Friday: Hili dialogue

February 11, 2022 • 7:15 am

Good morning on the end of the work week, Friday, February 11, 2022: National Peppermint Patty Day, honoring not the Peanuts character, but this one:

It’s also National No One Eats Alone Day (but many do), Get Out Your Guitar Day, National Make a Friend Day, International Winter Bike to Work Day (note: only in the Northern Hemisphere!), National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day (what’s the point—it was determined by the laws of physics), Inventors’ Day, and a UN holiday: International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

News of the Day:

*Tensions continue to mount in the Ukraine, with Russian troops massing not only on the Russian side of the border, but in Belarus as well, where they’re performing “joint military exercises”. I still think that is is one hell of a bluff if Putin is indeed bluffing, and my prediction is that Russia will invade by February 20.

Can you bear to hear Boris Johnson’s assessment of the crisis (given at the AP site)?:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday the Ukraine crisis has grown into “the most dangerous moment” for Europe in decades, while his top diplomat held icy talks with her Moscow counterpart who said the Kremlin won’t accept lectures from the West.

Amid the deadlock, Russian forces held sweeping maneuvers north of Ukraine in Belarus, part of a buildup of over 100,000 troops that has stoked Western fears of an invasion.

NATO also has stepped up military deployments to bolster its eastern flank, with the U.S. sending troops to Poland and Romania. A British Royal Air Force jet carrying 350 troops landed Thursday in Poland in a move that followed London sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to help boost its defenses.

“This is probably the most dangerous moment, I would say in the course of the next few days, in what is the biggest security crisis that Europe has faced for decades, and we’ve got to get it right,” Johnson said at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Further, a meeting between Russian and British diplomats yesterday was a miserable failure, and now Biden is threatening Putin with a ridiculous claim: he’ll “do something” about the finished Russian/Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if the Russians invade. The thing is, there is absolutely nothing the U.S. can do about that pipeline: Germany needs the gas and Russia needs the dosh. We have no control about the pipeline, and only if Germany wants to make a big sacrifice for nothing would they not allow the pipeline to start transporting natural gas. After all, forty percent of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia.

*Shades of Rose Mary Woods! Investigation of Trump’s actions in the White House, and during the January 6 assault on the Capitol, is suggesting some pretty unsavory stuff. First of all, records of phone calls to and from Trump right after he made his speech on January 6 appear to be missing, despite several people who swear that they talked to Trump during this period. This is likely not illegal, but it’s unethical:

The call logs obtained by the [January 6]committee document who was calling the White House switchboard, and any calls that were being made from the White House to others. Mr. Trump had a habit throughout his presidency of circumventing that system, making it far more difficult to discern with whom he was communicating.

Second, there are reports that Trump, leaving the White House, took with him documents marked “classified” and “Top Secret” to Mar-a-Lago. This is a violation of the law.

The existence of clearly marked classified documents in the trove — which has not previously been reported — is likely to intensify the legal pressure that Trump or his staffers could face, and raises new questions about why the materials were taken out of the White House.

While it was unclear how many classified documents were among those received by the National Archives and Records Administration, some bore markings that the information was extremely sensitive and would be limited to a small group of officials with authority to view such highly classified information, the two people familiar with the matter said.

Finally, Maggie Halberman’s forthcoming book on Trump, “Confidence Man,” (due out in October), reports that—wait for it— when he was President, “staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper.”

Trump denies the illegal flushing as “fake news”.

*The NYT finally “outed” the Russian figure-skater who tested positive for a banned drug—a drug usually given to those with heart disease, but could improve athletic function.. She was on the Russian team that got the gold medal as a group, but it’s possible (and would be reprehensible) if the team retained the gold and she’s allowed to compete in the individual event coming up.

The skater, Kamila Valieva, already considered one of the top athletes in the sport, was found to have trimetazidine, a banned heart medication, in her system, according to a statement Friday from the International Testing Agency. The drug, which is not approved for use in the United States, is believed to improve endurance by helping the heart work more efficiently. Several top athletes, including the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, have served doping bans in recent years after testing positive for the drug.

The revelation has upended the Olympic skating competition and generated a slew of questions, including whether Valieva, who was favored to win the individual event next week, will be allowed to compete and whether Russia will be awarded its team gold medal. The United States, led by the men’s gold medalist Nathan Chen, finished second in that event.

