Wednesday: Hili dialogue

February 16, 2022 • 7:30 am

Good morning on púpos nap, or “hump day, as they say in Hungarian. It’s Wednesday February 16, 2022: National Almond Day. Watch for cyanide!

It’s also  Kyoto Protocol Day (it took effect on this day in 2005), Tim Tam Day (a great candy bar from Australia), Elizabeth Peratrovich Day (in Alaska), a woman who worked for indigenous rights, and, in North Korea, the Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong-il’s Birthday in 1942).  Wikipedia says this about that:

According to legend, a bright star appeared on the sky the night [Kim Jong-Il] was born, and guerrilla fighters carved messages on trees proclaiming: “Three Heroes Shining in Korea with the Spirit of Mount Paekdu: Kim Il Sung, Kim Chŏng-suk, and Kwangmyŏngsŏng (‘The Bright Star’)” and “Oh! Korea! The Paekdu Star Was Born!”

Here’s a propaganda poster of the baby Kim Jong-Il, and a real treat, a Tim Tam:

(from Wikipedia): According to North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong-il was born in a secret camp [ko] at Mount Paektu on 16 February 1942.
A kind reader sent me some Tim Tams, and I verified the suggestion that they’re good for using as straws to suck up hot coffee or tea:

News of the Day:

*It’s been a decade since the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut took 26 young lives 6 adult lives. And it’s been seven years since the families of the victims filed a lawsuit against Remington, the company that made the Bushmaster AR-15 style rifle used by 20 year old murderer Adam Lanza. Now bankrupt, Remington, its lawyers, and its insurers will have to pay $73 million dollars to the plaintiffs and their lawyers:

The families sued Remington in 2014, alleging it should be held partially responsible for the shooting because of its marketing strategy. A 2005 federal law protects many gun manufacturers from wrongful death lawsuits brought by family members — but the marketing argument was a new approach.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs contended that the company marketed rifles by extolling the militaristic qualities of the rifle and reinforcing the image of a combat weapon — in violation of a Connecticut law that prevents deceptive marketing practices.

. . .The families have also “obtained and can make public thousands of pages of internal company documents that prove Remington’s wrongdoing and carry important lessons for helping to prevent future mass shootings,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a news release.

“We established what was clearly true … the immunity protecting the gun industry is not bulletproof,” plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Koskoff said in a news conference in Trumbull, Connecticut. “We hope they realize they have skin in the game, instead of blaming literally everybody else.”

This is a historic win that, while not doing a lot to curb the dissemination of guns, will certainly affect gun-company advertising and perhaps cut down a bit on America’s horrific epidemic of mass shootings. It’s the first time a gun manufacturer has been held responsible for illegal use of its weapons (the charge was misleading advertising).

*Imagine thinking that you’ve been washed in the blood of the lamb, only to find out it was sewer water. Well, that’s the equivalent situation, according to NPR, of a number of Catholics. A priest in Arizona has been baptizing RONG for many years, using words that, in effect, make the receiver UNBAPTIZED! And the miscreant priest did it wrong for 26 years (h/t Keith):

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix announced on its website that it determined after careful study that the Rev. Andres Arango had used the wrong wording in baptisms performed up until June 17, 2021. He had been off by a single word.

During baptisms in both English and Spanish, Arango used the phrase “we baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He should have said “I baptize,” the diocese explained.

*In his column in yesterday’s NYT, “Yes, some musicals are unwoke. That’s not a writ to rewrite them,” John McWhorter criticizes the new “Encores!” program at the New York City Center, whose purpose is to re-stage older plays. And, as expected, the old plays are getting an ideological makeover. In “The Tap Dance Kid,” for instance, a character whose woes (and songs) depend on her being overweight, has now become skinny. That changes the gestalt of the character, but at least avoids fat-shaming!

McWhorter will have almost none of this ideological disinfecting, and says this:

Of course, the world will keep spinning if New Yorkers like me don’t get to have their Encores! fix a few times a year — I won’t be attending re-examinations, as opposed to reproductions, of old musicals. But this regime change is symptomatic of something that has acquired ever stronger purchase in the arts in recent years. There is a growing mood that seems to see almost anything created longer than about 10 minutes ago as a suspicious token of a noninclusive past.

. . .It’s bad enough that on the political right, a degree of comfort with book-banning seems to be taking hold. An idea from the left that good art must seek social justice strikes me as a not entirely different quest to erase the past.

Some might think I’m overreacting, but this is a pattern: If old musicals are problematic, if the mechanics of European music theory are tagged as intrinsically white, if several Dr. Seuss books have to be withdrawn from publication, how long will it be before we’re encouraged to reject almost any movie from before, say, 1960 as irredeemable in its reflection of a society in which white hegemony was unquestioned?

There is a short step from this to evaluating art more for its effectiveness in questioning abuses of power than its aesthetic value.

But of course that’s precisely what these Leisure Fascists want!

*His reputation in tatters, and more or less de-Royaled, Prince Andrew finally reached a settlement yesterday with Virginia Giuffre, one of the underaged girls recruited by Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with his pals. She claimed that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew in at least three places when she was 17 years old. The settlement is undisclosed, and Andrew doesn’t admit guilt, but it at least keeps him from the embarrassment of a public trial. All signs are that he did engage in a sex-trafficking scheme, and he’ll be lucky if he can show his face at Buckingham Palace any longer. The Queen doesn’t like that stuff!

