Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

February 5, 2022 • 7:30 am

Good morning on the first Cat Sabbath of the month, Saturday, February 5, 2022— World Nutella Day. A few years ago I bought a jar of the stuff found it it too sweet. (It’s ok, though, when used as a thin filling of cookies; the Italians make a kind of Nutella oreo that’s quite good.)  It’s also Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (pie is better), International Pisco Sour Day, National Chocolate Fondue Day, National Fart Day(!), Disaster Day (the day of the Pompeii earthquake in 62 A.D.), California Western Monarch Day, and National Weatherperson’s Day.

Wine of the Day: I don’t drink much vintage port, but after sampling this 24-year-old specimen, I realized that I should. The reasons I neglect port are two: price and time. It’s usually expensive,—$60 a bottle or more when first released—and you should hold onto it for at least 15 years after the vintage date before drinking (it’s aged in oak for three years before it’s bottled). It throws a heavy sediment, and more likely than not you’ll break the cork trying to extricate it, which means laborious decanting and filtering.

But with a good port like this, which can last a week after opening, it’s worth it. I couldn’t find much about this vintage, made from their flagship vineyard (the weather in 1998 wasn’t good for widespread “declaration” of vintage port), but I’ve had enough port to advise that if you can find this one at $50, and can afford it, buy it (I paid considerably less, but that was a while back). This Cockburn was made in the round, sweetish style that I like in this dessert wine (other makers with that style are Graham’s and Taylor’s). It’s now about it’s peak, with ripe, plummy sweetness, like alcoholic jam: perfect for sipping with a book, as I’m about to do now.

I don’t drink port on my own except when I don’t have wine with dinner, as that would be too much alcohol. (This one comes in at a full 20% abv, so a largish glass will last all evening.) Port, along with other sweet wines like sherry or the Australian “stickies,” still remains a great value for quality, even though it isn’t cheap. If you don’t know vintage port, there is no substitute (even the vaunted tawny ports, the next step down), but try to get hold of the good stuff. T

Port after dinner with nuts or Stilton: a great British tradition. (I prefer mine on its own).

News of the Day:

*A few days ago I wrote briefly (in the Hili post) about the fracas at Georgetown University about the tweets of Ilya Shapiro, a constitutional lawyer who was suspended for tweeting (critically) about Biden’s promise to nominate a black woman to fill RBG’s Supreme Court post.  As I think so often, what he said was pretty odious, but didn’t deserve firing. The NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg agrees, even considering what Shapiro said:

Shapiro, who’d recently been hired by Georgetown University’s law school, criticized Joe Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Indian-born judge Sri Srinivasan was “objectively” the “best pick.” But Srinivasan, wrote Shapiro, “alas doesn’t fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman.” He claimed that if Biden considered only Black women, whoever he chose would always have an “asterisk attached.”

That’s offensive for sure, but the man has free speech (he did apologize for one of those tweets), and, as I wrote before, one of his female colleagues said things even more heinous about the nomination of Bret Kavanaugh, but she was defended by Georgetown. This is a clear case of double-standards for speech. (See also the U.S. Free Speech Union’s post “Georgetown’s Thuggish Illiberalism.”)

Why is Goldberg, a liberal, opposed to such punishment? For reasons I well understand:

I wouldn’t argue with anyone who interprets Shapiro’s insulting tweets that way [i.e. black women can’t come up to snuff on the Supreme Court]. Nevertheless, it is a mistake for Georgetown to investigate or punish him, for two reasons, one abstract and one strategic. The abstract one is that however offensive Shapiro’s words were, they’re also the sort of political speech that should be protected by basic notions of academic freedom, which is why a number of people who detest what Shapiro said criticized Georgetown’s move. As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer wrote, “I’ve made my feelings about what he said clear but it’s impossible for academic institutions to fulfill their missions if they fire or punish people under circumstances like these.”

But punishing Shapiro for his tweets isn’t a bad idea just in principle. It also threatens to undermine the value of academic freedom at a time when that value is under sustained assault in many red states.