As one person commented:

Why a 15 year old with wide open coronary arteries would need a drug to enhance her heart function is beyond comprehension, unless it is a sort of Dumbo’s magic feather–something given to the performer to make her (and her coaches) believe it gives her some sort of edge.

Here’s Valieva’s short presentation in the team event:

*On Friday Luc Montagnier, one of the discovers of the retrovirus that causes AIDS, died at 89. He was part of a brutal scientific dustup about who really discovered HIV, with his rival being Robert Gallo at the NIH. But Montagnier and his colleague Françoise Barré-Sinoussi published first—in a 1983 paper in Science. It later turned out that Gallo’s “HIV” strain was from the same patient as the French one, and that didn’t look good. Montagier sued Gallo, and the case was settled by none other than Jonas Salk, Mr. Polio. In the end, the 2008 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine went to Montagier and Barré-Sinoussi alone.

*It looks as if Harvard is covering up a case of sexual misconduct by a professor, and has done so in a particularly nefarious way. The Daily Kos reports that Harvard anthropology professor John Comaroff, who, along with his wife Jean, was hired by Harvard from the University of Chicago in 2012, is accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by three graduate students. (It’s John, not Jean, who is accused.):

The plaintiffs allege that Comaroff didn’t just kiss and grope and make unacceptable sexual comments to women over whom he had power. He explicitly threatened people’s careers if they objected to or reported his behavior. And Harvard, after hiring him despite knowing about this pattern of behavior, allowed him to continue.

Complaints to a university official responsible for handling sexual harassment were useless, even though in one case, the official was able to guess who a complaint was about before the accuser named Comaroff. The same official discouraged one woman from pursuing an official complaint. In another instance, an unnamed student’s complaint against Comaroff was read aloud to her by Comaroff himself in a successful effort to get her to withdraw it. He also threatened the career prospects of a postdoctoral fellow who had encouraged that student to report the harassment.

One of the most unsavory allegations, which appears to be true, is that in defending itself, Harvard somehow obtained the confidential records of one plaintiff’s’ therapist without the plaintiff’s consent, and then made those records available to Comaroff. When this became public, 34 of 38 Harvard professors who signed a letter defending Comaroff retracted their signature. I think the case is still going on, and Harvard better pay those women a handsome sum. Stealing confidential records from therapy is a huge no-no!  Michelle Goldberg wrote an op-ed about this at the NYT (h/t Scott)

*Over at Bari Weiss’s Substack, an article by Rupa Subramanya, “What the truckers want“. Nope, it’s not vaccination, as they need to be vaccinated to cross the border. Nor is it their objection to vaccination in particular. It’s POPULISM, Jake:

The convoy is spearheaded by truckers, but its message of opposition to life under government control has brought onto the icy streets countless, once-voiceless people declaring that they are done being ignored. That the elites—the people who have Zoomed their way through the pandemic—had better start paying attention to the fentanyl overdoses, the suicides, the crime, the despair. Or else.

In other words, the American truckers might vote for Trump if either Biden or Trudeau don’t do something. This conclusion, while it might be true, is also lame, and the reportage thin. I think that if the truckers want to commit civil disobedience by disobeying the law in a peaceful protest (it’s not really peaceful, as they’re blowing their damn horns as loud as they can), then the Canadian government should arrest the truckers.

*From reader Ken:

If you’ve ever pondered what the connection between ice fishing and prostitution is, Hudson OH mayor Craig Shubert has helpfully provided some “data points” for you to consider:

* A piece at the Guardian recounts the bittersweet gift of a Teddy bear. Reader Jez sent me the link yesterday because it was Teddy Bear Day. Watch the short YouTube video below. Here are the notes:

Why did a teddy bear bring this teen to tears? Taylor McCormack’s Christmas present from her sister was a remembrance of her best friend, Rodney, who died in 2020 when he reportedly drowned in a canal in Manchester, England. This custom bear contained a recording of Rodney’s voice.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 914,333, an increase of 2,575 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,810,892, an increase of about 12,700 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on February 11 include:

  • 660 BC – Traditional date for the foundation of Japan by Emperor Jimmu.