*One of the few things that makes me glad I’m not immortal is that I won’t be around when the world, engaged in the tragedy of the commons, begins dying from global warming. It’s almost at the point where it can’t be stopped, and remember all the animal and plant species that we’ll take down with us. A new report gives some dire news: in the next three decades we’ll see as much rise in sea level as in the whole 20th century. From the AP:

America’s coastline will see sea levels rise in the next 30 years by as much as they did in the entire 20th century, with major Eastern cities hit regularly with costly floods even on sunny days, a government report warns.

By 2050, seas lapping against the U.S. shore will be 10 to 12 inches (0.25 to 0.3 meters) higher, with parts of Louisiana and Texas projected to see waters a foot and a half (0.45 meters) higher, according to a 111-page report issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and six other federal agencies.

“Make no mistake: Sea level rise is upon us,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

The projected increase is especially alarming given that in the 20th century, seas along the Atlantic coast rose at the fastest clip in 2,000 years.

LeBoeuf warned that the cost will be high, pointing out that much of the American economy and 40% of the population are along the coast.

However, the worst of the long-term sea level rise from the melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland probably won’t kick in until after 2100, said ocean service oceanographer William Sweet, the report’s lead author.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 923,809, an increase of 2,328 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,858,921, an increase of about 11,800 over yesterday’s total.

Here is the U.S. running weekly average of total reported cases; the decline of the surge is quite clear:

Stuff that happened on February 16 include:

Here’s a 1912 match in Iceland:

Here’s Carter and assistant examining the innermost of King Tut’s coffins, followed by a photo of King Tut’s mummified head. He suffered from many ailments before he died at about 18, including a clubfoot, scoliosis, and repeated bouts of malaria; and he walked with a cane.

Here he is with nylon. He had a turbulent life, with affairs, divorces, and wound up committing suicide by ingesting “chemicals”:

See Elizabeth Peratrovich Day above.

Triumphant, Castro and Che enter Havana in January:

  • 1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.
  • 1978 – The first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago).
  • 2005 – The Kyoto Protocol comes into force, following its ratification by Russia.
  • 2006 – The last Mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army.

Here’s a real MASH unit in Korea; caption from Wikipedia:

An operation is performed on a wounded soldier at the 8209th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, 20 miles (32 km) from the front lines, 1952.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1822 – Francis Galton, English biologist and statistician (d. 1911)
  • 1834 – Ernst Haeckel, German biologist, physician, and philosopher (d. 1919)

Haeckel at 26. He coined the terms “ecology”, “phylum”, “Protista” and “phylogeny”:

  • 1848 – Hugo de Vries, Dutch botanist, geneticist, and academic (d. 1935)
  • 1926 – Margot Frank, German-Dutch holocaust victim (d. 1945)

The Auschwitz Memorial’s remembrance of Margot on her birthday:

  • 1935 – Sonny Bono, American actor, singer, and politician (d. 1998)
  • 1941 – Kim Jong-il, North Korean commander and politician, 2nd Supreme Leader of North Korea (d. 2011)
  • 1958 – Natalie Angier, American author
  • 1989 – Elizabeth Olsen, American actress

Those who dropped from the Tree of Life on February 16 include:

  • 1996 – Brownie McGhee, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1915)
  • 2001 – William Masters, American gynecologist and sexologist (b. 1915)

The sexperts: Masters and Johnson (she was the first to document the female multiple orgasm):

  • 2015 – Lesley Gore, American singer-songwriter (b. 1946)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are having a philosophical discussion (Hili doesn’t drink):

Hili: In vino veritas.
A: Is it theology or philosophy?
Hili: That’s what I wanted to ask about.
In Polish:
Hili: In vino veritas.
Ja: To teologia, czy filozofia?
Hili: Właśnie o to chciałam zapytać.

From Bruce: This is why I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in Australia

From Divy: Appropriate candy hearts for your cats to give on Valentine’s Day:

From Anna, who loves cats:


Today’s tweet from Titania:

From Ginger K.:

From Simon, another academic take on video memes. But really, it’s NOBEL prize!

Another from the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one has good practical advice:

I probably should read some Wodehouse. My Brit friends all like him, but maybe it’s a British thing.

I presume they’re talking about Darwin’s son here, as Twain had no sons:

Live and learn what a “skeumorph” is:

78 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. how long will it be before we’re encouraged to reject almost any movie from before, say, 1960 as irredeemable in its reflection of a society in which white hegemony was unquestioned?

    I still remember maybe 15 years ago, going to a big summer outdoor “classic movie” screening and watching a Thin Man movie. There were lots of audience laughs at the blatant sexism – it’s so out there as to pass through offensive into amusing. I doubt very much anyone watching it thought “hey, that sexism…what a good idea.”

    Point being, maybe the woke should think about the good derived when people learn about the historical changes in social attitudes, rather than trying to expunge them.

    1. A couple of years ago I rewatched Revenge of the Nerds with a male friend. We had watched it together when it first came out on video and thought it quite amusing but obviously not in the class of Animal House.

      We both found the film really hard to watch because of the blatant sexism as well as the fact that it is shit. The bit where they hide surveillance cameras in the girls dorm and play it for laughs was stomach churning and one of the protagonists effectively rapes his future girlfriend. The only positive I took away from the experience was that my attitudes have obviously changed for the better since the 80’s.