This kind of academic censorship, which as Shapiro notes comes from both Right and Left, is reaching a kind of crescendo. Can it get any worse?  Debate, yes, but trying to ruin people’s lives over their speech? Well, I’m agin’ it.  The gleefulness I see when someone is fired or “canceled” is sickening. And for someone like Trump, there’s both counterspeech and the ballot—and, in some cases, lawsuits.

Professors aren’t immune from the protections of the First Amendment when speaking as citizens. As the USFSU notes about Shapiro’s suspension and condemnation by Georgetown Law dean William Treanor,

Treanor’s bullying statement and actions plainly violate the principle of academic freedom, which protects what the American Association of University Professors terms “extramural utterances.” As the AAUP avows, when professors “speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.” Elaborating on this idea, the AAUP stresses that “the controlling principle is that a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for the position.”

Of course the black students will, and have, said that what Shapiro said demonstrates his unfitness as a teacher, but it really doesn’t. He may be perfectly fine as a professor of constitutional law. But, people can claim, “Because of what he said, I will be harmed if I took his class.” Those people need to get over themselves.

People keep forgetting that freedom of speech is there precisely to protect those who say unpopular and unwelcome things. Most moral progress in our era started with unwelcome speech. Nobody, least of all Treanor or the aggrieved students of Georgetown, can set themselves up as judges of what professors can say in their free time.

*Re the Ukraine, based on the continuing Russian buildup, my latest prediction is the Russia will invade the country before the Winter Olympics are over. I will be delighted to be wrong, for one can imagine the horrors that could ensue, even though the most likely response from NATO and the U.S. will be a tepid rather than a bellicose one.

*To make a short poem, “Mike Pence has shown some sense.” In response to Trump’s continuous lying bloviation about the election being rigged, and his claims Pence had the power to overturn it, Pence has finally, as HuffPo would put it, “clapped back.” CNN reports:

Former Vice President Mike Pence called out his former boss by name on Friday, saying that “President (Donald) Trump is wrong” in claiming that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.

Former Vice President Mike Pence called out his former boss by name on Friday, saying that “President (Donald) Trump is wrong” in claiming that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.

Speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters conference near Orlando, Pence delivered his strongest response yet to Trump’s ongoing efforts to relitigate the 2020 presidential election, calling it “un-American” to suggest one person could have decided the outcome.

Pence warned against conservatives who continue to insist the vice president can alter an election, and said it could be a problematic position for Republicans in the next presidential contest.

“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and (Vice President) Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence said.

“WE beat them in 2024”? Who, exactly is “we”? It can’t be Trump and Pence, because for sure Pence would not be Trump’s VP pick if the Orange Man ran again in two years. No, it has to mean that, by declaring his independence this way, Pence is throwing his own hat into the ring. That heartens me a bit, because Pence is such a lame-o that he couldn’t beat a decent Democrat. Our problem, though, is we don’t have any decent Democratic candidates for President—at least not ones that I can see all Democrats getting behind. Perhaps one will rise from the ranks, like Obama.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 900,141, an increase of 2,6319 deaths over yesterday’s figure. We’ll probably reach at least a million deaths before this thing is over, but the curve is bending sharply downward (see below).  The reported world death toll is now 5,745,796, an increase of about 12,600 over yesterday’s total.

Here’s the curve of “new reported cases in the U.S.” from the NYT; I believe this is a weekly running average:


Stuff that happened on February 5 include:

  • 62 – Earthquake in Pompeii, Italy.

Over 100 bodies of the victims were preserved in situ, a gruesome but fascinating sight. Here are several:

Martin Scorsese’s 2016 movie “Silence,” which I haven’t seen, is about the perilous life of Japanese Christians.  Here’s a trailer:

I consider The Hermitage, where I spent two fantastic days in 2011; the greatest art museum in the world for its architecture, light, stupendous collection from ancient to modern art, and one’s ability to get close to the paintings (which is probably not good for them).

From the Neva (I was at a meeting and they laid on a fancy cruise complete with tons of food and a bottle of vodka per person):

A staircase inside:

One of their two attributed Leonardos, though this one’s disputed (it may be by a pupil of Leonardo): the Madonna Litta:

Here’s a replica; it weighted 72 kg:

To see what horrors went on under Leopold’s fiefdom, read the book King Leopold’s Ghost: A story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, by Adam Hochsfield. I believe a reader here recommended it, and it’s a page turner.

