Welcome to the first day of the month and een bultdag, Wednesday, December 1, 2021: National Fried Pie Day, a delicious Southern treat. (My favorite is peach.) It’s also these food months:
National Pear Month
National Egg Nog Month
National Fruit Cake Month
Ignore the egg nog and fruitcake Here’s a fried peach pie. Admit it: if one were put in front of you, you’d eat it!
We can dispense with the last two. It’s also Eat a Red Apple Day (I prefer tart Granny Smiths), Wear a Dress Day, National Christmas Lights Day, World AIDS Day, and Rosa Parks Day, celebrated in Oregon and Ohio on December 1, the day she was arrested in 1955 for refusing to sit in the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That was a major impetus for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which itself helped spur the Civil Rights Movement. Here’s her mugshot after her arrest for refusing to “know her place”:
News of the Day:
*Omicron first: The variant hasn’t yet been detected in the U.S., but experts say it’s only a matter of time. In the meantime, Biden is preparing to impose very strict requirements for travelers entering the U.S., including covid-negative U.S. travelers:
In addition, they are debating a controversial proposal to require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days, even if their test results are negative. Those who flout the requirements might be subject to fines and penalties, the first time such penalties would be linked to testing and quarantine measures for travelers in the United States.
*More cause for concern about the new strain: The CEO of Moderna has pronounced that the existing Covid-19 vaccines are likely to be less effective against the Omicron variant than against other variants.
“There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview.
“I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good.'”
I’m an ex-scientist who agrees. Be prepared for a quick rollout of a new mRNA vaccine, and then, of course, a new mutant strain may arise. Financial markets took this into account by dropping substantially.
*Dr Mehmet Oz, the television doctor who dispenses large dollops of quackery with his “advice”, has announced that he’s running for the Senate from Pennsylvania. Guess which party he’s representing? (h/t John).
*There’s a spate of abortion op-eds today, for this is the day the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the Mississippi anti-abortion law, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the state banned all abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. (Endangering the mother’s life, thank Ceiling Cat, is grounds for exemption.) The Court won’t decide today, but it won’t be all that long, and I’m betting that while Roe may not be overturned, it will be gutted. This is just one of Trump’s odious legacies. So here are three op-eds:
*A NYT guest essay by Harvard Law professor Charles Fried explains the title: “I once urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. I’ve changed my mind.” Yes, it’s a clickbait title, but what are his arguments? Well, one was that there was no constitutional basis for allowing abortion:
Abortion implicates not only those liberties of the pregnant woman but also, in the opinion of some, the life of another person, the fetus. Although personally agnostic on that issue, I did not see how the Constitution provides a principled basis for answering the question. That Roe was a poorly reasoned extrapolation from Poe and the later Griswold case, which overturned the Connecticut law, was a position taken by many constitutional scholars, including John Hart Ely, Paul Freund and Archibald Cox. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg correctly predicted in a later talk at New York University, it was a leap that would shadow the law for decades to come. Perhaps better to have left it to legislation and the development of public opinion.
Sadly, we’ve learned that the states and public opinion are at odds on this one, with the public being far more pro-choice. But why the change of mind?:
. . . the law had changed since 1989. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, in 1992, a joint opinion of Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter reaffirmed the central holding of Roe and put it on a firmer constitutional basis: the dignity and autonomy of the pregnant woman and the equal rights of women more generally.
Since that time, Casey had been cited and used as a basis of constitutional reasoning in many decisions in many areas of the law, including gay rights and the parental rights of a surviving parent. The decision has not only taken root; it has flourished and ramified.
To overturn Roe now would be an act of constitutional vandalism — not conservative, but reactionary.
Well, I agree with his stand, but I think he’s grasping for legal reasons to keep Roe in place. While the Constitution allows equal legal rights for women, it ays nothing about “the dignity and autonomy of the pregnant woman.”
*There’s an opposing opinion right next door: Ross Douthat’s “The case against abortion.” His argument is nothing new:
At the core of our legal system, you will find a promise that human beings should be protected from lethal violence. That promise is made in different ways by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; it’s there in English common law, the Ten Commandments and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We dispute how the promise should be enforced, what penalties should be involved if it is broken and what crimes might deprive someone of the right to life. But the existence of the basic right, and a fundamental duty not to kill, is pretty close to bedrock.
