Thursday: Hili dialogue

December 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, December 2, 2021: National Fritter Day. Corn fritters are, I think, the best example of this genre, preferably with a bit of syrup:

It’s also Business of Popping Corn Day (celebrating the opening of the first company selling commercial popcorn machines in 1885), National Mutt Day, Safety Razor Day, Play Basketball Day, and the UN holiday International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.  (See here for “modern” forms of slavery.)

Today’s Google Doodle is a clever gif that celebrates the birthday in 1859 of pointillist Georges Seurat (click on screenshot):

News of the Day:

*Well, the verbal arguments in the Mississippi abortion case were heard yesterday, and, based on the Justices’ question,s things don’t look good for Roe. v. Wade

The court’s six-member conservative majority seemed divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks, for now at least, or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions at any time or entirely.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was the leading voice on the right for a narrow decision. “The thing that is at issue before us today is 15 weeks,” he said.

He repeatedly questioned whether the viability line was crucial, saying that Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of the majority opinion in Roe, had called the line arbitrary in his private papers. Chief Justice Roberts added that much of the rest of the world has similar limits.

Roberts, who I expected would be more open to upholding a 50-year-old precedent, appears ready to join the other 5 conservative justices in rendering Roe inapplicable in one way or another. My prediction, which you needn’t be a savant to offer, is a 6-3 vote in favor of dismantling the precedent. To the new Court, “stare decisis” translates as “throw the bums out.”

*In a related op-ed by the editors of the Washington Post, “Gutting ‘Roe’ would devastate millions of Americans—and the court itself,” the group argues that we’re neglecting the effect of overturning Roe on the court’s credibility:

The court’s authority derives not from its ability to enforce its declarations — it lacks any such power — but from the fact that Americans respect its decisions. Those decisions must reflect something greater than mere whim or raw political power in the Senate. The court should overturn precedent only in exceptional circumstances. The justices must exercise particular care in the case of Roe, because the court previously reviewed and reaffirmed it in Casey, reinforcing its status as the law of the land. In such a circumstance, the court should reverse only decisions that have proved, with the wisdom of hindsight, to be wildly bad. That is not the case with Roe or Casey.

They’re right, of course, as most Americans favor the Roe stipulation of freely chosen abortion—at least up to 24 weeks. But what happens if the court overturns that decision, as it most likely will? The court will continue on as the highest arbiter of the law, no matter how the public feels. So what if its credibility is diminished?  And abortion will probably be banned or restricted in nearly half of the American states.

*Adhering to principle rather than income, the Women’s Tennis Association, in light of the near-disappearance of star player Peng Shuai after she accused a high Chinese government official of sexual assault, decided to abandon any future women’s matches in China. The WTA isn’t satisfied that Shuai is “safe” despite what seem to be hokey videos made to dupe the public.

Though the decision could cost women’s tennis hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue, WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon said he would willingly cut off one of the sport’s largest business partners until Ms. Peng’s status was clarified.

Other sports organizations, such as the National Basketball Association and soccer’s English Premier League, have previously found themselves in conflict with China over various matters. But the WTA’s move to suspend the nine tournaments it has scheduled there for next year appears to be unprecedented in global sports.

Good on them!

*The CBC has produced a list of words “you may not want to use” (i.e. DO NOT USE). They include words whose etymology, like “black sheep,” has nothing to do with racism (anything with the word “black” in it is now taboo.) The National Post (of course) takes the mickey out of this speech-policing.  (h/t Leslie)

*Lia Thomas, a woman swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania, turned in a record-breaking performance in a meet against Cornell and Princeton.

[Thomas] blasted the number one 200 free time and the second-fastest 500 free time in the nation on Saturday, breaking Penn program records in both events. She swept the 100-200-500 free individual events and contributed to the first-place 400 free relay in a tri-meet against Princeton and Cornell in her home pool.

Thomas is a transgender woman, who competed as a man for three years before switching to the woman’s team. (h/t Luana)

More on transgender athletes later today (if I’m not too tired to post).

*Scientists have found a fossil dinosaur in Chile which is really weird, with a weapon heretofore unknown: a horizontal slashing tail equipped with spikes. (Matthew is guaranteed to love this one.):

Fossils found in Chile are from a strange-looking dog-sized dinosaur species that had a unique slashing tail weapon, scientists reported Wednesday.

Some dinosaurs had spiked tails they could use as stabbing weapons and others had tails with clubs. The new species, described in a study in the journal Nature, has something never seen before on any animal: seven pairs of “blades” laid out sideways like a slicing weapon used by ancient Aztec warriors, said lead author Alex Vargas.