Here’s the famous time signal, which I believe the BBC broadcasts every hour:

The Prime Meridian at the Observatory is now marked by a laser:

  • 1945 – World War II: General Douglas MacArthur returns to Manila.
  • 1958 – A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the US Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, never to be recovered.

It’s still lost, but it’s pretty sure that it lacks the equipment to initiate the explosion.

  • 1971 – Astronauts land on the Moon in the Apollo 14 mission.

Here’s Alan Shepard, one of the original Mercury astronauts, on the moon with the American flag. But where is the wind coming from?

  • 1988 – Manuel Noriega is indicted on drug smuggling and money laundering charges.
  • 2020 – United States President Donald Trump is acquitted by the United States Senate in his first impeachment trial.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Truman and Stevenson (seated) in the Oval Office 1952. Stevenson was called “the thinking man’s candidate”, and of course lost twice—to Eisenhower.

  • 1934 – Hank Aaron, American baseball player (d. 2021)
  • 1944 – Al Kooper, American singer-songwriter and producer

Here’s Koooper with one of his own compositions from the 1968 Blood Sweat and Tears album “Child is Father to the Man“, one of the greatest but least-known albums in rock history. Here’s another song, this one by Randy Newman, and another by Harry Nilsson, both on that album.

  • 1962 – Jennifer Jason Leigh, American actress, screenwriter, producer and director

Those who bowed out  on February 4 include:

  • 1881 – Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher, historian, and academic (b. 1795)
  • 1941 – Banjo Paterson, Australian journalist, author, and poet (b. 1864)

Banjo wrote Australia’s most well known song (below):

Original manuscript, transcribed by Christina Macpherson, c. 1895

Do see the recent movie “Mank” about his life and collaboration with Orson Welles in writing the movie “Citizen Kane”.  Here’s a trailer:

  • 1999 – Wassily Leontief, Russian-American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1906)
  • 2020 – Kirk Douglas, American actor (b. 1916)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, it’s time for Hili to pack it in:

Hili: It’s getting late.
A: And what about it?
Hili: I’m going back home.
In Polish:
Hili: Robi się późno.
Ja: I co w związku z tym?
Hili: Wracam do domu.

And over in Wloclawek, Elzbieta is in severe pain, having been temporarily felled by radiculitis acquired by sitting in the cold too long and watching beavers. She will be fine, but Leon is watching over her.

Leon: You are in the best care; rest easy.

In Polish: Jesteś pod najlepszą opieką, leż spokojnie.

From Malcolm, who found this picture of penguin feathers on Bored PandaLook at their density!:

From Only Duck Memes.  Please read this if you feed ducks, and inform others if you see them giving ducks bread or crackers (click to enlarge):

From Science Humor, strange but true:

Two from Simon. First from Oded Rechavi, who specializes in turning photos into memes about academic science. As Simon notes of this one, “I liked Oded’s commentary (as always) but I have to wonder what the bear is thinking.”

Here’s another one. I sometimes felt this way when teaching:

From Merilee. Soon we’ll have a Caturday item about a grand reunion involving this airlift.

From Ginger K. This makes sense to me:

Tweets from Matthew. This one he calls “kind of gross unless you’re a dromedary.” This is new to me! Make sure the sound is up!

Lesson for the day: dromedaries are not really “camels”, as “camels” refer to the bactrians. They differ in their number of humps, and you can read about other differences here.

Just in time for Matthew’s birthday: one of the loveliest murmurations either of us have ever seen:

The comedian Jonathan Pie is now a correspondent for the New York Times. Have a listen to the video at the link:

A very old fossil turducken!

70 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. “WE beat them in 2024”? Who, exactly is “we”? ” – I understood Pence as simply meaning the GOP rather than as an indication that he was throwing his own hat in the ring.

  2. “Pence is such a lame-o that he couldn’t beat a decent Democrat.