      1. Yes I think it’s a good point that some movies (songs, etc.) may not stand the test of time because of changing social attitudes. Which is fine, but again provides no excuse to whitewash them. Hollywood can always take the plot and remake it with modern sensibilities if they want.

        Watching an old movie and realizing “yeah…that was just bad…what were we thinking?” is better for society than purging it and having the population going around with some wrong rosy fantasy of how these past movies promoted modern sensibilities. Those who cannot remember the past…

        1. Yep. Sexism, alcoholism, cruel jokes, rinse, repeat.

          MASH has *a bit* of an excuse given that it was written a bit like Catch-22, I.e. the main characters are reacting absurdly to the absurd horrors of war. So their responses are intentionally off-kilter. But even so, the main characters are insensitive sexist alcoholics of their time.

        2. The old idiom was about walking a mile in a person’s shoes before rendering judgement. I think that very much applies when we choose to criticize people of past generations who experienced stresses and hardships almost unimaginable to current generations.
          MASH was based on a series of novels by a person who experienced the Korean war as a surgeon in the circumstances depicted in the film and TV adaptation. When the show was debuted, the people who fought in that war were just entering middle age. I remember, as a kid, watching MASH with a relative who had fought in that war. He loved it.
          If the show had been produced to conform to 21st century sensitivities, he, and thousands like him would have exclaimed “What the hell is this crap?”, and changed the channel.

          My prediction is that much of the stuff being produced today is going to seem terribly dated in the near future.

    2. You might want to look up the term ‘Socialist Realism’ and how that was applied to arts in the Soviet Union, or how ‘Degenerate Art’ was treated in Germany under Hitler to see the dangers inherent in such approaches. I’ve also been advised that there’s been another book burning by ‘woke’ students, this time in the US, while again the books had been disgarded this lot didn’t even have the excuse of a ‘native healing ceremony’ the book burners in Canada did.

  2. “Fortunately, the oldest victim would only be about 26 now, so they have plenty of time to get properly re-baptized.” – Of course, some fools get baptised during adulthood…!

  3. I chuckled at this quote:

    “We established what was clearly true … the immunity protecting the gun industry is not bulletproof,” plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Koskoff said in a news conference in Trumbull, Connecticut.


  4. No thanks to Congress as usual the Sandy Hook folks have won a great victory. This should be just the first step in massive regulation of the gun industry in this country. To my gun loving friends out there who think these weapons of war are just guns for kids and hunters – please eat this one.

    1. A great and just victory, yes, but AR-15s are not weapons of war. Military assault rifles need to be capable of fully-automatic fire, which no firearm legally available to civilians in the United States is.

      Call them weapons of mass murder if you like, but weapons of war is just wrong, and not a useful basis on which to regulate them. On farms and ranches they are used to shoot coyotes molesting livestock, the less lethal bullet making them safer for the neighbours than a full-caliber hunting rifle. That may not matter to you.

      You are going to answer, “Ah, the ‘You just don’t know enough about firearms’ defence.” Fine, but the usual lament, “How can civilians be allowed to own weapons of war?”, is easily answered with, “They aren’t.”

      1. I take it you own a bit of stock in Remington maybe. They have declared bankruptcy twice now and hopefully they will ether go out of business or change their ways. Getting insurance is not likely. I am also not here to argue with the likes of you or all the other misunderstood gun lovers. You think Remington was making this piece of crap for farmers and ranchers? When the winners of this court case start making the documents they retain from Remington, public, then you will know who they were marketing this thing too. Stay tuned.

        If it is not fully automatic it is not for war. I guess the M-1 was just for the backyard.

        1. An M-1 Garand from the Second World War is not fundamentally different from a modern hunting rifle that fires a full-weight .30-cal. (nominal) cartridge. The 8-round clip would be illegal in Canada where the max. is 5 but the semi-automatic action is legal in both countries. Militaries moved to fully automatic firearms firing lighter, shorter-range bullets because the conditions of modern combat changed, making hunting-style rifles like the M-1 obsolete. Today it would be useful for not much more than the back yard as long as the next house was a couple of kilometres away.

          It is a cheap shot to impute financial motivation to people who dispute your facts. I recognize this is fair game on questions of opinion. Nonetheless…

          Banning “war weapons” or even “assault rifles” won’t get you anywhere because the terms have no actual meaning. Your legislators would have to direct the ATF to restrict or prohibit each specific firearm that the lawmakers decided that Americans could no longer own, or could own only with specific licences, in addition to the blanket prohibition on fully automatic firearms. This is the approach we take in Canada. If the RCMP puts the AR-15 on its Prohibited list, it’s because it’s an AR-15, legally defined, not because someone thinks it’s an assault rifle that looks on TV a bit like an M-16 and has been used to kill people.

          There is no reason, other than political, why the U.S. couldn’t do this. It would require that legislators and other gun-control advocates learn enough about firearms to articulate what exactly they wanted to ban. You can’t just decide not to listen to people who disagree with you, unless you can roll over them with majority rule. Even that doesn’t always work.

      2. ‘False advertising’ seems an appropriate conclusion. Remington was trying to have it’s “oooh, dangerous weapon of war!” advertising cake while eating its “nothing unusual to see here” legal caveat cake too.

        Though I wouldn’t be surprised if they used the Papa John’s “puffery” defense on appeal.

