modern liberal thought (which they do a lot).

    1. Although the TN situation is awful, I suspect it will get fixed soon. It seems like the GOP just didn’t realize the implications of their anti-vax moves. The pushback will cause them to back off.

      1. How optimistc you are, Paul!
        And what an unconscionable and disconcerting situation. I hope they heed Fiscus’ letter, but fear they’ll not.

        1. Perhaps I should claim retroactively that it was all tongue in cheek. Perhaps it was a random neuron firing. It’s not a hill I would choose to rest on.

  8. In the interest of getting you to 50 responses….

    What are you watching on TV when you lack the energy for more cerebral activities? One of my daughters recommended “Letterkenny” to me (it’s on Hulu). It’s a comedy based in a fictional small town in Ontario, utterly vulgar, and I laugh through every episode.

    Try it before you judge me.

    1. I don’t think that’s available in the UK…but if there’s really nothing worth watching we often find ourselves looking up back episodes of the panel show ‘Would I lie to you?’ Always good for a chuckle!

    2. I’ve seen “Letterkenny” on YouTube, but maybe not whole episodes. The only TV I ever watch is the NBC evening news. I used to get 60 Minutes but now I can’t even get CBS. I need a new antenna or something. (I refuse to pay for cable.)

      1. I dumped cable years ago. We now get all of our content via an Apple TV internet device for a fraction of what cable cost us.

      2. In the UK there are two free to air digital services called FreeView and FreeSat. Both transmit digitally, the first through a network of ground transmitters (like traditional TV but digital) and the second through a satellite. You can get quite a lot of channels through them e.g. all the old style broadcast networks and a lot of new and largely content free channels.

        Is there no equivalent in the USA?

        1. Yes, I believe. Although I have cable and streaming, I recently purchased a $30 digital broadcast antenna mostly to see how well it worked. I was amazed at the quality and the large number of stations here in the Los Angeles area. Although the antenna is analogous to the old rabbit ears, we’ve come a long way since then.

  9. I am about to get my first vacation in two years. I am burned out and tired and very ready for it. I typically get a long and one short vacation each year.

  10. Hope this isn’t a duplicate. I am fighting sarcopenia one rep at a time and increasing bicycle miles. My next action, after composing my lost post, is to get back to my 2nd plant biology course offered through Coursera from Tel-Aviv University. Deferred house maintenance, wondering about finding a reliable pet sitter for my cat, Virgil, and last two laying hens, Goldie and Goldie 2, so I could take off on a road trip with a new friend are all shifting in the background.

    My sluggish brain, insufficient science background and poor math skills make the course work least appealing. After my lost post, I asked myself what would Jerry (Professor Coyne, Emeritis, Professor Ceiling Cat Eternal) do, and I came up with course work. So hopefully I’ll make some progress there today.

    1. I’d love to know more about Coursera. I guess I’m just skeptical about such ventures, well, about most things really, always expecting things to be money-sucking scams but I’d dearly love to get back to university( speaking of money-sucking scams), if not for another degree, then at least the education. What I lack in intelligence I try to make up for in curiosity. Plant biology sounds fascinating. Good luck with that, let us know what it’s like, and good luck with your sarcopenia. I really don’t know what that entails but it can’t be good. Take care.

      1. I’ve taken a couple of terrific Coursera courses, including a genetics course from Jerry’s former student, Mohammed Noor, at Duke.

  11. I’m thinking about Mark Sturtevant’s caterpillar photos– the brown-hooded Owlet, a gorgeous colorful caterpillar becomes drab butterfly/moth. Why might that be?

    1. My personal rule is that for moths at least, beautiful caterpillars become very drab moths. This rule is often broken, but I choose to have confirmation bias about those.

      The real reason is that brightly colored caterpillars are likely toxic, and so they have warning colors. Adult moths fly at night, and even if they are still toxic their warning colors won’t help them much against enemies like bats. I still have questions about all this, though.

  12. Ah, travel. I’d intended to take a trip to Iceland to celebrate my 40th birthday last year, but that didn’t happen. I would still really like to go. I also want to fly out to Montana, rent a car, and visit as many dinosaur museums as I can in a week, while still leaving time to hike in Glacier National Park.

    1. Can you feel how envious I am through the screen?!!! That sounds wonderful! For my last birthday I think I had frozen pizza and some beer at home by myself, which is about the extent of my budget. A paleontology road trip sounds much more interesting. I haven’t even made the 4 1/2 hour drive to the Sternberg Museum, which is probably the closest one to me.