“It’s a really unusual weapon,” said Vargas, a University of Chile paleontologist. “Books on prehistoric animals for kids need to update and put this weird tail in there. … It just looks crazy.”

The plant-eating critter had a combination of traits from different species that initially sent paleontologists down the wrong path. The back end, including its tail weapon, seemed similar to a stegosaurus, so the researchers named it stegouros elengassen.

After Vargas and his team examined the pieces of skull and did five different DNA analyses, they concluded it was only distantly related to the stegosaurus.

A reconstruction on the AP website (their caption):

This illustration provided by Mauricio Alvarez shows a Stegouros. Fossils found in Chile are from the bizarre dog-sized dinosaur species that had a unique slashing tail weapon, scientists reported Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (Mauricio Alvarez via AP)

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 782,826, an increase of 847 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,245,169,  an increase of about 8,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on December 2 includes:

In the “new” Cathedral is a plaque honoring Wren (below). It’s very moving, and the translation says, in the second and third line from the bottom,  “Reader, if you seek his memorial, look around you.”  I could say the same thing about my Ph.D. advisor Dick Lewontin.

Here’s the synagogue, which is still used for worship by Ashkenazi Jews:

Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island

Here’s Brown in the year he was hanged:

  • 1865 – Alabama ratifies the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, followed by North Carolina, then Georgia; U.S. slaves were legally free within two weeks.
  • 1867 – At Tremont Temple in Boston, British author Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States.

Dickens writing in 1858:

Here’s the Model T; after 1914, all of them were painted black. It’s regarded as America’s first affordable car. At one time half of all the cars in America were Model Ts:

And the spiffier Model A, which came in many styes and prices:

Here’s a drawing of the reactor, which stood just a block or so from where I’m writing: under the stands at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field. The site is now occupied by a Henry Moore sculpture depicting “Nuclear Energy”, and looking vaguely bomblike. In the summer it’s inundated with, ironically, Japanese tourists.

The sculpture:

  • 1949 – Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others is adopted.
  • 1954 – Cold War: The United States Senate votes 65 to 22 to censure Joseph McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute”.
  • 1956 – The Granma reaches the shores of Cuba‘s Oriente ProvinceFidel CastroChe Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement disembark to initiate the Cuban Revolution.

Here’s that fabled boat:

Clark lived 112 days tethered to the power source, but asked several times to be allowed to die.

She was also a secularist, though she wore a hijab. Here she is:

Here’s his body with the Colombian special police who killed him. The search for Escobar lasted months and cost millions. His legacy is a bunch of undocumented “cocaine hippos” that he imported for his personal zoo, and are now breeding in the rivers and lakes of Colombia.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1859 – Georges Seurat, French painter (d. 1891)
  • 1923 – Maria Callas, American-Greek soprano and actress (d. 1977)

La Callas singing Puccini’s “Vissi d’Arte” at Covent Garden in 1964:

  • 1930 – Gary Becker, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2014)
  • 1968 – Lucy Liu, American actress and producer
  • 1973 – Monica Seles, Serbian-American tennis player

Seles introduced the GRUNT into women’s tennis, an affectation I despise. Here she is grunting away:

  • 1981 – Britney Spears, American singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress
  • 1983 – Aaron Rodgers, American football player

Those who took The Big Nap on December 2 include:

  • 1547 – Hernán Cortés, Spanish general and explorer (b. 1485)
  • 1594 – Gerardus Mercator, Flemish mathematician, cartographer, and philosopher (b. 1512)
  • 1814 – Marquis de Sade, French philosopher, author, and politician (b. 1740)
  • 1859 – John Brown, American abolitionist (b. 1800)
  • 1986 – Desi Arnaz, Cuban-American actor, singer, businessman, and television producer (b. 1917)

His real name was Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, and he never actually said, “Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do.” He said this:

Perhaps the most infamous and viciously debated line on the internet, this oft-quoted and memed Ricky Ricardo line is more of a paraphrase, as he never says this exactly. He said things like, “Lucy, ‘splain,” or “‘Splain that if you can,” which evolved into this misquote.

  • 1990 – Aaron Copland, American composer and conductor (b. 1900)
  • 1993 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord (b. 1949)
  • 1999 – Charlie Byrd, American guitarist (b. 1925)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is outraged that Kulka has taken her favorite spot. Look at Hili’s expression!

Hili: She is sitting in my favorite place!
A: I understand your hurt.
In Polish:
Hili: Ona siedzi na moim ulubionym miejscu!
Ja: Rozumiem twoją krzywdę.

