Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 31, 2022 • 6:30 am

Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows that we’ve sailed a ways up the coast of South America and proceeded inland, where there’s a north-south channel. We’re heading toward Chloé Island, where we’ll dock and spend the day in Castro, the largish town that’s the capital of Chloé Province. The town is especially notable for its houses built on stilts (palafitos) to keep the water at bay. There are several paid excursions ashore, but I will forego the bus and wander around on my own. Pictures should be forthcoming.

In the map below, “Castro” is covered up by the blue symbol with an anchor, and at this writing (6:15 a.m.)., we appear to be close to the town.

And a photo of the sunrise at breakfast:

Welcome to the last day of the month: Thursday, March 31, 2022: Oysters on the Half Shell Day.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
      You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
      But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
      They’d eaten every one.”

If you want to help out with “this day in history”, go to the Wikipedia page for March 31 and give us your favorite notable events, births, and deaths.

*The NYT has dispensed with its large banner headlines about the war, and today we see this (click on screenshot to read):

And the latest NYT developments:

Despite Russia’s promises to scale back its offensive in parts of Ukraine, the war ground on into its sixth week on Thursday with no end in sight — and worrisome signs that its consequences for Ukrainian civilians and global economies were widening.

Diesel prices are soaring. Germany is taking steps toward rationing natural gas in anticipation of Russia’s potentially cutting off deliveries. The number of Ukrainian refugees has surpassed four million, half of them children. And the United Nations is forecasting the most dire hunger crisis since World War II for a world ordinarily reliant on Ukraine and Russia as major exporters of wheat and other grains.

Video negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will resume Friday, but don’t expect much. Once again the Russians have promised to create a humanitarian corridor out of Mariupol (don’t expect much again; they’ve promised this before), and the NYT adds that “Russian forces have accidentally shot down their own aircraft and refused to carry out orders, one of Britain’s spy chiefs said on Thursday.”

*In his NYT column “What if Putin didn’t miscalculate?“, Bret Stephens raises the possibility that Putin didn’t screw up after all—that everything he’s doing conforms to a nefarious but misunderstood plan:

Suppose for a moment that Putin never intended to conquer all of Ukraine: that, from the beginning, his real targets were the energy riches of Ukraine’s east, which contain Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas (after Norway’s).

Combine that with Russia’s previous territorial seizures in Crimea (which has huge offshore energy fields) and the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk (which contain part of an enormous shale-gas field), as well as Putin’s bid to control most or all of Ukraine’s coastline, and the shape of Putin’s ambitions become clear. He’s less interested in reuniting the Russian-speaking world than he is in securing Russia’s energy dominance.

“Under the guise of an invasion, Putin is executing an enormous heist,” said Canadian energy expert David Knight Legg. As for what’s left of a mostly landlocked Ukraine, it will likely become a welfare case for the West, which will help pick up the tab for resettling Ukraine’s refugees to new homes outside of Russian control. In time, a Viktor Orban-like figure could take Ukraine’s presidency, imitating the strongman-style of politics that Putin prefers in his neighbors.

It sounds weird, and the conventional scenario may be right, but I’ve thought of rational answers to objections. Why is he attacking Kiev and western Ukraine? Because he wants to destroy so much of the country that they’ll concede to Putin what he wants. What about his despotic censorship of dissent at home? Perhaps that’s exactly the kind of autocracy he wants, and the dissent gives him the chance to impose it.  I’m no pundit, but I don’t think we should sell Putin short. And I don’t want Zelensky to concede one inch of his country.

*The media have finally admitted that the Hunter Biden laptop issue is a Thing, after claiming it was a right-wing fiction. The Washington Post analyzes the deals with the Chinese found on the laptop, deals that, while not directly implicating Joe Biden, show that Hunter benefited from his position as Biden’s son (and didn’t Joe know about this?):

 . . . the new documents — which include a signed copy of a $1 million legal retainer, emails related to the wire transfers, and $3.8 million in consulting fees that are confirmed in new bank records and agreements signed by Hunter Biden — illustrate the ways in which his family profited from relationships built over Joe Biden’s decades in public service.

*Two days ago President Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act of 2022 into law. (If you don’t know the horrifying story of this Chicago lad, read about it here.) When I saw that on the MSNBC News, I thought “but there hasn’t been a lynching in decades.” It turns out that “lynching” is being used to denote “a hate crime that results in death or serious bodily injury.” And it’s a federal hate crime that can get you up to 30 years in prison (that’s on top of state laws against assault and murder). In a NYT column, for example, Charles Blow argues that Ahmaud Arbery was lynched.”  I suppose assaults on anyone because of their ethnicity or gender can now be considered “lynching”, but I don’t much care because we already have hate-crime laws.