      I hope you make it to Iceland some day soon. How cool to be able to stand astride the mid-Atlantic ridge poking out of the ocean. Have you read Egil’s Saga and Eyrbyggja Saga? I’ve wanted to go ever since I read them for a university course. Say hey to the Huldufólk for me. Skál!

  13. We have been busily preparing to sell our Minnesota house, retire, and move to Washington State (Klickitat County), where we bought our retirement place 20 years ago.

    This has been a lot of work but fun and exciting too. Many “lasts”. In June it was: Last time to buy Minnesota tabs for these cars. As I change my computer password at work, each time it’s that last time I will use that one (I have a rotating set of 8).

    My wife retired last month. She is very relieved and happy. 30 years in the trenches of an urban elementary school. I knew in Feb/March that she couldn’t face another year. We lucky to be in a position to do this (we’ve been deferring gratification for decades to put ourselves in this position).

    As I tell my wife: We have only one more real estate transaction to make: Selling our place here.

    1. Congratulations on your upcoming retirements. I retired almost 20 years ago and I have been busier than before.

      1. Thanks! We will not be short of things to do, that’s for sure.

        We plan to travel extensively. We have great hiking, etc., right near us in WA. I plan to do much more photography, stand up a new shop that is 5X the size of my current one ( 🙂 ). We will be building a new house (always an adventure). We plan to play a lot more music; and I intend to learn at least three more instruments (piano, mandolin, ukulele; also hope to build and learn to play a ‘cello). Did I mention travel? 🙂 Also, more fine cooking. Sauerkraut making. Gin making (super-easy).

        First winter is: New Zealand with our son. Second winter: Antarctica, inspired by Jerry’s travels there. 🙂

        Last year, we just kept saying: Dammit, we’ve worked for 40+ years (and saved and deferred gratification), we are making it to retirement!

        My wife, “Great! I’ve worked and saved for 45 years and now I’m going to die of COVID on the threshold of retirement!”

        Thankfully, we are fully vaccinated (go science!) and she IS retired. I’m about 8 months out.

        1. We love sauerkraut making too. Or ‘krautchi’ or something similar. Now that I live in the western half of the state, I’ve really noticed how short the growing season is. Eastern WA is the bees knees for agriculture, imo. Grapes, fruit, wheat, hops, tomatoes.
          Do you have a tried and true method you prefer for your kraut?

          1. Nope on the kraut/kimchi/curtido. I’ll just be following books to start. We really favor Blue Bus kraut, etc., from Bingen, WA. I will likely inoculate with some of their juice!

    2. Congratulations, future Washingtonian! Which part of Klickitat? I have a deep and abiding love for Eastern WA.

      1. Thanks, I love eastern WA too. We are in the rural outback above White Salmon. Navel of the Universe! At about 2100 ft. elevation, views off Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Buying that place was one for the smartest things I ever did. It was really hard financially at the time; but a great move. The place was a major fixer-upper. All good now!

      2. I lived in Seattle from 1984 through 2002. I saw it change from a outdoor paradise to a super-expensive (even worse now) and crazy traffic place. (Well, OK, the traffic was always pretty bad.)

        Now my Seattle friends only hike in the Cascades on weekdays in summer.

        I loved Seattle; but I couldn’t live there now.

          1. Me too, the rain was a non-issue for me (coming from MN).

            Seattle gest about as much sun in winter as MN does! And you don’t have to shovel the rain!

            I always tell people I was made for the Seattle (marine) climate: Never gets very far from 50°F. Love it!

            Do you live in Seattle, Paul?

            Sadly, by the time I left, I went to very few concerts, etc., because my tolerance for the sitting in traffic had worn thin.

            1. No, I live in So. California. But I have been to Seattle many times. The first time was with my family for the ’62 World’s Fair when the Space Needle was brand new. As a kid my most memorable moment from the trip was when we camped in Salt Water State Park right on Puget Sound. The slugs were so huge and numerous that one couldn’t walk without squishing a few. The horror of my two younger sisters was delicious.

              1. Ha! Great stuff!

                I spent about a total of 6 months in Orange County, working for Boeing after the MD-Boeing merger. I stayed in Seal Beach (The Radisson, right on the PCH; now the Pacific Inn) and ate at Walt’s Wharf almost every night (I was younger and had a faster metabolism then).

