Sunday: Hili dialogue

January 9, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the Christian Sabbath: Sunday, January 9, 2022: National Apricot Day. This isn’t even apricot season, but apricot nectar, my favorite fruit juice, is available year ’round.

It’s also National Sunday Supper Day (Is this still a tradition? It was in my family), International Choreographers Day, National Word Nerd Day, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (not for the young people), No Pants Subway Ride Day (yes, people do this), National Static Electricity Day, Play God Day (all cats participate), and—a holiday that I think is unique to India—Non-Resident Indian Day, which celebrates Indians who live outside their natal country but help it anyway. .

Here are people riding the subway with no pants (we’re using the American version of “pants”, known as “trousers” in the UK). If people doffed their “pants” in the UK (American “underpants”), they’d be naked.

News of the Day:

*According to the New York Times, the Biden administration has assembled a laundry list of sanctions to apply to Russia should Putin and his military thugs decide to invade the country. These “financial, technology and military sanctions”  would “go into effect within hours of an invasion of Ukraine”. They include these:

The plans the United States has discussed with allies in recent days include cutting off Russia’s largest financial institutions from global transactions, imposing an embargo on American-made or American-designed technology needed for defense-related and consumer industries, and arming insurgents in Ukraine who would conduct what would amount to a guerrilla war against a Russian military occupation, if it comes to that.

Such moves are rarely telegraphed in advance. But with the negotiations looming — and the fate of Europe’s post-Cold War borders and NATO’s military presence on the continent at stake — President Biden’s advisers say they are trying to signal to Mr. Putin exactly what he would face, at home and abroad, in hopes of influencing his decisions in coming weeks.

What we have here is a high-stakes game of “chicken” (see Steve Pinker’s new book Rationality), but we, or rather Ukraine, has more to lose than Russia. I still think the invasion will take place, and Putin will ignore the relatively paltry sanctions.

*Number-one-ranked male tennis star Novak Djokovic has been refused entry into Australia to play in the Australian Open after his visa wasn’t accepted. (He had said he had a medical exemption from being vaccinated against Covid, but according to the Aussie government it wasn’t kosher. He has appealed, but I see no grounds for letting him in just because he’s a tennis star: in the game of pandemic suppression, no animals is more equal than others. If they let him play, it will be an act of arrant unfairness.  So, as he should be, he’s warming his tuchas in a hotel in quarantine. As Lindsay Crouse wrote in the New York Times,

The conversation is as much about fairness as it is about public health. Why should a player get a free pass when other players, and the fans keeping them in business, have to be vaccinated and abide by travel restrictions? Workplaces around the world are filled with Djokovics, difficult but valued or essential employees who expect special accommodations in order to come to work — even when the accommodations they seek are grounded in anti-science views that might put their colleagues at risk.

When it comes to athletes, what they do in public health situations matters even more. Beyond the social influence that comes with their platforms, star athletes are symbols of good health, success and leadership — that’s why they’re sought after as the public face of performance apparel and shoe companies, breakfast cereals and countless other brands.

. . . The Australian Border Force did what sports bodies are failing to do: say no. If athletes don’t like restrictions imposed on the unvaccinated, they could just get a shot like millions of other people — a privilege that millions more are still waiting for.

*Yay for humanity and science! We know now that the mirrors of the Webb Space Telescope have unfolded successfully!

Webb’s gold mirror began to take shape as the first of the two primary wings was unfolded and latched on Friday. These wings are side panels that hold three mirror segments each. This was followed by the unfolding and latching of the second panel on the other side Saturday.
While the deployment of the mirrors took only a few minutes each, the complicated “latching” together took several hours. What is so remarkable about this event, as contrasted to others, is that for the scope to unfold properly nothing could afford to go wrong. It’s a moment to be proud of humanity, and of science.