A print of the first Emperor; caption from Wikipedia:

Detail of Emperor Jinmu – Stories from “Nihonki” (Chronicles of Japan), by Ginko Adachi. Woodblock print depicting legendary first emperor Jimmu, who saw a sacred bird flying away while he was in the expedition of the eastern section of Japan.
  • 1534 – Henry VIII of England is recognized as supreme head of the Church of England.
  • 1794 – First session of United States Senate opens to the public.
  • 1808 – Jesse Fell burns anthracite on an open grate as an experiment in heating homes with coal.

The Pennsylvanian discovered that a draft from the bottom would make hard coal a viable heating material, and this helped spark the industrial revolution.

And its this cartoon that gave the term its name (caption from Wikipedia):

Printed in March 1812, this political cartoon was made in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party. The caricature satirizes the bizarre shape of the district as a dragon-like “monster”, and Federalist newspaper editors and others at the time likened it to a salamander.

She died at 35 of tuberculosis but Lourdes is still a flourishing mecca for medical religiosity. You can find a list of 70 official “miracle healings” here. Jesus is very selective about whom he helps!

  • 1938 – BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television programme, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”.
  • 1953 – Cold War: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower denies all appeals for clemency for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
  • 1979 – The Iranian Revolution establishes an Islamic theocracy under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • 1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years as a political prisoner.

Mandela lived only 14 months in a private house at this prison before his release. Here’s the compound, with the flag flying at half mast during the mourning period for Mandela after his death:

If you clicked on the photo, email would be sent to gazillions of your contacts, though your computer itself wasn’t corrupted. Here’s the virus email that wreaked so much havoc. (The perp got only 150 hours of community service.

  • 2011 – Arab Spring: The first wave of the Egyptian revolution culminates in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to the Supreme Military Council after 17 days of protests.[41]
  • 2013 – The Vatican confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI would resign the papacy as a result of his advanced age.

Notables born on this day include:

Here is whom Albert Einstein called “the greatest mind in American history”:

  • 1847 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, developed the light bulb and phonograph (d. 1931)
  • 1898 – Leo Szilard, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (d. 1964)
  • 1915 – Patrick Leigh Fermor, English soldier, author, and scholar (d. 2011)

A great traveler and a great writer! Before I went to the Peloponnese I read his book Mani, which greatly improved my trip. I recommend visiting this area of Greece. Fermor (second from left) was a special operative in Crete during WWII:

The saboteurs: (left to right): George Tyrakis, Stanley Moss, Leigh Fermor, Manolis Paterakis and Leonidas Papaleonidas.

He and Carole King (his first wife) were prolific songwriters during the Great Days of Rock. He wrote 8 #1 songs, many with King. The first one was “Will you love me tomorrow?”, recorded by the Shirelles in 1960.

The family:

  • 1964 – Sarah Palin, American politician and Governor of Alaska

Those who went to Valhalla on February 11 include:

  • 1650 – René Descartes, French mathematician and philosopher (b. 1596)
  • 1948 – Sergei Eisenstein, Russian director and screenwriter (b. 1898)
  • 1963 – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short story writer (b. 1932)

Here’s Plath reading her finest poem, “Daddy”:

  • 1978 – Harry Martinson, Swedish novelist, essayist, and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1904)
  • 1982 – Eleanor Powell, American actress and dancer (b. 1912)

She could almost match Fred Astaire step for step. Here they are dancing to “Begin the Beguine” from “Broadway Melody of 1940”:

  • 1994 – Paul Feyerabend, Austrian-Swiss philosopher and academic (b. 1924)

He looks mean:

  • 2012 – Whitney Houston, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress (b. 1963)
  • 2015 – Bob Simon, American journalist (b. 1941)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is beginning to slightly thaw towards Kulka, whom Hili previously despised:

Hili: She is sitting on my blanket.
Kulka: She is slowly starting to accept me.
In Polish:
Hili: Ona siedzi na moim kocu.
Kulka: Ona powoli zaczyna mnie akceptować.

From the Unique Birds and Animals FB page, a two-day-old giraffe. Be still my heart!

From Bruce. I don’t think I’ll be here on St. Paddy’s Day, but wanted to post this clever meme. (The tune is traditional, but the words were added only in 1913.)

From Scott on FB. This is one of the most clever ideas I’ve ever seen!

This is true for one Swedish city, and here’s the video to prove it!

From Jacques Hausser: a picture of ducks on a marsh cropped to make it look like Ducks On Jupiter:

God said it; I believe it; that settles it:

From Simon. How can people do stuff like this?