*New York Magazine has a fawning article on AOC, who is worried about the midterm elections coming up in a few months.  She’s worried about Biden’s low approval ratings sinking the Democratic control of the House, but her solution is this: more progressive Democrats. She faults Biden for promising to reach across the aisle, which implicitly calls for an end to bipartisanship.

“I think that there is a sense among more senior members of Congress, who have been around in different political times, that we can get back to this time of buddy-buddy and backslapping and we’ll cut a deal and go into a room with some bourbon and some smoke and you’ll come out and work something out. I think there’s a real nostalgia and belief that that time still exists or that we can get back to that.”

But those days, she says, have been over for a long time. And the fact that Biden and others don’t realize it, she says, could spell disaster in the fall’s elections. With Biden’s low approval numbers and the historic tendency of the president’s party to lose, on average, 26 House seats in the midterms, the Democrats face an uphill battle to keep control of Congress — a situation that requires firing up the party’s progressive base, Ocasio-Cortez said.

“We need to acknowledge that this isn’t just about middle of the road, an increasingly narrow band of independent voters. This is really about the collapse of support among young people, among the Democratic base, who are feeling that they worked overtime to get this president elected and aren’t necessarily being seen,” she said.

Now some of the reforms that she’s been calling for are fine with me (environmental efforts, etc.), but others, like immigration reform, aren’t going to fly well with Democratic voters who aren’t “progressive”.  And of course one could make a good case that if the Democratic Party becomes more “progressive”, our chances of staying “in the game” are even worse.

*This Is a Job for the Webb Space Telescope Department: According to the Washington Post, reporting on a new paper in Science, the old Hubbell Space Telescope has detected the farthest individual star yet seen.

In a report published Wednesday in the journal Nature, a team of astronomers asserts that this is the most distant individual star ever seen. They describe it as 50 to 100 times more massive than our sun, and roughly 1 million times brighter, with its starlight having traveled 12.9 billion years to reach the telescope.

That makes the star 4 billion years older (or its light 4 billion years older) than the next-oldest star, a substantial difference. But there are a few caveats:

As with any stunning claim, this carries caveats and uncertainties, starting with the possibility that it is not a singular star at all. It’s possible Earendel is a pair of stars, or even a trio or more, a common stellar phenomenon in which one bright member of the group does most of the illumination. (Alpha Centauri, the closest sun-like star, is part of a triplet).

Another possibility is that Earendel is, at its core, a black hole — the remnant of a massive individual star that has collapsed. Black holes are invisible, of course, but their gravity can lure rapidly moving and visible material, known as an accretion disk.

The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to go online in a few months, should be able to sort out these possibilities.

*The NYT has a short profile on one of my favorite bluegrass guitarists: Molly Tuttle.  (SHe and Billy Strings are the Doc Watsons of our era.) Tuttle actually spurns the label “bluegrass musician”, but in my view that’s what she’s best at. (Here new bluegrass album, “Crooked Tree,” comes out tomorrow.) It also discusses her extreme case of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles. In her case, it’s taken every hair off her body, so she wears wigs in concert. Hair loss seems to be the only effect, and she’s otherwise healthy. (She discusses the condition openly on her website.) There’s also a video of a song from her new album, though I can’t see it on the ship.

*Finally, according to the Daily Fail, an unnamed teacher at the well known Colchester Grammar School in Essex has been suspended for carrying a Jesus and Mo mug on the playground  (h/t  Steve)

The staff member is said to have been photographed carrying the item in the playground at Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex.

The white mug appears to feature a cartoon of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad.

In speech bubbles, the Jesus figure appears to say ‘Hey’, with the Prophet Muhammad figure responding: ‘How ya doin?’

How damning! (That’s the same image that got two University Students threatened by their college when they wore it on tee shirts at a UCL fresher’s fair in London.) There’s more:

Launched in 2005, the simply-drawn webcomic chronicles the lives of two religious prophets – Jesus and Mo – based on the Christian and Islamic faiths and generally understood to represent Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad.

The cartoons poke fun at various aspects of religion, such as arguments for the existence of God.

A school spokesman said: ‘We have been notified that an image has been shared online of an individual appearing to use a cup that has an offensive image on it.

‘At this time we are looking into the matter.

The worst part is this: the paper reproduces a picture of the cup, but blotted out the image:

(From the Fail): said to have been photographed carrying the white mug (above), which appears to feature a cartoon of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad, in the playground at Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex

What a cowardly thing to do, but of course the consequences of showing an innocuous depiction of Mohammad could be dire.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wants to fly, but you know it’s only so she can more easily catch birds!