  5. So how many people went to Hell because they died unbaptized?

    Used to be, the unbaptized could sit it out in Limbo (you know, like Jimmy Cliff), waiting for the Second Coming. But then Limbo went the way of Pluto.

  6. The real reason for the skeumorphs on jars of maple syrup is so that squirrels can use them with their teeny little hands to pour it. According to BBC Radio 4’s The Unbelievable Truth:

    The Canadian red squirrel makes its own artisanal organic maple syrup. […] It’s believed that the North American tribes of Eastern Canada only learned how to tap maple trees by observing red squirrels. (13:20 minutes in.)

  7. … he [Prince Andrew]’ll be lucky if he can show his face at Buckingham Palace any longer. The Queen doesn’t like that stuff!

    Seems a bit snooty for the “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor” of a church founded on the family values of Henry VIII.

    1. Liz isn’t having a good week – the London Metropolitan police have just opened an investigation into Chuck’s charity The Prince’s Foundation over allegations of cash for honours. Of course, like little brother Andy, Charles denies any knowledge of wrongdoing. But then, Andy is about to cough up £12 million to some woman he swears he’s never met (as you do…).

      1. But then, Andy is about to cough up £12 million to some woman he swears he’s never met (as you do…)

        How do you know it is £12 million? All the sources I’ve read say “undisclosed”.

        Also I don’t think he swears he hasn’t met Virginia Guiffre, only that he has “no recollection of meeting her”. He can’t say he never met her because there’s a photo of the two of them together with Gislaine Maxwell.

    2. Except that the “Defender of the Faith” title was awarded to Henry by the Pope, and is about defending the Catholic faith.** So that bit fits.

      [**Before that Pope would not give him an annulment.]

    3. What the Queen probably doesn’t like is that the family told him to settle, he publicly told them to go pound sand, he was going to defend his reputation in court because he just couldn’t leave his reputation besmirched…and then a few weeks later, he settles.

      IOW not upset about the pragmatism, upset about the idiotic misstep they told him not to make and which he made anyway.

  8. It’s not only the older musicals that are “unwoke”. I submit to you that the much more recent musical “Hairspray”, which deals not only with fat-shaming but with racial issues in the 1960s is unwoke on many levels! Plus, one of the lead characters is a man playing the role of a woman! Horrors!!

  9. McWhorter reminds me of Fahrenheit 451, where the point of the story is about a regime where all books (as well as movies, etc.) have been eliminated to prevent all the uncomfortable feelings that it can bring. It is much less hard to imagine such a regime now with the internet, where a government could entirely control the information a person gets. And we have robot dogs now, too.

    With regard to climate change, I don’t lose sleep over it any more. When I was a Fourth Year at Chicago, I took a course on human evolution. Part of the course was devoted to a book entitled (I think) “Global 2000,” which talked all about how we were destroying the Earth, and civilization as we knew it would be impossible by the year 2000. I worried about that at the time. Then I got busy, and forgot about it. Well, Bill Clinton not withstanding, that didn’t happen. In fact, we’ve had decades of climate prophecies of doom and gloom. These include a 1989 augury that the West Side Highway in NYC would be underwater by 2019 and 2005 prevision that Manhattan would be underwater by 2015. Science has been overtaken by politics, and the politics is all about scaring people into what looks unsurprisingly like a Progressive agenda.

    1. The error there is that the models then, and the physical signs then, were not nearly as good as they are now. We know that although the earth is trending to be warmer than its ever been for hundreds of thousands of years, the earth has been a lot warmer if you look at the geochemical record from many millions of years ago. There is nothing to stop it from happening again.

      1. I am skeptical of the hysteria. Not of climate change, because it has never been static.

        But the sea level predictions seem to be based on very short term measurements, and have a lot of potential to rely on the most pessimistic predictions as the most likely.
        People of a more archaeological persuasion might look at the Roman Pischinae, large fish pens built at tidal boundaries, using the channels and the tides to circulate the water.
        When the existing structures are examined, it appears that some particular examples were built for a sea level about 1.35 meters below present levels. Geologic subsidence accounts for 1.22 meters of that, so it looks like 13cm of sea level rise in 2000 years or so.
        Those basins sitting there do not disprove any climate predictions, but they illustrate the fact that the conclusions being reached are being extrapolated from very small measured changes. Additionally, the technology currently being used for very precise sea level measurements has only been available for a short time.

        1. I thought precise measurements are being used to track predictions (which, last I heard, are shown to be conservative), not to make predictions (although a bit of a feedback mechanism is likely).

          More importantly, 2000 years ago glaciers weren’t melting at the current rate. If all of Greenland’s glaciers melt, we would be in deep doo-doo (hopefully, not in our… my lifetime).

          You also need to consider thermal expansion (of the water), and increases in magnitudes of tides. Oceans were cooler in the time frame you reference.

          But, I’m right there with you; I don’t worry much . . . I don’t have children, and it’s unlikely (but not impossible) for major acceleration in global effects to occur in the next 20-30 years. Meaning, I’ll be gone (hopefully) before said deep doo-doo becomes a reality.

  10. All signs are that he did engage in a sex-trafficking scheme

    I’m not sure that is true. He certainly associated with people who did engage in sex trafficking but that doesn’t mean he was a sex trafficker himself. The evidence does suggest that he might have been a customer of the sex trafficking ring, but even that hasn’t been tested in court. Nor will it be now – probably.