From Ginger K., who says, “One of my Jewish friends who is a pharmacist sent me this pic. She says she did not create the menorah.”

From Bruce:

From Nicole:

A tweet from Simon that he calls, “Two gay men explore botany.” (He worries that this may pollute our family-oriented website.) Be sure to watch the video to appreciate the cleverness of natural selection.

An Instagram post via Amy:

From Cate:

From Ginger K.: Live and learn:

Tweets from Matthew. First, the perfect Xmas gift:

Tooth-achingly cute:

It looks as if nobody got to England, New Guinea, or Madagascar:

107 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. I don’t understand – I mean, a hedgehog is a hedgehog, and can never be anything but a hedgehog – likewise with website.

      ^^^edited for more obvious allusion

  1. My grandfather made a pretty good living working on those Model T Fords in his early days in the 20s. He worked for the dealer for a time and then built his own shop. He never worked for someone else after setting out on his own.

    1. I don’t understand – I mean, an apple is an apple, and can never be anything but an apple – likewise with website.

    1. “We carried out phylogenetic analyses with five different datasets modified from recent studies…” (from the Nature paper). Meaning phylogenies using morphological data. The AP reporter saw “phylogenetic” and thought “DNA”.

  2. To the new Court, “stare decisis” translates as “throw the bums out.”

    What stare decisis will mean going forward is, “Don’t bother filing a case; we’ve already decided it based on who the litigants are.”


  3. “It looks as if nobody got to England, New Guinea, or Madagascar:”

    I suspect that those locations were far out of time-synch with the nearby areas on mainland, making a confusing graphic if accurately depicted. Certainly true for New Zealand (Maori arrival circa 1320 CE).

    Billionaires starting out as millionaires’ kids: Of course, some bright kids will use that elevated platform to go higher. Don’t forget to count the millionaires’ kids who are failures or nonentities.

    The professional tennis grunt: I, too dislike it. But many, many players do this now; and everyone, including the players seem to have gotten used to it. It’s only “impeding” the other player if you do it when the other player is hitting, so it’s not illegal. There was a time when it was attempted to prohibit it; but it was too hard to enforce (my memory tells me).

    1. In the case of Britain, it was still a part of the European mainland up until about 6500 years ago, when “Doggerland” was flooded by rising sea levels. Even under current conditions the crossing of the channel is much easier than, for example, crossing into Australia. Especially given the that the Torres Straights would not be an option if New Gunie wasn’t on the human trail! So I think in those cases it’s just flawed map making (or a really early Brexit precursor!)

      1. It is indeed incomplete map making, I think: Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and the greater belt of Indonesia? I seem to recall they were colonized more than 10 000 years ago, less sure about Madagascar, IIRC tat was indeed pretty recent, like NZ.

  4. I heard an interesting observation regarding the pending demise of Roe. Namely, in reality it is a manifestation of the war on the poor, particularly women, of course. Those seeking abortions of middle income or higher in states that ban them, including the daughters of the legislators that pass the anti-abortion laws, will find it only a minor inconvenience to travel to states that allow them to have the procedure. But, the poor will not be able to afford the trip. They will be forced to have unwanted children and the cycle of poverty will be perpetuated. Such is America.

    1. I fully agree with you.

      But I am tiring of listening to (among others) NPR natter on (in more or less every story) about how X is unequal in the USA.

      Yes, NPR, it sucks being poor and uneducated. Right, what’s your solution?

    2. While, like many other laws, rules, and regulations, it might disproportionately affect the poor, that doesn‘t mean that that is the motivation behind it. The claim is patently absurd, equivalent to various woke claims along the lines of “I have my agenda, here is my claim, and if you disagree with my claim, you disagree with my agenda, and are the enemy”. Who cares about logic. Again, no wonder that the “pro-choice” people haven’t been able to make a good claim for their case.

      You might as well say that driving licenses are an attack on poor teenagers because rich teenagers can take a taxi.

      1. The term “war on the poor” is a metaphor that argues that among some conservatives there is the belief that the “poor” are in that condition because of their own doings and that if they only had the motivation to get out of that condition they can do it. Therefore, according to this view, society (particularly government)has no obligation to help them or accommodate them. By the way, the expression “war on Christmas” is another metaphor that conservatives love to yelp about, which is the absurd contention that liberals are attempting to deny people the right to celebrate that holiday. So, yes, the anti-abortion laws will disproportionately affect the poor, while others, including the conservative and religion moralists, will hardly notice them.

