Saturday: Hili dialogue

April 2, 2022 • 7:30 am

Where we are now: The ship’s real-time map shows us heading inexorably towards Valparaiso, the port city for Santiago, where we’ll disembark tomorrow morning (as crew, I leave the ship at about 11). From there it’s an hour by bus to the Santiago airport, where I spend one night, leaving on the evening of April 4 (after yet another PCR test to get into the U.S.).

A closer view showing us recently passing Coronel and Concepción (see below):

Since we’re passing Concepción and Coronel (red arrow above), I did what reader Pyers asked me, and saluted the shore from the ship:

Tip a hat to the 1,600 men killed at the Battle of Coronel which was fought on the 1st of November 1914.  It was the first defeat suffered by the Royal Navy in 100 years and was inflicted by Graf von Spee’s East Asiatic Squadron, which itself would be destroyed a few weeks later on 8 Dec 1914 at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, with the loss of 1,800.

Coronel is on Chile’s central coast, only 32 km from Concepción. Wikipedia says this about the battle:

The engagement probably took place as a result of misunderstandings. Neither admiral expected to meet the other in full force. Once the two met, Cradock understood his orders were to fight to the end, despite the odds being heavily against him. Although Spee had an easy victory, destroying two enemy armoured cruisers for just three men injured, the engagement also cost him almost half his supply of ammunition, which was irreplaceable. Shock at the British losses led the Admiralty to send more ships, including two modern battlecruisers, which in turn destroyed Spee and the majority of his squadron on 8 December at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

Greetings on the Cat Sabbath: it’s Saturday, April 2, 2022: National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. I’m willing to bet that of all sandwiches consumed in America on any given day, more of them are PB&J sandwiches than any other type. In fact, perhaps more than half of all sandwiches are PB&J, but I wouldn’t bet on that.

If you want to help out with “this day in history”, go to the Wikipedia page for April 2 and give us your favorite notable events, births, and deaths.

Below are today’s headlines from the New York Times, now compressed to the upper-right corner (click on screenshot to read):

The news summary:

Russian troops are in retreat from areas surrounding Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, military analysts and Ukrainian officials say, a stunning reversal in what could signal a broader shift in Russia’s assault in the sixth week of war.

It is unclear if the Russian troops are gone from the areas near the capital and further north for good or are trying to regroup after weeks of intense Ukrainian resistance and crippling logistical failures. But they appear, at least for now, to be following through on Russia’s stated intentions to focus more on the east where they already have a strong foothold and where military analysts said they are already scaling up their attacks.

. . . In the eastern part of the country, Russia’s main efforts are now focused on capturing the port city of Mariupol and solidifying control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to an analysis from the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank. Local officials on Saturday said that fighting had intensified in some parts of the region.

The Red Cross convoy scheduled for yesterday, which was supposed to escort citizens out of Mariupol and to deliver supplies, was canceled as the Russians didn’t provide the needed security guarantees. They’re going to try evacuating again today but the convey keeps getting canceled over and over. Who can doubt that it’s the Russians’ fault—that they want those citizens trapped and starved?!

*In other news, the U.S. is going to deliver Soviet-made tanks to the Ukrainians (where are those tanks coming from?) and Russia has announced that it’s ending its cooperation with both the U.S. and Europe on the International Space Station.

*The Washington Post reports that Ukrainians are rushing to evacuate children with cancer. The stories are heartbreaking, as much of the treatment of these children was done in Russia, which is no longer possible, and treatment shouldn’t be interrupted. As we see so often, people are pitching in to help:

Even brief disruptions in the finely calibrated chemotherapy and radiation protocols of the young victims can be disastrous, oncologists say, meaning their transport has to be fast, reliable and supervised even in the calmest of times.

During this war, what has emerged is an elaborate network focused on evacuating some of Ukraine’s sickest kids. Doctors, nurses and specialized volunteers from dozens of countries have cobbled together a pipeline of way-station clinics, buses, ambulances and a hospital train to funnel cancer patients and their families out of the country, to a “Unicorn Clinic” in central Poland, and from there to pediatric centers around the world.