From The Auschwitz Memorial:

From Ginger K.: the history of the “burger flipping” trope:

Tweets from Matthew. I wonder what will become of this bill. It certainly CANNOT be passed!

Matthew says he’s not sure he believes this, and neither am I. But it may be true, and, if so, would be stunning: some spiders are more closely related to horseshoe crabs than to other spiders!

this is one of my favorite Darwin quotes, and it’s especially apposite for the advocates of Intelligent Design, who make their living from saying that evolutionary problems can’t be solved by science because God was involved.

This ostrich didn’t have a very good diet!

49 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I wish Hili’s people would publish a book. The one today made me cackle. There’s something about Hili’s expressions and posture that is already funny, and her person just nails it every time. I think she’s a comedic genius, and she obviously really knows cats.

    Also that giraffe photo! Those giant eyes! What a little beauty.

    1. Branta bernicla, yes. I guess the picture was shot with a smartphone through a telescope, hence the circular shape.

  2. I agree about Russia. They attacked Crimea, starting Feb. 20, when the Winter Olympics were underway in Sochi. I figured they’d use the same strategy with Ukraine, while the world is distracted by the Games which happen to be hosted by their staunchest ally. Meanwhile there are all kinds of truckers’ protests igniting in different countries, now detrimentally affecting the US-Canadian economies, not to mention tormenting residents in the vicinity of their blockades and occupation, and affecting the livelihood of the majority of their fellow truckers who are fully vaccinated.

    And all the while, there’s a wolf pawing at the door… Einstein once said, “Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity”.

    1. Crimea’s people are Russian. About 90% speak Russian at home and 90% vote for Putin. In the early 1950s Moscow (i.e., communist Ukraine’s team Khrushchev?) legally but illegitimately transferred the peninsula to Ukrainian administration for reasons that remain occult. The idea behind the West’s 2014 overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government of Ukraine (1000 ultranationalist “protesters” — videos at the time showed many were armed — were bussed from Lviv to Kiev the first day of the Maiden uprising for the purpose) and, ultimately, remove the Russian naval bases from Crimea and substitute them with those of NATO. The US people behind this at the time were Obama, H. Clinton, and, surprise, Joe Biden & family. There was also a State Department lady who still has her fingers in the pie: Victoria “Toria” Nuland. Expelling Russia would represent a great strategic victory for Western expansionism: Russia would be practically eliminated from the Black and Mediterranean Seas and be made to fortify at tremendous expense their entire border with Western-controlled Ukraine.
      If Russia invades Ukraine, it will be to prevent it from becoming another American satellite. NATO is very much like the Soviet Union was: Once a state is absorbed by it, like a fly in a spider’s web, there is no way to get out. Look how Germany changed its tune on the conflict when the Pentagon began to squeeze.

    2. I’ve read and heard experts on both sides of the question of whether Putin plans to attack The Ukraine. There is an old quote along the lines of “Russians play chess; Americans play football”. Vlad’s planned endgame is hidden, but so far he is ahead on both position and pieces. NATO’s big problem seems to me to be the lack of a credible threat that could deter him, the current NATO postur(ing) looking like so much bluff and bluster. It’s certainly plausible he could consider this to be his historical opportunity / destiny to start undoing the breakup of the empire. I hope not.

  3. “From Simon. How can people do stuff like this?” – it seems that the artwork was “improved” by a bored security guard on his first shift at the gallery. To add insult to injury, he used one of the gallery’s own customised biros to do it.

    Btw, I can’t take credit for the teddy bear link – it wasn’t me who emailed it to our host.

  4. Harvard apparently has a lot of very stupid people inside the institution of higher learning. They are pretty new so you have to give them time. Following the ignorant Title 9 regulations will insure some heavy duty law suits for sure. Had they instead, gone out and hired a professional firm to handle the sexual harassment it would have been much cheaper in the end. This is just one lesson in why schools should. not be handling this stuff. They have no clue.

  5. The giraffe photo is beautiful.
    Trump flushing documents down the toilet 15 times and needing to call the EPA and eating documents takes the top secret layer cake lol. We are all having our intelligence reduced, eaten and flushed away. Maybe.