        1. Agree. It’s a feature, not a bug. The pro-choice folks are only preaching to the choir when they lament that such-and-such a policy will fall more heavily on poor people and make life disproportionately harsher for them. The people pushing the policy—the ones whose minds the pro-choice folks would have to change—just say, “So? Your point?”

          A more fruitful strategy would be to impress on the anti- side that unwanted poor children cost the social-service and criminal justice systems enormous amounts of money, from taxes paid mostly (obviously) by the non-poor. If anything, the non-religious part of the Right should be in favour of compulsory (or at least strongly incentivized) abortion. The last thing they should want to do is put price or legal barriers in front of a poor woman who wants one. I imagine the pro-choice choir would be uncomfortable with that tack, though, preferring to demand a “free-will” choice for abortion and welfare available in equal measure. But then at least both sides could agree that more abortions would be a Good Thing. And when else have the two sides ever been able to agree on anything?

          It did get me wondering about advocacy. Whose minds, exactly, did one hope to change with a slogan like “Defund the police!” or “Unilateral disarmament Now!”

          (Credit: the idea of paying a bounty to encourage abortion came from Freakenomics.)

          1. I’ve never heard anyone who favored legal abortion express the opinion that more abortions would be a good thing. Actually, I don’t recall ever hearing anyone express that view, though I’ve no doubt that some outliers hold it.

            1. If 1000 abortions make 1000 women’s lives better, why would that not be more of a good thing than 1 abortion making 1 woman’s life better…especially if those 1000 women made a choice freely that was not available to them before? And, more practically, if abortion is liberalized, is the hope not that the number of abortions will rise, to show that liberalizing worked? If the number doesn’t rise, or rises more in some places than in others under the same law, there must be non-legal barriers to access, which need to be broken down, no?

              Of course the individual woman may be conflicted and may see her choice as the lesser of two evils. But she need not. That’s her business. Whether she is or not, her choice increases her utility and doesn’t diminish anyone else’s. That makes it good.

              I will submit that if one feels disquiet over “more abortions”, that would be inserting one’s private morality into the woman’s choice, however subtly and after the fact.

              Now, if one seeks, as one should, to empower girls and women to be able to choose to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place, fine. Then falling abortion rates would be a good thing.

              1. Making more women’s lives better is obviously a good thing, increasing abortion rates is not obviously a good thing. I can imagine having an abortion is an unpleasant experience both physically and emotionally. Though I can not know what it’s like I have observed a few women that have gone through it. Based on these experiences and others at further remove I’ve little doubt that a majority of women would categorize an abortion as somewhere between unpleasant and devastating. A least bad kind of thing that is something they just have to endure in order to get the better outcome they’ve decided makes it worth it. It’s good that they have the option, it’s not good that the rate of women that decide they’d rather endure something as unpleasant as abortion, or that have no real choice without risking their health or life, increases.

                Semantics perhaps, but I stand by what I wrote. I’ve never previously heard anyone say that more abortions would be a good thing.

                However, I have heard quite a few times people say things like “Of course we hope for as few abortions as possible, but abortion should be available to anyone.” In my experience that’s a much more accurate characterization for a majority of people in favor of abortions being legal.

                Shortly after Roe v Wade the reported abortion rate in the US rose, and then has steadily dropped since. I don’t necessarily attach an ethical value to that, it’s simply an observed fact. Based on that I see no reason to suppose that in a decent society in which women have easy access to all healthcare, including contraception and abortion, that abortion rates would increase.

                I just don’t see how holding the belief that women should be able to get an abortion entails that rising abortion rates must be considered a good thing. I think I understand the point you are making by this argument, but I don’t think it’s particularly accurate. It seems more like an argument an abortion opponent would make in order to demonstrate why legal abortion is a bad thing.

            2. Every abortion prevents a child from entering into the world unwanted or with parents who are unprepared to provide for it. How is this not a good thing?

              1. The original statement was, “But then at least both sides could agree that more abortions would be a Good Thing.”

                Again, I’ve never heard anyone claim that before. And I don’t think more abortions are a good thing. And I don’t think saying more abortions is a good thing is a good tactic or that it’s even a particularly accurate characterization. More abortions is indicative of problems further up the line. Like abuse and rape, lack of competent sex education, lack of easy access to contraception, social and economic issues.

                In the US once abortion became legal reported the rate of abortions briefly increased and then has steadily decreased since. Free access to abortions along with progress in mitigating many of the issues that often lead to abortions (lower crime rates, better safety net, better access to healthcare including contraceptives, etc.), and a lower rate of abortion at the same time, that’s a Good Thing.