    More to the point, I think, is that Pence can’t beat a terrible Republican in a primary. (And they are all pretty much terrible these days.) Whatever else comes our way I don’t think we need to worry about having do deal with a President Pence.

    1. On that note I agree. Most of the important people under Pence have already testified before the committee so they do not even need him. But in any kind of election that is fair in 2024, the republicans have no chance. It is just not going to happen. It was not going to happen last time although Trump tried to cheat and steal it 15 different ways. Now the official republican word is that the January 6 even was normal political recourse. Trump has removed even riot from the brains of these cowards. I am sure the talk at this web site and others will be that Biden is too old, the party is too far left and everything is just terrible — but they will win. The economy continues to improve and get better. Republicans continue to die or follow Trump down a black hole. If anyone needs to bet on this for some personal reason, sorry, I do not bet on politics.

      1. I for one am genuinely concerned for the Democrats in ’24. Although your points about the decay of Republican credibility are all fine, we cannot forget that Republicans vote when Democrats do not. Biden is not that exciting. Also they (Republicans) will lose no opportunity to flog the hell out of CRT and BLM and whatever other bogeymen they can spin up.

        1. I understand that those are the concerns of people at this web site. Also the concerns of Fox network. But many people, believe it or not, to not care a bit about CRT or woke, or the awful progressives. They care about jobs and making a living. Let the republicans pound on about those social issues, they have no ideas. The democrats need to spend their campaign money on highlighting the despicable actions of the cult and how they have attacked democracy and rule of law in this country.

        2. Democrats need to run ads showing the January 6 vidoe, next to the Republican resolution that characterizes January 6 a “legitimate political discourse”.

        3. Speaking of the decay of the GOP, yesterday the Republican National Committee voted to censure Liz Cheney (R-NV) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for serving on the House subcommittee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. The RNC also issued a statement referring to the events inciting that attack as “legitimate political discourse.”

          Today’s Republican Party is “the sick man” of modern western democracies.

      2. No chance? The last two elections were very close.

        “The tight races in the trio of states had a big electoral impact. As NPR’s Domenico Montanaro has put it, “just 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin separated Biden and Trump from a tie in the Electoral College.”

        Of course, Trump is no stranger to narrow victories. He won the 2016 election thanks to just under 80,000 combined votes in three of those six key states.”
        that’s what, ~ 0.05% votes cast?

        1. You are speaking of our very undemocratic electoral system. If you got beat by 7 or 8 million votes a normal person would say you got flogged. Even when he won he got beat by 3 million votes.

      1. Pence was a toady for tRump and did anything and everything asked of him except one thing. I’m not sure the word “conservative” really applies, at least not if the concept of “principled” is involved.

        1. Slow fuckin’ clap for Mike Pence’s finally, meekly disagreeing with Donald Trump, a year after the fact, over a plot that led some Republicans to storm the US Capitol in an effort to lynch Mike Pence.

          1. I wish Pence had added that Biden won fairly but I guess that’s too much to ask. The way I understood his comment about winning in 2024, he is still hoping for a GOP win. He seems to be one of the many in that party that are hoping for some kind of miracle where Trump evaporates into thin air and some random shuffling of the remaining tea leaves puts them in the driver’s seat. Fat chance. Assuming Trump doesn’t run, I guess the GOP has to anoint someone new but it sure won’t be Pence.

          2. Totally, Ken. If you decontextualize him from his master – just look at Pence himself – he is a damn nightmare.

  3. As I think so often, what [Shapiro] said was pretty odious, …

    I may be in a minority here, but I don’t see the tweet as odious or even offensive, it is just inartfully phrased. If Shapiro thinks that Srinivasan is clearly and objectively the best choice at this time, then he must necessarily think that any other pick would be a “lesser” choice. There’s nothing odious about thinking that. (And he is clearly not saying that no black women could ever be up to scratch.)

    The problem is that these days everyone leaps to the worst construal of what anyone says, whereas for society to function well, and to overcome “cancel culture”, we should always make charitable readings.