There is no way to seriously deny that abortion is a form of killing. At a less advanced stage of scientific understanding, it was possible to believe that the embryo or fetus was somehow inert or vegetative until so-called quickening, months into pregnancy. But we now know the embryo is not merely a cell with potential, like a sperm or ovum, or a constituent part of human tissue, like a skin cell. Rather, a distinct human organism comes into existence at conception, and every stage of your biological life, from infancy and childhood to middle age and beyond, is part of a single continuous process that began when you were just a zygote.
Yes, abortion kills a zygote, but a zygote is not a human being, much less a sentient human being—any more than an acorn is an oak tree. We divide up continuous processes on moral grounds all the time: for instance, we don’t allow five-year-olds to drink, and many states have an age limit for charging people with “statutory rape,” even if the sex was consensual. Does Douthat’s Catholicism have anything to do with his opinion? Surely.
*For a personal view of a heartbreaking case, read the NYT op-ed by Michele Goodwin, a law professor at UC Irvine, called “I was raped by my father. An abortion saved my life.” Raped at 10 and pregnant at 12 by her father, her life and sanity would have been ruined under either the Texas or Mississippi laws (this is a case of both rape and incest). Note that she specifically criticizes abortion bans that don’t exempt rape or incest, and avoids the more general problem of abortions lacking those features.
*An academic hoax paper has surfaced which has gained traction because it confirms the fears of the Left. (h/t: Luana)
Higher Education Quarterly (a Wiley publication) which is just out with a howler entitled “Donor money and the academy: Perceptions of undue donor pressure in political science, economics, and philosophy.”
The study purports to demonstrate that “right wing” money is having a significant effect in pushing colleges to the right.
The first sign this is a hoax is that the article says the two authors, Sage Owens and Kal Avers-Lynde III, are on the economics faculty at UCLA, but I can find no record of their existence at UCLA or anywhere else, and no record of other publications by either author. I believe they do not exist. My suspicion is that the “authors” may be conservatives, or at least anti-leftists, who decided to see whether an article that flatters the deep biases of academia could get past peer review and into print.
There’s a lot more.
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 780,843, an increase of 893 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,236,948, 5,227,821, an increase of about 9,100 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on December 1 includes:
- 1824 – United States presidential election: Since no candidate received a majority of the total electoral college votes in the election, the United States House of Representatives is given the task of deciding the winner in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
John Quincy Adams was voted into the Presidency by Congress—the only President who won without a majority of both the electoral college vote and the popular vote.
- 1862 – In his State of the Union Address President Abraham Lincoln reaffirms the necessity of ending slavery as ordered ten weeks earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.
Here’s the original document that freed the slaves, though of course it had no effect:
- 1918 – Iceland becomes a sovereign state, yet remains a part of the Danish kingdom.
As of 1944, Iceland is a completely free and independent state.
- 1934 – In the Soviet Union, Politburo member Sergey Kirov is assassinated. Stalin uses the incident as a pretext to initiate the Great Purge.
- 1941 – World War II: Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives the final approval to initiate war against the United States.
Here’s the Emperor and his family photographed on the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941. Curiously, he was never indicted for war crimes; in fact, the U.S. protected him from such an indictment, and he continued to be emperor. His only “punishment” was that he had to renounce that he was an incarnated divinity.
- 1952 – The New York Daily News reports the news of Christine Jorgensen, the first notable case of sex reassignment surgery.
Unable to marry a man because her birth certificate listed Jorgenson as a male, she became a trans activist as well as an actress, and gained enormous publicity. She went the whole nine yards, getting both hormone reassignment and her male bits removed. I still remember her from my early childhood. She was courageous in her outspokenness. Her photo:
- 1955 – American Civil Rights Movement: In Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to that city’s bus boycott.
- 1988 – World AIDS Day is proclaimed worldwide by the UN member states.
- 1990 – Channel Tunnel sections started from the United Kingdom and France meet beneath the seabed.
Here’s a 7-minute video of the Tunnel joining (click on “Watch on YouTube”):
- 2000 – Vicente Fox Quesada is inaugurated as the president of Mexico, marking the first peaceful transfer of executive federal power to an opposing political party following a free and democratic election in Mexico’s history.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1761 – Marie Tussaud, French-English sculptor, founded Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (d. 1850)
- 1847 – Julia A. Moore, American poet (d. 1920)
Moore, known as “The Sweet Singer of Michigan”, is famous for writing really, really bad poetry—poetry so bad that it’s hilarious. She specialized in laments for the death of children (see a bunch of poems here). Here’s her photo; she’s the American equivalent of William McGonagall. (Don’t miss her poem “Little Libbie“, which contains these imortal lines:
While eating dinner, this dear little child
Was choked on a piece of beef.