*By all rights of fairness, transgender female swimmer Lia Thomas from Penn should not be competing against collegiate women swimmers. She clearly has a muscle and strength advantage gained at puberty, and has bested biological women swimmers by huge margins. Yet both her school and the NCAA have stood behind her, though on bogus grounds:

Thomas has the support of her school, which said Thursday that she “has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender female student-athlete to compete for a women’s team. She will continue to represent the Penn women’s swimming team in competition this season.”

The Ivy League also backed Thomas.

“Over the past several years, Lia and the University of Pennsylvania have worked with the NCAA to follow all of the appropriate protocols in order to comply with the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation and compete on the Penn women’s swimming and diving team,” it said in a statement Thursday.

“The Ivy League reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form,” it added.

The problem is that Thomas still has a clear advantage since she transitioned only a few years ago, well after puberty. If you look up the NCAA policy for transgender females to compete against biological women, you get this:

A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.

But no maximum levels of circulating testosterone are given, nor would they work anyway. We’ve now learned that testosterone-suppression for a year, even according to Olympic standards, cannot overcome the physiological and physical advantages acquired at puberty. Even three years isn’t sufficient; the advantage appears to be permanent, especially given the transitory nature of an athletic career.

And this NCAA statement is, as we saw the other day, flatly wrong:

According to medical experts on this issue, the assumption that a transgender woman competing on a women’s team would have a competitive advantage outside the range of performance and competitive advantage or disadvantage that already exists among female athletes is not supported by evidence.

(h/t Divy).

*Matthew directs us to a Guardian article reporting what must be a record for postal slowness, even in a country famous for it. The U.S. postal service delivered a letter written by a soldier in WWII to his mother—76 years late!

Army Sgt John Gonsalves, 22 at the time, wrote to his mother in Woburn in December 1945 after the official end of the second world war, WFXT-TV reported Wednesday.

The letter would sit unopened for more than 75 years before being found in a US Postal Service distribution facility in Pittsburgh.

“Dear Mom, Received another letter from you today and was happy to hear that everything is okay,” the letter reads. “As for myself, I’m fine and getting along okay. But as far as the food it’s pretty lousy most of the time.”

He signed the letter: “Love and kisses, Your son Johnny. I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope.”

Gonsalves died in 2015. His mother has died as well. But the USPS found an address for his widow, Angelina, whom the soldier met five years after he sent the letter.

. . . Angelina Gonsalves, 89, spent another holiday without her husband, but she said this year, “It’s like he came back to me, you know?”

Ms. Gonsalves reading the Lost Letter:

*Great news: Winnie-the-Pooh (the mid 1920’s A. A. Milne version, is now in the public domain. Screw the Disney makeover; I love the original and all its illustrations, which can now be reproduced. Especially Eeyore, my dysthymic spirit animal.

Luke McGarry began drawing a nude Pooh Bear as soon as he heard the news. The original, nearly 100-year-old “bear of very little brain” from the Hundred Acre Wood had rung in this new year by entering the public domain. Now quite humbly, McGarry’s creative appetite felt rumbly.

The Los Angeles-based artist sat and penned his Winnie-the-Pooh idea in four panels, announcing the 1926 character’s free-for-all status as of Jan. 1, with a winking if satirically speculative interpretation: “Disney still owns their version of me. … But as long as I don’t put a little red shirt on, I can do as I like” — a reference to how the character’s attire regularly began to be depicted beginning in the 1930s.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 835,835 an increase of 1,524 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,503,741,, an increase of about 4,500 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 9 includes:

An artistic envisioning:

(From Wikipedia): Joan of Arc is interrogated by The Cardinal of Winchester in her prison, 1431. Painting by Paul Delaroche (1797–1856),

Here’s the Davy lamp, with the flame enclosed within wire to prevent ignition of mine gases:

There’s a photo of the boat leaving on its treacherous journey to South Georgia (24 April, 1916). They all made it, Shackleton got help and his men were eventually rescued safely.

  • 1916 – World War I: The Battle of Gallipoli concludes with an Ottoman Empire victory when the last Allied forces are evacuated from the peninsula.  