    1. Phrased so inartfully that I suspect he ought to have foreseen how it would be interpreted. Leaving aside the merits of individual candidates, it is a dreadful thing to offer a seat to anyone on the grounds that they are female and black; such a justice will always be thought of as the ‘equity hire’ and surely any self-respecting judge would see that as an insult. Biden should have kept his mouth shut instead of showing off how virtuous he is, and gone ahead and quietly nominated a black woman. At least she would have the ability to claim she was the best of all possible nominees, rather than the best of a relatively small subset.

      1. Phrased so inartfully that I suspect he ought to have foreseen how it would be interpreted.

        True, but it was a Tweet, not a considered policy statement. Often a writer, knowing what they mean, will be blind to inartful phrasing unless they put it aside and read it again later (which is why they often miss typos etc, and why good writers tend to revise and revise).

      2. IIRC, Biden made the promise during the election campaign to get the progressives onside and now that a vacancy is actually coming up he’s stuck with having to keep his word. But I agree with Shapiro in that whichever black woman is now appointed will have an asterisk next to their name; of course, that will now be the case regardless of how deserving they are of their seat on the SC bench.

        1. The same asterisk that goes next to the names of Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Louis Brandeis — respectively the first two black, first woman, and first Jew appointed to SCOTUS?

          The term before Brandeis retired, 72-year-old Benjamin Cardozo was appointed to the Court. Cardozo was replaced, in turn, by Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, and Abe Fortas in what became known informally as “the Jewish seat” on SCOTUS. Should asterisks attach to all their names, too?

          It’s a fools errand to attach asterisks to the names of Supreme Court justices — particularly given the near-exclusive hold that white, Christian men have had on the SCOTUS bench for nearly the entirety of its existence.

    2. What seems to be little discussed regarding Shapiro’s tweet is that its premise is basically absurd in that 1) it is possible to objectively determine who is best for the Supreme Court and he has done that and 2) he has scoured the records of the approximately two dozen Black female potential nominees and has concluded that none of them come up to his standards. Also, when has a person ever been nominated because he/she was “objectively” determined to be best? It is a joke to conjecture that such considerations ever passed Trump’s mind.

      Imagine that it is somehow possible to objectively determine who is best (whatever that means; Shapiro doesn’t tell us in his tweet) by some grading system. In our thought experiment, let us further imagine that each nominee can be given an objective grade from 0% (not qualified at all) to 100% (totally qualified). Most people under consideration get a grade in the mid 70s. However, one candidate gets a 97.6% while another gets 95.8%. Should the person with the slightly higher grade be automatically nominated? Of course not. Other non-objective factors are always taken into consideration. Thus, Shapiro’s determination of objectively as the prime reason for a president picking a nominee is risible.

      Shapiro should not have been punished for his tweet. He should have been laughed at. It is curious how right-wingers are so concerned with “objectivity” when a Democrat nominates a justice, but not when a Republican does.

      1. Also, there is no mystery to how republicans or the cult pick judges. The Federalist society of ambulance chasers holds the list and Moscow Mitch picks from the list. Way back when the first woman was added to this white man’s club of robes, no one said oh crap, there goes the neighborhood.

      2. Biden had the chance to make a stronger statement by picking a black woman from among a diverse short list of candidates. Some wouldn’t have like it, of course, but it would be on them to explain their complaint. IMHO, he blew it.

        Some might have considered it devious to make a fake short list if his intention all along was to pick a black woman but it’s always a political choice. I’m sure every president that has had to nominate a SCOTUS judge has had a favorite.

    3. Excellent, thank you. That’s what he is saying. I especially appreciate your encouragement that we use a charitable interpretation. It’s simply hard to be nuanced on twitter.

    4. is there any reason to suspect that your interpretation is incorrect? I don’t see any, but as you point out, that doesn’t stop people from criticizing him. It is absurd.
      Finding a like thinker on such an issue is, to my ears, melodious.

    5. I guess we all write things that we wish we had not, and often because our phrasing does not convey the point we were trying to make. After going back and reading the subject tweet several times, I have to agree with you. If you believe that there is one person who is objectively the best choice, then yes, excluding your pick because of their race, and promoting another because of their race, is being critical of racism, instead of engaging in it.