                Unfortunately it looks like we are going to go backwards on all that in the US.

          2. The opponents of abortion will never agree that any number of abortions is a good thing.

            To them, a single one is the worst thing in the world, aside from more than one abortion.

            Their only acceptable number is: Zero.

            The poor children, born to poor mothers, in poor neighborhoods? It’s their problem, don’t bother me. Pray, Hank will take care of you! /sarcasm

            1. Yes, that is why most debates are framed the wrong way round. It is not between legal abortion and no abortion, but between safe abortion and back alley abortion.
              I surmise that all of us, pro-choice as well as pro-life would like to reduce the numbers. It is well established that criminalizing abortion, after an initial drop, does nothing to reduce the numbers.

          3. No, because their motivation is not to reduce costs.

            Wake up folks, you‘re becoming just like the woke! There is a thesis (abortion should be allowed), just like the thesis “there should be no racial discrimination”, but then, like the woke with regard to the second thesis, you come up with arguments which are irrelevant to actually achieving that goal. Some even accuse those who disagree with those arguments (though not the thesis) of supporting the other side.

      2. So we continue the search for the “real motivation” behind the desire to ban abortion. It is clearly not preservation of life because most of those who want to do so believe in capital punishment, freely available guns, allowing people to fight COVID unaided by vaccinations, etc.

        1. No, that just means that, at worst, they are hypocrites. At best, it is a caricature of their position. They would argue in all other cases that their beliefs actually save lives (perhaps by sacrificing others).

        1. Then why have that righteous 59% majority, whom I agree with —put me in the 25% in favour of abortion in all/nearly all cases—been unable to see off the 13% who would prohibit it in all/nearly all cases? This is a rhetorical question—there are many answers and I’m aware of a lot of them, even as a foreigner. I ask it only to ask, Whose minds need to be changed in order that the 59% who would allow it in most or all circumstances can prevail? Or is that just not a big enough majority to carry legislatively what has been only a High Court fiat in both the U.S. and Canada?

          1. I understand your question was rhetorical, but I’ll answer it anyway: an uneven distribution of population combined with non-proportional representation in the United States senate and arcane congressional parliamentary procedures, such as the senate filibuster. Due to these latter two, US senators representing as few as 24% of the US population can block legislation, including national legislation codifying the right to an abortion, favored by US senators representing the other 76%.

            Abortion will remain legal in the more-densely populated blue states. But if the bell tolls for Roe (which seems a distinct possibility based on yesterday’s SCOTUS argument in the Dobbs case), and red states ban abortion outright, many woman with unwanted pregnancies will be forced to travel several hundred miles to reach the nearest abortion clinic (assuming the red states don’t succeed in making out-of-state travel to obtain an abortion illegal). Where I live, at the coccyx of the spine that is the Florida peninsula, a woman may well have to travel nearly a 1,000 miles, to North Carolina, to obtain a legal abortion.

            This means, of course, that women without means to make the trip will be forced either to bear children they do not want or to obtain unsafe illegal abortions.

      3. It may not be a stated motivation, but i guarantee you most wealthy conservative pro-life parents and politicians expect that if they really need their kid to get an abortion, they’ll be able to get one via use of their money.

        I mean really, this isn’t much different from watching pro-life politicians get caught asking their mistresses to get abortions, and that happens fairly regularly.

        So they may not be thinking “I want to get those dirty poor people,” but they are thinking “this rule for thee, not for me.”

        1. “this rule for thee, not for me.”


          They are only flawed, sinful creatures, regularly in the confessional, and there’s not much hope. They are, after all, children from that famous Garden, with the apple.

          But if everyone else just did exactly what is said, they should all be fine.

          A sort of inverse purity, as it suits them – I am a sinner, but I am helping everyone else by making them follow this rule. But never mind me – I’m a lost cause doing the lord’s work to save my soul.

        2. Exactly, which abortionist cannot tell anecdotes about anti- abortion advocates assertively seeking abortion when their daughter is inconveniently pregnant or have impregnated the house help? And -superfluously- insisting on medical secret?
          Because their case is different. Of course it is.

  5. Another important moment in time goes with this supreme court. This is the beginning of taking away liberty and equality – those so-called American goals in our history. For many years the march has been toward more freedom and more equality but with the overthrow of abortion the march is backward. That is where this republican cult is headed and apparently we are just going to sit by and watch it happen. All for what – a lousy filibuster?