Here’s a scene from the 1981 movie Gallipoli showing a futile charge to death. Then a photo of the real thing:

  • 1957 – British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden resigns from office following his failure to retake the Suez Canal from Egyptian sovereignty.
  • 2005 – Mahmoud Abbas wins the election to succeed Yasser Arafat as President of the Palestinian National Authority, replacing interim president Rawhi Fattouh.

Abbas was elected for a four-year term, but, without any further election, he’s still President of the PA. Is this a dictatorship or not?

  • 2007 – Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the original iPhone at a Macworld keynote in San Francisco.

Here’s Jobs making that announcement:

  • 2015 – The perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris two days earlier are both killed after a hostage situation; a second hostage situation, related to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, occurs at a Jewish market in Vincennes.

Notables born on this day include:

When I was young I read all of Halliburton’s books, which were full of adventure. He swam through the Panama Canal, paying a 36¢ toll.  And that was one of his many exploits. Sadly, he was lost at sea in 1939.

Here he is after swimming the canal:

  • 1908 – Simone de Beauvoir, French philosopher and author (d. 1986)
  • 1913 – Richard Nixon, American commander, lawyer, and politician, 37th President of the United States (d. 1994)
  • 1922 – Har Gobind Khorana, Indian-American biochemist and academic, Nobel laureate (d. 2011)

Born in India, Khorana shared the Nobel Prize with two others for helping unravel the genetic code:

  • 1941 – Joan Baez, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist

Baez singing a Bob Dylan song at Sing Sing Prison in 1972. This is my favorite rendition of that song:

  • 1944 – Jimmy Page, English guitarist, songwriter, and producer
  • 1982 – Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Those who became food for worms on January 9 include only one person I consider “notable”:

  • 1923 – Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1888)

A great writer (and expat Kiwi) who should have had more time, she died of TB at 34, suffering a pulmonary hemorrhage after she ran up the stairs. As she was carried to her room, she said, “I’m going to die.” She did. Her short story “Bliss” (free here) is one of the finest pieces of short fiction in English.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, today’s Hili dialogue is arcane, so Malgorzata gives an explanation:

This is understandable only in Poland. Our government introduced with fanfare an economic program named Nowy Ład (which I translated into “New Order),  which was supposed to help the country with the effects of the pandemic and to help middle- and low -ncome people. It’s a disaster. For example, teachers got a drastic cut in their (already low) salaries.

With that in mind, the dialogue:

Hili: I’m coming to establish a new order.
Paulina: Do not frighten people and cats.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Przychodzę zaprowadzić nowy ład.
Paulina: Nie strasz ludzi i kotów.
(Zdjęcie Paulina R.)
And a shot of Kulka and Szaron:

Posted by Seth Andrews:

From Divy: The big conundrum of Christianity:

From Science Humor:

From Simon: An Indian variant on the usual donut-shaped vada, a snack made with lentil flour. As he says, “I imagine the cure for this one would be yogurt.:

From Barry, who feels sorry for the ants (as do I). Yes, this is a real phenomenon:

From Dom, the world’s smallest known snail  (0.5 mm is about 0.02 inches, meaning fifty of these snails, lined up, would extend only an inch). You can read the paper about it here.

From Ginger K., who loves Freddie Mercury:

From a hashtag started by Masih Alinejad asking Muslim women to weigh in on the hijab, #LetUsTalk:

Tweets from Matthew. Furtive petting!

I’d recommend watching this. Dr. Stavrakopoulou is not only a Biblical scholar who is an atheist, and has debunked a lot of Biblical myths, but she also has a wicket sense of humor.  It’s free, too.

Get the Zoom link here.

Great biological gargoyles!

58 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Singing “I shall be released” at Sing Sing? More than a few opportunities for puns there.

    I once saw a poster advertising a concert by a Korean opera singer whose name was something like Sing Mai Song.

  2. And this NCAA statement is, as we saw the other day, flatly wrong:

    That statement is very weasily worded and is likely not strictly wrong:

    “According to medical experts on this issue, the assumption that a transgender woman competing on a women’s team would have a competitive advantage outside the range of performance and competitive advantage or disadvantage that already exists among female athletes is not supported by evidence.”

