Tuesday: Hili dialogue

November 30, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the cruelest day of the week and the last day of the month, Tuesday, November 30, 2021: National Mousse Day (for Hili it’s National Mouse Day).

It’s also National Mason Jar Day, Giving Tuesday (the woman who cleans my office, Carolyn, gave me some deep-fried turkey!), National Personal Space Day, and National Methamphetamine Awareness Day (I’m watching “Breaking Bad” these days and the day is appropriate). 

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) celebrates the life and work of Lofti A. Zadeh (1921-2017, who was neither born nor died on this day), described by Wikipedia as:

. .  a mathematician, computer scientist, electrical engineer, artificial intelligence researcher, and professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Zadeh was best known for proposing fuzzy mathematics, consisting of these fuzzy-related concepts: fuzzy sets, fuzzy logic, fuzzy algorithms, fuzzy semantics, fuzzy languages, fuzzy control, fuzzy systems, fuzzy probabilities, fuzzy events, and fuzzy information.

The guy was into fuzz. (These fields are above my pay grade.)

Wine of the Day:  You can’t get a better white than this for the price: a paltry $7.99. It’s a Spanish white—a Rueda—one of the great areas to find tasty bargains. Made of Verdejo grapes by the Gil Family estates, it is slightly off-dry, with a nose and flavor of fruit and flowers: most notably cantaloupe and honeysuckle. I had it with fettuccine Alfredo, and the slight sweetness complemented the salty, cheesy pasta very well.  This is a wine to buy by the case. I bought six bottles, and may go back for more. Very highly recommended, especially given the price. Looking for a white? Ask about Rueda and Albariño.


News of the Day:

*What’s new with Omicron? The WHO declared yesterday that the risk from the new variant is “very high”, though I’m not sure whether they mean the risk of spread or the risk of death. It’s clear that the variant spreads quickly: it’s everywhere (not yet identified in the US, but it has been in Canada):

Scotland, Portugal and Spain identified new cases of the highly mutated variant with officials in eastern Germany reporting an Omicron infection in a 39-year-old infected man had not been to South Africa or anywhere outside of Germany.

It’ll be two weeks or so until we know more about how spreadable and how dangerous it is. I don’t know if the world can take another big lockdown. Right now countries thoughout the world are banning travel coming from the outside. Moderna and Pfizer are getting ready to revise their vaccines, so get ready for another jab.

Here’s a NYT map about where in Europe the virus is surging most strongly (see the key below). The bad bits are the UK, Greece, the Low Countries, and much of Eastern Europe. Southern Spain, Sweden, Finland, and parts of Italy aren’t doing too badly.

*Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, contesting the big Mississippi anti-abortion law that bans nearly all abortions 15 weeks after a woman has had her last period. (That means that 11-week-old fetuses couldn’t be aborted, which is permitted by Roe v. Wade.) A Washington Post editorial, “The Supreme Court is about to prove just how political it is,” Paul Waldman lays out the outcomes:

  1. The court, citing stare decisis, or respect for precedent, strikes down the Mississippi law as a clear conflict with Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the two cases that established that states cannot place an undue burden on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion before fetal viability, which generally occurs around 24 weeks.
  2. The court strikes down Roe, allowing states to outlaw abortion.
  3. The court says it is not overturning Roe, but opens the door to abortion restrictions so broad that states can effectively ban the procedure.

If you listen to the expert commentary around the Supreme Court — and, granted, no one really knows for sure — the third option seems like the most likely. If that’s where the court goes, it will prove that all the protestations about how little the justices think about politics are false.

I think Waldman’s right about #3, but it seems complicated, with abortions being Constitutional still outlawed by states. It reminds me of marijuana, whose usage and sale are banned by the federal government but allowed by many states.  Maybe some lawyers can enlighten us.

*If ever there were futile talks in which one country dupes the rest, it’s the Iranian nuclear talks that have just resumed in Vienna after a five-month hiatus. Besides Iran, there are representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK, with “US representatives participating indirectly” (whatever that means). As you know, Trump pulled out of the agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran, and Iran’s been breaking its agreement with everybody else since then. Iran is demanding an apology from the U.S. the lifting of sanctions, and a promise that we won’t withdraw again.  As the BBC notes, we are being invertebrates:

Mr Biden’s special envoy, Robert Malley, has said the US is prepared to take all of the steps necessary to come back into compliance, including lifting the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

But he has also said the window for negotiations will not be open forever.

