Welcome to the gateway to the weekend, Friday, November 19, 2021: National Macchiato Day. (In the morning I have a latte, which is usually the only coffee I drink all day, but sometimes after lunch I’ll have an espresso as a digestif. Macchiatos have a paucity of milk for a morning wake-up drink, and it’s also my breakfast.)
World Toilet Day is celebrated with “urgent runs” throughout the world. Here’s one in Germany in 2014 (note the flying toilet rolls):
News of the Day:
*Just hours before Julius Jones was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma yesterday, Governor Kevin Stitt commuted the execution to life without parole. Jones, 41, was convicted of murder in 2002 at the age of 19, maintains that he’s innocent, which is usual for the condemned, but the parole board already recommended twice that he be declared at least eligible for parole:
Mr. Stitt, a Republican and death-penalty supporter, announced that, after “prayerful consideration,” he had reduced the death sentence for the inmate.
I don’t care if he prayed to Zeus or Satan; Stitt did the right thing, and kudos to him for it. It didn’t hurt that there was a countrywide campaign to spare Jones’s life by celebrities and regular people, who affixed seven million signatures to a change.org petition.
*In the NYT, columnist Thomas Edsall assesses Democratic election prospects next year and in 2024. His message is in the title, “Democrats shouldn’t panic. They should go into shock.” It’s full of depressing poll results, like these:
An examination of Gallup survey results on the question “As of today, do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?” reflects the damage suffered by the Democrats. From January through August, Democrats held a substantial 7.9 point advantage (48.2 percent to 41.3 percent). In September, however, Gallup reported a 2-point (47-45) Republican edge that grew to a 5-point (47-42) edge by October.
It’s one piece of bad news after another. Perhaps passing the infrastructure bill and the social safety-net view will ameliorate Democratic losses, but the article implies that’s not enough. There’s Afghanistan, the border, and the economy, stupid:
And no one foreshadows the dangers ahead more succinctly than Larry Summers. In his Nov. 15 Washington Post column, Summers, a former secretary of the Treasury, warned: “Excessive inflation and a sense that it was not being controlled helped elect Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and risks bringing Donald Trump back to power.”
*Religion continues to wane in the West, even in Catholic Italy. The Washington Post reports that an increasing number of Italians are asking to be “de-baptized”, with an estimated total of around 100,000. The procedure doesn’t have anything to do with water, but involves filling out a form that you wish to leave the Church. The Church, bleeding adherents everywhere but South America, doesn’t like this at all:
The de-baptism is finalized once an applicant declares the intention to abandon the church and the decision is registered by the church authorities, normally the local bishop.
But according to canon law, anyone who goes through the procedure is committing the crime of apostasy, which, Mombelli said, comes with “severe consequences.”
An apostate immediately faces excommunication from the church, without need of a trial. This means that the person is excluded from the sacraments, may not become a godparent and will be deprived of a Catholic funeral.
“There’s a substantial difference between the sin of apostasy and the crime of apostasy,” Mombelli said. “An atheist commits the sin because it’s an internal decision, and they can be forgiven if they repent. An apostate, instead, manifests their will to formally abandon the church externally, so they face legal consequences for their decision.”
I don’t really know what the legal consequences are, but to believers you’re going to burn in Hell as well as all the above. The reason? Well, the motives for debaptism vary among apostates, but many of them simply don’t identify as Catholics any more: they see themselves as either “nones”—people not affiliated with any church—or atheists.
*The latest episode of academic cancellation involves Professor Allyn Walker of Old Dominion University in Virginia: (h/t Maurie)
On Tuesday night, university officials announced that Walker had been placed on administrative leave. Reactions to Walker’s book and academic research “have led to concerns for their safety and that of campus,” have disrupted campus and are interfering with teaching and learning, officials wrote in a statement online.
(Walker, who’s transgender, uses the plural pronoun.) But he’s not promoting pedophilia or attraction to minors:
Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, said Wednesday that the research is aimed at keeping children safe from predators — a goal Walker, who is transgender, said they have had since working as a counselor and advocate for victims.
“The idea that I’m somehow condoning child sexual abuse is absolutely outrageous,” Walker said. “I really think it’s a coordinated effort about attacking the LGBTQ community” and academic freedom.
To me, sex offenders are not just minor-attracted people, but those who act on those impulses; in other words, they’re pedophiles. Regardless of whether you accept this distinction—one student read the book and “noted that it gave pedophiles ‘a pat on the back’ for not acting on their attractions”— suspending Walker for his book title (A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity) is a violation of academic freedom and perhaps of the First Amendment. (ODU is a public university.) The President of the University issue the usual “free speech but” statement:
Hemphill also said that ODU “remains committed to providing an environment in which our faculty can and will engage in rigorous research. At the same time, this freedom carries with it the obligation to speak and write with care and precision, particularly on a subject that has caused pain in so many lives.”