    So one only needs to find one woman athlete who is slower than the fastest woman by more than Lia Thomas’s winning margin for the statement to be true.

    1. I don’t think so. The fastest woman is the upper bound of the range “that already exists among female athletes”, not the average. Any male who swims faster than the fastest female is outside that range by definition.

      I do agree that it is weasel words though. They are certainly going to use the argument you outlined to pretend it is correct.

      1. Though they also talk about the “range of advantage/disadvantage”, and they would argue that the fastest woman has a bigger “advantage” over the slowest woman than Lia Thomas has over them.

        1. Yes, but of course it is statistically wrong. That’s like saying that someone who lives to 130 is not remarkable because the difference between that and the age by which almost everyone dies (say 105) is less than (say) 105 and the youngest age at which an adult could die.

          Maybe the best way to avoid such nonsense if for all real women to simply refuse to compete as long as absurd things like this are allowed.

    2. I’m finding a sort of grim humor in sports organizations’ current attempts to argue that there are no physical advantages transwomen have over their female teammates and rivals. They’re so obviously bad that they won’t stand scrutiny — and don’t need to. The Genderist narrative has already shifted to claiming transwomen (trans women) are female, and their physical advantages natural and normal for the kind of women they are.
      The hope that people will rebel out of concern for women might very well be overcome by opportunities for lower ranked teams to suddenly leap into serious contender status by opening their hearts to this most oppressed and marginalized minority, smashing records with social and legal immunity from accusations of cheating or unfairness. Watch for a land rush.

      1. The latter is where this may be headed. The case of the above swimmer may not get much attention, but the strategy could catch on. Some organizations could stack their women sports teams with trans women, and that will seriously damage women’s sports. It is the corruption of good intentions.

    3. I feel pretty bad for Lia Thomas. She seems to be just following her desire to compete along with her desire to be a woman. I don’t think she should be competing against females, but she must be getting some bad advice from someone about continuing to do that.

      A twitter wag called the sports organization supporting her with these bad arguments the Guyvy League.

      1. You are giving him the benefit of the doubt that he is not dissembling just to game the system. Not taking advice from anyone, just doing it all out of his own little head.

        1. Maybe. But maybe it is a fifth-column attack by someone who wants to show how absurd the rules are. 🙂

          The German Green Party (part of the new government) recently passed a resolution saying that self-identification is all that is necessary to determine gender (i.e. the woke position). A bearded bloke (who had been a member of the party for years) campaigned to be the women’s representative for his local branch of the party, saying that he identified as a woman and lived in a lesbian relationship with his wife, with whom he had two children. People asked him “Have you thought this through?” and he said “Yes”. People asked him how long he had felt like a woman and he replied that, according to the resolution, that is irrelevant and no-one else’s business; the important thing is his current identification. Sadly, he lost his bid for the post.

          (While the Green Party is part of the new coalition, it is a three-party coalition, together with the Social Democrats, SPD (a “labour party”), and the Free Democratic Party, FDP (a “libertarian” party, i.e. fiscally conservative but socially liberal, though perhaps not on this issue). However, I don’t see their position becoming law any time soon. (Under the old administration, a “third sex”, “diverse”, was introduced, but that is explicitly for the (very few) truly intersexual people and has nothing to do with transgender and so on (where the whole point is not to be part of a third sex, but rather one of the traditional ones, just not the logical one).)

        2. What exactly do you mean by ‘dissembling to game the system’? You are surely not suggesting that she decided to transition simply in order to win swimming races? That seems a lot less plausible to me than Michael Hart’s suggestion that she may be receiving poor advice.

          Also, while I think that it is inappropriate for Thomas to be racing against biological females, I believe that she is entitled to self-identify as whatever gender she chooses and that it is right for society to accommodate that choice as far as reasonably practicable. It certainly costs the rest of society nothing to respect her choice of preferred pronoun.