    1. It’s all rather mute now isn’t it. When the guy folds and does not even go to court to clear his name, what does that mean. Guilty. Was his mother’s action one that says he is innocent.

      1. How would his mother know whether he was innocent or not? Was she there? The Queen’s actions were about protecting The Firm, not Andrew Windsor. Just as your boss fires you because Twitter tells her to, not because she cares whether you did anything wrong.

        Civil suits are all about money, not clearing your name or any kind of moral issue at all. (I would make an exception for the Sandy Hook suit.). You ask the plaintiff how much money she wants to go away, then compare that to the cost of disclosing and defending in court adjusted by your lawyer’s informed guess about the probability that you will lose anyway, and have to pay a lot more.

        If shareholder money is at stake, as with insurance companies and other corporations, there is a duty to defend to discourage copycat suits that could damage the shareholders in the future. Cost of doing business. But the Prince is on his own.

        Of course, if other women he never met now come out of the woodwork smelling money, settling might prove to have been a bad decision.

      2. Wow, all those people in US prisons because they took plea deals because they were too afraid of trial…really sucks for them that you think they’re all guilty. I believe it’s something like 96% of criminal cases. But they should have gone to court to clear their names, dang it!

        Also, it’s “moot.”

        1. Aside from your sarcasm, this was not a criminal case so it was not about going to prison. In civil cases such as this the legal ground is all in favor of the very rich. If you are just an average poor individual there is often not much to gain going after you as you have nothing to make it worthwhile. However, this fellow had tons of money backed by the citizens of the U.K. His royal ass, known as reputation is all he has so folding up and settling is only generally done if you are guilty. In royal children the queen is batting zero and not expected to improve.

          1. Actually, the only taxpayers’ money he gets direct is his £20k a year naval pension. Brenda has been bankrolling him for the rest, including his high-maintenance lifestyle. She benefits from taxpayers’ money in the form of the Civil List, which is supposed to be used to keep the firm going so that it can undertake its manifold public duties in decent order. If in due course it is revealed that she has shovelled some of it out to pay the commitments he has now entered into, there may be difficult questions for the firm to answer.

          2. “In civil cases such as this the legal ground is all in favor of the very rich. If you are just an average poor individual there is often not much to gain going after you as you have nothing to make it worthwhile. ”

            You think the woman in question wouldn’t have tons of resources from many charitable organizations? Hell, she could run her whole campaign through GoFundMe and get plenty of resources.Not to mention that huge change in burden of proof.

            But, regardless, you’re very conveniently ignoring the actual reality of this particular case: regardless of any guilt or innocence, you can’t truly think that the Crown would want to see this litigated publicly, unless you know absolutely nothing about the culture in the monarchy of the UK (and I’m assuming you know enough to know their sensibilities regarding any sort of media, and especially negative media). To think the monarchy would ever allow this to play out in a public trial is absurd.

    2. Personally, I interpreted the press coverage and Jerry’s reference as including ‘customer’.

      I think it’s a bit of a quibble or straw man to take ‘engaged in’ to be narrowly limited to only those people who themselves trafficked.

  11. In “The God Delusion,” Dawkins recounts the sad tale of Edgardo Mortara. And according to Dawkins, any Catholic can (still) perform an improvised and “legal” baptism under the appropriate circumstances. So if that’s the case, it’s surprising that RC authorities would be so pedantic about a duly ordained priest misapplying a pronoun.

  12. The Arizona kids are in trouble.

    I wonder how things worked in the pre-Christian era. Did Moses go to heaven? I think Christian believe he did, even though he was not baptized. It is impossible to make stuff up in theology, so they must have good reasons for thinking so. After all, if theologians were allowed to make stuff up, they would be spewing complete nonsense, and we know they are not.

    This is why I tell my US Christian friends that, if they think Christianity is true, they should campaign to have it taught in all schools. Surely, it should not be illegal to teach kids the truth 🙂

    1. I hope John the Baptist used the right words when he baptized Jesus, or Christianity is in trouble.

      And yes, there are Christians who want it taught in public schools: “The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact, with as much evidence as the assassination of Julius Caesar. It should be taught in History class.”–a quote from The Plain Truth, a fundamentalist magazine.

  13. Regarding the wording of the baptism…surely the priest is no more Jesus and can no more say “I” for him than he is the community and saying “we”. And if ANY deity could be referred to by the pronoun “we” (and presumably, they/them), it would be that classic “three-in-one-oil” of godheads, The Trinity. I mean, if it’s supposed to be Jesus speaking, shouldn’t he say, “In the name of the Father, and of Me, and of the Holy Spirit”?

    Surely, the greatest good that this debacle and the press surrounding it will do is further to convince more people the absurdity of a supposedly loving, all-benevolent deity condemning people to Hell because some poor schmuck used the wrong pronoun. Talk about Wokeness gone mad. Cancel culture has nothing on that.

    1. Surely, the greatest good that this debacle and the press surrounding it will do is further to convince more people the absurdity of a supposedly loving, all-benevolent deity condemning people to Hell because some poor schmuck used the wrong pronoun.

      Right. The whole thing is ridiculous. The church made idiocy into a virtue.

      According to their FAQ, Fr. Andres, ably assisted by the Holy Spirit, is working very hard to heal those affected 🙂 I think the Holy Spirit goofed on the job by not telling Andres right away that he was using the wrong pronoun.