                I loved it. I roller-bladed on the bike path along the San Gabriel River every afternoon after work.

                I was born in North Ridge; but I don’t remember it. I’ve driven the entire length of US 101/ CA 1 (Olympic Peninsula to San Clemente), except the parts south of San Onofre Park.

                The six months in OC made me realize I couldn’t live in CA (too urban, too expensive, traffic). Great place to visit though — especially on Boeing’s nickel.

              2. I live only a few miles from Seal Beach, just over the border into LA County. I actually ride my bike on the path next to the San Gabriel River, which runs less than a mile from my house.

                I love Walt’s Wharf. There was fear that it had closed permanently due to the pandemic but I hear it’s back.

                I don’t know when you lived in my area but the entire LA area is way, way better in terms of smog than it was in, say, the 1970s. Obviously, it is still very urban. Living near the beach we have virtually ideal weather. Only a couple of days a year are we really hot.

              3. Hi Paul,

                I was there in the late 1990s: 1996-1998 time frame. I did not notice much smog, even in June. I’d go down for 2-4 weeks at a time over a couple of years. Couldn’t see the mountains most days; but that was about it.

                The beach areas in LA County and OC are really lovely. It really does seem like paradise (remembering the Eagles lyric). Walking the beach around Huntington Beach: As long as you aren’t by the pier, virtually no people!

              4. The haze on most days is a natural feature of the area and is just water vapor (mostly). I believe that the local Native Americans called the LA area “the valley of the smokes” in their language. Since you mention Huntington Beach, it has become locally notorious in recent times as a local Trumpist hot spot. Lots of anti-mask demonstrations and such. Oh well.

          2. Oh, I5 is the worst. I was headed home from SeaTac (which should be an hour and four minutes) on Saturday and it took nearly three hours. Stop and go the entire way south.
            I love the rain though. And it’s been terribly dry, I think this is our 27th consecutive day with no measurable precip. That is not good. We also lost a bunch of our snow pack in the heat dome, so the rest of this summer is going to be a bear. Bring back the rain!

            1. We rarely visit Seattle anymore, because of the traffic. We try to time our travel to miss most of the traffic. The traffic around Tacoma (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) is amazing (in a terrible way).

              If I need to go north of Seattle, I sometimes drive over Satus Pass, Ellensburg, Snoqualmie Pass, and go north on 405 from Bellevue. Works well as long as you don’t hit the morning rush at 90-405.

              The I5 corridor is just brutal.

    3. I just did the same thing a few years ago (sold my house in Minnesota to retire elsewhere), but I am in the Shenandoah valley of VA. Anyway it was a great decision and have not regretted it for a moment. Don’t miss the Minnesota whether at all, either. Best of luck to you.

      1. My two favorite places on the planet are Sweden and the Shenandoah Valley / Blue Ridge. Are you anywhere near Sperryville?

    4. You’ve been here on WEIT longer than I have (I think…I’ve been here for about 10 years) and I remember way back when you first mentioned moving to WA upon retiring. Great to hear you’re so near to your long-time plan. And it sounds like you have a beautiful location. Is your son and wife familiar with Washington? It’s always a bigger deal for school-aged kids to move: new school, new friends, missing friends. I guess that’s an issue for adults too, but it’s always exciting to move…and a big pain in the ass. 🙂

      Anyway, welcome back to the state. My wife and I live about 30 miles NE of Seattle. I lived in Seattle from 1989-1998, and moved back to WA in 2007. But this time, we didn’t want to live in the city for reasons you mentioned. Up here, we get the best of both worlds- we live on 15 acres in the boonies where it’s easy-going and no traffic, but are close enough to Seattle for weekend visits and such (it’s still an amazing city with lots of happenings…and the food/drink scene!).

      1. Thanks! Are you in Marysville area or even further north? (I’ve dirven I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver countless times. Also simply north of Everett to access the peaks of the North (and central) Cascades.

        Both have been going to White Salmon since 2004 (my wife since 2001) and have spent time in western WA and OR too. Jamie has grown up on two homes; his first trip to White Salmon was when he was 6 weeks old. He graduates from HS next June and that times our move to WA. He loves White Salmon.

        He is very likely to attend WSU/Vancouver following a gap year. We visited the campus in 2019 and he loved it.

        (I’ve been commenting on WEIT since about 2009, IIRC.)