      Perhaps we should use this as an example of why this whole toxic environment cannot be allowed to stand. When the consequences of a point poorly stated are this high, nobody can be comfortable engaging in unscripted speech.
      Beyond that, it is very likely that a small number of lunatics are driving this whole thing. What good have they achieved to deserve so much authority over the rest of us? Are they making the world a better place?

    6. If Shapiro thinks that Srinivasan is clearly and objectively the best choice at this time, then he must necessarily think that any other pick would be a “lesser” choice.

      Yes, this is so obviously the correct interpretation that any quote of “lesser black woman” strikes me as bad faith. I still think his claim is silly, but it’s not racist.

  4. “…Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 900,141, an increase of 2,6319 deaths…”

    Respectfully, I believe there’s an error worth correcting in the increase in the number of deaths. Either the comma is out of place, or, more likely, a superfluous digit was included. My basis for the statement is the NYT reported 3,958 deaths yesterday and a 7-day average of 2,640, so an order of magnitude less.

    1. Highway deaths in 2021 averaged about 120 a day. The US Covid-19 death rate runs about 20 times that. More than disgraceful, and people are acting as if we have this thing licked. Not true.

      1. But there needs to be a clarification between “from Covid” and “with Covid”. At our hospital, each person admitted is tested for the disease, no matter why they are there. That practice is not exceptional. When one of those people gravely injured on the highway succumbs to their injuries but also tests positive, they become a Covid death.
        As long as that method of accounting persists, it is hard to even speculate the real toll “from”.
        Even excess deaths may not be very helpful, unless analysis includes all of the complicating factors related to but not caused by Covid, one example being medical care deferred because of the lockdown, or less obvious issues related to isolation or loss of income.

  5. The Jonathan Pie video is excellent. One minor point: it is entirely possible to call Boris Johnson a liar in the UK and he frequently is in newspapers and on radio and TV shows etc. The exception is in parliament – where MPs usually get around the prohibition on so-called “unparliamentary language” by putting the words into the mouths of their constituents – although they do get rebuked by the Speaker of the House (effectively, parliament’s chairperson) if they try it too many times in a single intervention.

      1. He didn’t get away with it the other day. Speaker Hoyle (a far better occupant of the Chair than Bercow) gave him a couple of opportunities to withdraw his assertion that Boris was a liar, but he refused. And so, according to the rules of the House, he was chucked out for the day.

        Some people think the rules should be changed, so that MPs can call each other liars with impunity. Ironically, Bercow himself was in favour of such a change.

        I can’t resist taking the opportunity to repeat David Cameron’s story about Bercow. He told an audience that one of his ministers (Conor Burns) had backed his car into the Speaker’s official limousine. An angry Bercow (who is 5ft 6in tall) descended from his state apartments and shouted at Burns: ‘I’m not happy!’

        To which Mr Burns replied: “Well, which one are you, then?”

  6. In regard to Ilya Shapiro’s tweet, and the ensuing dust-up, I am at least partly persuaded by John McWhorter’s take in yesterday’s NYT. McWhorter suggests that Shapiro misspoke badly and is not necessarily a racist. A more charitable reading of Shapiro’s comment is that, because his suggested nominee is, in his estimation, the best candidate. therefore, ANY other nominee would be “lesser”. And that Shapiro did not intend to claim that a black woman would always be a less worthy candidate. No doubt, at this point, that Shapiro wishes he had chosen his words with greater care. It is certainly true that anything you express on social media will be received in the least charitable fashion.

  7. Civil rights protestors sure have changed. From Bari Weiss’ TGIF column:

    “Ilya Shapiro’s protesters want free lunch: The writer Nate Hochman, who has been covering the sit-in demanding Shapiro’s firing, brings us clips from inside. At one point, he reports, activists ask for a special room “for people to cry.” At another point they ask for personal reparations in the form of snacks.
    “Coming back to this reparations thing…I don’t know if it’s a couple dinners or lunches or what, but that would help us,” says an activist.
    “We have food on the way,” says the dean.”