      It turns out that if a priest uses milk instead of wine during the Consecration of the Eucharist, the sacrament is not valid. Apparently, milk cannot become the blood of Christ. It’s a useful FAQ.

      And it might affect your marriage. They are not sure about it because there is no single answer 🙂

  14. Some good news involving cancellation of problematical names: In San Francisco, voters overwhelmingly recalled several woke leaders on the SF school board who were spearheading the renaming of public schools there. It looks like the names will stay.

    1. Perhaps the voters made the connection between re-naming of schools and paying all those homeless drug addicts to move to SF and shit on the sidewalks.

    2. The recalled school board members were also the ones who voted to destroy a classic New Deal-era mural at George Washington High School, even though the mural was upfront and critical about slavery and Indian dispossession during Washington’s time. Luckily the murals survived, unlike its attackers’ school board careers.

  15. Interesting thing about old fashioned product design features like those tiny handles on syrup jars. I would have called them palimpsests, but that term does not quite capture the spirit of them.

  16. It is not just a British thing, Wodehouse is just fantastic. The Clicking of Cuthbert is the best short story ever! His stories are so well thought out! Every word is perfect, none wasted.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s painful to me that I was so late in starting to read his stories. He makes me laugh when nobody else can. And yes, beautifully thought out and written.

      1. It’s probably sacrilegious to say so, but I find stuff like Right Ho, Jeeves more entertaining than Wodehouse’s golfing (and cricket) tales. That one is also available from Project Guttenberg, and arguably includes the first instance of someone “jumping the shark” …!

  17. The adaptationist in me would have thought the little handles on maple syrup bottles were to hang them on hooks to keep ants off or some such secondary function. Otherwise, if they have lost any real use, they are merely culturally retained vestigial organs. Need go no further than Darwin.

  18. The Remington settlement is interesting and surprising to me*.

    The grounds appear to be:

    [Remington] had used advertising that presented the weapons in an “unfair, unethical, or dangerous manner”, with Remington seeking to “expand the market for [its] assault weapons through advertising campaigns that encouraged consumers … to launch offensive assaults against their perceived enemies”

    This seems at least plausible. But I don’t know any of the details of the advertising. Does anyone have a link to it (them)? Is the point you can’t appeal to the macho side of men in your advertising?

    Other lawsuits by the parents:

    a lawsuit against the city of Newtown and the Newtown Board of Education alleging inadequate security at the school.

    lawsuits against the estate of Nancy Lanza. The suits are based on a claim that she did not properly secure her firearms, which allowed her son, a person with mental health issues, to gain access to them. The attorneys representing the families said Lanza is believed to have had homeowner’s insurance on her home worth more than $1 million and they are seeking compensation based on that.

    Both of these seem well-grounded.

    * What is the purpose of a gun? It is to cause severe bodily trauma at a distance (kill or disable). So, you have a dilemma. As long as guns are legal, it’s absurd to expect manufacturers to not design their product well for its intended purpose. Or society should make them (all) illegal (this isn’t happening in my lifetime).

    There is a discussion to be had about many things:
    – Requiring safe storage
    – Requiring training
    – Magazine size**
    – Better no-buy lists/controls
    – Make owners responsible to inform police of the fate of any gun they own (sale, gift, theft, etc.)
    – More controls (good luck!)

    A reminder: The problem is handguns. All long guns account for less than 3% of shootings in the USA. (And as Sam Harris has noted, Adam Lanza looked every inch a crazed killer as he approached Sandy Hook Elementary School: Carrying a rifle and “wearing black clothing, yellow earplugs, sunglasses, and an olive green utility vest.”) And no one is plausibly suggesting banning all handguns.

    Handguns are: Cheaper, easier to conceal and use, harder for someone to pull from a shooters hands or redirect the barrel, lighter, more compact and maneuverable — which is why they are standard for police. Almost all shootings occur at close range, where rifles have no advantage and significant disadvantages. (I’ll also note again, that Amir Locke, recently shot in Minneapolis by police, pulled a FN Five-seveN pistol on the police, a weapon designed to penetrate body armor; he appeared to be sleeping with the pistol in hand.)

    ** Magazine size: This is an area for discussion. Reloading is the time when someone might counterattack a shooter. Bigger magazines make this harder to do. The standard magazine on automatic action rifles is 30. For automatic pistol, it is typically 12 or 15 (some people buy large, oversized magazines, like shooter Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson, 2011)). A size limit of 10 doesn’t seem unreasonable; but there are millions of law-abiding US citizens that own magazines larger than that. The implications of making them all criminals by the stroke of a pen or collecting all those magazines should be considered.

    The best discussion on guns I know of is Sam Harris’s The Riddle of the Gun . I strongly recommend reading it.

    Also of interest:
    The Truth About Violence
    FAQ on Violence

    1. I am not familiar with Remington’s advertising either, but in general this case and the result seem analogous to what happened with the tobacco companies. A very messy situation, where do you draw lines. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the jury that found for the parents against Remington on this one. No doubt now that the case is over more information will be released to the public, articles, books and what-not.

      I don’t think the fact that handguns are a much bigger problem is a good argument against efforts to regulate assault style rifles and carbines. It is reasonable and easy enough to engage in efforts to regulate both of these categories and more. I’m not sure what you mean by, “And no one is plausibly suggesting banning all handguns.” People do suggest that, though it’s unlikely to ever happen. I guess that’s what you mean?