Hili: I’m looking and thinking.
A: And?
Hili: I would like to be able to fly.
In Polish:
Hili: Patrzę i myślę.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Chciałabym umieć fruwać.

And here is Andrzej with Karolina from Kyiv, who’s now going to the school in Dobrzyn and picking up Polish rapidly. Malgorzata sent a report on Karolina’s progress:

She goes to school and she loves it. There is another Ukrainian girl her age in her class and the two are now friends but they do not isolate themselves from others: they play with and talk to their Polish classmates. Karolina and the other refugee girl understand more and more Polish and all the kids manage to communicate somehow. The Polish kids have accepted the two girls and when I hear how well it’s  going I have trouble believing in this idyllic picture. But a huge smile on Karolina’s face when I ask her how the school was does much to convince me that this idyll really exists.

Good news! She’s smiling below, too:

From Ducks in Public (but do NOT give them bread!)

From Nicole:

A perpetually surprised cat from Divy:


Titania is remarkably prescient (second tweet)!  I haven’t read the article in which “science” is stymied by defining “men” and “women”, but the simple biological answer is the disparity in gamete size. However, it wasn’t fair to ask Justice Jackson to give the biological answer, since few people know it. The first tweet is from last year, also showing La McGrath’s prescience.

From tweets that now come suggested to me by email (how did that happen?):

I can’t vouch for it, but this reminds me of Palestinian propaganda videos in which children bearing arms swear to destroy Israel:

I think this d*g has been trained to do this!

Reader Ken has two tweets for us, with commentary:

Here is a member of the Russian State Duma, on Russian State TV, calling for “regime change” in the US, so that Russia’s “partner” Donald Trump can be restored to the US presidency:

This is on top of Donald Trump’s appearance on the right-wing  tv show “Real America’s Voice” calling on Vladimir Putin (in the middle of the war in Ukraine) to release political dirt (relating to an unfounded conspiracy theory) on sitting US president Joe Biden:

Two tweets from Matthew:

Something has gone badly wrong at this journal!

66 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1492 – Queen Isabella of Castile issues the Alhambra Decree, ordering her 150,000 Jewish and Muslim subjects to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.

    1889 – The Eiffel Tower is officially opened.

    1913 – The Vienna Concert Society rioted during a performance of modernist music by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Alexander von Zemlinsky, and Anton von Webern, causing a premature end to the concert due to violence; this concert became known as the Skandalkonzert.

    1930 – The Motion Picture Production Code is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S., for the next thirty-eight years.

    1945 – World War II: A defecting German pilot delivers a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1, the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft, to the Americans, the first to fall into Allied hands.

    1959 – The 14th Dalai Lama, crosses the border into India and is granted political asylum.

    1990 – Approximately 200,000 protesters take to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax. – An old acquaintance of mine, Roy, was arrested while taking photos of police brutality, beaten up in the back of the police van, and charged with affray, an offence with a three-year jail tariff. When his case eventually reached court it made English legal history as the first in which the jury, having openly laughed at the clearly fabricated police evidence, requested that the trial be discontinued.

    1991 – Georgian independence referendum: Nearly 99 percent of the voters support the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

    1995 – Selena is murdered by her fan club president Yolanda Saldívar at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas.

    1596 – René Descartes, French mathematician and philosopher (d. 1650) – I drink therefore I am!

    1778 – Coenraad Jacob Temminck, Dutch zoologist and ornithologist (d. 1858)

    1872 – Sergei Diaghilev, Russian ballet manager and critic, founded the Ballets Russes (d. 1929)

    1890 – William Lawrence Bragg, Australian-English physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1971)

    1913 – Etta Baker, African-American singer and guitarist (d. 2006)

    1943 – Christopher Walken, American actor

    1955 – Angus Young, Scottish-Australian guitarist and songwriter – and still in short trousers…!

    Those for whom the bell tolled:
    1631 – John Donne, English lawyer and poet (b. 1572) – It tolls for thee…!

    1855 – Charlotte Brontë, English novelist and poet (b. 1816)

    1877 – Antoine Augustin Cournot, French mathematician and philosopher (b. 1801)

    1917 – Emil von Behring, German physiologist and immunologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1854) – winner of the first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for his discovery of a diphtheria antitoxin.