Those who make it out — more than 700 children so far — are becoming some of the most celebrated refugees. One flight to Paris was met by the French first lady. Jill Biden last week visited patients who had been flown to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

*The Hill, following up a report from Axios, reports that Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki will be leaving her position some time this spring for a job at MSNBC. It’s not a sure thing, but here’s what The Hill says:

Psaki’s upcoming departure was first reported by Axios on Friday, with the sources confirming it to The Hill. Psaki will leave the White House for the network around May, according to Axios.

The news follows speculation over whether the press secretary was looking for a job at MSNBC or CNN and while Psaki has been out of the briefing room this week with COVID-19.

Deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has also been out with COVID-19. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield has held most of the briefings, which was seen as an opportunity to effectively audition for the post.

. . . Psaki has worked with the White House counsel’s office about her departure and no contracts have been signed yet, Axios reported. Additionally, she has talked to senior officials about the move but has not formally announced it to the press team.

Presidential Press Secretaries seem to last about a year these days. Is it a matter of a higher salary at MSNBC? I don’t blame her, actually, because the job of Press Secretary must be a trying one; you have to lie, dissimulate, or coddle the Chief Executive. As of 2021, Psaki was making about $180,000 per year, and you can expect that to be considerably higher if she becomes a correspondent for MSNBC.

*John McWhorter’s NYT column this week draws a parallel between two spontaneous but unfortunate incidents: Biden’s off-the-cuff remark that we can’t let Putin stay in power, and Will Smith’s infamous slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars after Rock joked about Smith’s wife’s baldness. McWhorter attributes the slap to a black “beef” culture which resembles the new “get personal” kind of discourse that Biden used:

In this vein I suspect that Smith was, on a certain level, performing for Black America, supposing that many of his Black fans would see him as going to a perhaps unideal extreme, but one that might be warranted when a man decides to “stand up” for his woman. Smith seems to have been trying for something vernacular, as it were, not unlike Biden letting go with his unfiltered personal take on Putin. But the Oscars incident was a smack seen around the world, where so many saw not “how we do it,” but violence, period.

. . [Smith] was correct to apologize, however awkwardly and self-servingly. Hitting somebody at the Oscars — or at all — cannot qualify as a valiant refusal to put aside what are widely thought of by people of all races as accepted norms. Anyone who harbors the idea that Smith’s actions are understandable should reconsider. There is no lens, including one that reckons racially, through which we ought process assault as a kind of permissible vigilantism.

We live in times when we are taught that authenticity, however defined, is the enlightened default. There’s something to that — at times. But both Biden and Smith would have been better off allowing that sometimes uptight is just right.

*Andrew Sullivan has just had a run-in with a once-popular comedian; an interaction Sullivan he summarizes in his latest Weekly Dish piece, “The problem with Jon Stewart.” I used to like Stewart, but, as Sullivan points out, he’s getting woker and woker. This was on full display when Stewart basically conned Sullivan to fly up to New York to do an interview on race. Sullivan agreed to the request so long as it would be a one-on-one and not a debate. Stewart’s people lied and said, yes, that’s it. But it wasn’t:

But just before the taping, as I emerged blearily from Dishing, I found out, in fact, that there would be two other guests, and that it would, indeed, be a debate. Surprise! As the show started, I also realized for the first time there was a live studio audience and that the episode was called “The Problem With White People” — a title I’d never have been a party to, if I’d known in advance. (I wouldn’t go on a show called “The Problem With Jews” or “The Problem With Black People” either.) At that point I should have climbed carefully off the stake, tamped down the flames, made a path through the kindling, and walked away.

It was the whole 1619+ mishigass, and I’ll give one more excerpt:

Jon Stewart’s insistence that Americans had never robustly debated race before 2020 is also, well, deranged. Americans have been loudly debating it for centuries. There was something called a Civil War over it. His claim that white America has never done anything in defense of black Americans (until BLM showed up, of course) requires him to ignore more than 300,000 white men who gave their lives to defeat the slaveholding Confederacy. It requires Stewart to ignore the countless whites (often Jewish) who risked and gave their lives in the Civil Rights Movement. It requires him to erase the greatest president in American history. This glib dismissal of all white Americans throughout history, even those who risked everything to expand equality, is, when you come to think about it, obscene.

