Friday: Hili dialogue

April 22, 2022 • 7:00 am

Welcome to the end of the work week: Friday, April 22, 2022. This evening I’ll be over the Atlantic on my way to Tenerife via Madrid.  It’s National Jelly Bean Day (didn’t we just have that?) as well as Earth Day and April Showers Day.

I’lll be traveling until the beginning of May, so posting will likely be light. Bear with me. I do my best.

Stuff that happened on April 22 includes:

  • 1529 – Treaty of Zaragoza divides the eastern hemisphere between Spain and Portugal along a line 297.5 leagues (1,250 kilometres (780 mi)) east of the Moluccas.
  • 1836 – Texas Revolution: A day after the Battle of San Jacinto, forces under Texas General Sam Houston identify Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna among the captives of the battle when some of his fellow soldiers mistakenly give away his identity.
  • 1864 – The U.S. Congress passes the Coinage Act of 1864 that permitted the inscription In God We Trust be placed on all coins minted as United States currency.

And that year, superstition made its appearance on the coins. Here’s one from that year:

  • 1876 – The first National League baseball game is played at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia.
  • 1889 – At noon, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Rush of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000.

Below is a famous photo of the Land Rush. A bit more from Wikipedia:

12 o’clock noon that the Unassigned Land in Indian Territory would be open for settlement.  At the time of the opening, which was indicated by gunshot, the line of people on horse and in wagons dispersed into a kaleidoscope of motion and dust and oxen and wagons. The chase for land was frenzied and much chaos and disorder ensued. The rush did not last long, and by the end of the day nearly two million acres of land had been claimed. By the end of the year, 62,000 settlers lived in the Unassigned Lands located between the Five Tribes on the east and the Plains Tribes on the west.

Later they used mustard gas. Here are some “British troops blinded by poison gas during the Battle of Estaires, 1918.”

  • 1954 – Red Scare: Witnesses begin testifying and live television coverage of the Army–McCarthy hearings begins.
  • 1970 – The first Earth Day is celebrated.
  • 1993 – Eighteen-year-old Stephen Lawrence is murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Well Hall, Eltham.

Here’s Lawrence, who was stabbed to death for no reason except his race. Two murderer were convicted in 2012, receiving 14- or 15-year sentences:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1707 – Henry Fielding, English novelist and playwright (d. 1754)
  • 1870 – Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary and founder of Soviet Russia (d. 1924)

Lenin was not a well man in his later years, suffering from a variety of ailments (some say syphilis, others arteriosclerosis), but he did have a series of strokes, the first in 1922. Here he is the next year in a wheelchair:

  • 1891 – Nicola Sacco, Italian-American anarchist (d. 1927)
  • 1899 – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-born novelist and critic (d. 1977)

I just realized that Nabokov never won a Nobel Prize for Literature, and I’m wondering why.

Did you know that Nabokov had a lifelong interest in butterflies, and worked on them at Harvard? From the Atlas Obscura:

Between 1942 and 1948, Nabokov was a Researcher Fellow in the Harvard University Comparative Zoology department. The university allowed him to have a little shop furnished with scientific equipment to pursue his taxonomic research. Nabokov was already a practiced expert of Blue Butterflies and focused his classification theory on one specific point: the study of male butterfly genitalia. Invisible to our bare eyes, the butterflies’ privates were described by Nabokov as “minuscule sculptural hooks, teeth, spurs, etc… visible only under a microscope.” These aedeagus would be taken away from each specimen, places in littles vials or on glass plates, and labeled. By doing so, Nabokov could observe new physiognomic differences between identical-looking butterflies and reevaluate their belonging to one species or another. Each specimen was indexed and placed in a small wooden cabinet.

This miraculous little collection still exists today, but is kept out of sight, in the Harvard Entomology Departments.

That’s especially cool because I worked on fly genitalia for a long time. Here’s Nabokov’s genital cabinet:

The so-called Nabokov Genitalia Cabinet in his former office in the Harvard University Comparative Zoology department. (photograph from The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History by Nancy Pick and Mark Sloan)
  • 1904 – J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and academic (d. 1967)
  • 1916 – Yehudi Menuhin, American-Swiss violinist and conductor (d. 1999)
  • 1922 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1979)
  • 1936 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2017)

This is my favorite song by Campbell, and his guitar solo is dynamite (remember, he was a session guitarist before he became famous as a solo artist):

I love this scene; it’s from “Five Easy Pieces”.