Speak and write with care and precision? Is certain language forbidden, then? Another government act of speech censorship. of speech. Emit counterspeech, picket or demonstrate, but don’t formally punish the professor.
*P.Z. Myers has had a field day attacking the University of Austin on his website, for he considers all its members right-wing nobodies (he apparently forgot people like Geoff Stone, and ironically characterizes Ayaan Hirsi Ali this way: “Ali…I don’t know. Has she ever taught anything? What research does she do?” In the main, I agree with Myers’s view that the U of A is ill-conceived, but, as usual, he can’t control his venom, and seems to advance a stereotypical view of Jews as sticking together and hating all Palestinians. He said this while dismissing Bari Weiss, a U of A “founding advisor”:
“Then we get a couple of nobodies: Weiss is an ex-journalist and promoter of right wing ideologies — I guess with her in charge we won’t have to worry about any Palestinian faculty getting tenure.”
If there were a Palestinian woman on the board, would Myers say, “I guess with her in charge we won’t have to worry about any Jews getting tenure”? But he wouldn’t say that of course, because, like all his odious acolytes, he loves the Palestinians and dislikes Israelis, who he sees, as per the stereotype, as a self-buttressing and oppressive cabal.
*The BBC reports that “Big Ginge,” a moggie, who went missing after he jumped out of a “longboat”, which I guess is a moored houseboat they live on, has returned home after an absence of ten years. Earlier this year Big Ginge was found in Lichfield, and identified because he had a chip. But nobody nows where he was during that ten-year hiatus. At any rate, everyone is happy again and Big Ginge has joined the other two cats, Weasel and Diesel. Here’s Big Ginge and his staff along with the houseboat from which he absconded (h/t Gravelinspector):
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 767,408, an increase of 1,157 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,150,361, an increase of about 8,200 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on November 19 includes:
- 1493 – Christopher Columbus goes ashore on an island called Borinquen he first saw the day before. He names it San Juan Bautista (later renamed again Puerto Rico).
- 1863 – American Civil War: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremony for the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
There are two pictures of Lincoln at Gettysburg! Here’s one; I’ve circled him:
- 1942 – World War II: Battle of Stalingrad: Soviet Union forces under General Georgy Zhukov launch the Operation Uranus counterattacks at Stalingrad, turning the tide of the battle in the USSR’s favor.
- 1943 – Holocaust: Nazis liquidate Janowska concentration camp in Lemberg (Lviv), western Ukraine, murdering at least 6,000 Jews after a failed uprising and mass escape attempt.
Here’s a grim story (from Wikipedia):
In the Janowska concentration camp, the Germans conducted torture and executions to music. The orchestra members, inmates of the camp, were required to always play the same tune, “Tango of Death”. Pre-war Polish Lwów Municipal Theater’s noted Jewish musicians were among the members. Simon Wiesenthal claimed lyrics of the “Tango of Death” were written by Emanuel Szlechter, inmate of the camp and writer of lyrics to several Polish pre-war hit songs.
During hangings, the Germans ordered the orchestra to play tango, and during tortures, the musicians had to play foxtrot. Some evenings the orchestra musicians were made to play under the camp commander’s windows for hours on end.
On the eve of Lwów’s liberation, the Germans ordered 40 orchestra musicians to form a circle. The security guards stood around the musicians tightly and ordered them to play. First, the orchestra conductor, Jakub Mund, was executed. Then the German commandant ordered the musicians to come to the center of the circle one by one, put their instruments onto the ground and strip naked, after which they were killed by a shot to the head.
A photo of the orchestra players was one of the incriminating documents at the Nuremberg trials.
- 1950 – US General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes Supreme Commander of NATO-Europe.
- 1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean land at Oceanus Procellarum (the “Ocean of Storms”) and become the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.
Here’s a video of the Apollo 12 landing taken from cameras outside the module (click “Watch on YouTube).
- 1998 – Clinton–Lewinsky scandal: The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against U.S. President Bill Clinton.
- 2004 – The worst brawl in NBA history results in several players being suspended. Several players and fans are charged with assault. It’s called “The Malice at the Palace.”
Man, this is bad: it started, as you see, with a simple foul, and then a shove, and a melee ensued, with players going into the stands to punch some spectators:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1831 – James A. Garfield, American general, lawyer, and politician, 20th President of the United States (d. 1881)
Garfield was assassinated, but it took him two months to die, largely of infection. And that’s because his doctors probed his wound for the bullet with their unsterilized fingers. And of course there were no antibiotics then.