“If Iran thinks it can use this time to build more leverage and then come back and say they want something better it simply won’t work. We and our partners won’t go for it,” he told the BBC on Saturday.

Please give me a break: all we’re doing here is buying time until Iran gets its bomb, something that everybody knows will happen. What’s the point of talking? The futility becomes more evident when you hear this:

The spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces, Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, on Saturday urged the total elimination of the Jewish state during an interview with an Iranian regime-controlled media outlet.
“We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter. We want to destroy Zionism in the world,” Shekarchi told the Iranian Students News Agency.

I’ll add Malgorzata’s comment when she read the general’s statement:

If Iran talked this way about any other country it would become a pariah of the world, condemned, boycotted and sanctioned. But because they want to annihilate only the Jewish state, both the US and EU are more than eager to talk to them about uranium enrichment, to trade with them, and to have “normal” relationship with them.

Is it any wonder that Israel is trying hard to stop the Iranian program? Iran is sworn to destroy Israel, and could do so easily with a few nuclear weapons.

*Just as a male mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) appeared in a Central Park pond a couple of years ago, and was named Mandarin Patinkin, now another has shown up in Philadelphia. My sources on the ground have told me that the birders are packing Pennypack Park to see this gorgeous duck (they aren’t native to the US, so it must be an escapee). It seems to have taken up with a female wood duck (Aix sponsa), which are fairly closely related, and may be able to hybridize. But I’m not sure that this is a female woodie, as they look pretty much like female mandarins. A pair might have escaped.

The male duck in Philly. Isn’t it spectacular?

Photo by Mike Ricciuti

A female Mandarin duck:

A female wood duck:

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 779,293, an increase of 884 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,227,821,  an increase of about 8,000 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on November 30 includes:

  • 1782 – American Revolutionary WarTreaty of Paris: In Paris, representatives from the United States and Great Britain sign preliminary peace articles (later formalized as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).

The Last page of the Treaty, which ended the Revolutionary war. Note Ben Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay:

  • 1803 – The Balmis Expedition starts in Spain with the aim of vaccinating millions against smallpox in Spanish America and Philippines.

This was an expedition from Spain to the Americas, carrying boys with cowpox to serve as virus reservoirs. It was an expedition of conquest, but conquest of the deadly virus. The Spanish vaccinated millions of people in the area below:

  • 1803 – In New Orleans, Spanish representatives officially transfer the Louisiana Territory to an official from the French First Republic. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase.

Here’s the first page of that purchase, which cost the U.S. 60¢ per acre:

It was a tie: 0-0:

What a shame that this beautiful structure isn’t here any longer. Here are the before and after photos:

  • 1947 – Civil War in Mandatory Palestine begins, leading up to the creation of the state of Israel.
  • 1954 – In Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, the Hodges meteorite crashes through a roof and hits a woman taking an afternoon nap; this is the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space.

The hole in the ceiling through which the projectile entered. And poor Ann Hodges shows her huge bruise:

Still the only person known to be hit by a meteorite:

Can you guess #2-5? I bet you can’t, but go here to see them.

  • 1995 – Official end of Operation Desert Storm.
  • 2001 – Gary Ridgway is apprehended and charged with four murders. He was eventually convicted of a total of 49 murders.

Ridgeway killed about 70 people, and you don’t want to know the details. He’s in prison for life in the Washington State Penitentiary. Here’s a mug shot from 1982.

Notables born on this day include:

Those whose eyes closed forever on November 30 include:

Here’s Wilde’s cell in Reading Gaol, where he served two years at hard labor for sodomy:

  • 1954 – Wilhelm Furtwängler, German conductor and composer (b. 1886)
  • 1979 – Zeppo Marx, American actor and comedian (b. 1901)

Zeppo’s on the right, and there’s no Gummo. He later quit the act and became an engineer and a theatrical agent:

  • 1996 – Tiny Tim, American singer and ukulele player (b. 1932)
  • 1999 – Charlie Byrd, American guitarist (b. 1925)

Here’s Byrd playing “The Jitterbug Waltz”:

  • 2017 – Jim Nabors, American actor and comedian (b. 1930)
  • 2018 – George H. W. Bush, American politician, 41st President of the United States (b. 1924)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili regards a salad with disdain (Szaron was on the table, too, but wasn’t photographed):

Hili: This is not healthy.
A; This is very healthy.
Hili: This is not healthy for cats.
In Polish:
Hili: To nie jest zdrowe.
Ja: Bardzo zdrowe.
Hili: To nie jest zdrowe dla kotów.