    1. I don’t recall offhand exactly how long ago, I think it was during Bush Jr.’s reign, I first came across Eddie Tabash talking about how the situation in the Supreme Court, that a clear conservative majority was very likely in the near future, was of critical importance. I’m sure he wasn’t alone in talking about this, but it was not a concern that I had noticed before among all the furor about Republican vs Democrat politics and election concerns, which I was paying a lot of attention to at the time.

      I agreed with Tabash on most of his views and found his arguments about the critical importance of the Supreme Court convincing, and dismaying. And now, here we are. It took a bit longer but it has finally happened. One of the things that pisses me off the most about Obama and the Democrats in the House and Senate is how little of a fight they gave on Supreme Court nominations. They played by gentlemen’s rules while the RP played as dirty as necessary. These were instances in which ‘going nuclear’ was warranted, in my opinion.

      Now we are screwed. These people, the SCJs and the politicians that put them on the court, don’t have the mandate of the people and yet we are all beholden to them. Even though a clear majority of the people disagree with them about every one of the major RP rallying points they champion, even abortion and gun control.

      1. I spent all of the 2016 election hammering on anyone I could reach (many of whom spent the election bitching about HRC rather than getting out the vote) about: SCOTUS. This election is all about SCOTUS. And it sure turned out to be! Even without Moscow Mitch’s unconscionable delay in replacing Scalia, which was also huge.

        1. And his unconscionable push to appoint Barrett before RBG was even cold in the grave and did it 5 weeks before a Presidential election- breaking his own rule he made-up for Obama who wanted to appoint Garland 9 months before a Presidential election. (Not that I’m saying anything WEIT readers don’t already know.)

          1. Didn’t you know that 6 weeks is actually longer than 8 months? You are found seriously wanting in the Maths department.

    2. I haven’t seen much commentary on what Justice Sotomayor said, except for a prominent mention in HCR’S Substack yesterday, quoted below. How about we call the overturn of Roe what it really is, to wit, the state establishment of a religious doctrine, thereby in violation of the First Amendment.
      Quotation from

      Make no mistake: it is not just reproductive rights that are under siege. If the Supreme Court returns power to the states to legislate as they wish, any right currently protected by the federal government is at risk. Justice Sonya Sotomayor made the connection to the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom today when she was questioning a lawyer during the oral arguments: “The issue of when life begins… it’s still debated in religions. So when you say this is the only right that takes away a life, that’s a religious view, isn’t it?”

      1. The religious right’s next goal will be to ban contraceptives. However, such bans will be extremely difficult to enforce. With the availability of the internet, contraceptives will be easily obtainable by mail. But, the religious right will not care if they make criminals out of millions. After all, it is just following the dictums of the faith.

        1. Indeed, they use the dictums of their faith as excuses for cruelty, feeling perverse satisfaction in witnessing, even causing, the suffering of others. This is, in a word, sadism, and so it has been with religious persecution through the ages.

          1. Isn’t suffering a major feature of Christianity?

            Such that not only Jesus suffered for everyone (whatever that means), but the followers must also suffer as a virtue in general and specifically for women in childbirth?

            1. You are correct. In this case, however, I’m calling attention to the disgusting delight some Christians, most commonly the “muscular Christians,” get from seeing non-believers suffer. This was most eloquently expressed by none other than Thomas Aquinas when he wrote:
              “In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned … So that they may be urged the more to praise God … The saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens … to the damned. [Summa Theologica, Third Part, Supplement, Question XCIV, “Of the Relations of the Saints Towards the Damned,” First Article]”

              1. I just wanted to raise the issue of the established link between access to legal abortion and decline in crime rates in the US. R v Wade was decided in 1973. 15-20 years later the rates of crime in the US started to fall and have continued to decline since then. One (not the only reason ) major reason is that, once abortion became a real option for more women, the children who would have been born into poverty, dysfunction and families unable to cope, were not born. In 1990-1991 when they would have reached the age of entry into crime, they weren’t there. This is not me who made this up. It is well documented. So, if the effect of the court’s decision is to eliminate the access to legal abortion to significant numbers of women in poor communities, watch the crime rates begin to rise again in 15 years.

              2. Phyllis MacRae: Please provide a link and/or citation for these “well-documented” data.

                It’s easy to mistake correlation for causation. Or even randomly parallel trends for causation.

                (I’m on the same side of this issue as you are; but I’ve never heard of this.)

              3. Steven Pinker debunked the correlation between abortion access and a lower crime rate. It was a theory created by Freakonomics. Here’s the section in Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. (It’s within a blog as I couldn’t find the passage on it’s own.) To be fair, Pinker doesn’t say positively that abortion access didn’t cause the crime rate to go down, but it is probably just one of many reasons, and probably not the main reason.