    1. Wimps. In our day, Abbie Hoffman’s Steal this Book contained instructions for making pipe bombs. Weirdly, our local bookseller actually stocked it. If Hoffman’s readers took him up on it, the bookseller would be the only one in the chain who would lose money off it. But that was the New Left for you.

      I neither bought it nor stole it but I did leaf through it. All I remember is the pipe bomb diagram. There were some important-looking details which I won’t go into.

  8. I don’t think what Shapiro said is offensive. He said that he felt that Srinivasan (Chief Judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals) would be the best choice for a new Justice (his opinion). But, because Biden had committed to appoint a black woman, any appointment would fall short of Srinivasan’s qualifications, and be a lesser one. He was not implying that the appointment would be lesser because a black woman would a fundamentally poor choice. It is a valid criticism that the Left has jumped over because it does not like when people publicly criticism Joe Biden or deviate from the Party Line, never mind that polling shows that 75% of Americans think that the selection should not be restricted in the way Biden has chosen to do. And as for being inelegantly expresses, in whatever way one chooses to describe it, if that is our standard for heaping opprobrium on someone, then let us start with our Commander in Chief, who reintroduced “colored” into our political language this week. His oratorical eccentricities don’t set the bar very high.

  9. 62 – Earthquake in Pompeii, Italy.

    Over 100 bodies of the victims were preserved in situ, a gruesome but fascinating sight. Here are several:

    I think this could appear misleading and needs some clarification. The victims in the photo were victims of the later eruption in 79, not of the earthquake in 62.

  10. Wrong Mankiewicz. It was Joe’s brother Herman who wrote “Citizen Kane” with Welles. Joe does make an appearance in the movie, though.

    1. Joseph Mankiewicz won a pair of Oscars himself, for the 1949 film A Letter to Three Wives.

      Joe originally came up in the shadow of his older and more-talented brother Herman, but actually had a much longer and more fecund Hollywood career, primarily because he did not share Herman’s predilection to dipsomania.

  11. Russian Ark
    Original title: Russkiy kovcheg
    1h 39m

    A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.

    It is filmed as a single take, no cuts or scene changes, from the point of view of the narrator.


    1. As one who will never have an opportunity to visit the museum, I experience viewing this film to be the next best thing, and I think the ballroom scene must even surpass a physical visit.

    2. I spent time as an exchange student at the Makarov Academy, which is on the other side of the Neva river, but an easy walk to the Hermitage. Leningrad was a great city for museums, and it is probably better now than then. I am definitely a museum person, so that was a treat.
      The Winter Palace itself is just an overwhelming experience, in scale, architecture, and ornament. One cannot help but try to imagine what it must have been like at the peak of the empire.

      I second your recommendation of the film.

    1. I don’t know if this joke is a well known one in the US, but here in the Netherlands we have this one on two dromedaries who encounter a camel. Says one to the other: “Look, an animal with a hump!”

  12. Where is the wind coming from-yeah, and where is the rock with the C on it and the mountain range with the face on it and where are the booms and the boom men and the lighting men…did I hear someone say Cut! Just some conspiracy theory humor that I couldn’t resist

  13. “Can’t believe NASA missed this!”
    The flapping flag is an old chestnut of the conspiracy buffs who figure someone opened a door on the stage set, letting in an untimely breeze just as the Stars and Stripes was being planted and the director didn’t yell “Cut!” No one will ever notice, he figured, but they would notice any gap in continuity with the re-take. And none of the conspirators higher up thought it would be a problem either, until some intrepid vigilante blew the whistle. (Of course, only a fool would think it was really being broadcast live, with no chance to fix goofs.)

    NASA has explained the flag many times. First there is a horizontal rod from which the flag hangs, so it shows extended, as when painted on a vehicle, not hanging forever limply and poorly visible. They demonstrated this during TV news coverage. As the flag was unfurled from the rod there was some rippling kinetic motion in the fabric, which you see captured in the still. In the airless dragless atmosphere, with less gravity for the flag’s weight to pull it smooth, the rippling persists long enough to give the illusion that it was flapping in the breeze, until a stage hand quickly closed the offending door.

    Apologies if our host knows this, and knows everyone else knows it, but I couldn’t resist, and it was phrased as a question.