Those who “passed” on April 22 include:

  • 1945 – Käthe Kollwitz, German painter and sculptor (b. 1867)
  • 1984 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (b. 1902)

Here’s Adams and his kitten:

  • 1994 – Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (b. 1913)
  • 2013 – Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1941)

Here’s his famous performance of “Freedom” at Woodstock in 1969. As you can see, he had no teeth in his upper jaw:


*Here’s today’s NYT upper-left-hand-corner headline (click to read):

. . . and the news highlights:

In the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, uncertainty loomed over the fate of the Azovstal steel plant, where hundreds if not thousands of Ukrainian fighters and civilians have been holed up for weeks in fortified underground warrens with diminishing supplies of food, water and ammunition.

The plant was being shelled on Thursday, according to a Ukrainian soldier there, though President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had called off an assault hours earlier in favor of a blockade “that a fly can’t get through,” apparently with the intent of starving the defenders out.

Capturing the steel plant would effectively signal the fall of Mariupol, a significant victory for Russia — allowing a land bridge between the Crimean peninsula in the south, which Russia annexed in 2014, and territory that Russian forces already hold in the Donbas region in the east. Though Mr. Putin prematurely claimed victory in Mariupol on Thursday, a soldier with the Ukrainian National Guard inside a bunker at the steel plant said that Ukrainian forces were holding on while they had ammunition.

Attacks continued across Ukraine on Thursday, even as President Biden announced another $800 million package of weapons to help the country, pushing U.S. support to over $2 billion since the war’s start eight weeks ago. The aid will allow the creation of five new Ukrainian artillery battalions, and it includes more than 120 new drones built specifically to be used by Ukrainian forces.

Satellite images reveal what seems to be a mass gravesite in Kyiv , while over a thousand dead Ukrainians have been found in Kyiv, some apparently shot at close range. And Anheuser-Busch is pulling out of Russia: no Bud for you!

*Meanwhile, the NYT has an editorial board op-ed called “Acknowledging the limits of sanctions.” While praising Biden’s sanctions, the editors also note that “sanctions historically have not been particularly effective in changing regimes, and their record at changing dictators’ behavior is mixed at best.” The solutions? Well, those offered by the editors aren’t promising:

Even Mr. Putin acknowledged that they have “achieved certain results.” But focusing on helping Ukraine financially and with military equipment might prove more productive than thinking up new sanctions on Russia. The Biden administration appears to recognize this, at least in part, with its latest $800 million in military aid and $500 million in emergency funding announced on Thursday.

. . . . The United States could tighten the economic screws on Russia by imposing secondary sanctions. U.S. officials already appear to be threatening as much in meetings and calls with officials in India and China. Secondary sanctions are a powerful tool to compel other countries to get in line with American policy. But the potential benefits need to be weighed against the risks and costs. The extraterritorial application of American laws can also incite deep resentment, even from European allies at times. Secondary sanctions should be used sparingly, and only after consultation with partners.

And that’s about it. In effect, they’re suggesting that we “roll back the sanctions” and try other stuff:

All the more reason that the United States should have a clear plan for how and under what circumstances it would be appropriate to roll back these latest sanctions. Right now, this has been left deliberately vague to allow the Ukrainians to directly negotiate with Russia. It is laudable to give deference to Ukrainians whose lives are on the line in this terrible war. But creating clear goals and communicating benchmarks for sanctions relief is an important factor in successful sanctions. Too often, sanctions are left in place for decades, without evaluation of whether or not they are achieving what they were put in place to do.

They might be right that the sanctions won’t deter Putin (oh, sorry, I forgot they weren’t a “deterrent”), but then what solution do the editors have to offer while Ukrainians continue to die? They have none.

*But at the Washington Post, Fared Zakaria says that “the only plausible path” to keeping the pressure on Russia is to tighten the sanctions:

 That means the only way out of this conflict is to put enough pressure on Russia to force it to the negotiating table and seek sanctions relief in exchange for a peace deal.