          1. I am suggesting exactly that. Why shouldn’t he? In the absence of a blood testosterone limit, which we acknowledge is meaningless anyway, he could be taking a token, sub-therapeutic amount of androgen blocker, just so he can say truthfully that he is “on transition therapy” as per NCAA rules. He wins a few medals. Then he graduates, his swimming career over, and “de-transitions”, melting back into the male world of anonymous mediocrity he came from. Ten years from now, no-one except the women he swam against will remember his name, particularly not his “dead name” which he has resuscitated.

            The whole ethos of allowing trans people to be who they say they are allows them to be motivated by whatever internal drive it is that motivates them, not for us to second-guess them. If we are not allowed to interrogate their sincerity before “accepting“ them, then some people will be insincere, and some will be predators. There is no a priori reason why my hypothesis as to his motivation must be rejected.

          2. Well we can each only speculate on Thomas’ motivation. Personally I think it is more probable that her transition is a sincere expression of her self-perceived gender than some bizarre, elaborate plot to win a few meaningless races but I certainly cannot prove that. My impression is that life is pretty challenging for trans people in a world where – outside of university DEI depts – acceptance is still pretty limited and hostility not at all uncommon so it doesn’t seem a very appealing trade to take on those challenges in exchange for some fleeting sporting success that many people won’t even recognise as legitimate in the first place.

            I guess we shall have to agree to disagree.

  3. James Webb Space Telescope: as you point out this is a very complex or at least complicated deployment process with a lot of small software and hardware actions being critical to overall success AND, I would add, no grizzled old technician standing by with a hammer to whack a reluctant hinge or actuator. Shuttle, with its space-walking astronauts could be sent on a repair mission to Hubble, though if I recall correctly, that was a huge risk because Shuttle could not reach the ISS safe haven from a Hubble orbit in case of emergency. But we do not have the ability yet to fly astronauts out to and back from the L2 stability point a million miles away, where Webb is parked. Lots of simulation and bench testing has been done in the lab. Holding my breath for success in the hostile world of space.

    1. I think this is similar to our recent trips to Mars. They can do these things now without having to send humans at high cost and risk. Soon the military will take the pilot out of the airplane completely. I am assuming this will be before we kill everyone here on the ground.

      1. In the hubris of the 1990’s, my crew systems and crew vehicle interface friends envisioned the future transport flight deck as consisting of two live entities: a human and a d*g. The human’s job was to monitor all flight systems; the dog’s job was to bite the human if he tried to touch anything.

  4. I follow pro tennis quite closely and am very interested in l’affaire Djokovic. Men’s tennis is currently at an extraordinary juncture in that all three active (i.e., not retired) superstars of the sport are tied at 20 Grand-Slam tournaments won. Djokovic is one of those players and Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the others. The Grand-Slam tournaments are by far the biggest, most prestigious tournaments in tennis and they are the Australian Open, the French Open (also known as Roland Garros), Wimbledon, and the US Open. Djokovic is still at the top of his game (indeed, ranked number 1) and has won the Australian Open 9 times. If he is allowed to play, he has a good chance of winning it again this year and thereby breaking the Grand-Slam tie (21 would of course be a record). At the age of 35, though, he can’t expect to stay at the top of the game that much longer, especially as there are some very strong players who are a decade or more younger than he is. So his opportunities to get to 21 may be limited.

    The current situation seems to be a fiasco all round, with all parties looking bad. Djokovic first of all, at least to rational people, for being an anti-vaxer. But it really appears that he was misled by Tennis Australia into thinking the medical exemption he received would allow him to play the tournament (and of course to get into the country) without his being vaccinated. There are several possible criteria for getting the exemption and initially, for confidentiality reasons, it wasn’t known which one Djokovic had used, but it later came to light that it was because he had had covid within the last 6 months, which was an acceptable reason for the exemption for the State of Victoria but seemingly not for the federal authorities. Apparently, though, at least two other unvaccinated tennis people had been allowed into the country for the exact same reason, so it is starting to look as if Djokovic was targeted and that the Australian prime minister, who I initially applauded for taking a tough stand, was actually trying to score political points with the many Australians who were angry over what was perceived as lax conditions for allowing an unvaccinated tennis player into the country when they had themselves had to endure very harsh restrictions. Of the other two people mentioned above, one was not a player and left the country of his/her own accord when this blew up, while the other, who was a player, was hastily found and told to leave, which she did. The latest news is that it was Djokovic’s turn to look bad again (the ball in his court, so to speak). The date he supposedly tested positive for covid was December 16. There are apparently photos of him on the following day attending an indoor event, unmasked, with lots of children present …