      These sorts of weapons do, in my considered opinion, make it easier for anyone to kill lots of people in a short period of time. I’ve shot an M4s and a couple of other AR-15 derivatives on ranges and I’ve shot a variety of pistols ranging from replica flintlocks to modern 9 mm. I am not an expert with pistols but, according to my nephew who is a SWAT team member I’m better than the average of his police force, and if I were (dog forbid) going to have to go into a building and fight bad guys I’m not taking a pistol. I’m taking a short barreled AR-15 derivative like the M4. These weapons are optimized for close quarters combat and are stupid easy to use effectively. Anyone can pick one up and with about 3 short sentences or less of instruction be hitting body size targets at 10 yards as fast as they can pull the trigger and as long as the ammo lasts. The same is very much not true for a pistol. And note that when experts (SWAT, various special forces) do building entry they don’t use pistols.

      I’ve yet to come across any argument that has made me doubt that weapons like assault style rifles and carbines, and hand guns, shouldn’t be highly regulated as many other nations do.

      1. First you’ll have to define an assault weapon. Full-autos are already (generally) illegal.

        Are you talking about any rifle or handgun with a semi-automatic action? Large magazines? Or are we just talking about looks? What about a Mini 16? The ones I’ve shot all had normal-looking wooden stocks and short barrels. They don’t look scary but will do the same job (if somewhat less accurate at 50 yards or 100 yards and flinging brass in a wide spray pattern).

        No one will question that rifles are more accurate. Rifles have no advantage at short range, aside from muzzle energy, which comes at a price of size, weight (rifle and ammunition), and isn’t necessary for the “job”. If you are within 30 feet of someone, a pistol will do the job just fine. And almost all shootings occur at this kind of range or less. Which is why the weapon of choice for criminals is small, automatic action pistols.

        and if I were (dog forbid) going to have to go into a building and fight bad guys I’m not taking a pistol. I’m taking a short barreled AR-15 derivative like the M4.

        Of course, if you were in a SWAT team or a military platoon. That’s what they are designed for.

        They are hard to conceal for a “civilian” criminal, however, which is why almost none of them use them. And what we are concerned with is criminals. And a criminal stepping down the street with an AR15 at ready (or carried in any way) is pretty obvious.

        Automatic action handguns shoot just as fast as an AR-15 and reload at least as fast (mag swap) and the mags are smaller and lighter (more per pocket). (And skilled shooters can very nearly match that performance with revolvers.)

        As I have noted, mag size is clearly a discussion to be had.

        Banning all handguns: Yes, no one is seriously thinking this will ever happen. The DC ban was thrown out by the SCOTUS.

        And I am not a gun-hugger. I enjoy shooting (since I was 10 years old); but I don’t agree with gun policy in the US. I’ve noted this before. But I want to point out that action on these issues is not going to be simple or easy.

        It’s not easy to define an assault weapon, short of banning specific models, which only lasts until new models are introduced. (And what about the millions of law-abiding citizens who currently own such rifles? Make them criminals or somehow collect all those weapons? These are the questions that need to be answered.) (There is often talk of banning .50BMG firearms and ammunition. There is no record of .50BMG being used in a crime in the USA.) It seems to always come down to banning “scary-looking” guns. Which simply won’t be effective to the purpose in mind.

        By definition, going after “assault weapons” can only (possibly) affect 3% of firearms deaths. Leaving the 97% untouched.

        I am in favor of much tighter controls than we currently have (and I vote that way). If someone could wave a magic wand and remove all the guns from the US (aside from the police and military), I would be willing to have my guns bought back by the government (delivering them using my warm, live hands).

        My own concern is personal safety of my family. I know about violent people and don’t have any illusions about the police being able to stop them in time. (I have specific, personal reasons for concern, much as Sam Harris does (for different reasons).) As I’ve told my son, I hope I never shoot anything except targets. But I train regularly.

        1. I’m familiar with the arguments.

          My points are, yes, assault style weapons, AR-15 derivatives for example, are much better at killing people for several reasons, the primary one because they are so easy to be accurate with little to no training or practice, much easier than a pistol even at pistol ranges. This type of weapon isn’t that hard to define and in any case being hard to define is not a valid argument against regulation. That lots of people don’t know the proper terms or how to describe the differences is not a valid argument against regulation.

          Yes, criminals prefer hand guns because they are easier to hide, and cheaper, and that’s why many times more gun deaths are from pistols. I don’t think this is a valid argument against regulation of any other type of fire arm. Regulate them all.

          Another point, regulation is treating the symptoms, as usual. The underlying problem is attitudes, often intentionally encouraged for political, ideological and monetary gain. Few other societies fetishize guns as radically as the US does. Changing that is the next best thing to impossible.

          1. Is your proposal to ban all AR-15 models and derivatives? Mini 16s? AK-47s? SKS? What about a Glock 19?

            It seems like you want to ban all automatic actions. Is that correct?

            Yes, we live in a violent society (even if some of us can insulate ourselves from most of it). Since June 2020, violence in the area I live in has exploded. Multiple, violent (pistol-whipping) car-jackings have come within a couple of miles of my home. Defund the police.

            And, while we are at it, stop police from using traffic stops to execute warrants on firearms charges. (All of the recent publicized police shootings in this area were in relation to either firearms warrants or (N=1) murder warrants.) Or, as in Manhattan, just stop arresting people for anything short of murder.