To achieve this, the coalition against it needs the staying power to maintain and even ratchet up sanctions and embargoes against Moscow. And that is only conceivable in a scenario in which energy prices come down from their current highs.
This shows that there is no plausible way to save Ukraine—unless we want to trigger World War III and destroy everyone. Putin’s move was a canny one, even if the Russian Army has proven itself pretty hamhanded.

*As you know, a federal judge overturned the government’s mask mandate on airplanes and other forms of public transportation (though not all). The CDC has appealed to the Department of Justice to appeal that ruling, and the Department of Justice has indeed filed an appeal. But it won’t be ruled on for several months at the earliest. In the meantime, I will continue to wear my mask on planes and mask public transportation (I’m not sure about Uber). From CNBC.

The new appeal is largely expected to have no immediate effect given that the Justice Department has not yet made an attempt to block Mizelle’s order. The appeal process is slated to unfold over a number of months.

On the heels of Mizelle’s decision, the White House said that it will likely appeal the decision but that the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce the order on public transport while the ruling is reviewed

Some transportation companies, such as the airlines United and Delta and the railroad operator Amtrak, were quick to announce Monday evening that wearing masks was now optional for passengers and employees using their travel services.

*You’ve likely heard about the fracas involving Florida vs. Walt Disney Company.  Disney was given a special dispensation in 1967 so that its Orlando theme park has its own self-governing district:

The legislation would dismantle Disney’s special district on June 1, 2023. The district, which was created by a 1967 state law, allows Disney to self-govern by collecting taxes and providing emergency services. Disney controls about 25,000 acres in the Orlando area, and the district allows the company to build new structures and pay impact fees for such construction without the approval of a local planning commission.

But Disney transgressed when corporation leaders criticized the new Florida law, signed by DeSantis, that bans “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in Florida’s public schools. That criticism was too much for Florida Republicans and DeSantis in particular:

For months, DeSantis has steadily increased his rhetoric denouncing “the rise of corporate wokeness,” but he didn’t have a clear target until Disney announced its opposition to the measure, which critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, on March 9. Since then, the company — Florida’s largest employer — has been a singular focus for the governor as he runs for re-election and eyes a 2024 presidential bid. As a vestige of Florida’s old business-aligned GOP, Disney provided DeSantis a perfect foil to highlight the revolution in Republican politics as it de-emphasizes talk about free markets in favor of culture war attacks on “wokeness.”

Now, both houses of the Florida legislature have passed a bill that will eliminate Disney’s special district of self-governance. DeSantis will almost surely sign that bill, and Disney will have to be subject to Florida law as of June 1, 2023. Such is the price of dissent.

*A report from reader Ken: “Among the five recipients of this year’s JFK Profile in Courage awards announced today are Ukraine president Voldymyr Zelensky and Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney.” There are three other recipients. I can see Zelensky, and surely Cheney has been admirable in standing up for principle and going against her party, but they’re not exactly in the same class. Never mind: here are all the winners:

*Andrew Sullivan announced that he contracted covid, but he’ll be fine. His weekly column, however, has been postponed. As I recall, he recently had a hip replacement as well.

Because of long-term HIV and chronic asthma problems, my doc put me on Paxlovid, which I’m almost done with. It may be psychosomatic, but I did feel a turn for the better a day after taking it. It turns out that a key drug in this anti-Covid cocktail is my old friend ritonavir, one of the first protease inhibitors to break through HIV in the 1990s — evidence of how progress in one medical area can translate into progress in another. The difference between now and 1996 is that I take two pills a day — when I used to take 18 (we were guinea pigs and they were terrified of under-dosing). But the weird metallic after-taste remains oh so familiar after these decades — like an AIDSy madeleine.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili ruminates on the Spring with Paulina (who took the photo):

Paulina: This time of year everything is more colorful.
Hili: The mice are still grey but it doesn’t bother me.
In Polish:
Paulina: O tej porze roku wszystko jest bardziej kolorowe.
Hili: Myszy są nadal szare, ale mnie to nie przeszkadza.