    1945 – Hans Fischer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1881)

    1980 – Jesse Owens, American sprinter and long jumper (b. 1913)

    2016 – Ronnie Corbett, Scottish comedian, actor and screenwriter (b. 1930) – And it’s good night from him…

    1. The Hemingway quote AFAIK (didn’t read it) refers to a bell tolling for a person to get themselves down to a burial for a different person.

      IOW the “thee” is not the dead person, it is another.

      BUUUT perhaps the Hemingway will reveal a more complex interpretation… the notion of “oh, there’s a burial, glad its not me” – and then DONGGGG – they realize they are essentially in the same game.

      1. Hemingway took his title from John Donne’s Meditation XVII, an extract of which is often presented as a standalone poem:

        No man is an island,
        Entire of itself.
        Each is a piece of the continent,
        A part of the main.
        If a clod be washed away by the sea,
        Europe is the less.
        As well as if a promontory were.
        As well as if a manor of thine own
        Or of thine friend’s were.
        Each man’s death diminishes me,
        For I am involved in mankind.
        Therefore, send not to know
        For whom the bell tolls,
        It tolls for thee.

        1. Ah – perfect – thanks.

          … so the bell is really tolling for the one who _is_ … or soon to be … dead .. and how do we know which is which …… is the profound thought expressed here…

          … I mean, you merely wove it into the daily writeup here, and this is what happens – the precipitation of an existential crisis!

        2. Wow, that’s not long in it’s entirely – amazing to read it – definitely stashing that at my fingertips for reference :

          “Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris (Now this bell, tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.)”

          … BTW I also appreciate the due diligence (?) on the Voltaire quote you put up a while ago – also now at my fingertips.

        1. Well, I always thought its all about me, so why not?

          It tolls for ME.

          The good news is, you’re off the hook!

  2. “Russian forces have accidentally shot down their own aircraft and refused to carry out orders, one of Britain’s spy chiefs said on Thursday.” – Indeed! According to the BBC’s roundup of today’s newspapers:

    [T]he Daily Telegraph focuses on the war in Ukraine and the comments from the head of GCHQ that President Putin’s aides are lying to him.

    In a rare public speech, Sir Jeremy Fleming said the advisers were “afraid” to tell the truth. The Telegraph reports that President Putin has already sacked eight generals and says there is mounting evidence that he is turning on his own spy chiefs.

    The Times also carries Sir Jeremy’s comments and says Vladimir Putin is facing “a growing military insurrection over his personal war”.

    According to the paper, defectors have already joined the Ukrainian army in a “legion” of volunteers. It says images of Russian soldiers, learning how to use anti-tank weapons, were shared on the Telegram messaging app yesterday.

    That last claim sounds a little far-fetched to me; it’s one thing to desert, but another altogether to fire on your former brothers-in-arms?

    1. The Russian soldiers are mainly conscripts, the Russian military has nothing comparable to basic training as seen in western armies, training is ad hoc at best, hazing is endemic, they were lied to by their commanders about the purpose and scope of the mission, they have no food, bad equipment, low ammunition, they are being slaughtered on mass, many of them have relatives in the Ukraine, so while I would not believe this based on one story I do find it quite plausible.

  3. Suppose for a moment that Putin never intended to conquer all of Ukraine: that, from the beginning, his real targets were the energy riches of Ukraine’s east, which contain Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas (after Norway’s).

    It’s plausible I suppose. In fact, I think several people speculated in the same way before the war actually began. Adam Something on YouTube comes to mind.

    It doesn’t mean it hasn’t gone badly wrong for Putin, even if true and it’s ridiculous to suppose that the current state of affairs was planned for. The exposure of the Russian Army as being useless and the sanctions are totally disastrous.

    1. The situation in Ukraine was just discussed on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One and the expert from the Royal United Services Institute wasn’t convinced by claims that only capturing the East was always Russia’s plan : (about 24:25 minutes in – the wider discussion starts at about 22:08 minutes).

    2. I agree. Stephens thesis is certainly possible. It may be true, but it seems entirely irrelevant to me. The abysmal condition and performance of the Russian military, exposed for the whole world to see, the negative reactions of most of the rest of the world, the tanking of the ruble and Russia’s markets, the internal unrest in Russia, these things can not be explained away by this possibility. If Putin planned for his war to go like it has, probably the best explanation is that he’s a sleeper agent for a Western European country’s, or the US’s, dirty-works agency tasked with destroying the Russian government.