From Facebook. Each Japanese child presses the area for getting get one of six desired greetings. It’s adorable!

From Jean, a New Yorker cartoon. Sadly, I am not allowed to nap.

Also from Facebook:

A tweet from Yahweh Himself, who describes his pronouns as “Thee/thou/thine”

I found this one in a thread Matthew sent, and it gets the Tweet of the Week award:

From Barry: This is the craziest cat I’ve ever seen, but wouldn’t you like a cat who did this?

From Dom. Seriously, this can’t be what it looks like: a big fat Trumpian distortion:

From Ginger K., who says “this woman may seriously be psychotic”. Maybe a kindly reader could verify this Robin DiAngelo quote:

Tweets from Matthew. This isn’t too bad if you like squid ice cream.

Matthew sent one from the Auschwitz Memorial:

Read the whole thread to see this adorable bear family. There’s a brief event of seeming tragedy, but everything turns out all right in the end.

Sound up to hear the cubs crying!

36 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. I could tell Di Angelo that I do not need any out-of-body experience to know where I am sitting. If she feels she is too white to go outside she should buy more sunscreen.

  2. I’ve done a quick and dirty search to verify DiAngelo’s “testimonial,” and it appears to be a quotation from a recent interview. Here’s the best reference to that, IMO: https://www.thecollegefix.com/bulletin-board/robin-diangelo-says-realizing-she-is-white-was-an-out-of-body-experience/
    So, if she had her “road to Damascus” experience when she was 34, she’s been steadily and increasingly foisting her neurosis on society for approximately 30 years now.😲

        1. Oops, sorry that was badly worded. I simply meant that the quote was genuinely from DiAngelo; whether she actually had the “out-of-body experience” described is another thing entirely…

          1. I wasn’t trying to pick holes in what you said, just point out that Di’Angelo likely made up the incident as part of her con job. I suspected that is what you meant by ‘legit” and just wanted to underline it.

    1. If you want to slow the spread of a virus, you have to act before you know everything about it. Although the various travel bans are not going to stop it spreading, as the authorities acknowledge, they may well give them extra time to research it.

  3. Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, contesting the big Mississippi anti-abortion law that bans nearly all abortions 15 weeks after a woman has had her last period.

    Of the three possible outcomes listed, the absolute best case scenario for Roe v. Wade would be for three Republican appointees — Roberts, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh seem the possible candidates — to come together to write a joint opinion (the way three Republican appointees — O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter — came together to write a joint opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey), affirming the central holding of Roe v. Wade and striking down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. I think the only basis on which they might do so is stare decisis, since all of them are abortion opponents who believe Roe was wrongly decided. This seems the least likely result, but, were they to do so, it would put Roe v. Wade beyond overruling for the foreseeable future, since it would greatly strengthen future arguments based on stare decisis. And were they to do so, the religious right (which has staunchly supported Republican presidents, who have made 11 of the last 15 SCOTUS appointments, including its Faustian bargain with Donald Trump, on the expectation that those Republican presidents would appoint justices who would overrule Roe v. Wade) will feel themselves utterly betrayed.

    If the Court in Dobbs overrules Roe outright, I think it will be by a 6-to-3 vote, with Chief Justice Roberts (who is by nature more of an incrementalist) throwing in the towel and joining the five hardcore justices to his right. I think Roberts (who is, after all, personally opposed to abortion and thinks Roe wrongly decided) would prefer to see the Roberts Court overrule a half-century old precedent 6-3 rather than by a bare 5-4 majority. Joining the majority would also allow the Chief to assign the writing of the opinion that overrules Roe. (Roberts would likely keep the opinion for himself and write as temperate an opinion as possible under the circumstances, concentrating on why Roe was misguided when decided. If Roberts doesn’t join the majority, the opinion-writing decision falls to the senior justice in the majority — in this instance, Clarence Thomas. Thomas would probably also keep the decision for himself, and write a hundred page diatribe about how abortion is murder and constitutes genocide against black people. I doubt John Roberts wants that to be the Roberts Court’s lasting legacy.)

    The most likely outcome of Dobbs is that a badly fractured Court upholds the Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, but resists the state’s entreaties to overrule Roe outright. This result would require Roberts to write, and at least one of the hard-right conservatives — again, likely Gorsuch or Kavanaugh — to join, a short opinion announcing the Court’s decision that the 15-week ban does not constitute an “undue burden” on women’s right to an abortion under Casey, and that any further consideration concerning the continuing validity of Roe and Casey can await another day and a case that squarely and unavoidably presents the question. The remaining hardcore conservatives would write scathing opinions dissenting in part, calling for Roe to be overruled, but concurring in the result in part to the extent that the Mississippi 15-week ban is being upheld. The three liberals would write opinions dissenting in part, saying that Roe and Casey should be fully affirmed (or even extended), while concurring in the result in part, solely to the extent that Roe and Casey are not being overruled.