    “Gulf. For whatever work there is to be done.”

  14. Re: Ilya Shapiro. His comment is very stupid,
    especially coming from a constitutional law
    expert. Constitutional law is concerned with
    the protection of minorities, among other
    issues. What if he had said, “lesser Jews”
    or even “lesser white men”? It’s hard to image
    that he would have.

  15. Perhaps you were just indulging in a rhetorical flourish, but as a state university employee who does sometimes unpopular things like argue for free markets in my Conservation Ecology class, I know that words matter. In your Ilya Shapiro section, you wrote, “Professors aren’t immune from the protections of the First Amendment when speaking as citizens.” True, but totally, and I mean COMPLETELY, irrelevant here.

    The 1st amendment is about government’s making laws abridging freedoms (speech, in this case). Shapiro was being punished by his employer, a private (and religious) institution, Georgetown University. Private employers have huge latitude to regulate the speech of their employees, both on and off the job. It is common for private employers to make a decision about retaining/firing an employee after s/he does something that brings the employer unwanted attention.

    You can argue the point about his academic freedom, but that freedom derives from tradition, Georgetown’s voluntary agreements with organizations such as the AAUP, and Georgetown’s concern for its reputation. It has nothing to do with the Constitution. If Shapiro had been at a public university, then there might well have been 1st amendment issues. But this case has no more to do with the 1st amendment than does that of Neil Young’s leaving Spotify.

  16. … why are government officials allowed to buy stocks/stock options?

    This is why all modern US presidents since Jimmy Carter — with the sole exception of Donald Trump — have placed their assets in a blind trust while serving in office.

    Congresspersons are legally prohibited from using information obtained on the job, but not available to the general public, in trading stock. Just ask former congressman Chris Collins (R – NY), who was convicted of insider trading (which included trading done by cell phone from the White House grounds after he’d received inside information during a White House visit) and sentenced to 26 months in prison. Collins was subsequently pardoned by Donald Trump during the last month of the latter’s presidency.

    Several congresspersons made suspicious trades after receiving classified briefings concerning COVID-19 before the pandemic’s outbreak in the US, but none was charged criminally — though it probably didn’t help one of them, former US senator Kelly Loeffler (wife of NY Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher), in her unsuccessful bid to retain the senate seat she’d been appointed to fill, in last January’s special election.

    1. Correction: the special elections for the two US senate seats in Georgia were held not this past January, but in January 2021.

      Whar edit button?

  17. “Here’s the famous time signal, which I believe the BBC broadcasts every hour” – there are a couple of times each day (e.g., just before the 6 p.m. news) when BBC Radio 4 uses the “bongs” from Big Ben instead of the pips.

    The pips are actually generated every 15 minutes and have occasionally been known to “escape” during a broadcast at the wrong time.

    It’s considered very bad form for a radio presenter to “crash the pips” by speaking over the time signal; the way that live discussion programmes manage to wrap up in time to avoid this is pretty impressive. In September 2008, the pips got delayed by six seconds and then an extra seventh pip appeared, which confused the live presenters on air at the time. In time-honoured fashion, the problem was solved by turning the time signal machine off and back on again.

    1. There is one little problem, in that not all radio devices transmit the pips, or the bongs, or indeed anything else, at the same time. We have a Sony digital radio in the kitchen, which is about five seconds behind my ancient portable radio, even when both are tuned to Radio 4 FM. I have reason to believe that the Sony is consistently behind the beat, but I have no idea why.

      1. I might as well add that there are more serious examples of lack of sync. Once upon a time, it was possible to watch Test cricket on TV with the sound turned off, while listening to Test Match Special on the radio: the best of both worlds No longer, alas: the TV images are so delayed as to wreck the whole experience.

      2. Yup, it’s a problem with digital broadcasting:

        On digital platforms such as DVB, DAB, satellite and the Internet, the pips—although generated accurately—are not heard by the listener exactly on the hour. The encoding and decoding of the digital signal causes a delay, of usually between 2 and 8 seconds. In the case of satellite broadcasting, the travel time of the signal to and from the satellite adds about another 0.25 seconds.

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