Welcome to the formal beginning of the week: Sunday, February 20, 2022: National Muffin Day. They’re loaded with calories, but I rarely eat them anyway, as I much prefer a bagel with lox and cream cheese.
Below is the world’s largest muffin, certified by Guinness:
The largest muffin weighed 88.7 kg (195.55 lb), measuring 79 cm (2 ft 7 in) in diameter and 45.5 cm (1 ft 6 in) in height, was baked by master baker Gerhard Hinz (Germany) at the Schanzenbackerei bakery in Hamburg, Germany, on 27 February 2010.
Aber “Backen mit Marshmallows”? Das ist ja Wahnsinn!
News of the Day:
*The big news is that Paulina and her husband, the lodgers who live upstairs from Andrzej and Malgorzata, found another kitten. This one was in bad shape but, knowing Paulina, it will survive and thrive. Malgorzata’s report:
Today Paulina found an abandoned kitten. She took it directly to the vet: it’s a female, 2 month old, very sick with every illness a stray cat can have, with only half of the tail left and probably something wrong with her hind paws. She walks in a very strange way. But she is very energetic, eats ravenously (she is just skin and bones), loves to be petted and has a very beautiful color: light grey, almost white. She must be kept for now away from the other cats (some of her illnesses are contagious) so she is in a room they do not use (you slept in this room once) and we all come into her from time to time so she wouldn’t feel abandoned. She doesn’t have a name yet – now the most important thing is to cure her. Next visit to the vet is on Monday.
Pictures will be coming, and then there will be four cats in the yard: Hili, Szaron, Kulka, and now this new one. Stay tuned.
*Outside of Dobrzyn, matters in the case of Ukraine v. Russia are heating up, with over 100 clashes this weekend between Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian pro-Putin separatists. (This is how the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper.) The separatists are firing artillery, and ginning up the rumor that an invasion by Russia is imminent:
But separatist leaders on Saturday urged women and children to evacuate, and able-bodied men to prepare to fight. And the ginned-up panic was already having real effects, with refugees frantically boarding buses to Russia and refugee tent camps popping up across the Russian border.
At the same time, the firing of mortars, artillery and rocket-propelled grenades by separatist rebels along the front line roughly doubled the level of the previous two days, the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said. Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five wounded, the military said.
Those are two of the many deaths that will be on Putin’s head.
*In the NYT, Christopher Buckley writes a sort-of memoriam for P. J. O’Rourke, emphasizing P. J.’s humor.
P.J. O’Rourke’s death marks the end of a particular and an essential sensibility. He found humor everywhere and in everything, especially in his fellow Republicans. We’ve lost more than the man The Wall Street Journalcalled “the funniest writer in America.” We’ve lost the last funny conservative.
…Along with his peers Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, he was hyperaphoristic.
“The good news is that, according to the Obama administration, the rich will pay for everything. The bad news is that, according to the Obama administration, you’re rich.”
“If government were a product, selling it would be illegal.”
“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”
Come to think of it, are there any social justice warrior comedians? Sarah Silverman’s getting more wokeish, but she’s no longer funny.
*The NYT reports that a search is underway for the remains of the famous ship Endurance, which Ernest Shackleton, 27 men, and one cat (we will speak no more of the moggy) sailed on the British Trans-Arctic Expedition beginning in 1914. The rest of the story is famous: the ship broke up in the ice, the men camped out for over a year and then made it to Elephant Island. Shackleton then set out with four other men in a lifeboat, making the long journey to South Georgia island to get help. They succeeded, and arranged the rescue of the 22 men who had camped on Elephant Island, eating seals and penguins, for 4.5 months. Here’s the Endurance in its final breaking-up by the sea in 1915.
And a drone going down to look for Endurance (from the NYT article, also the source of the caption):
*Sarah Haider’s new Substack column asks a question that hasn’t struck me before, “Is Wokeism uniquely Christian?” Her answer is “probably.” I can’t think of many woke Jews (though there are some) and no woke Muslims at all, although there are Woke non-Muslims who see Muslims as the oppressed with Jews (and sometimes whites) being the oppressor. But Muslims lack notions of “social justice” as we understand them (think of how they treat women and gays), so they’re hardly woke.
The moral architecture of wokeism isn’t just merely religious – it is quite clearly Abrahamic, more specifically Christian. Said another way, it is at least more Christian than it is Muslim or Jewish, and very little like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism.
Perhaps this is the case because wokeism has evolved right here in the West – atop the laws, norms, institutions – and yes, moral and ethical frameworks of Christianity.