From Facebook:

Reader Andrée sent a revelation:

I found this in my folder of future stuff to post:

And lagniappe from Natalie, a lovely cat of amr via Harmonia Early Music. The caption: “Weird medieval cats of the week: Cat of arms.
(Scheibler Armorial, Germany ca. 1450-1480, Munchen BSB,_sheet 44)

Abigail Shrier goes after Jen Psaki and “affirmative care” in a Substack piece:

From Ginger K.. I still couldn’t bear it! I bet it makes them faster and more precise because they want to get it over with faster so they don’t have to listen to the damn music!

I’ve gotten this thread from a lot of people. Of course Sean is right that we should be speaking of “the laws of physics” and not “determinism”, but you can also call what he’s talking about “naturalism”, which is what I do. However, you can also assert that quantum mechanics, when properly understood some day, is deterministic, and add that on the level of human decisions, classical mechanics (“macro” determinism) is a sufficient explainer.  The last tweet is especially important to understand if, like me, you don’t accept libertarian free will.

Sean is a compatibilist, but he does reject libertarian free will, so far as I know from reading his books. (I wish he had said that in this thread.)

Tweets from Matthew. This, is says, is a genuine part of a Japanese reception for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She was there to promote the sale of Kiwifruit (a big NZ export) to Japan.

I got this one before Matthew did; usually it’s the other way round:

Interspecific harmony:

Ah, the famous Hodge; this is the first time I’ve seen a drawing. The bit about the oysters is true:

Four minutes from the BBC on the steel-factory siege in Mariupol:

59 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. 1889 – At noon, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Rush of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000.

    And that’s how “The Sooners” came by their name.

    1. I never knew that! Thanks.

      (Btw, this is Robert Elessar reading on my phone while waiting at the mechanic’s place…not sure how to sign into my usual WordPress account and can’t be arsed to figure it out.)

  2. I just realized that Nabokov never won a Nobel Prize for Literature, and I’m wondering why.

    According to info revealed by the Nobel archives in 2016, Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda were all under consideration for the Nobel Lit prize in 1965, but lost out to Russian novelist Mikhail Sholokhov. (Neruda eventually won in 1971; Nabokov and Borges never did.)

    As I understand it, the Swedish Academy is chary to give out more details than that concerning its deliberations.

    1. Well I guess Borges and Nabokov would be more deserving recipients than some other recent one.

  3. 1922 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1979)

    Shortly before Mingus’s death, he and Joni Mitchell collaborated on an album, entitled simply Mingus. A couple days ago I chanced upon a video of Joni performing one of the tracks off that album, Mingus’s famous tribute to Lester Young “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” (an instrumental composition to which Joni added lyrics):

  4. With respect to Hodge—the name was a generic for an English peasant in the 18th and 19th centuries, as illustrated by its use in ‘Hodge and His Masters’ by Richard Jefferies. Perhaps Johnson regarded his cat as just a little less than divine by giving him that name?

    1. I can’t argue that notion, but I think it’s also true that punishing Russia could save lives. It of course depends on the details. But if some methods of punishing Russia reduce its ability to prosecute their war, that would save lives. Both Russian and Ukrainian lives.

    2. Chomsky’s views are a pretty repulsive form of total appeasement in the guise of concern for Ukrainians. He appears willing to give Putin everything through negotiation which Russia is unable to attain militarily. Worst of all, he seems to simply ignore what the Ukrainians want.

      This take might have seemed somewhat plausible before the invasion. Now, it’s just absurd.

    3. The fastest way to end the slaughter (and protect NATO) would be a fast defeat of the Russian invading army. The US should not give an extra 800 million in military aid, but 8 billion. On the understanding Ukraine would not invade Russia proper of course.
      On a side note (1) , is it possible to trace drones, from where they are ‘steered’? If not, it could change the Ukrainian war, if some external power (read NATO) would take out the invader’s supply lines.
      On another side note (2), (which I mentioned earlier, alas not my own brilliant idea) why not give Russian POWs the ‘royal’ treatment? House them in the oligarch’s impounded estates or in luxury hotels and give them great food and vodka, and above all cell phones. and some airtime. I think that would be a great strategic move, costing less than 800 million, never seriously tried before. What Russian conscript would not go for surrender? And I note that it is positively legal -possibly even required- to move POWs to a non-combatant country, if their safety cannot be guaranteed otherwise. The missile attacks on Ukraine’s westernmost city of Lviv bears out that nowhere in Ukraine is safe.