[The problem of black inequity] is much more complex than that. And it’s that complexity that some of us are insisting on — and that Stewart wants to dismiss out of hand in favor of his own Manichean moral preening. His final peroration ended thus: “America has always prioritized white comfort over black survival.” Note: always. There has been no real progress; white people have never actually listened to a black person; America is irredeemably racist. Those fucking white men, Lincoln and LBJ, never gave a shit.

It gets even more acrimonious and interesting when Sullivan is forced to debate the head of an organization called “Race2Dinner.” But I’ll let you read that for yourself. It’s a good column.

*Finally, Will Smith, who slapped Chris Rock during the Oscar awards, has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after the whole world came down on him. (The Academy is in fact who gave Smith his Best Actor Award for his performance in “King Richard”):

[Smith] described his actions in a written statement as “shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”

“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” he continued. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Smith said he “will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Karolina is being a little overenthustic in her love for the cats. She tends to grab them and move quickly around them as she’s so energetic, and so the kitties tend to run away when she’s around! Andrzej is trying to teach Karolina to be gentle with Hili, Szaron, and Kulka. Here Hili objects a bit to being rousted:

Karolina: I love cats.
Hili: Can you do it more quietly?
In Polish:
Karolina: Kocham koty.
Hili: A czy możesz to robić ciszej?

First axolotls on Mexican currency, and now the new Scottish ten-pound notes have OTTERS on them! I like this trend. (From In Otter News).  I’m glad they’re not muskrats chewing on cheese.

An artist cat by Harry Bliss, sent in by reader Elsie:

There are tons of pictures of Ukrainians with cats, fleeing with cats, and Ukrainian soldiers with cats. Conclusion: Ukrainians love cats!

From Titania. She’s had a realization, and it has some truth in it. I can’t help but wonder if this signals that her satirical account might soon end. . .


Sarah’s tweet below got considerable attention, both pro and con. I tend to agree with her, but then what do you call your dentist—with whom you’re friendly but not on a first-name basis— when you meet him in the street? “Hi, Joe”?  Maybe just “hi”,or “hi doc”?   Using titles is fine in a professional context, though. Read the thread to see all the vehement agreement and dissent.

A tweet from reader Ken with some commentary (reader Andrew also sent this tweet):

Turns out, Ginni Thomas (wife of SCOTUS justice Clarence) was in another cult before Trumpism — Lifespring (although the embedded deprogramming video was recorded in 1986, not 1989):

From Dom. I’m not sure this is a real eBay item, but if it is, didn’t the seller wonder why the scoops would look so strange?

Tweets from Matthew. About this first one he says “This was in Oxford. Crick had his PhD viva in August 1953.” (Note that Crick’s highest degree at the time was a master’s.)

Look at the shiny butt on this bug!

A chemistry lesson with cats:

And some excitement in Dodo Land:

74 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I watched “The Problem with Jon Stewart” episode with Andrew Sullivan. Every week Stewart has 3 people for interviews. Sullivan should have known that. Sullivan never answered questions directly and disseminated. He looked like the fool that I have always thought he was. “Just because…” was his best answer.

    1. I watched it too. Jon Stewart never allowed Sullivan to fully answer questions before cutting him off. It’s a host’s prerogative, of course, but it was abused often here. Stewart was playing a sort of Woke-lite role by deliberately twisting whatever Sullivan said to fit his show’s agenda. It was disgusting and very sad, considering how good he was on his old Daily Show.

      1. Yes, a travesty of a “debate” – I’m not sure what Stewart thought his own role was, but “moderating” definitely wasn’t it.

        1. What I need to know from those who watched it – given that I read Sullivan’s excellent piece, what more will watching… EXPERIENCING… that episode give me?

          Because it sounds repulsive.

          BTW Stewart was brilliant on The Daily Show except for the interviews – hoo boy, after a while it was clear he just sorta goes with it – the speakers were great but I would frequently cringe watching Stewart get forced into conjuring up a good question.

  2. Sullivan Dish is … what’s the expression … intense, scintillating,… brilliant. Jon Stewart WTF.

    Chris Rock took it like a comic should. As for his … ahem … low brow joke … what can one say?

    1. Personally I think that Chris Rock was totally out of order, mocking Will Smith’s wife’s medical condition. His joke was extremely ill-judged, and he deserved what he got. It is he who should be apologising and resigning.