For example, wokeism relies quite heavily on a reservoir of “guilt” (specifically, white guilt, but also male guilt, heterosexual guilt, neurotypical guilt, etc) that appears to be par for the course in Christianity but doesn’t quite map as well on Islam.
I disagree with Sarah, however, on whether atheists are woke. Her take is that atheists are, by and large, less inclined to Wokery than are Christians. I’m not so sure.
But aside from some very visible atheists, the “secular community” as a whole has not exactly followed. Some atheist leaders and organizations appear to be very clearly captured by the new woke dogma (the American Humanist Associations withdrawal of an honor from Richard Dawkins comes to mind), but some go even further – becoming priests of the new faith.
Yes, but I suspect more of them are than Sarah thinks. Let me throw out a few names: Pharyngula, the FFRF (sadly, though they’re not nearly as bad as the ACLU), the ACLU itself, everyone who blogs at the Orbit, and any number of friends of mine who are nonbelievers but who adhere to many Woke doctrines.
*The student union of the University of Toronto has voted to support the BDS movement, which of course is anti-Semitic, though it pretends to be otherwise.
It instructs the union to “wholly divest funds & further forbid investment to firms complicit in the occupation of Palestinian Territory.”
. . .In November, UTSU Scarborough voted to “refrain from engaging with organizations, services, or participating in events that further normalize Israeli apartheid,” and specifically targeted providers of Kosher food.
“Time and time again, we see student unions and groups contributing to growing division and hate toward Jewish faculty and students who support Israel,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, FSWC’s director of policy. “Last night’s vote is testament to the disappointing reality that antisemitism is alive and well at UofT.”
So it goes
*Abigail Shrier (h/t Divy) https://abigailshrier.substack.com/p/the-gender-cult-marches-on?utm_source=url
*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 933,485, an increase of 2,283 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,903,198, an increase of about 8,600 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on February 20 include:
- 1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by United States President George Washington.
- 1835 – The 1835 Concepción earthquake destroys Concepción, Chile.
Charles Darwin was visiting the area while on the second voyage of HMS Beagle and recorded his observations of the earthquake in Valdivia and its effects and the subsequent tsunami in Concepción and Talcahuano. He remarked:
An earthquake instantly reverses the strongest ideas, the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has trembled under our feet like a thin crust placed on a fluid, a space of a second was enough to awaken the imagination a strange feeling of insecurity which hours of reflection would not have occurred. … But I confess that I saw with great satisfaction that all the people seemed more active and happier than it would have been expected after such a terrible catastrophe. It has been noted, with some truth, that being general destruction, no one felt more humble than his neighbour, no one could accuse his friends of coldness, two causes which always added a sharp pain to the loss of wealth.
The Met, soon to be ruined by ideological interpretations of its art.
A bit o’ Swan Lake, with Nureyev and Fonteyn, to brighten your morning:
- 1905 – The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Massachusetts’s mandatory smallpox vaccination program in Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
- 1933 – The U.S. Congress approves the Blaine Act to repeal federal Prohibition in the United States, sending the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to state ratifying conventions for approval.
- 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
Mikkelson (below) probably didn’t set foot on the Antarctic mainland, but on an island (she was traveling with her husband, a sea captain):
O’Hare, a Navy flyer, is of course the man after whom Chicago’s O’Hare airport is named. Here he is in his F4F-3 Wildcat with the squadron’s “Felix the Cat” insignia. He was shot down in 1943, but had already received the Medal of Honor.
- 1943 – The Saturday Evening Post publishes the first of Norman Rockwell‘s Four Freedoms in support of United States President Franklin Roosevelt‘s 1941 State of the Union address theme of Four Freedoms.
The first painting published was “Freedom of Speech”. Here’s a friend standing in front of the original (photographed in the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, Oct. 2012):
- 1952 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
- 1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes.
Glenn’s capsule was very small, and is now on special exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum where you can get right up to it for a limited time:
- 1991 – In the Albanian capital Tirana, a gigantic statue of Albania‘s long-time leader, Enver Hoxha, is brought down by mobs of angry protesters.