Doctors came, tried their skill awhile,
But none could give relief.
She was ten years of age, I am told,
And in school stood very high.
Her little form now the earth enfolds,
In her embrace it must ever lie.
Her friends and schoolmates will not forget
Little Libbie that is no more;
She is waiting on the shining step,
To welcome home friends once more.
- 1913 – Mary Martin, American actress and singer (d. 1990)
- 1933 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (d. 2006)
- 1935 – Woody Allen, American actor, director, and screenwriter
- 1939 – Lee Trevino, American golfer and sportscaster
- 1945 – Bette Midler, American singer-songwriter, actress and producer
I love Bette. Here she is singing her well known song “Friends” with Barry Manilow, who helped her get her start. At the beginning of her career, they’d play together in gay bathhouses in New York City; he later produced her first album.
- 1949 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist (d. 1993)
Here he is in a 1976 mugshot:
- 1960 – Carol Alt, American model and actress
- 1970 – Sarah Silverman, American comedian, actress, and singer
The Divine Sarah is 51 today and I’m always available for wedlock. Here she is talking to Jimmy Kimmel, with whom she had an earlier relationship:
Those who went “home” on December 1 include:
- 1866 – George Everest, Welsh geographer and surveyor (b. 1790)
Everest was the Surveyor General of India, but had no connection with the mountain that bears his name: the world’s highest. Here he is:
- 1947 – Aleister Crowley, English magician, poet, and mountaineer (b. 1875)
- 1947 – G. H. Hardy, English mathematician and theorist (b. 1877)
- 1964 – J. B. S. Haldane, English-Indian geneticist and biologist (b. 1892)
“J. B. S.” as he was known, moved to India for the last seven year of his life. He adopted Indian dress; he’s seated on the left below:
- 1973 – David Ben-Gurion, Israeli politician, 1st Prime Minister of Israel (b. 1886)
- 1987 – James Baldwin, American novelist, poet, and critic (b. 1924).
You can buy a first edition and first printing of his great novel “Native Son,” for a mere $130:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili and Szaron are napping together (or rather, it looks as if they’re napping
Hili: Are you asleep?Szaron: No, I’m just giving that impression.
Hili: Śpisz?Szaron: Nie, tylko robię takie wrażenie.
From Athayde (click to enlarge):
James Carville on Republican dumbasses like Lauren Boebert:
Democratic strategist James Carville says Democrats ought to just ignore the abhorrent behavior and rhetoric of some Republicans such as Reps. Boebert, Gosar and Greene.
“These are not quality people… let them dwell in their own stupidity,” he said. “Don’t go there.” pic.twitter.com/mloyIBn4fp
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) November 30, 2021
What happened to Lara Logan, who reported for “60 Minutes” for so many years? She went to Fox News and now is a complete whack job. Josef Mengele???
This is why one of the nation’s top doctors has to have armed security. Because of kooks like this. https://t.co/JvHPyfsrX7
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) November 30, 2021
And a response to Logan from the Auschwitz Museum:
Exploiting the tragedy of people who became victims of criminal pseudo-medical experiments in Auschwitz in a debate about vaccines, pandemic and people who fight for saving human lives is shameful. It is disrespectful to victims & a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 30, 2021
From Steve: Dawkins pulls no punches!
Hume, Huxley, Fisher . . . will they come for Darwin next? Giants of the past sanctimoniously judged by nonentities of the present whose only qualification is still being alive to do so. How will the future judge our own time when we are not around?https://t.co/bd8uqr3Fkz
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 25, 2021
From Luana: A reponse to Dawkins. Oy!
Richard Dawkins an evolutionary biologist has said biology is real.
People are really angry.
As a trans person I personally think he should ignore everything coherent that he’s learned about biology in the last 80yrs… to not hurt my feelings.
— katøi (@katoi) November 29, 2021
From Ginger K:
This is a true story pic.twitter.com/FosPBAKKa5
— Calantha (@CalanthaTXBlue) November 27, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. Now here’s a cat who is not shy about making its needs known. That is, it’s a CAT:
My feline coworker is very subtly suggesting it is time to knock off now… 🤣 pic.twitter.com/YzqaxnWWMu
— Lucy Sunman (@lucysunman) November 30, 2021
WHO’S a bad cat? Raheem is!
To understand what it’s like living under Raheem’s regime https://t.co/dbM2hCXj8x
— Olayemi Olurin (@msolurin) November 28, 2021