      1. I agree Colin, Chris was totally out of line, despicable, alopecia areata is not a pleasant condition to have, especially for a female. Most women are kinda serious about their hair.
        I can understand Will’s reaction. but it still is unacceptable.
        Both should apologise.

      2. “His joke was extremely ill-judged”


        Voltaire might say this is what he means by his famous aphorism.

      3. … if I could have my way, I’d like to see Will Smith’s wife (forgot her name) take the both of them by the scruff of their necks and make them both apologize on stage. But no resignations … whatever that means..

  3. From Titania. She’s had a realization, and it has some truth in it. I can’t help but wonder if this signals that her satirical account might soon end. . .

    Note the timing of the Tweet.

  4. On this day:
    1800 – Ludwig van Beethoven leads the premiere of his First Symphony in Vienna.

    1900 – The United States Congress passes the Foraker Act, giving Puerto Rico limited self-rule.

    1902 – “Electric Theatre”, the first full-time movie theater in the United States, opens in Los Angeles.

    1911 – The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts the country’s first national census.

    1917 – American entry into World War I: President Wilson asks the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.

    1972 – Actor Charlie Chaplin returns to the United States for the first time since being labeled a communist during the Red Scare in the early 1950s.

    1980 – United States President Jimmy Carter signs the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act.

    1982 – Falklands War: Argentina invades the Falkland Islands.

    2015 – Four men steal items worth up to £200 million from an underground safe deposit facility in London’s Hatton Garden area in what has been called the “largest burglary in English legal history.”

    2020 – COVID-19 pandemic: The total number of confirmed cases reach 1 million.

    1725 – Giacomo Casanova, Italian explorer and author (d. 1798)

    1788 – Wilhelmine Reichard, German balloonist (d. 1848)

    1805 – Hans Christian Andersen, Danish novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1875)

    1840 – Émile Zola, French novelist, playwright, journalist (d. 1902)

    1914 – Alec Guinness, English actor (d. 2000)

    1934 – Brian Glover, English wrestler and actor (d. 1997) – “Tetley mek tea bags mek tea”.

    1945 – Linda Hunt, American actress – Won a well-deserved Oscar for The Year of Living Dangerously, although she wouldn’t be cast in the role nowadays.

    1947 – Emmylou Harris, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

    1960 – Linford Christie, Jamaican-English sprinter

    1965 – Rodney King, American victim of police brutality (d. 2012)

    Those who took a perilous leap:
    1872 – Samuel Morse, American painter and academic, invented the Morse code (b. 1791)

    1928 – Theodore William Richards, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1868) – first American scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    1966 – C. S. Forester, English novelist (b. 1899)

    1987 – Buddy Rich, American drummer, songwriter, and bandleader (b. 1917)

    2003 – Edwin Starr, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942)

    1. 1987 – Buddy Rich, American drummer, songwriter, and bandleader (b. 1917)

      Not long before the great jazzman took the perilous leap, he was in the intensive care unit at the UCLA medical center. An ICU nurse stopped by his room on her rounds to check on the various tubes and wires he was hooked up to and asked him if there was anything causing him discomfort.

      “Yeah,” he said, “country music.”

    2. Alec Guinness! I liked his Smiley. Too bad they did not film The Honourable Schoolboy — too late now.

      Pope John Paul II died on this day in 2005. Not sure if he went to heaven or hell or is still in transit. Maybe we can get Carissa Schumacher to ask him.

      1. Alec Guinness! I liked his Smiley. Too bad they did not film The Honourable Schoolboy — too late now.

        Between “DeepFake” and rapid advances in CGI, you may get to see Guinness play that role. And in the not too distant future.

        1. True. And we can get Carissa Schumacher to channel his voice from beyond — that would be worth paying her. Gary Oldman, Denholm Elliott, and Rupert Davies were the others who played Smiley. I liked Oldman.

          Rupert Davies played him in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, in which Smiley was not the main character. The director, Martin Ritt, was in a spot of bother during the Red Scare, just like Chaplin.