        1. Last time I drove the WA side of the gorge stopped at a real happening gluten free bakery (maybe in Bingen?) that had a drive through. Got a couple of hand-pies (they had vegan options too). We also stopped at the historic train in Wishram. I would love to try wind-surfing one of these days, I hear White Salmon is a great place for that.

          1. One of the top 4 wind surfing locations in the world!

            Very likely that was in Bingen (a few hundred vertical feet down the hill from White Salmon, on the river).

        2. We live in the outskirts of Monroe, a city about 16 miles SE of Everett. Hwy 2 goes through the city, which is a thoroughfare for getting to the central Cascades and over Stevens Pass…and don’t forget to stop at the cute town of Leavenworth (Bavarian themed).

          Jamie is lucky to be moving right after graduating HS…perfect time to leave- you guys are good planners. And great that he already knows and loves the new digs. I have a couple friends who graduated from WSU, they loved it; I’ve never been. UW was my U, so we’re football enemies. Just kidding, I don’t follow either football team. Though I admit to watching and enjoying the Apple Cup every year…except last year, of course.

          1. I know Monroe very well. Driven through a zillion times on the way to the central Cascades peaks, Steven’s Pass skiing, Leavenworth for rock and ice climbing (and the Enchantments). Never got around to kayaking the Wenatchee R though: The western rivers were too convenient.

            I spent a lot of time on the various forks of the Snoqualmie, especially just the “Powerhouse” stretch below the Falls. We would put in, paddle upriver to the first drops below the Falls and just play there in the standing waves, etc. Never go downstream.

            Sometimes we’d go between the Powerhouse and Fall City. There was a killer standing wave with easy eddy access about halfway along. We’d surf that puppy until we got too tired to do it.

            I have done some Cl 4 drops; but I was a Cl 2 – Cl 3 boater really. Reliable roll and rarely went over (except when playing on waves); but the big scary stuff wasn’t for me.

            1. Wow, you’ve had some fun adventurers up here! Much more than I’ve experienced. I’m more of an ambling hiker. And I used to ski and snowboard, but haven’t for years.

              1. All I did in the 1980s was: (besides working) Mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and white-water and sea kayaking. I spent nearly every weekend night in a tent. It was a blast. But the ground has gotten much harder and colder over the last 30 years! 🙂

    5. Welcome to a wonderful retirement life in Washington. Klickitat County will be lucky to have the two of you. Your wife might be able to substitute if that appeals to her. I live up the road in Olympia. It can be bat shit crazy here at times but I love it and also love the tranquility and incredible beauty of your area. I hope you two have a happy and healthy retirement there.

      1. Speaking of Olympia – some great news (in my opinion). The Capitol Campus opened up to visitors again and this month, and we (volunteer legislative tour guides) get to resume our tours! My last one was in February of 2020. I was scheduled for March 17th – but cancelled because I had run a slight fever the weekend before. I was worried it might be the COVID – and even missed a concert (March 9) that I had been very much looking forward to. Why was I worried about the plague? In Jan & Feb we took the kiddo to the Seattle Aquarium, The Tacoma Zoo, The Tacoma Aquarium, and several other busy public locations in King County. Bad timing for Octopus week, I suppose. All that said – of all the closures and general awfulness of this last year and some – what I’ve missed the most from my routine is that monthly volunteer slot that restores my faith in both humanity and democracy.

  14. If there were any climate change deniers here abouts (not many) they will be quiet. I live in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia and during last week’s “dome” the high temp was 112f. I don’t think it has ever gone much above a hundred.

    1. My daughter is up in Seattle for the first time (we live in Florida), and I think she is like, “What is wrong with you people? Why don’t you have air conditioning!?” Live and learn.

      1. We don’t have air conditioning because we don’t usually need it. It may be easy to folks to think we can all just run out and buy one – but the problem is the big complexes (apts, etc) where the infrastructure just isn’t there and it will be a huge cost to make it so.

        1. Yes, I lived in Seattle 1984-2002 and never (never) felt the need for AC. I didn’t bother to get AC on my cars I bought then (much to my chagrin when I returned to MN in 2002!)

    2. Going to be visiting my son in Salmon Arm in a few weeks. Hope it’s cooled down a bit by then and the fires are not worse. We’re driving from Ontario. Drove through the now almost extinct town of Lytton a couple of years ago😿 on our way to Pemberton.

  15. While I won’t go into the things that are getting me down (and today just won’t stop, it seems) – I am very excited about an upcoming trip to Haines, AK. I’ll be overnighting in Juneau on either side to accommodate the ferry. My hotel is just blocks from the Capitol building and the state history museum. Cannot wait.