    As I say, this last outcome seems most likely, but I wouldn’t want to make book on it.

    1. It’s definitely going to be curious how the conservatives voice their opinion. If Roberts throws in with the other conservatives so that he can write the majority opinion and keep Roe and Casey on the books (even while the ruling guts them), then I’d say it’s practically guaranteed that Thomas will right his own opinion saying Roe should be overturned outright. Then the question is who of the other four conservatives join in Roberts’ opinion vs. Thomas’. Wouldn’t it be curious if there’s only one signature out of nine on the “majority” opinion, with 5 signatures on a “concur in part” opinion and 3 others on a “dissent” opinion.

    2. We need to understand that regardless of the decision in this case that the hard right, which is not very different from saying the Christian right, will never give up its ultimate goal of banning abortion everywhere without exceptions and then to move on to its next goal of banning contraceptives everywhere. Due to their relentlessness that never wanes and the perversities of the American electoral system, it is not inconceivable that over the next decade or two that these goals may be reached.

      What can be done to prevent this? Obviously, there needs to be a “wave” election where on both the federal and state level the right-wingers need to be thoroughly repudiated. However, this doesn’t appear likely considering all the electoral obstacles against it happening. In the interim and in the alternative, a massive civil disobedience campaign is required, on the scale of the civil rights movement of the 1960s – peaceful, but relentless. Tens of millions of women and men will need to unite to defy these laws. Even a right-wing police state would not be able to resist the defiance. In addition, I have an idea that is perhaps fanciful and difficult to implement, but could be effective. It would require the intervention of a socially liberal billionaire. Why not create a series of offshore ships and/or converted oil rigs where women seeking abortions would be flown to these sites for the necessary care? It would be difficult for the right-wing religionists to shut down these sites if they are in international waters.

      The right-wing extremists are always yelping about their delusional fears that their freedom is in danger. Guns are their solution to the perceived problem. In contrast, peaceful civil disobedience is a long and proud American tradition. As the social fabric of the country continues to crumble, those that oppose the right-wing, religious minority’s attempt to make the country over in their image need to recognize that words along may not be effective resistance. Massive, peaceful civil disobedience will be required. We are witnessing a clash between two different cultures. Only one will ultimately win.

      1. First, I think you’re making a mistake in blaming the lack of a liberal wave on the electoral system. I think the public just isn’t as liberal as you think they are.

        Even though a sizeable majority of Americans want abortion to be legal in either all or most cases, that probably isn’t the single issue on which a lot of people vote. Trump didn’t win just on evangelicals, he won on a lot of people unhappy with immigration and the economic neoliberalism that both parties have practiced for the last 40+ years and which Trump somewhat uniquely rejected. And if you believe the anti-woke talk of a lot of moderate pundits, the middle is also just not comfortable with a lot of the more liberal policies the left talks about – ranging from trans rights to radically changing the healthcare system to free postsecondary education supported through increased taxes. I don’t know about all of that, but I will say that if Biden doesn’t turn the economy around, it won’t be gerrymandering or voting law shennanigans that is the real fault for the Dems losing in 2022 or 2024.

        As for your abortion/hospital boat idea, I can’t see any scenario in which it’s a good option. If abortion remains legal in blue states, paying someone’s bus fare and procedure costs to go a state where it’s legal is going to be immensely cheaper than setting up hospital boats. OTOH if we posit a future in which SCOTUS makes abortion illegal country-wide, then there’s nothing to stop states from making it illegal to go out of the country to get services that are illegal in the country. We already do that! Some forms of sex tourism are federally illegal. It’s a precedent that could be used by a state like Texas to make ‘abortion tourism’ illegal. They can’t do it now because the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US means they have to honor the legality of abortions done in other states. But in your dystopian theoretical future where that’s not an issue, going to an international abortion boat could be made just as illegal as having the procedure done in the US.

        1. Note that I am talking about peaceful civil disobedience, which is by definition doing something that is illegal and willing to take the consequences for such action. Prior to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, it was illegal for African Americans to sit at certain lunch counters in the South, but yet they did so. Yes, I was hypothesizing a situation in which abortion and the use of contraceptives were made illegal nationwide through right-wing extremists controlling the levers of government. An unlikely event perhaps, but certainly not impossible.