    Peppermint Patty Day-I was thinking about how food, if it has a slightly bitter or challenging taste, for example the cacao bean, is desirable and humorous to eat. I will never forget, in the height of the popularity of turmeric, I watched on Youtube, two guys eat a spoon of turmeric powder in the kitchen over a sink. A bunch of powder! The funniest is he immediately spit an orange powder cloud out of his mouth! Unforgettable. Then a spoon of coconut oil. Gross. And the TV show Bizarre Foods is a hoot. The guy travels the world, eating blood in soup and a restaurant dedicated to donkey meat. I ‘binged’ the entire series lol

    The peppermint patty is, for me in that category. A waste of chocolate covering. And I think miso is disgusting, but like Charlie Brown kicking Lucy’s football, I get roped into the culinary mystique and I tell myself this time, it’s going to be good, it has garlic, at 35 dollars CA a pound. lol. Maybe it would be better with a few boxes of top secret documents? Maybe.

    1. 🙂 According to Wikipedia, her patronage includes ‘bodily illness’. She also represents ‘people ridiculed for their faith’. I suppose that means any faith, not just faith in God Goodbody.

      1. I’ve been to Lourdes as a tourist. It was quite impressive how many crutches they had hanging up around the place (of people whose walking disability was allegedly miraculously cured). You know what they don’t have?

        Any artificial limbs.

  6. My favorite take on the Trucker Convoy is that it might spawn a US version which could impact (*gasp*) the Super Bowl. This fits the Mad-Libs (where Libs stands for Liberals) style of reporting where: [Name of non-Progressive movement or activity] will negatively impact [Name of event or thing that conservatives are presumed to care about].

  7. Stealing confidential records from therapy is a huge no-no!

    Just ask Richard Nixon’s White House “Plumbers” who broke into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office after release of The Pentagon Papers.

    1. Nixon and his boys were choir boys in comparison to Trump land. Tell us legal console, when does the department of justice wake up??

      1. Title 18, section 2071(b) — which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and disqualification from holding federal office — seems custom made for what Trump has done. (Recall that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump portrayed himself as an expert on the Presidential Records Act, when complaining that Hillary Clinton’s emails had been “acid washed” — as though they were a pair of 1980s’ Levis.)

        “LOCK HER HIM UP!”

        I know some are questioning whether AG Merrick Garland has the mettle to call Trump to account for his malfeasance. I’m counting on there being an iron first inside the velvet glove of Garland’s moderate, mild-mannered public persona.

      2. I heard a funny comparison between what Nixon did and what Trump did (and what he did is still coming to light). “Compared to Trump, Nixon forgot to put the toilet seat down.” Sounds about right.

    2. > Stealing is a no-no.

      Especially when a subpoena gives you the same stuff, but now as admissible evidence. And the doctor can be compelled to attend to explain them…helpful if you can’t read his handwriting. There are no absolutely privileged medical records that require plaintiff’s consent to be handed over to the defence. Any records from therapy that suggested the complainant was a liar or a fantasist would be golden.

      But only if they’re obtained through due process, obviously violated here by Harvard.

  8. I remember reading the story about crows in Sweden, and thinking that they are going to be mobbing smokers. Which may be the point.

    1. Especially if they run out of discarded cigarette butts.
      Maybe they could teach them to pick up discarded needles, then.

  9. In theory the horn honking by the truckers in downtown Ottawa has been stopped, at least temporarily. A ten-day injunction was obtained making the honking illegal and subject to stiff penalties. Although in practice there is apparently still some honking going on, the situation is much much better than it was. The person behind the injunction is a young 21 year-old woman, which I find very impressive. I’m in my sixties and I can’t even get my rude neighbour to stop her loose dog from peeing on the snowbanks in my driveway that I have to shovel in the winter and from running through my garden in the summer and putting my wife’s beloved flowers at risk.

    1. Edit: Sorry, this was meant to be a free-standing comment, not related at all to #11.

      I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that spilled milk needs its own National Day in order to remind us of the sunk costs fallacy. “No sense crying over spilled milk”, our mothers said. If a hydroelectric dam will never generate enough electricity at market rates to be economic, and this becomes obvious from cost over-runs halfway through, rational economic theory predicts we should abandon the project, recognizing that sunk costs are sunk costs. Yet we press on, rationalizing that we have put so much money and sweat into the dam now, it doesn’t make sense to walk away and build a coal-fired steam plant instead, even though it does. (Granted, in government-funded mega-projects there is rent-seeking from unions, contractors, and local politicians trying to protect jobs. The stronger the signals the government sends that it is going to see it through to the bitter end, the harder the rent-seekers squeeze.)