    1. Sounds wonderful! I’m not a “cruise person” but three are on the list:
      Inside Passage to AK
      Traversing the Panama Canal (about the only practical way to do it is on a commercial cruise)
      Antarctica, as inspired by Jerry’s travels there

  16. Amusing observation: The crowd clamoring to prohibit teachers presenting CRT in the classroom is the same crowd that promotes the Discovery Institute’s “Academic Freedom Bills” to liberate teachers to “teach the controversy”.

    1. According to the Model Academic Freedom Bill:

      “This Act only protects the teaching of scientific information, and this Act shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine…”

      To the extant that’s true it removes it from the realm of CRT, which makes no pretense of being scientific, or even logical.

  17. Does anyone know about cycads? The freeze on the Gulf coast of Texas got mine, but now they are coming out at the top and the bottom, and there is all kinds of weird stuff growing in between: one or two kinds of mushroom, mold in green, white and black, colonies of tiny ants (termites?). I am in the process of cutting back the dead arms or fronds, or whatever you call them. Any advice?

    1. My mother has one that got sunburned (early spring sun in Missouri) then suffered a nasty invasion of scale insects, but no frost damage that I know of. I suppose that so long as the roots and trunk (?) are ok then it will recover, but they do seem rather slow growers. I guess all you can do is cut it back, clean it off, repot it, and hope for the best. Sorry I don’t have more specific advice. They seem pretty tough though.

  18. I’ve just hit Chapter 10 of the Report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. (Daniel Morgan was a private investigator found murdered in a London pub car park with an axe in his head in 1987. Despite four police investigations and several covert intelligence gathering exercises his killer(s) have never been brought to justice.)

    The officer who led the third and fourth inquiries into the murder was privately stockpiling police documents about the murder (and other cases) in order to write one or more books. A huge quantity of material was found stored on electronic devices, some of them deliberately hidden in a guest bathroom, when he was arrested and his house searched. The Crown Prosecution Service estimated that if printed on A4 paper they would have amounted to two times the height of the Eiffel tower. Some of the material, including legally privileged documents and personal information about witnesses including those looked after by witness protection officers and marked “Secret”, had been shared with journalists – in some cases before the documents had been disclosed to lawyers. A judge believed that he had also influenced evidence provided by one of the key witnesses; the case collapsed. Astonishingly, this was one of the good police officers in the case…

    The report is far drier than the BBC’s fictional police corruption drama Line of Duty, but nevertheless makes the TV show look like a teddy bears’ picnic by comparison. (One of the suspects overlooked by an early investigation was a former police officer who had nearly amputated the foot of someone sent to repossess his car after he failed to keep up the payments – he later threatened a former partner using the same make and model of axe as the one used in Daniel Morgan’s murder.)

    The Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick, is criticised in the report, but nevertheless is seeking another term of office. She may not be successful: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jul/14/two-police-watchdogs-could-investigate-cressida-dick-over-daniel-morgan-case

        1. Btw, the dude had over £1,000 in cash in his pocket (a pretty good amount back in ’87) – it was still there when his body was found…

  19. I recently learnt three interesting things about Cornish pasties:

    1. The reason for the semicircular shape of a pastie is that the Cornish tin mines had a lot of arsenic in the ore rock, which the miners would pick up on their fingers. The shape of the pastie allowed the miner to eat out the middle of the pastie and then throw away the crust that he had handled.

    2. The miners’ wives would prepare the pasties in the morning of a working day, then go down to the mine in time for their husband’s lunch. They would then yell down the shaft: “Golly, Golly, Golly, oi, oi oi” (the significance of this should be evident if you have ever seen Australian supporters at the Olympics).

    3. Some pasties were prepared with a savoury section in one end and a dessert section at the other end, separated by a pastry barrier. This account is disputed by the citizens of Barnet, who claim that this innovation came from the Midland coal mines.

    1. Barnet? Or do you mean Barnsley? (My dad, still with us at 91, was a miner not far away from the latter.)

      1. Yeah, Barnet is in the south, Barnsley in the north: the Midlands (hello!) you’ll not be surprised to hear, is in the middle. These YouTube videos are fun , but I’m afraid this is all nonsense, sorry.

    2. There were (are) many Cornish miners on the northern Minnesota Iron Range(s). The great side benefit: Loads of pasty shops up there! Yum!