Hoxha gets cancelled:
- 1998 – American figure skater Tara Lipinski, at the age of 15, becomes the youngest Olympic figure skating gold-medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Here’s Lipinski’s gold-medal performance in Nagano; she was the same age as Kamila Valieva was in the latest games, but nobody beefed about Lipinski being too young:
Notables born on this day include:
- 1901 – Louis Kahn, American architect, designed the Salk Institute, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Bangladesh Parliament Building (d. 1974)
- 1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (d. 1984)
Adams: The Tetons and the Snake River (1942)
- 1925 – Robert Altman, American director and screenwriter (d. 2006)
- 1927 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and political activist (d. 1986)
- 1927 – Sidney Poitier, Bahamian-American actor, director, and diplomat (d. 2022)
- 1950 – Walter Becker, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2017)
Becker and Fagan, 2007:
- 1954 – Patty Hearst, American actress and author
Here’s Hearst helping with the SLA bank robbery and her mugshot when caught the next year. She spent 22 months in prison:
- 1967 – Kurt Cobain, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1994)
Those who were issued their harp and their cloud on February 20 include:
- 1920 – Robert Peary, American admiral and explorer (b. 1856)
Peary in 1909, the year he claimed to have reached the North Pole with Matthew Henson. However, most experts suspect he didn’t get to the Pole:
- 1961 – Percy Grainger, Australian-American pianist and composer (b. 1882)
- 1972 – Walter Winchell, American journalist and actor (b. 1897)
- 1999 – Gene Siskel, American journalist and critic (b. 1946)
- 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (b. 1937)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Thompson with the lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta on the trip that, turned into a book, made Thompson famous:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili insults Andrjez. (It’s not fair because Hili’s outside the window waiting for someone to go out and carry her in.)
A: Why are you so blurred?Hili: Because you are a very mediocre photographer.
Ja: Czemu jesteś taka zamazana?Hili: Bo jesteś marnym fotografem.
Another snow sculpture from Peter:
From Divy, a groaner:
A tweet from Titania:
NOTE TO PARENTS ⚠️
If your children address you as “Mom” or “Dad” they are attempting to erase your identity in accordance with an outmoded and oppressive gender binary.
Disown them. Now.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) February 18, 2022
Reader Barry apologizes for this groaner, and this better be the last species in this genus!
Why do seagulls fly over the sea?
Because if they flew over the bay they’d be called bagels pic.twitter.com/aIME3uOiRK
— Farah Ali (@farahauthor) February 19, 2022
From Simon, who notes, “This is pretty much our,now 21-year-old, cat working up the commitment to jump onto anything.
Peer review as a Harvard professor. https://t.co/1KaHEByltZ
— David Mayhew, MD, PhD (@DavidLMayhew) February 19, 2022
From Ginger K.:
— Rusthum Russo (@RusthumRussso) February 10, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This moth is about as cryptic as you can get. Look at those wings!
Amazing hawkmoth from Thailand (Eupanacra busiris) https://t.co/CfIHEay3sb
— Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) February 19, 2022
Patrick Matthew is said to have been the only person besides Wallace to independently hit on Darwin’s idea of natural selection. It was, of all places, in the Appendix to Matthew’s 1831 book Naval Timber and Arboriculture: a book about shipbuilding. I read what Matthews wrote a long time ago, and thought the similarities were striking, but a new analysis shows that his idea differed substantially from Darwin’s. I haven’t read this latest paper yet, but I will. Meanwhile, if you want to read this for yourself, go here and read pp. 364-369.
Well researched paper that includes, for the first time, statements and correspondence of Matthew showing that his mechanism was very different from Darwin's. It included teleology and confined ramification (lineage splitting) to phases when competitive nat. sel. was absent. https://t.co/OVvVtFPAJ6
— Joachim L. Dagg (@JoachimDagg) February 19, 2022
Matthew goaded me by saying I should “go ahead and give this tweet a kick.” So, Dr. Cobb, here it is. Read this gobbledygook and see if it convinces you that there can be libertarian free will despite determinism:
Next up is the challenge from determinism, with which we are already familiar. The keystone aspect of the challenge is that determinism seems to imply that there are no alternative possibilities. Therefore, a person is incapable of making a choice. List replies by arguing that determinism in the fundamental physics does not necessitate ‘agent-level’ determinism, which is the level of a person’s choice. This stems from the central argument that free will is a high-level property. In this case, mental states like choices can be realised by multiple brain states. For example, all of our brains are slightly different, and yet we can each still form the intention to move a coffee cup. In this way, mental states are multiply realisable. List argues that this means there are multiple alternative possible intentions I could form, even if my brain state is predetermined by deterministic physics. Therefore, there can still be indeterminism at the agent level, even if there is determinism at the physical level.
Does that make sense to you? I didn’t think so. All it means is that if your brain was in a different state, you could make a different decision. That’s not free will!
The kicked tweet:
Was very convinced by this argument too: https://t.co/GwEUdOUAsT
— Axel Cleeremans (@axelcleeremans) February 19, 2022
A lovely embroided kitty:
— #WOMENSART (@womensart1) February 19, 2022