            1. See, this is one of the things that disheartens me. I mean even you, who I believe is of similar mind to me on this issue, starts attributing things to me that I never mentioned, like “banning all,” and “automatic actions” when I (pointedly by the way) never mentioned either one of those. And then you go on to “defund the police” and further? Frankly Jblilie that’s bullshit and I am surprised you’re pulling this shit with me. You’re arguing the “any regulation is unacceptable or futile” line of reasoning like a true gun nut, which I’m pretty darn sure you’re not. If you and I can’t avoid strawmanning and assuming extreme worst case fallacies while discussing this there ain’t no fucking hope for this country.

              I’m out. Later.

          2. I’ll just make one more comment. If “assault weapons” were banned, do you think mass shooters would not simply change to other, readily-available firearms? Would this make a material difference in the actual cases (e.g. Sandu Hook)? Adam Lanza was looking his victims in the eye from a few feet away.

            (I certainly concede that it could have made a difference in Las Vegas, which is one of the vanishingly few long-distance shooting incidents. But only if you banned all automatic action rifles. Imagine several Remington Woodsmaster “deer” rifles (or similar) with extended magazines.)

      2. One more comment: Firearms manufacturers and buyers are adept at designing rule-beating firearms.

        I recently walked through my local shop with a knowledgeable assistant. He did the tour of: This gun was designed to beat this rule, and this one that rule, etc. I was impressed (not in a good way).

  19. Re: P. G. Wodehouse: The Jeeves and Wooster TV episodes were great as well, starring the wonderful Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

    1. I completely agree, Larry. That four-season Jeeves & Wooster helped me through challenging times and helped me enjoy the good times. The books are just as great, and there are so many to appreciate. What a treasure P.G. Wodehouse is!

      1. Unlike as in most screen adaptations of stories, the characters, especially Jeeves, match my mental images of them.

  20. If someone can go through decades of life thinking he is baptized but actually isn’t–and couldn’t tell the difference, one has to wonder about the effectiveness of the procedure. Besides, in Genesis god says “let us make man in our image”. Not even god can keep his pronouns straight.

  21. “Fortunately, the oldest victim would only be about 26 now, so they have plenty of time to get properly re-baptized.”

    Or they could just wait a few years until the woke decide that first person pronouns are as fluid as third-person pronouns, in which case Jesus could just re-identify as “we.”

  22. Many thanks to jblilie for the link to the very rational article (as always) by Sam Harris on “The Riddle
    of the Gun”. In regard to the civil suit against Remington, the phrase that caught my eye was this one: ” …in violation of a Connecticut law that prevents deceptive marketing practices”. Does this mean that citizens of Connecticut are spared the innumerable radio and TV advertisements for quack medications to reduce “brain fog”, restore memory, and quicken perception? Surely, if the law referred to were strictly enforced, the entire advertising “industry” in Connecticut would be decimated. Let’s get similar
    laws passed in every state as soon as possible.

    1. The reason behind the Connecticut law on deceptive marketing was specific and caused by our own corrupt congress which had given gun manufacturers a get out of trouble for free being exempt from liability in making and selling weapon to kill people. This civil suit carried on for years is the first time the people have won against the gun manufacturers and the congress. It was a great win and included giving the winners all the marketing documents to show what a low class group that Remington really is. They will likely be releasing Remington documents to the public in the future.

      1. “liability in making and selling weapon to kill people”

        As I asked above, what is the purpose of a firearm? Did Remington misrepresent the design or function of their products?

        I infer that you favor banning all firearms. That’s fine. But firearms are legal. Given that, I don’t see how a manufacturer can be held liable for producing a product that is legal and meets its advertised functions. (Which is why the case seems to depend in some way on “deceptive advertising”. I asked, above, for links to the advertising that is supposed to be at the center of the case.)

        Do we hold Fiat Chrysler liable for the Charlottesville car attack? Why or why not?

        How do you know this: “marketing documents to show what a low class group that Remington really [was]”, when they haven’t been released to the public (“They will likely be releasing Remington documents to the public in the future”)?

  23. I hesitate to even write this because . . . well, because when someone has a personal stake in something, they find all sorts of rationalization in defense of it.

    But, that said, I hope that verdict in Connecticut opens the door for huge lawsuits and (settlements) for booze manufacturers (we can’t even begin to compare the loss of life, quality of life, and misery connected to the consumption of booze to the sale of guns). Talk about deceptive advertising! I know we can’t get rid of booze, but I so, so, so would like to make them pay. I dream of the day when people will come to their senses and stop justifying the tremendous cost for the sake of . . . well, I don’t know what.

    And then, the auto industry. I don’t know of a place in the US where one can drive faster than 80mph . . . but we make cars that will easily do twice that. And, they are marketed for that feature . . . marketed to people who have not taken a performance (or defensive) driving class in their life.

    Couple that with booze . . .

    Some might mistake this as me trying to make a point. I’m straight up on this. If we can’t get rid of drunks, alcoholics, and the like, if we can’t enforce speeding laws, then, by golly, make the manufacturers pay as a way of controlling people’s behaviors (and compensate the victims). Up to now, we’ve not had a precedent (that I know of) for suing a manufacturer for misuse of their product, but now we do.

  24. Bad baptism priest. There’s only one solution here: he MUST be burnt at the stake. Anything else would be insufficient for nearly sending so many people (BABIES!) to Hell.
    Jesus would have wanted that I’m sure.

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