      1. One might indeed be excused for assuming that Putin is an agent and the show was planned by The Rand corporation paid by the state department, NATO, US arms manufacturers and Qatar. Nato united, the EU united, Germans pressured into doubling their defense spending, which they really, really didn’t want to do (except for the Greens, who are now quite bellicistic, they’re all pacifists at heart) and buying large quantities of American and Qatari LNG in the future, Putin a pariah even among the people who had defended him in the past, the Russian economy in tatters. I came across this RAND brief
        yesterday and found it quite disturbing. These are dangerous games to play.

        1. To avoid misunderstanding, the first sentence is in jest. But I do think that fueling Putin’s paranoia, as suggested by the Rand brief, was a bad idea.

    3. I treat this as similar to the “T***p playing 5 dimensional chess” stories that came out early in his term (boy he sure disabused the world of that notion in a hurry), we are ascribing Machiavellian techniques to a common garden variety psychopath.

      1. That world authority, Noam Chomsky, has floated the idea that the whole of Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine was plotted in advance by NATO and the West. And, of course, on the Right we
        will soon see cries that it was plotted in advance by George Soros, Hunter Biden, and Hilary Clinton in her Emails.

  4. If you get a chance, visit Chiloe National Park, which is a short bus ride from Castro. The flora is fascinating- esp if you are familiar with NZ flora. Chiloe is the same latitude as New Zealand’s South Island, and shares many unique families and genera- such as Gunneraceae (giant “rhubarb”), Podocarpaceae (Southern conifers), Nothofagus (Southern Beech- although the genus has been split up recently) and Metrosideros (Rata / Pohutukawa/ Tepu). The tree ferns, towns, houses, climate, and even the friendly people remind me of parts of the West Coast region of NZ.

    1. James, most of those are not unique families/genera and are not limited to the southern regions. I live on the equator in the Andes and I have Gunneraceae and Podocarpaceae (Southern conifers) here. Both families grow as far north as Central America; Podocarpus is even in Mexico..Metrosideros species grow as far north as Hawaii. Still that island would be interesting to visit!

      1. You are right-for example there are Podocarps in parts of Africa and Asia too, and during glacial periods were even likely abundant in the lowland Amazon. . I guess my main point was not just the presence of these taxa, but that these groups dominate the flora in both New Zealand and southern Chile, giving them a strikingly similar look and feel. I guess more specifically they’ve been described as having an “Antarctic” flora- .

  5. Two days ago President Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act of 2022 into law.

    In the century or so between the failure of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights era (the period generally known as “Jim Crow”), nearly 200 federal anti-lynching bills, under seven separate US presidents, were introduced in the US congress. Of those nearly 200 anti-lynching bills, just three made it through the US House of Representatives, and those three were promptly killed in the US Senate — the crucial committees of which were then under the control of the so-called boll weevil segregationist Southerners. These politicians opposed the anti-lynching bills on the basis of “states’ rights” (or “states’ rats,” as they were wont to pronounce the term).

  6. What a wonderful update about Karolina. What a tough girl she is! Imagine starting a new school in a foreign country and under those circumstances.

    1. Children are incredibly resilient. My father lived through so much: father in concentration camp, house destroyed by bombs, living without both his parents with distant relatives for several years, then the food and fuel poverty of the first years of peace. His parents were traumatized, he wasn’t. It all felt like a great adventure.
      I am happy Karolina has found such a safe haven with wonderful people.

      1. Your father sounds like an incredible person. Imagine growing up with all of that going on! Have you ever seen Empire of the Sun? I saw it years and years ago, but what you say about him finding adventure around him reminds me of the young boy in that movie pretty cheerily navigating his way around an awful camp run by the Japanese.

  7. I have a jumping dog. When he thinks we are going out for a ride or a walk, he begins to jump. I’d like to train him to stop jumping. No luck so far.

  8. The media have finally admitted that the Hunter Biden laptop issue is a Thing, after claiming it was a right-wing fiction.

    Jeez, know what we haven’t heard? Joe Biden at a rally, or on Twitter, or on a friendly tv show screaming “FAKE NEWS!!” and “WITCH HUNT!!!”

    I’ve got no truck with Hunter Biden; if he’s committed US crimes, I hope he’s prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And should it turn out that Joe Biden has, too, I hope he’s impeached and that the same fate befalls him.

    My only a priori commitment is to The Rule of Law and to the fundamental American principle that no person — no king, no prince, no duke, no earl, and certainly no president or former president or spouse of a Supreme Court justice — is above the law.

    1. If he’s committed a crime, he should be prosecuted for it.
      And at the risk of committing the tu quoque fallacy, I’ll point out that the leading alternative to Biden puts his children in actual federal positions, making the ‘nepotistic influence peddling’ problem worse, not better.