      There is empiric evidence that people really don’t write off sunk costs. Suppose you belong to a tennis club that allows you to play outside for free and charges $10 no refunds to reserve an indoor court. You would rather play outside in the sun and fresh air. With rain in the forecast for Saturday you reserve an indoor court. But Saturday dawns mild and sunny. Do you play indoors or out?

      1. Hear hear

        The cost of removing the dam needs to be determined though, and disposal or repurposing, and the time frame – during which technological innovation might help.

        Movie tickets though – I’d go to the movie…. I mean, stay home… or…

        It depends!

  10. The Arab Spring develops into an Arab Winter, as the Tunisian president Kais Saied concentrates more and more power on himself and transforms the only Arab country that has been governed somewhat democratically in the past 11 years into an autocracy..

    1. Tunisia wasn’t us, but for places like Iraq and Afghanistan (and much earlier, Iran), we keep doing the short term beneficial/stupid thing and supporting pro-western leaders, rather than doing the long term beneficial/smart thing and supporting the country through several successful democratic turnovers. If you want democracy to stick rather than being some one-shot election of the next dictator, you have to get the country used to regular, peaceful, transfers of power. In the long run, it’s better for us to help a country go 2 years of pro-western then 2 years of anti-western then 2 years of pro-western than 2 years of anti-western vs. 8 years of the same pro-western executive and legislature.

  11. 1953 – Cold War: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower denies all appeals for clemency for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

    The Rosenbergs weren’t executed until June 19, 1953 — at the start of the “queer, sultry summer” when Sylvia Plath’s narrator “didn’t know what [she] was doing in New York,” according to the famous first line of The Bell Jar.

    I believe there was a whole nother round of last-minute petitions for clemency that Ike ignored later that year.

  12. The article about the truckers does indeed have populism as its subtext. Bly populism I mean a mass movement of individuals that feel that their grievances cannot be addressed through the existing political system or the people currently running it. If we assume that the interviews are representative of the views of the truckers, the common thread running through them is that the truckers are complaining that the Canadian government is taking away their freedom through mask and vaccine mandates and that it doesn’t respect them. The interviews contain little of economic complaints. These attitudes are at the heart of the Trumpist appeal, which seems to be spreading outside the United States. This incident, as I’ve argued before, symbolizes how certain people, often members of the lower middle class socioeconomic status, are experiencing what the great mid-twentieth century historian Richard Hofstadter labelled “status anxiety.” That is, these people are only in part fearful of economic decline, but as much disturbed by their perceived decline in social status versus other groups that the government seems to favor. In other words, their sense of dignity and self-worth are being challenged. And this challenge is often more powerful than economic ones.

    Coincidentally, in his usual must-read column at the NYT, Tom Edsall discusses with various academics and other experts, the role of status anxiety as a cause for populism and Trumpism. As he notes: “Eroded social standing, the loss of quality jobs, falling income and cultural marginalization have turned non-college white Americans into an ideal recruiting pool for Donald Trump — and stimulated the adoption of more authoritarian, anti-immigrant and anti-democratic policies.” When such attitudes along with distrust of governmental institutions are adopted by a large segment of the population, we have the makings of fascism, currently under the guise of “freedom.”

    The problem faced by the Biden administration and perhaps Trudeau’s in Canada is what to do about a society coming apart at the seams. At least from Biden, workable answers have been lacking. He seems to think that if his “Build Back Better” agenda is passed, all his problems will be solved. Unfortunately, this bill will not pass and even if it did, his problems will not go away become economic measures, although important, are not sufficient to resolve society’s social ills. The populist impulse that characterizes Trumpism is not driven by economics. Its appeal is based on the human need for dignity, self-worth and the feeling of superiority to others (characterized by tribalism). Until the Trumpists feel that this is being restored, social division will only grow. Peace and harmony in a society can never exist when competing tribes fear and loathe each other.

    1. I don’t see the reasons given as really credible. I have heard on the news that Canadian Truckers are 80 to 90 percent vaccinated. So why does 10 to 20 percent do this? Of course the internet has much to do with it but I have to believe that economic reasons apply as well. Lots of support from the conservative right in the states as well.