  6. “After Vargas and his team examined the pieces of skull and did five different DNA analyses, they concluded it was only distantly related to the stegosaurus.”

    DNA analysis from fossils that are over 65 million years old? Is that possible?

      1. Excellent detail

        Kerosene – perfectly fine with me.

        I mean – acetylene?!?

        BTW there was a point where almost 100% of cars were Fords, so they cut the advertising. Unwittingly, Ford allowed Chevrolet (or GMC? Not sure) to surge in sales – because of their advertising!

        1. Carbide lamps were once widely used for bicycles, too. Advantage is solid state, until you add the water. No risk of spilling/leaking and no fire hazard. They are self-extinguishing if knocked over and broken, and therefore fail-safe…just like a CANDU nuclear power reactor. (Thanks Dr. Fermi!)

    1. Having used lots of flammable substances, acetylene burns more assertively (joyously? rampantly?) than anything else I’ve worked with (I use acetylene in a cutting torch). Oh, is that stuff anxious to burst into flame!

      1. Yes, it burns joyously (that was my favorite of your adjectives) and likes it HOT! 4000° F. My brother uses one, and they are incredibly efficient at cutting steel. But be extremely careful. 🙂

  7. If anything with the word “black” in it is taboo as the CBC wants it, does this mean the Black Forest in Germany must be renamed?

  8. “. . . conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute”.

    At first I laughed, and then I cried.

  9. I am unfamiliar with the concept of “a bit” of syrup. In my house, syrup (maple, of course) is always lavishly applied. We view fritters (or pancakes, or waffles) merely as carriers for the syrup.

  10. Looking over the Peng Shuai case, the following curiosity arises. With the exception of two of the player representatives, the board of directors of the WOMEN’S Tennis Association (WTA) is comprised entirely of men (XY). Its chairman is Mr. Steve Simon (XY), the International Tennis Federation representative is Mr. David Haggerty (XY), and the three tournament representatives are Mr. Adam Barrett (XY) for the Americas, Mr. Peter-Michael Reichel (XY) for Europe, and Mr. Alistair Garland (XY) for Asia! Two of the three player representatives seem to be women (XX) and are actually players, although the third is Mr. Michael Segal (XY), a NY attorney! All seem to be Nordics, but then again, tennis IS highly exclusive.

  11. Near as I can tell, and I’m not expert, some of the dates on the map of human migration are wrong. There is strong evidence of cro-magnon humans in Europe by 43,000 YBP and in Germany 40,000-35,000 YBP (Venus vom Hohle Fels).

    Also, I thought that initial human migration into the Americas was now estimated to be prior to 20,000 YBP (ca. 25-30,000 YBP, fossil human footprints in New Mexico dated to at least 23,000 YBP)

  12. “The court will continue on as the highest arbiter of the law, no matter how the public feels. So what if its credibility is diminished? And abortion will probably be banned or restricted in nearly half of the American states.”

    I believe the public reaction will be an increasing tendency to ignore the rule of law. The Supreme Court Justices will be increasingly seen as hired guns who will rule in favor of whatever political party put them on the bench. Right now, that is the party of Bush and Trump.

    As Justice Stotmayour pointed out, the Mississippi state legislature moved forward with abortion restrictions “because we have new justices,”. She asked: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

    For abortion and same sex marriage, Americans will simply not be willing to go back to the way things were after decades of freedom. Perhaps this will lead to abortion and same sex marriage being codified into federal laws.

      1. I don’t think it requires a Constitutional amendment, but it would need to be codified into law by an act of Congress…something that ain’t gonna happen at the moment. Though if SCOTUS goes through with this, there may be more of an incentive for Democrats to maintain and grow their majority; perhaps a formidable campaign motivator in 2022 and beyond.

    1. ” . . . Justice Stotmayour. . . asked: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

      From reading the NY Times article quoting Justice Sotomayor’s above question, it appears she asked a rhetorical question for the benefit of anyone within earshot and for consumption in the media. She did not pose it to the attorneys presenting before the Court . This strikes me as political posturing. It’s a question she should pose to her justice confreres in chambers when arguing amongst themselves in private, or when making public her (dissenting) opinion. It’s not just her. I don’t think any justice should be thusly holding forth in public while hearing the case.

      (The NYT article by Adam Liptak is refulgent with fatuous interpretation and perception and inferencing and opinionating. “Signaling,” “seems,” “seemingly approving,” “indicating,” “appears,” etc. Several years ago I either read or heard of Liptak saying he thinks it okay to do this in a news article. Really? Are he and his media ilk mind-readers? Anything must be so if it pops into one’s mind. Wrangle yourself a column, Mr. Liptak. tI must gash such media types that Clarence Thomas is a taciturn sphinx on the bench.)