        2. … if we posit a future in which SCOTUS makes abortion illegal country-wide …

          THAT would take a constitutional amendment conferring “personhood” upon fetuses (which is the ultimate goal of the anti-abortion-rights forces). The argument that fetuses constitute “persons” for constitutional purposes was made by abortion foes during the Roe v. Wade litigation itself, but was roundly rejected, including by the two justices — Rehnquist and White — who dissented from the Roe result. There is simply nothing in the text or history of the US constitution that would support such an interpretation.

          1. “Nothing in the text or history” won’t stop the states from intentionally pushing test cases up to SCOTUS. And if Roe falls, that will happen. I’d be surprised if it takes even 5 years. Some state’s going to say IVF services that throw away a fertilized embryo = murder. And they’re going to ask SCOTUS to rule on whether a fertilized embryo is a person for purposes of law. More speculatively, as Historian says, some state could criminalize “morning after” pills on the grounds that the fertilized zygote is a person and so this is murder. Liberals are going to sue, and the courts will be asked whether a fertilized zygote counts as a person.

            In my mind, if Roe falls, that’s going to happen. Practically guaranteed. The important follow-on questions are: (1) whether the 5th or another circuit court would uphold such a law, (2) if that happens, can the liberal 3 convince at least one other justice to hear it, (3) if they do, can they convince a second conservative to join them in repudiating zygote-as-person legal interpretations?

            1. If SCOTUS overrules Roe v. Wade, it will be because a majority of the justices find that the right to privacy on which it was based is unsupported by anything in the text or history of the US constitution. That being the case, there’s no way those same justices can find a right to personhood on behalf of fetuses that’s not supported by anything in the text or history of the constitution. It’s not gonna happen — not in this lifetime anyway. Even the most ardent opponents of abortion realize this, which is why they recognize that their route to this result runs through a constitutional amendment. Unless and until that happens, abortions will remain legal in blue states.

              If Roe were to be overruled, the next big constitutional issue the courts will face is whether the red states that enact complete prohibitions on abortion will also be able to prohibit (under pain of criminal penalties) women who are residents of those red states from traveling in interstate commerce to obtain abortions in blue states where abortion remains legal.

              1. Has crossing state lines for a legal behavior in one state ever been held to be criminally liable in another state? That would seem to violate state’s rights.

        3. “Trump didn’t win just on evangelicals, he won on a lot of people unhappy with immigration and the economic neoliberalism that both parties have practiced for the last 40+ years and which Trump somewhat uniquely rejected.”

          I think it’s important to point out that what the typical Trump voter thinks they know about RP vs DP policies regarding immigration and the economy, and the history of them over the past several decades, is far from accurate. To be fair that’s true for many voters no matter how they lean, but the degree of disassociation from reality is notably higher among conservatives. The RP has been working hard for decades to achieve just that result.

          The RP and the DP have not practiced the same economic policies and haven’t achieved the same results. It’s not even close. The information on this is available for anyone who cares to look. Jblilie used to keep an updated graphic showing economic indicators across administrations. For decades the economy has reliably tanked under RP administrations and improved under DP administrations and the differences are significant. DP administrations have reliably made measurable improvements in the lot of the working class while the RP have reliably worsened the lot of the working class. But many conservative voters refuse to acknowledge the data or don’t have a clue that it exists because the RP has worked hard to get them to believe the opposite. And they’ve succeeded admirably.

          The RP has been lying and misleading about immigration for decades in order to scaremonger voters because they’ve learned that it works great. Much like abortion.

          The real issue is that too many voters believe too much false or distorted information and have been trained to respond in Pavlovian fashion with automatic scorn to certain key words they don’t even really know the meaning of, like ‘liberal,’ and ‘social.’ Worse, everyone, including the press and political experts, behaves or at least talks about these common conservative concerns as if they are valid. And because they are based on delusion trying to address them as if they are valid will never work. What needs to happen is to convince these people to look at the legitimate data and accept what the implications of it are, to align their views on these issues more closely with reality. But how the heck do you do that? How do you convince cult members to leave a cult? How do you convince marks that they are being conned?