          1. Speaking of Gary Oldham, he does a marvellous Jasper Lamb on Apple TV’s Slow Horses (great edgy spy series by Mick Herron). The tv series debuted yesterday and I just happen to be halfway through the first book (Slow Horses) in the so-far 8-part Slough House series. Highly recommend both the book(s) and the tv series so far.

              1. Just bought the first 6 Slough House books in a pb boxed set from Amazon for $80, which is cheaper than the $17 something I paid for the first one on kindle. Sort of a cross between LeCarré and Catch-22. My brother raved about the books and I agree with him. Unfortunately he can’t stream Apple TV in Guatemala.
                Paul, I thought the chase scene at the beginning was a wee bit too long, but then I guess you’ve gotta rope people in.
                One reviewer described Lamb as Timothy Spall gone to seed😂

              2. Yes, the first episode (all I’ve watched) was a bit slow. I’m hoping it picks up. I do like the premise and the characters though.

      2. I remember John Paul’s death because I was born today. I was an atheist back then too, so that’s probably why I remembered it. Pope dies on my birthday…some sort of irony I suppose.

        1. I remember John Paul’s death because I was born today.

          When John Paul II was shot, the poor Bulgarians were accused of conspiring to assassinate the Pope. The rumours began when this story was leaked to the press:

          The president of Bulgaria walked into a cabinet meeting in a rough mood.

          ‘I called Mrs. Thatcher to wish her a good morning but she was still in bed. Then I called comrade Brezhnev to wish him good afternoon, but in Moscow, it was not afternoon yet. Then I called the Vatican to express my condolences on the assassination of the Pope, but the Pope had not been assassinated yet.’

          Then came the rumours.

          Sorry if you have seen this before 🙂

          h/t: A Bulgarian friend of mine.

          1. Thanks for that. I’ve known about how America tried to finger Russia/Bulgaria for the shooting and our media was complicit, but I hadn’t heard about this specific anecdote. Oh boy.

  5. “Russian space agency boss announces plan to end cooperation with U.S. and Europe on Space Station…”
    Yes, the Russian space boss has continued to be bellicose as opposed to our Nasa administrator, Bill Nelson, who was negative just once I believe, but, along with the working troop astronauts AND cosmonauts, has been peace and love ever since. Of course Russia has already endangered their own by destroying one of their low earh orbit satellites creating a potentially deadly debris field for ISS and its internation crew to maneuver around.

  6. Update on prior news: An Ohio appellate court has upheld the $25M judgement against Oberlin College after the College smeared Gibson’s Bakery.

    Other news: CNN has folded on its “bombshell” about the White House phones logs from January 6. After rehashing the most damning potential meaning, they come around to the truth they come around to the truth. If only they had waited a couple days before their rush to judgement:

    But the gap might have a less mysterious explanation.

    According to multiple sources familiar with Trump’s phone behavior and the White House switchboard records, the January 6 log reflects Trump’s typical phone habits.

    1. “Trump’s typical phone habits” could you expand on that?
      Especially since it is alleged that some contend they talked with him on the phone during the ‘gap’.

  7. The segment with Jon Stewart and Andrew Sullivan can be found here.

    It was the most acrimonious and bitter TV discussion I have ever seen. The two other guests were a sociologist and a Robin DiAngelo clone. The essence of the debate was that Sullivan claimed that white supremacy and systematic racism is largely gone while the other three insisted that it still exists with apparently no improvement in race relations since 1619. In my view, the discussion illustrates the fracturing of American society where reasoned debate is hard to find as people are becoming more extreme. People have become locked into their positions and refuse to budge. Concepts such as structural racism and white supremacy cannot be explained or debated in sound bites. The segment left me very depressed.

    1. Same here. It was sad to see, especially considering Jon Stewart’s former glory with his Daily Show. Reminded me of Dennis Miller’s fall from grace, although he’s gone toward the Right.

      1. I’ve learned not to be disappointed in people like Jon Stewart. He’s an entertainer and nothing more. Our problem, as a society, is being willing to treat entertainers as public intellectuals, and so it’s the people who are willing to take Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, etc. seriously.