- 1862 – Billy Sunday, American baseball player and evangelist (d. 1935)
Known for his animated sermons, Sunday was originally a professional baseball player before he had an epiphany and became an Evangelical Christian. Here’s one of his sermons:
- 1905 – Tommy Dorsey, American trombonist, composer and bandleader (d. 1956)
- 1917 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, Prime Minister of India (d. 1984)
- 1933 – Larry King, American journalist and talk show host (d. 2021)
- 1936 – Dick Cavett, American actor and talk show host
- 1956 – Ann Curry, Guamanian-American journalist
- 1962 – Jodie Foster, American actress, director, and producer
- 1966 – Shmuley Boteach, American rabbi and author
Honey’s boyfriend this spring, and father of her and Dorothy’s ducklings, was named Schmuly, partly after Shmuley Boteach. Author of the bestseller (in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) Kosher Sex, he was pretty salacious for a rabbi, even extolling extramarital sex and sex toys. We have this anecdote about him:
After Kosher Sex was excerpted in Playboy, Boteach received two tickets in the mail for a big party at the Playboy Mansion, but his wife wagged her fingers at him and said: “No bunnies for you.” [JAC: she was a Bunny Nazi.] Backstage at The Today Show, he ran into former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who asked for a signed copy of the book. At the same time, the book caused a stir in the Orthodox community—even so, in the summer of 2012 it was the most checked-out non-fiction book in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which houses the center for Chabad Jewry in America.
His daughter opened up Kosher Sex boutiques in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: here’s one:
Those who slipped away on November include:
- 1703 – Man in the Iron Mask, French prisoner
He was in prison from about 1669 to 1703, when he died, and he wore not an iron mask, but a velvet cloth in front of his face. The prisoner has never been identified, though many candidates have been floated.
- 1828 – Franz Schubert, Austrian pianist and composer (b. 1797)
- 1887 – Emma Lazarus, American poet (b. 1849)
Lazarus, a Jewish writer and activist, wrote the famous lines engraved on the Statue of Liberty, part of her poem “the New Colossus”. Here’s the manuscript and the lines on the Statue; a transcription is below with the statue’s inscription in bold
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Those lines are so appropriate for the statue, located next to Ellis Island, and always choke me up.
- 1915 – Joe Hill, Swedish-born American labor activist (b. 1879)
Hill, an activist and bigwig in the labor organization the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, called “wobblies”), was executed for murder in 1915. His photo:
- 2014 – Mike Nichols, German-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1931)
- 2017 – Della Reese, American singer and actress (b. 1931)
- 2017 – Mel Tillis, American singer and songwriter (b. 1932)
Here’s my favorite Tillis song, “Send me down to Tucson“. He had a terrible stutter (see that here), but it completely disappeared when he sang. This is unusual for a country song as it extols adultery.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Editor Hili is urging Andrzej on:
Hili: We work well together.A: I can hear a “but”.Hili: Yes, you have to concentrate more.
Hili: Mamy dobrą współpracę.Ja: Słyszę jakieś ale.Hili: Tak, musisz się bardziej skupić.
From Stephen, a poorly designed sign:
From Masih, an Iranian mother weeping for son two years after he was killed in the 2019-2020 Iranian protests. As Wikipedia notes, “Amnesty International reported that the Iranian government threatened families of the killed protestors against talking to the press. The families were forced to not arrange any funerals and to instead to carry out secret burials.”
closed the roads in & out of the village. Agents were present in numbers & no one dared to record. I sent this video to a family member as soon as I recorded it in case an agent forced me to delete it which happened. I later recovered it from the family member.#PejmanGholipour
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 18, 2021
A tweet from Barry, who says “Now that’s what I call living!” It looks to me like the moggy has a special hammock built onto the car door. This actually should be a dealer’s option on every new car.
Traveling in style! 😸☺️ pic.twitter.com/1v4xtPEjWa
— Dave (@SpotTheLoon2010) November 18, 2021
From Ginger K. Who would have guessed that chickens like musical notes? The second video shows the music.
I did not know this was a thing. Checked YT for a video:https://t.co/KNddkYI6ME
— Paul Corr (@pjcgcguy) November 12, 2021
From the Auschwitz Memorial. There are nearly skeletons.
18 November 1943 | First prisoners arrived at a newly created Ebensee camp – part of the Mauthausen concentration camp system. Out of 27,278 male prisoners, some 8.200 lost their lives there. https://t.co/2z8pII4BYO pic.twitter.com/ppXk4JmR2A
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 18, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Look at all the rays that the fisherman doesn’t notice!
Look at this fisherman… completely unaware of a school of rays swimming so close behind him
A group of rays is called a fever
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) November 18, 2021
A groaner from Matthew, who likes these things:
What’s the difference between a dog and a marine biologist?
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••⁰One wags a tail and the other tags a whale.
— Bunsen and BEAKER (@bunsenbernerbmd) November 18, 2021
A frightening statistic:
More Americans have died of Covid than in all wars since 1900 combined and we have done a LOT of war.
— alex halpern (@HalpernAlex) November 16, 2021