    A few days ago I wrote here that I’d lost respect for Greg Lukianoff for “voting for Trump.” I had misremembered – it was anti-woke activist James A. Lindsay, co-author of Cynical Theories, who (IMHO) went off the deep end and “announced his intention” to vote for Trump.

    Thanks to those who caught the error and informed me. Accuracy is important.

    1. “A few days ago I wrote here that I’d lost respect for Greg Lukianoff for ‘voting for Trump.’ I had misremembered – it was anti-woke activist James A. Lindsay”

      A few days ago my son told me he’d seen Monica Lewinsky in Sisters, OR. Today he corrected himself–it was Tonya Harding, not Monica Lewinsky. Easy mistake, I told him: Tonya did the lutz and Monica did the klutz.

  10. > an unnamed teacher at the well known Colchester Grammar School in Essex has been suspended for carrying a Jesus and Mo mug on the playground

    Obviously, the UK has a different set of rules; in my understanding, the Ministry of Education of England and Wales implements religious classes. Bearing that in mind, my opinion is irrelevant to this case, on only has a bearing on more secular/laic societies. I think public school teachers prominently wearing/carrying anything overtly religious violates fundamental tenets of secularism/laicism, and I would include among them any articles promoting or criticizing religion, including the mug. I’ll tolerate a student wearing a Jesus shirt, or a Jesus & Mo shirt, but not a public school teacher, an authority figure on the public payroll.

      1. Whatever happens, I hope it is applied consistently to all public school teachers expressing any religious sentiment while on the job. If a US public school teacher wore a ‘Jesus Loves Me’ t-shirt, I hope s/he would be suspended, at the very least (and definitely if it happens twice). I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I have seen too many cases of rogue public school teachers teaching and behaving off-syllabus (remember the DC school librarian?). In the British example here, I do sympathize with the teacher, acting out in a school that has religious education classes, but I have personally seen too many cases of teachers attempting to undermine their own school systems from within, devout teachers undermining secular schools, as well as secular and progressive teachers undermining schools in theocratic countries.

        1. Well, wearing a teeshirt emblazoned with “Jesus Loves ME’ is really flaunting one’s religion, and it might be that the guy just happened to have a Jesus and Mo coffee cup and someone ratted him out. In neither case should a teacher be fired; they should be reprimanded and told not to do it again. But the tee shirt is clearly more of a violationg than a coffee cup–unless the guy waves it around in front of his students and says, “Here are Jesus and Mo!”

        2. I hardly think the teacher was ‘expressing a religious sentiment while on the job’. He was having his morning cuppa from a J&M mug while the pupils were on their recreation break. Someone noticed – not, as far as I can tell, any of the pupils – and decided to take offence.

          I suspect the grounds for complaint may well have been that the teacher somehow breached the school’s safeguarding policy – or, I should say, policies, because on some counts there are well over 30, ranging from behaviour in class to what to do about pupils who turn up at school with black eyes. Among other things, such policies require everyone involved in schools to treat all religious and other beliefs with due respect – and quite right too. What is not right is for the teacher to be penalised for expressing his or her own beliefs outside the classroom, which is what seems to have happened here. If a teacher used a mug that said ‘Jesus Loves Me’ in the staffroom, that would be OK; why not a mug that implies a different view?

          1. It comes back to my line ‘an authority figure on the public payroll’. Teachers also have authority outside of the classroom. A teacher in a staff room is not an authority figure (at least so long as no students are there; students do occasionally come in, triggering the ‘authority figure’ role again, and the potential is always there.). In this case, the teacher was supervising students on the playground and was definitely an authority figure.

            In any case, even employees who are not in positions of authority or client-facing roles still have some limits on freedom of expression, especially when it comes to defining a hostile workplace. During the mask mandate, an acquaintance kept coming to the office wearing a mask emblazoned with a political slogan and a politician’s face (guess which one!). He claimed that because the uniform policy did not have a clause for masks, he could wear whatever mask he chose. He was quickly disabused of the notion. His mask created a hostile workplace and alienated the client.

            In my understanding, employer decisions limiting expressions by authority figures (teacher on the playground) are stricter and have generally been upheld by the courts; still, courts have also upheld employer limits on expression of non-authority figures (teacher in a staff room). People with any form of representative role (authority figure, etc.) are instructed to be especially conservative in delineating personal and professional expressions.

            1. I don’t disagree with you about the need for authority figures to restrain themselves in political, ideological, or moral expression. What you don’t seem to realize is that I disagree with you about the punishment–suspending a teacher for holding a Jesus and Mo coffee cup. I feel that those who are in favor of suspending him (an act different in degree from wearing an “I love Jesus” shirt) are overly retributive, and that a quiet word to the teacher, with a promise of greater sanctions if he does it again, would suffice. You did not answer the question about whether you think the guy should have been fired.