        There’s a reason someone like Jon Stewart is able to be friends with Bill O’Reilly, or Bill Maher friends with Ann Coulter: they all know that they’re just entertainers saying political things tailored to the people on one side of the debate, and they’re saying them not because they’re devoted to any ideal, but because they’re paid tons of money to do it. If Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, or Ann Coulter had any deep, abiding attachment to the politics they espouse, I can’t see how such friendships would be possible. I’m friends with people who disagree with me politically, but they don’t spread their politics to tens of millions of people a day, cynically doing it for tons of dosh with full knowledge of the divisions and horrors they stoke.

        1. Sure, I know what you’re saying here and agree to an extent but want to make a few points.

          First, any speaker’s worth is based on what they say. If the ideas are good, then they are worth listening to. If that changes, for whatever reason, then they lose that value.

          Second, people change their opinions for many reasons. It’s not just entertainers. Dennis Miller, for example, seemed to change his as a direct result of 9/11. His fear of Muslim terrorists seemed to border on irrational. Some people seem to react more than others to certain threats. I live in California so fear of earthquakes is a common topic of conversation. When we have had a relatively big one, there are always people who pack up the car and start driving as fast and as far as possible. They are just horrified. I think this kind of phenomenon is common.

          In Jon Stewart’s case, I do think it is an attempt to reinvent himself in order to appeal to a certain audience. It is probably not for money, as he had to have made quite a lot, but just attention and audience size. I’m just sorry he picked Wokeness. As you suggest, he’s probably not motivated as an intellectual. Oh well.

          1. All I can say is that I think your points are entirely fair and well-reasoned 🙂

            I think someone like Dennis Miller legitimately had a change of heart, although it’s easier to see this because that change of heart was the worse choice for his career/earning potential.

          2. I was attending DeAnza community college in Cupertino during the Loma Prieta quake in ’89. I was surprised at how many students vanished after that. Some families just got up and as you said “pack up the car and start driving…” Many were people who lost their homes in the Santa Cruz mountains. Most of the students who left weren’t California natives; they just decided going to school in California wasn’t worth it. I had nowhere to go, but I doubt I would have left if I could have. To be fair, that earthquake was one of the scariest moments of my life and I can still remember every detail as if it happened yesterday. Fear is very powerful and it’s hard to argue against, even if it’s irrational.

            1. I live in Southern California and have experienced a couple of moderately big ones: Sylmar and Northridge. I wasn’t really close for either of them though. I was in downtown LA in the USC dorms for the Sylmar quake in 1971. It occurred at 6 something in the morning and neither me or my roommate got out of bed. I do remember the bed rolling around a bit on its casters. I don’t remember being particularly scared but I’m sure I would have if the building started collapsing around me.

              1. I thought our apartment building was going to collapse. I was on the second floor and it was difficult opening the front door as the knob was bouncing all over the place. In the background, things were falling and breaking everywhere. The cement/wrought iron steps leading down were moving around as if the iron railing was a garden hose. I had to sit on my ass and crawl down. And just as I got to the ground, the quaking stopped and I thought I was going to vomit and there was a ringing in my ears. Then out of nowhere came a blood curdling scream and I saw a neighbor whose parrot had bitten through his hand and he was running around, trying to shake the bird off, blood splashing everywhere. Surreal doesn’t quite capture it.

        2. I think John Oliver often (not always) brings some vey pertinent points home. I think he’s just a bit more than your average ‘entertainer’.

          1. Out of all the entertainers mentioned above, I’m with you in regards to Oliver. Except sometimes he does tackle arcane subjects (to me at least) like the one on the hair of black women.

          2. I can’t speak to every subject he’s covered, but I’ve noticed an extreme slant when it comes to subjects on which I am knowledgeable, often to the point of outright cherry-picking two studies that support his point and ignoring the far higher number of studies that say it’s wrong, or studies in of other aspects of the study showing he’s wrong. Naturally, this makes me distrust the rest of his coverage. Since I don’t have time to research everything he says, I simply can’t trust him (well, we should all really be saying “his writers,” since he’s just a mouthpiece).