    The above is my understanding of this whole affair. If other readers feel I’ve made errors, I hope they will correct me.

    1. If the goal is to make sure everyone gets vaccinated and continues to take scheduled boosters, their strategy seems a good one. If it is to prevent the spread of disease, I am skeptical.
      It is currently believed that having Covid provides longer lasting, more robust immunity than being vaccinated.
      One can be tested for antibodies, quite accurately, if the correct test is chosen. What threshold of antibody level equates to what level of protection against infection is not a settled matter, but there is a relationship, at least for a time after infection. Once antibodies wane, you still have the ability to recognize the virus and produce more antibodies, but testing that potential is apparently more difficult.

      “Several months ago, our studies showed that natural infection induced a strong response, and this study now shows that the responses last,” Weiskopf says. “We are hopeful that a similar pattern of responses lasting over time will also emerge for the vaccine-induced responses.” NIH 1/21

      If the strategy for fighting the virus had considered both recovered and vaccinated individuals, it might have been more effective. Completely ignoring that immunity seems really counter productive.

      1. Some diseases are like that: having been infected brings more immunity than being vaccinated. But that is not an option for COVID, since too many, way too many, would die, not just those with COVID, but those who can‘t be helped because the hospitals are full with COVID patients.

        And being vaccinated makes being infected, if it happens (and it does), much less worse.

        Remember that where COVID really broke out, more people died of COVID than of all other causes.

        1. I was not suggesting that people forego vaccinations. Not at all. However, there are people who have acquired immunity through recovering from the disease. Some got it before the vaccines were made available,or who did not achieve enough immunity after being vaccinated, and caught it anyway.
          If you have a limited number of doses of the vaccine, or just want to prioritize other resources to see that those in the most danger get vaccinated first, people who have recovered from the disease should be a factor.
          Professional athletes seem to be a special case these days. A fit, male athlete who has already recovered from covid probably does face more risk from the vaccine than from further exposure to the disease. The risk of Myocarditis is very small, but not zero.

          It is also sort of pointless to insist that people who can demonstrate vigorous immunity keep taking vaccines. It does not offer them substantially more protection, and does not benefit the community.
          It would be reasonable to set the bar for proof of immunity fairly high, so that people who had a cold last year cannot claim such an exemption.
          If data emerges that shows otherwise, then we should have policies that reflect best current practices.

    2. Your summary looks pretty accurate to me, Paul. I was feeling slightly sympathetic towards “Novaxx” until those photos came out.

      It seems he’s been badly misled by contradictory advice from various bodies within Australia. Of course, with an election looming the federal government has seen the public outcry about allowing him in unvaccinated and is jumping on the bandwagon. After all, Renata Voracova from the Czech Republic was allowed in and had been playing matches before her visa was cancelled and she had to fly home. I suspect she’d still be competing in Oz now if it wasn’t for the Djokovic kerfuffle.

      1. His father is trying to promote him as the Leader of the Free World. Heaven help us. He has now had covid at least twice. I don’t think this is a good track record as who knows how much damage occurs internally with each infection.
        He knew the rules beforehand and chose to ignore them. Imagine the outrage if someone else equally famous or wealthy decided rules of entry did not apply to them there would rightly so be a public outcry.
        I am pretty sure they would have access to our free healthcare so that is also a consideration too. We currently are , thanks to the numpty overlords, starting a wave of covid infections and our hospital systems are coming to breaking point. It makes little sense to allow unvaccinated people in under these conditions.