              I don’t wish to continue this argument. We agree on the principle involved but apparently want the guy’s head on a platter.

              Finally, the Daily Fail is cowardly in not posting the photo of the mug, as there are no such restrictions on the press. They are simply fearful of Muslim retribution!

        3. I believe that the suspension was not because the mug was contrary to the school’s religious teaching but because – allegedly – the image of Mo would be offensive to some people. That is obviously highly debateable but, without going into the whole debate about whether or not people have a right not to be offended, I would say that suspension for this seems to be massively disproportionate. A quiet word to the teacher along the lines that he should not use the mug in school because of rules/policies about potentially offensive imagery should have been sufficient to deal with the issue. By suspending him the school has (a) caused distress and professional harm to the teacher concerned (b) encouraged students and others to take offence and (c) encouraged students and others to expect that whatever they say offends them will be airbrushed out of their lives.

    1. Anybody who follows jesus & mo ,even in a desultory fashion as do I, knows that the character mo is decidedly not the prophet but, by his own admission, a body double. But I guess we cannot expect non-ignorance from the woke.

    1. Mug? Hell, I want a whole LINE of Jesus N’ Mo collectibles!

      Collection plate (including long handle holder thing costs extra)
      Virgin Mary lawn ornament
      Hijab (less edgy for the US)
      Crown of Thorns

      … they’ve only scratched the surface! Imagine!

  11. “An unnamed teacher .. has been suspended for carrying a Jesus and Mo mug on the playground”
    I can’t be too specific, but our academic group had a paper returned saying (among many other things) we needed to have a disclaimer stating it “contained language which may offend some readers”. One of the participants quoted verbatim (as you should) said “G*d, that would be good”. We made the change because we wanted the publication – principles, what principles!

  12. She’s worried about Biden’s low approval ratings sinking the Democratic control of the House, but her solution is this: more progressive Democrats.

    Democrats will likely lose seats, but that is because of the pandemic and economy. Also, her proposed solution is stupid (…all IMO).
    I will meet her partway and say that if the Dems had ‘gone nuclear’, abolished the filibuster, and passed a bunch of their talked about legislation, they might indeed be in a better position now. But that assumes we’re talking about more centrist legislation that the majority of the US supports; stuff like closing tax loopholes the wealthy use, modest health care reform, etc. I think things like that would have put Biden in a better spot. I do not think abolishing the filibuster to pass far left progressive legislation (stuff like trans rights, increasing taxes on everyone to give free college, etc.) would’ve put the Dems in a better spot.

    The op-ed on Putin really wanting eastern Ukrainian energy reserves is interesting. My gut feeling is that Putin is too old-school authoritarian to not have wanted to take over all of Ukraine. But that he’s pragmatic enough that if he gets the eastern and Black sea gas & oil reserves out of it, he’ll take it and claim it as his win.

  13. they play with and talk to their Polish classmates. Karolina and the other refugee girl understand more and more Polish and all the kids manage to communicate somehow.

    My Polish speaking father says that he can understand a good bit of spoken Ukrainian but can’t speak it so it seems there are enough similarities between the two languages that it will make things easier for Ukrainians in Poland.

  14. Interesting tweet about the driver yielding rate. Does anyone have a link to the study? Or can anyone at least tell me how much of a disparity was found, and whether the methodology was sound?

    I live near a large university with many crosswalks in a busy area, and my experiences regularly using them have been the opposite: people with expensive cars (Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, etc.) tend to almost always stop when they see me or others; people in mid-range cars also tend to stop more frequently; and people in really crappy/old cars tend to not give a hoot and drive right through without even acknowledging that someone is trying to cross. Of course, this is all anecdotal and also has many possible confounders (though the latter is likely true for the study as well), as well as my own perceptual bias (whatever that may be. I can’t tell you, because I’m not aware of it!).

    1. The driver yielding rate item surprised me, too, but for a different reason. I can only say that wherever I have lived in Germany, the driver yielding rate is 100 percent. If a driver doesn’t stop, it’s because he didn’t see either you or the crosswalk in time. Of course drivers here know that pedestrians sometimes don’t even look, they just walk, confident that any passing car will stop.