  8. ‘Tweets from Matthew. About this first one he says “This was in Oxford. Crick had his PhD viva in August 1953.” (Note that Crick’s highest degree at the time was a master’s.)’ – In fact, he may not even have had an academic qualification higher than a Bachelors:

    In the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, Bachelors of Arts are promoted to the degree of Master of Arts or Master in Arts (MA) on application after six or seven years’ seniority as members of the university (including years as an undergraduate). It is an academic rank indicating seniority, and not an additional postgraduate qualification. No further examination or study is required for this promotion.,_Cambridge,_and_Dublin)

    1. Agree! Whenever Hili has a Dodo, I can’t resist…they’re all fantastic, and today’s was especially so.

  9. From the BBC:

    The [Russian 331st Guards Parachute] Regiment’s commanding officer, Col Sergei Sukharev, was killed in Ukraine on 13 March, and was posthumously awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation medal. At his funeral, deputy defence minister Gen Yuri Sadovenko said the colonel “lived for the future, for the future of our people, a future without Nazism”.

    Casualties among Russian forces are not widely reported in Russia itself, but using open source material, the BBC has pieced together the story of their advance, and found that at least 39 other members of the elite 331st regiment have died.


    As for the price of failure, it mounts daily. At the time of writing, BBC Newsnight had compiled a list of 39 named members of the 331st Parachute Regiment killed in Ukraine. But since none of those fatalities is more recent than the 13 March, it can be supposed that dozens more will emerge in the coming weeks.

    Kostroma [the community where the regiment is based] locals have told us they believe that around 100 members of the regiment may have died. And many families will never receive their loved one’s body because it was left behind on the battlefield.

    Even a conservative projection of the deaths we now know about, and their dates, suggest that the town’s losses in a few weeks in Ukraine already exceed those from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

    1. It maybe premature, but it appears the Russians are being routed, especially in the North, I’m less sure about the South East.
      If the Russians succeed in cutting off the Ukrainian troops in the South East, that would spell disaster for Ukraine. However, I doubt they will be able to. The Ukrainians have shown themselves to be formidable foes.

    1. In case it didn’t come through :

      “Nonsense ⁦@sullydish⁩. Our booker handled this last minute ask impeccably. Mr Sullivan was told, texted and emailed a detailed account of who was on the program, the content and intent of the discussion.

      — Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) April 2, 2022″

      … that’s a serious blow – do believe I can call it right here and now :

      Checkmate, Sullivan.

  10. Speaking of animals on currency, the old coins of the Republic of Ireland each displayed a native animal, a different one for each denomination. They were: the horse, salmon, bull, hare, wolf-hound, hen, pig, and woodcock. (As I recall, they all had an Irish harp on the reverse side.) Later on, the stag was pictured on the Punt (or Pound) coin.

    1. I just looked at images of the Irish animal coins online. They are gorgeous. Some of the images look Egyptian to me; the animals have the stylized and regal poses that they do in some ancient Egyptian art. Anyway, thank you for mentioning the animal coins.

    2. In South Africa there is the big five on the currency for ages (well before the abolishment of Apartheid):
      10R: rhino,
      20R: elephant
      50R: lion
      100R: buffalo
      200R: leopard
      If a 500R note comes out I suspect it will be the Cape clawless otter, or the blue crane.
      Note that 200R, the largest note at present, is only about $14.

      The coins also show animals and plants although most of the smaller ones are not in circulation anymore 1C: 2 Cape sparrows, 2C: Fish eagle (with a non-determined fish), 5C: blue crane (endemic), 10C: arum lily, 20C: King protea (endemic), 50C: crane flower,1R: Springbok, 2R: Kudu, 5R: buffalo (again!).
      The golden Kruger rands, not really used on a daily basis as currency, also have a springbok (they come in different weights, but the 1 oz coin is about $2000)

      I think there is no SA coin or note in circulation that doesn’t have an animal or flower on it.

      1. I actually just sold a set of 4 gold Krugerrands on eBay. I didn’t know that the cute deer-looking animal on the reverse was a springbok. Doing the math, I think the 1 oz. coin went for about $1,900. Which is a little less than an ounce of gold, dammit. Oh well, I set the beginning bid price too low, and there weren’t any bidding wars. That’s eBay…win some, lose some.

      2. Some of the coins-like the elephant ones-have an almost trompe l’oeil effect. They are like little sculptures. I have never had any interest in coin collecting, but I would collect all of these animal coins in a heartbeat. Thank you for telling me about them. They are gorgeous.