  20. Despite being totally vaxed I still wear my mask in Manhattan (along with about 10-20% of people) partly out of an abundance of caution but also b/c I don’t like to signal the idea of “It is ooooover!” b.s. b/c covid is utterly NOT over. Especially given new strains could cook up a much higher case fatality rate AND R0 rate.
    A C.F.R. of, say, 10%, maybe one that targets kids, say, could be a civilization ending proposition. Yet people don’t seem to ‘get’ that. Or statistics. Or anything….

    And the selfish stupidity of the anti-vaxers is driving me batty – esp the GoP and its media’s ACTIVE contribution to the problem. The morality of that is stunning.

    On Taliban: I took a lot of interest in The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban-land) in 1996-2001 as I’m interested in fundamentalist religion and insane political systems. It was a nasty, nasty place and I can honestly see no alternative to the entire evil edifice returning soon.


    1. The entire evil edifice appears to be certain to return soon and maybe not just in Afghanistan but in parts of Pakistan, if reports of Pakistan troops surrendering quickly to the Taliban fighters. Taliban nuclear weapons anybody?

  21. This is a late entry into the exchange begun above with Comment #18. Some years back, a small group of us Seattle troublemakers stole the Republican nomination for the state office of Commissioner of Public Lands. In the general election, we called for ceding all of eastern Washington to Idaho, and if
    Idaho refused, we proposed invading to force them to take it. Our platform also called for turning the Boeing Company into a wilderness area, and for replacing Whidbey Island altogether. Our candidate proclaimed his commitment to “lawn order”, and identified himself as a Warren G. Harding Republican.
    When we discovered a Warren G. Harding podium behind the ape house at the Woodland Park Zoo, we held a rally there. Our candidate never campaigned in Washington State himself, so as to avoid injecting personalities, such as his own, into the political process. At a press conference, we said he was running on his record. “What is his record?”, a reporter asked. “Two arrests, no convictions,” was our reply.

    Our campaign, underwritten by Chairman Lorenzo W. Milam of KRAB-FM, cost about $600. In the
    general election, we got 200,000 votes. For full details, see:
    https://www.krabarchive.com/ralphmag/JH/greene-campaign.html .

  22. Was The Dialectical Biologist ever useful, important to you? I’ve been curious for a long time. Thanks

  23. I’m wondering if I can get the readers to talk amongst themselves.

    Actually, you may want to consider making this a regular type of thing. Eugene Volokh does that on his law blog The Volokh Conspiracy every Thursday and the topics are usually eclectic and entertaining. He calls it the “Thursday Open Thread.”

  24. As COVID waged on, the resistance to diversity statements was lost. Administration at the University of California and others, however, continued slowly removing departmental autonomy by requiring diversity statements and judging candidates based first not on merit but on race. At many of the UC’s especially Davis where Abigail Thompson first sounded the alarm, almost all new faculty searches will first be evaluated on their diversity statements at the administrative (rather than department level).

  25. Wow-Jerry did not have a lot to say- but we did! My comment is that I am so happy to have felt safe enough to travel and go see my mother. She turned 90 during the pandemic, and no daughters came to see her. Now I am happily eating invertebrates with her in North Florida!

  26. I’m just finishing reading Matthew Cobb’s book “The Idea of the Brain” and I highly recommend it. The only disappointment for me was that he doesn’t talk much about research on language and the brain.

  27. Recently saw the critically acclaimed movie Seahorse, “that charts a transgender man’s path to parenthood after he decides to carry his child himself. The pregnancy prompts an unexpected and profound reckoning with conventions of masculinity, self-definition and biology, ”

    The movie was all about his feelings, with scant little thought given by him as to the actual resulting child, and to what that might mean. (He was even mildly annoyed that all the baby clothes he was showered with, had to be sorted by age— newborn, onesies, etc. )

    Apparently, he was surprised that he was not listed as the Father on the birth certificate, because he repeatedly said he wanted to become “a Dad, ” but the hospital listed him as the “Mother,” which he undeniably is. (The sperm was purchased from a company.)

    He lost his first lawsuit to have this reversed on the birth certificate, but he intends to take it to higher court. Family and friends were shown to be very supportive, up to the birth part anyway, but how can a person deliberately plan on having a child, and to make the entire experience just about them?

    1. ‘Sperm purchased from a company,’ sounds like a bad excess (well, one of the negatives for the child) of single motherhood: not to know who your father is.

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