      Independent Truckers have always had a rough living compared to the Union and company drivers. I know because I started out in the trucking business and it is pretty poor for the independents, at least here in the U.S. Most new Truck drivers do not understand what they are getting into when they go to work as so-called Independent drivers. A trucking company hires them, then sells them a Tractor, doing the financing with big monthly payments. They are then responsible for all the up keep and gas. They get paid based on the type of commodities they carrier. It is a very bad deal and a poor living.

      1. And when will truckers begin to be replaced by A.I. truckers- I’ve read it could start happening as early as 2027. If you’re a trucker, there’s a lot more to worry about in the trucking industry than vaccine/mask mandates. I guess it’s more fun for them to toot their horns and act like petulant children than to look at the real difficult problems the near-future has in store.

        1. Yup, that is exactly it. As someone said recently in The Toronto Star, the truckers are the children that didn’t have to eat their vegetables first.

          1. And The Red Star knows this how? Certainly not from going out there and talking to them. Unlike Fox News — yes, really. The young kids in the families they’re interviewing look like vegetable-eaters to me. Not fat, certainly. They are still in a good mood, even with the police stealing their fuel and firewood.

            Doesn’t matter. The truckers have already won. The PM will rescind the cross-border vaccination requirement as soon as President Biden does the same to save the Super Bowl. Everyone is getting Omicron; a few unvaccinated truckers going either way aren’t the existential threat they might have been even two months ago. Limits to state power are always instructive.

            The police do need to get the freelancers off the border crossings, though. Vital infrastructure is different. Ottawa can go pound snow.

            1. “President Biden does the same to save the Super Bowl…”

              Huh? What kinda news you gettin’ up there? Thanks for the laugh, though.

              And what would you consider a “win” for this minority of know-nothings, who drive large trucks? I see some American neo-fascists egging them on, I see Astro-turfing going on to try and legitimize their bullshit, I see a lot of disruption and moneys swirling down the toilet. They created a larger divide, I guess, among the tribes…not really a “win”, or is it? No mandates have been lifted. What’s the win, exactly.

  13. I have a hypothesis which is mine – and Carole King’s voice is part of it :

    Modern pop vocals sound exceptionally mature.

    Anyone else think King’s voice as recorded back then and on the radio sound mature, or adult?

    I think so.

  14. He [Gerry Goffin] and Carole King (his first wife) were prolific songwriters during the Great Days of Rock.

    One of their compositions — “He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss,” recorded by The Crystals — hasn’t aged particularly well.

  15. It galls me when reporters like Maggie Halberman and others before her (Woodward/Costa), sit on illegal/highly unethical activity the Trump administration did just so they can compile it for their upcoming book(s). Sometimes this keeps the lid on the corruption for many months. Sure, we all need to make a living, but this greed before country, to me, is contemptible.

    1. Agreed. And I think it’s nearly as bad when a former public servant does the same.

      I’m lookin’ at you, John Bolton, as well as a whole bunch of other former Trump administration officials who’ve written tell-all (or, more likely, tell-some) books.

    2. John Bolton…wow, talk about an endangered species. I almost forgot about that rare breed. I’m a drinker, so I’m sure we’d get along. Drinkers look past politics. I do at least…my parents still live and we love…again, drink.

  16. Protests and nonviolent resistance are necessary after other recourse has failed. There are many grievances here that are being exploited by the anarchic right wing but if the truckers do have other grievances besides the one over vaccines, they are not pursuing their demands through other
    means, i.e. formally organizing, preparing their list of concerns and demands, meeting with elected officials, using the media to explain their position, and seeking public support instead of
    acrimony and disapproval. Canada is a democracy where these avenues are available for those with legitimate concerns that can ultimately be resolved. The failure of the truckers to do this means few outside their movement will take them seriously. As for the American media, they have staked out
    a pro trucker position without doing their job, in order to virtue-signal their concern for the working class. This is the knee jerk response of phony liberals who form a consensus without supporting evidence or with limited contact with the protesters. Bari Weiss’ column is in line with her new
    obeisance to vaccine resisters and her assertion that we must just “get over” the pandemic and move on. So it goes with supposedly independent non ideological bloggers, who are now part of the problem.

  17. Jerry, regarding the story of the crows trained to pick up litter, it reminded me of a similar story about dolphins, but with a surprising twist!

    At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

    Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.


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