      1. It is wonderful how much I learn from these posts and the people who comment. As soon as I read the marten pelts were used in trade, it made complete sense.

        1. My pleasure.

          It looks like Croatia might join the Euro next year, so this summer might be the last time I get to use the money. More and more things are by credit card these days, but I still use cash for some things like paying for food on a restaurant at the beach.

          1. Somewhere I have a Serbian banknote from the 1990s for 500,000,000,000 dinars. It should show an animal (a white elephant), but instead shows the poet Jovan Jovanovic.

  11. I recently commented at another site that I considered it a bit pretentious to call yourself Dr outside of academic work. To post the comment, I had to enter my email and found myself typing “drgareth@etc”. Oh dear!….

    1. The usage varies by generation and dialect. I’m trying to decide what I consider to be definite black-and-white cases; mostly I try to accept that come cases today just rub me the wrong way, but are not necessarily wrong. Watch older sitcoms from the 1960s and compare them with today. The use of titles seems to have dropped off considerably. People used to refer to peers and supervisors with a title and last name; now I’m even hearing students referring to professors by first name (shudder). Other languages, like Italian, refer to any older man as ‘Professor’ just as a sign of respect.

      1. Doktorskaya kolbasa (Russian: Докторская колбаса) is a sausage popular in the late lamented USSR. I have also run into Professorskaya bologna in Russian delicatessens. In the UK, one supposes it is called Boffinskaya.

  12. I’m sure most here know, but for all clarity, that ‘ice scoop’ is a vaginal speculum.
    Or did I miss a pun on the supposed frigidity among Amish women?

    1. I thought it was a speculum, but it seemed to have more bells and whistles (prongs??) than I’m used to seeing, granted from a body’s length.

    2. Apparently I’m not one of the most here. For a moment I wondered what was so different about vintage ice cream that it required such a weird scoop, then realised it must be a medical implement, but with no idea which orifice or surgical intrusion it was used for.

      1. If it makes you feel any better, in his memoir The Making of a Surgeon, Dr. William Nolen describes his experience with that medical-student rite of passage, leaning how to do what laypeople refer to as an “internal examination”. Nowadays they have realistic latex models for teaching/simulation and professional actors who get paid to serve as teaching models who give constructive feedback in real time. It’s a little like being a life model for an art class. This substantially reduces the anxiety for all participants. In Nolen’s day they didn’t have any of that. He describes being totally flummoxed because not only had he never seen a speculum before, literally didn’t know which end was up, but he had never seen a woman in that state of (draped) undress before either. It was a lot to learn in a few minutes.

        (His daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, also wrote a memoir, The Making of a Woman Surgeon, 1980.)

    3. Reminded me of a bad [and somewhat offensive] joke I first heard about 60 years ago. I will only give the last set-up line and the punch line: “I could eat that full of ice cream!” “You lier – no one could eat that much ice cream.”

  13. Welcome to Steven Pinker’s world Andrew Sullivan. No matter how much you can show that we are better at controlling ourselves, regarding violence and the civilizing processes it is claimed, we are no further ahead. It is to be expected when Putin for one, puts warring front and centre and people slapping one another in front of millions. The great unwashed have shown their disgust and this is NOT to say it’s ‘job done’ with either discrimination or violence but gains have been made.

    1. I don’t know how much we can trust this data. It claims, “The first ‘packaged’ sandwich is believed to have been launched by Marks & Spencer in 1985.” That’s a little hard to believe.

  14. Back to Andrew Sullivan’s appearance in the Jon Stewart debate, Sullivan got slapped down and accused of racism for politely questioning some aspects of black family life and culture. Man-in-the-news Chris Rock much less politely addressed the same issues (and more) in his (in)famous “Niggas Vs. Black People” routine back in 1996, which Barack Obama referenced in a Father’s Day message in 2008.

    Rock’s routine is well worth a listen; even he would probably struggle to get away with saying that stuff in the present climate:

    And Rock drew his own inspiration from Ice Cube’s rap “Us” (on the latter’s 1991 album Death Certificate) which made similar points outside of comedy.

    Sullivan is white, of course. So the truths he can express are restricted, regardless of their veracity. (Though in fairness, Rock and Ice Cube were on the receiving end of a lot of abuse too.)

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