      1. Oh, it doesn’t surprise me at all that a European country is way better about something like this (and particularly Germany, which has a culture of organization and generally following the “rules” of daily life). I assume the study was done in the US. What I want to know is the methodology. Was it done all in one city? In one specific part of one city? A survey that actually managed to include the multitude of sub-cultures defined by differences of region, geography, ethnic, and various levels of urbanization. I’m sure one would find very different results for, say, a rich neighborhood in San Francisco, a poor neighborhood in San Francisco, a middle-class suburb in Virginia, etc. And then those introduce additional confounders.

        Just for an obscure example to demonstrate how many confounders can be, erm, found, take the poor part of a city: are nicer cars not stopping because that city or even just intersection has a beggar or carjacking problem, or just a high crime rate generally? Now spread all those possible confounders among every place where the culture is even slightly different from any other in the country. The possibilities are endless and, even without seeing the methodology, I’m guessing this study isn’t of much value and has a very low rate of prediction when applied to places outside its scope.

        1. I would imagine that the carjackers hang out at the mid-block crosswalks. There would be competition and jostling for spots in disorderly neighbourhoods, queue forming to the right in more genteel ones.
          (Trying to think of the last mid-block crosswalk I’ve seen. Must be decades.)

          Fun fact from Fodors. The Principality of Monaco has a strictly enforced (with cameras) law that motorists must stop for a pedestrian at a cross-walk. France does not, and so French drivers in Nice and Cannes never stop. Tourists driving in the Riviera are warned to pay attention to when they enter Monaco — it’s apparently hard to tell — lest they find a swingeing fine debited to their credit card by the rental car company.

          I should say that in the small towns and cities we’ve visited in France, the locals are punctilious about stopping if they see us even hesitantly, diffidently, thinking about stepping off the curb. Nice is just, well, not nice.

    2. Dacher Keltner wrote about such an experiment in The Power Paradox

      ““In the study, an assistant standing out of view verified that each driver of an oncoming car saw the pedestrian waiting at the crosswalk. The assistant made sure there were no other cars nearby; just the driver of interest was speeding toward the pedestrian, who had the law on his or her side. Once again wealth predicted who violated the law. None of the drivers of the cheapest cars—those ranked 1 on our scale—ignored the pedestrians. But drivers of our wealthiest cars did so 46.2 percent of the time. Again, privilege prompts self-serving impulsivity, even at the expense of others’ welfare, common sense, and the law.”

      Excerpt From
      The Power Paradox
      Dacher Keltner
      This material may be protected by copyright.

      1. >Again, privilege prompts self-serving impulsivity,

        Gotta love those sweeping generalizations made by a third party with an agenda from a single study. Note also how the driver of interest was “speeding toward the pedestrian.” “Proceeding toward the crosswalk” wouldn’t do, would it….even though of course the car is not moving toward the pedestrian at all, who is still on the curb.

        Sociopathy cuts both ways. I was driving along an empty Sunday afternoon suburban arterial road where I realized the stoplight had been activated by a couple of teenagers who had pressed the button as they walked past it on the sidewalk, not intending to cross. Since I was facing a red light I stayed stopped at the empty crosswalk — no carjackers fortunately — until I got a green. It was a long red, to allow a senior with a bad hip towing a bundle buggy to make it across. By the time I got to the next crosswalk, the teenagers had reached it, and had pressed its button too. So again I waited. Repeat at the third crosswalk. Then they ran out of crosswalks and found someone else to annoy.

  15. according to the Daily Fail, an unnamed teacher at the well known Colchester Grammar School in Essex has been suspended for carrying a Jesus and Mo mug on the playground

    Virtue signaling for sure. The problem could’ve been solved by the principal pulling the teacher aside that afternoon and saying “can you bring in another mug tomorrow? That one upsets our Muslim students.”

    But doing that would not have signaled to the parents “look! We bend over backwards to treat even your most trivial complaints about being offended as a big deal!” Which I’d guess was the real point here.

    1. I’m not sure that any pupil was offended, or even noticed. The school authorities seem to have made an instant judgement that a picture of Mo (even though the cartoon figure is a body-double) was in itself offensive, and therefore that the teacher was a bad person to have displayed it, and must be disciplined.

      1. “(even though the cartoon figure is a body-double) ”

        Come to think of it, we’re just taking Jesus at his word here – he could be one of the other Jesuses that got the medieval treatment back in the day – the Jesus that really flew up but also went in a cave but then something happened after some one opened the cave but put the door back,…. and other things…. I mean, THAT one might not have even AGREED to the bargain!

  16. I’m wondering when someone is going to finally come back with ” your
    being offended comment offends me. “

  17. I have never seen as many stray dogs as I did in Santiago, Chile. (A fair number of stray cats, too, but not as many as I saw in Greece.)

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