    3. I generally agree. I have no major opinion on what restrictions Australia puts on incoming travelers and so will remain agnostic on whether Djoko should have been allowed into the country or not. BUT Tennis Australia should have coordinated with the federal government so that all the potential entrants could sort out all their approvals or get a clear rejection before they flew there.

      I am not sure however whether such coordination would have really changed this result, as I agree with you that the later rejection in this case could’ve been political, due to public outcry. IOW if both the government and Tennis Australia had originally given the go-ahead, we might still have ended up in this position of the political leaders ordering a rejection because of the perceived (but not actual) special treatment.

  5. To add to the “pants” discussion. our brand of Western via Appalachian speech calls what you wear under your pants “drawers”.

  6. On the Russian thing – I doubt they will invade Ukraine. Putin doesn’t need another war but he loves to divide the U.S. and Europe. That is his goal.

    1. My own take is that all this was a way to get the US and NATO to declare they will limit their ties with Ukraine. He wants concessions in that direction, then he can declare victory and pull out.

    2. I take a different view and believe that Ukraine, the US and NATO are combining their might to intimidate Russia into giving up Crimea and stop backing the ethnic-Russian Ukrainians who successfully resisted Ukraine’s US-backed coup d’état and currently control eastern Ukraine. The US also would like to get Russia to stop competing with the US in selling gas to Germany, and pulling Germany into the ruckus would be a way to do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia has uncovered secret dealings among the three (US, NATO, Ukraine) aimed at getting Russia off the Black and, as a consequence, Mediterranean Sea. Putin, I feel, has decided (correctly) that it is time to do a little sword rattling. [Note: I have never knowingly met a Ukrainian or a Russian and have absolutely no personal stake in the conflict.]

  7. My wife and I thank you for the hijab Islamophobia tweets. So important that these women get to tell their stories.

    1. Indeed. Depending on the definition of “Islamophobia”, literally “fear of Islam”, if that means fear of being forced to follow a religion, wearing over-restrictive clothes, not being allowed to be (or at least to admit to being) homosexual, recognizing the Koran as the last word in legal disputes, then, yes, many people are rightly afraid of it, especially those who suffered under it (some of whom are still Muslims).

      Might as well not criticize the Klan because that might cause some people to be critical of White people.

      1. I was taught that it is “an irrational fear of….”, like some folk’s hysterical reaction when they see a bug.

        1. Note the “literally” in my comment. Yes, -phobia is often defined as an irrational fear. But is fear of being killed for being gay irrational? Some might argue that that is Islamism, not Islam, or whatever, but surely no true Scotsman would believe that line of defence.

        2. The most detestable phobia of all must surely be “ailurophobia” (wink to our host here.). It is often ascribed to a bad experience with cats in childhood, point being that fear is not necessarily irrational.

          It’s beside the point, though. Any criticism of Islam or its adherents can be called Islamophobia as a code for hate speech, which can land you in jail in Canada. These people don’t care what the word means. They just want the secular state to punish criticism of Islam.

          I’m happy to call a spade a bloody shovel, though. Instead of Islamophobia I’m all for describing my position as anti-Islamism.

  8. ‘Those who became food for worms on January 9 include only one person I consider “notable”’

    Can I put in a vote for Peter Cook? A comedy genius in my view (and many other people’s).

  9. Just a side plug – CNN is having a show on tonight called the fight to save democracy. There is a lot of comparison with Germany in the 1930s.

  10. Minor point of pants pedantry …

    “If people doffed their “pants” in the UK (American “underpants”), they’d be naked.”

    Not if we were still wearing our trousers. Then we’d just be “going commando”. Every day could be “No-Pants Day” on the London Underground, and nobody would ever know 😉

    1. An American woman lecturer adressing an MBA class at a NZ university did generate a reaction by noting that as it was a professional occasion she was “not wearing pants today.”