  13. Re: the new dinosaur tail structure

    It isn’t a thagomizer, which is four vertical spikes. Have Vargas et al named it? Will they consult Professor Larson on this matter? We want to know! (we, in this context, is neither royal nor editorial. I am presently hosting cestoda)

  14. I really don’t think Dobbs is the case that undermines the court’s authority. Abortion rights have been contentious since Roe passed. And while Casey supported Roe’s ‘abortion legal’ argument, it made a lot of changes to how abortion law is implemented in practice – throwing out Roe’s trimester compromise and going to viability instead. So now (if Roberts gets his way) you have an extension of that revision going down to heartbeat instead of viability.

    President Trump selected judges that had a conservative legal viewpoint yes, but it’s not a radical conservative viewpoint. It’s not anything the mainstream hasn’t heard before. It’s certainly no the case that anyone is arguing someone like Barrett or Goresuch is legally insincere or merely scratching the backs of conservatives in exchange for their appointment. So IMO the conservative overturn we all expect is easily seen as the “normal” process of different legal opinions becoming dominant on the court, not the corrupt process of judges giving quid pro quo to the political party that put them on the bench.

    That may be a quibble though. Assuming Roe is at least gutted if not overturned, I really hope that causes women (and young people of all sexes and genders) to take to the polls in higher numbers in Nov 2022, regardless of why the justices decide what they decide.

    1. Overturning Roe would be an obscenity, given the support for it in the USA. Not that the GOP or its minions give a sh!t about what the majority in the USA want.

  15. Although I think abortion should be available and legal, putting it on a more solid legal basis might be a good thing in the long term. If Roe is overturned, abortion will be eliminated in some states. Some of those states will vote out those state politicians who banned abortion, reverse those laws, and possibly turn those states Blue. This is unlikely to happen in all such states so there will still be a few that continue to ban abortion. The controversy will eventually move to the federal level and new laws making abortion legal in the entire country will be enacted. Unfortunately, this could take a decade or two.

  16. Nobody is commenting on the really big story here.

    Britney Spears is 40. I’ll say that again, Britney Spears is 40.

    Yes, that Britney Spears. She’s 40.

    There are plenty of things that make me feel old, but that about tops it.

    1. Oh baby baby!
      You young whippersnapper. I got my generational ‘sticker shock’ when I learned Christina Applegate was playing moms instead of kids.

  17. Another frequent comment on the Henry Moore “Nuclear Energy” sculpture has been that it resembles a military helmet.

  18. I’m with you Jerry on the extremely annoying GRUNTS in women’s tennis. An affectation I too despise. I don’t actually watch tennis, but have only noted how annoying these grunts are when I see it, and it doesn’t dispose me to watching more.

    1. Critical expositions on this always exhibit the worst examples (which are really bad). Most matches are either free of grunts or have subtle enough ones that it’s not that different from racket and shoe noises.

      Plenty of great matches to enjoy without grunts. (I can recommend Djokovic’s semifinal victory over Nadal at the French open in May 2021. Rafa usually grunts; but I don’t recall it being distracting.) Many players only begin grunting when start tiring later in matches.

      (I’m with you that I’d prefer not having any grunts. This genie is not going back into the bottle.)

    2. I have a hard time watching basketball because of all the shoe squeaks. It drives me crazy…pretty soon that’s all I hear.

  19. Words not to be used: I don’t think Julie Cashman understands, given her usage of “see”.

    The prefix blind is often used in metaphorical terms like blindsided, blind spot and blind leading the blind, to describe the limitation of sight.

    “I can see that being offensive to people who can’t see,” said Julie Cashman, a member of the disability community and co-chair of Consumer Action Committee, which advocates for individuals with disabilities.

    1. And if she self-censored her error and said, “I can grasp . . .,” that would have been offensive to people with no fingers, or even bad arthritis. “I can understand. . ., “ would be offensive to pretty well everyone at the CBC, although they probably wouldn’t have noticed.

  20. “Lia Thomas, a woman swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania” – I obviously spent too long listening to George Formby while spending time with my ageing father yesterday and now, having seen this report, I”ve got Formby’s song “Swimming with the Wimmin'” stuck on loop in my head.

    1. Lia Thimas is a cheat, immo. Great, now you’ve done it, i can’t get that “Swimmin with the Winnin” out of my head..

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