        4. Aye, it could be made illegal to travel off shore to have an abortion but the state (or the U.S. government) would not be able to prove that an abortion actually happened. The foreign or high-seas clinic would be beyond American subpoena power and would never divulge medical information without the patient’s consent. To protect its patients, the boat could offer spa and wellness services as well as abortions, making it impossible to prove that the purpose of the trip was for abortion. The U.S. government would not even be able to prove that the boat even did abortions unless it boarded and searched her, violating the neutrality of the seas.

          Nay, the only way the U.S. or the State could enforce would be to impose exit controls in the form of a pregnancy test on every person who could conceivably be pregnant—remember men can be pregnant in today’s world—and then retest them on re-entry to detect loss of pregnancy during the trip. Don’t forget that HCG levels remain detectable for some time after a pregnancy ends.

          That would only be the start of it. No matter how passionately the anti-abortionists might want to do all these things, the great mass of travelers would not put up with it.

          If enforcement fails, the law falls.

          1. Subject every man— who just might be pregnant— to the same obstructions and intrusions that women face? I’m all for it.

  4. all we’re doing here is buying time until Iran gets its bomb, something that everybody knows will happen. What’s the point of talking?

    Nonproliferation in general has been pretty successful at ‘buying time’ over the past 60-70 years. We’ve had only three new nations join the nuclear club (India, Pakistan, NK), at least two turn back (South Africa, Brazil), and pretty massive reductions in stockpiles by the US and Russia from the height of the Russian stockpile in the late ’80s.
    So I think it’s well worth the effort to delay, delay, delay, with the strategic understanding that over decades, political attitudes towards the “necessity” of owning nukes can change the calculus of how much effort a country puts into it. Khamenei is 82 while Raisi is probably the most hardline President they’ve had in a while. This is as probably as gung-ho a leadership as we’re going to get. If we can ride out either one of them, we may see a more moderate President. And even if we don’t, we will have bought years of (nuclear) stability for our effort.

    1. I agree. Delaying Iran’s going nuclear for as long as possible is in the best interest of the rest of the world, including Israel.

  5. They say you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. but nuclear weapons must be removed from the inventory of ways to kill an awful lot of people. And, then there are the idiots who get war and religion mixed together, both here and abroad. GROG

    1. That will never happen (destroying all nuclear weapons) until it can be made impossible for any new ones to be constructed. … Which isn’t going to happen.

      How would you feel if only North Korea had nuclear weapons? Or Iran? Or Venezuela?

    2. A little game theory:

      Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is stable because 1) it makes a first strike on a nuclear-armed state irrationally suicidal and 2) it doesn’t rely on mutual trust. All players can assume all their adversaries are cynically cheating — except on agreements that can be independently verified by spy satellites — and none suffer loss if they turn out to be wrong. MAD eliminates the military utility of nuclear weapons for offensive war planning and thus ensures they will never be used intentionally. The only stipulation for the game to be stable is that all players must be rational, able to be deterred by the threat of incineration of their population and wreckage of their economies. And they should strive to not make errors, technical or judgement.

      Disarmament is destabilizing. A dishonest player has the incentive to cheat, to hide his arsenal instead of “ploughsharing” it. Then, if he assumes his adversary has in fact dismantled his arsenal, he will be tempted to launch a first strike on the defenseless adversary, thinking he can thus win the war. But if the adversary had also cheated and hidden (and protected) his arsenal (by putting it in submarines in the deep oceans) he would retaliate, destroying the attacker in return. Thus World War Three occurs, not just in spite of disarmament but directly because of it. What’s more, during the likely lengthy, staged process of disarmament there would be times when, given the uncertainty around residual military capacity, war hawks would advocate for pre-emptive war, “now, while we still have an advantage that will be lost in the next round of force reductions.” A closing window of opportunity is a potent stimulus for war because it encourages folly, FOMO if you like.

      If one or more players is not rational, even MAD may not keep the peace. If Iran’s leaders mean what they say, that they will attack Israel, a clandestine nuclear state, as soon as they can build the bombs to do it with, they cannot be rational in our way of understanding. Israel’s certain posthumous retaliation will wreck Iran. If they are not playing by the rules of MAD, then they must be ejected from the game, and disarmed by whatever means necessary before they get their Bomb. If we fail to do that, we have to hope they are only lying with their threats. But outside the MAD game, you do lose if you are wrong in your assumption the enemy is lying.

  6. Wonder how long it will take until Mr Ridgway is transferred to a women’s prison. Washington already has one male serial killer in a women’s prison (Donna Perry); Ridgway has but to ask, and he, too, will probably be granted his wish. And if that happens, the ACLU will do its best to cover up the news, so we’ll probably never know.

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