  11. Gallipoli was awful, especially for the ANZACS who took heavy casualties. My great grandfather, Frederick Arthur Victor Tonge, 6th Hauraki Regiment, was severely wounded at Walker’s Ridge, Gallipoli in 1915. It really affected his life and the life of my great grandmother who had to look after their farm alone and raise 5 girls.

    1. The anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli seems an apt occasion to give a listen to Mr. Bogle’s tune:

    1. They were also ready to kill off Johnny Depp’s dogs for breaching quarantine.
      ““It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States,” Joyce said on Thursday morning. “He [Depp] can put them on the same chartered jet he flew out on to fly them back out of our nation.””

      1. I were Djokovic, I’d hie my rackets and my ass back across the equator, before the Aussies got the same idea as to him as they had about Depp’s dogs. 🙂

  12. Latest Lia Thomas (ok, from Daily Mail): I can’t make any sense of this.

    Trans UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas is CRUSHED twice in Ivy League women’s swim meet by Yale competitor Iszac Henig, who is transitioning from female to male
    Yale swimmer, Iszac Henig, easily beat out his opponents in the women’s 100-yard freestyle, with a time of 25.67 seconds
    Henig, who is transitioning from female to male, also finished first in the earlier 50-yard freestyle
    After the race, the 20-year-old who has had his breasts removed, pulled down the top of his swimsuit

    Transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas was crushed twice in a women’s swim meet by another transgender competitor who is transitioning from female to male – first in the 100-yard freestyle, where she placed fifth, and then again in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

    Competing against Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Yale, Thomas won the first of her four races by just two seconds – one month after she shattered two women’s records with a 38-second margin against her closest competitor. She also narrowly won the 500-yard freestyle by a second, with bystanders telling that she seemed to be ‘coasting’ and ‘barely trying’.

    But stunned parents at the meet held at UPenn’s pool in Philadelphia gasped as Yale swimmer Iszac Henig easily beat out his opponents in the women’s 100-yard freestyle with a time of 49.57 seconds. Thomas finished fifth with a time of 52.84 seconds.

    1. Let’s see: transwomen are women and hence compete in women’s sports, but no-one knows if transmen are men or not (certainly slogans aren’t shouted from the rooftops as often in their case) and thus also compete in women’s sports.

      What do you expect from people who have abandoned rationality completely?

  13. Khorana: The grand old man of peptide chemistry at the Univ of Pittsburgh, Klaus Hofmann’s last grad student, Kevin Ridge, post-doc’d with Khorana. He told me that several people had pulled him aside and asked if he wasn’t worried about going to work with someone who was 70. He’d reply that his advisor was 82.

    Kevin was working on the structure of the insulin receptor, and I liked him a lot. Sadly, maybe 5yrs ago when I went to try to find out where he was now I found that he had died in 2011. As I recall he had been at a small college (maybe in Maryland), left there a year of two earlier, and reading between lines I concluded that he had gone back home. I found someone who he had published with and emailed her to try to learn more but never heard back.

    So on the remote chance that anyone reading this can fill in any blanks…

  14. The “furtive petting” episode reminds me of times I’ve snuck up on my cats. It is possible if you are very quiet and their attention is focused elsewhere. And they really are surprised, not like the cat in this video which barely reacts.

  15. “Workplaces around the world are filled with Djokovics, difficult but valued or essential employees who expect special accommodations in order to come to work — even when the accommodations they seek are grounded in anti-science views that might put their colleagues at risk.”

    Most certainly true. At the same time, don’t neglect not a few Djerkovic employers.

  16. In the UK & EU copyright is 70 years after the death of the artist/author. Therefore I am unclear how Winnie the Pooh is now copyright free? Milne died in 1956, Shepherd died in 1976.

    Also, Pooh was always naked!

  17. Intrigued by your Richard Halliburton birthday acknowledgement, I looked him up. He seems to have been ahead of his time in creating a model for today’s digital nomad way of life and monetizing travel vlogging on YouTube. The fact that he was a celebrity who effectively concealed being gay from his fans and detractors is another interesting element of his unconventional life.

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