      1. Any offer to re-settle POWs in the EU should be extended to serving soldiers as an incentive to desert. To hell with the POWs even. They are already hors de combat and should be accorded the Geneva Convention. It’s the ones who are still armed and dangerous you want to induce to come over. They will make good citizens in Warsaw or Barcelona, too: if they get in trouble with the police, send them back to Russia to face the music. The distinction between surrender and desertion is important. Ukraine would be obligated to return registered POWs when hostilities cease. Deserters or “missing” officially don’t exist, unless the Russian field police catch them.

        According to propaganda posters from the Second World War, the number one war aim was simple: “Kill more Japanese soldiers!” Except that that wouldn’t all fit on the poster, so they shortened it.

        There is really nothing more to do than that in Ukraine. It costs whatever it costs. Every method and stratagem that kills Russian soldiers, sailors, airmen, and generals until their military can’t fight any more is fair game. If you know of any way to start an epidemic among Mariupol’s besiegers, now is the time to do it. Even gonorrhoea would be useful.

        Under the UN Convention on Genocide, genocide is not just an empty word. If you think a national leader is actually carrying out genocide, you are obligated to stop him. (That’s why Hitchens supported regime change in Iraq.). You can’t just throw the g-word at him and say, “Well, that’ll stop him.” $8 billion is not too much to ask, especially if NATO countries aren’t planning to commit any troops. As a Canadian, I can’t call for other countries to do that because our army is not fit to fight, to help. We should send all of our weapons and hardware and tourniquets because we won’t be needing any of them. We might be into this for 80 billion by the summer if the Ukrainians want to keep fighting. Spend it.

        (I’ll just turn the temperature down a little to allow that the reduction of Mariupol is not necessarily a war crime. The Ukrainian military chose to defend the city in a heroic stand but in doing so they militarized it as the war scholars say, as the Germans did their cities during the War, which makes the city itself a legitimate military target. If there is no way to attack the city and spare the civilians, they can be risked. War is Hell. Sometimes the alternative is worse. Zelenskyy’s call.)

        1. When a soldier surrenders, or deserts, doesn’t he automatically become a POW? Yes, that was the idea, enticing them to surrender or desert.

          1. If he is held prisoner, then the “P” in POW applies. They used to grant parole sometimes to enemy soldiers if they swore an oath to go home and not fight again.

          2. Agree, the distinction is more in the eyes of the Russian Army than in those of the Ukrainians whose hands the soldier falls into. If a soldier allows himself to be captured when he ought to have kept fighting, he might be regarded by his side as deserting. If the Russian military culture is as permissive of atrocities as it seems to be, we may not want any of its graduates hanging around post-war Europe anyway.

            The important thing in real life is that the Ukrainians treat all captured Russians humanely, and that the Russian riflemen know this will happen, regardless of what their side is said to be doing. You want the Russian soldiers to regard surrender as a low-cost, low-risk option. If they assassinate their senior commanders first, so much the better. You just don’t want to motivate them to fight to the death.

    4. The Ukrainians themselves could end this war tomorrow and save their own lives. For some reason, they prefer fighting and potentially dying to living under the thumb of a gangster state. As long as they continue to do so, we must help them, not sell them out in the name of saving their lives.

  5. According to Wikipedia:

    During the 1940s, as a research fellow in zoology, [Nabokov] was responsible for organizing the butterfly collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. His writings in this area were highly technical. This, combined with his specialty in the relatively unspectacular tribe Polyommatini of the family Lycaenidae, has left this facet of his life little explored by most admirers of his literary works. He described the Karner blue. The genus Nabokovia was named after him in honor of this work, as were a number of butterfly and moth species (e.g., many species in the genera Madeleinea and Pseudolucia bear epithets alluding to Nabokov or names from his novels). In 1967, Nabokov commented: “The pleasures and rewards of literary inspiration are nothing beside the rapture of discovering a new organ under the microscope or an undescribed species on a mountainside in Iran or Peru. It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all.”

    1. I once tracked down in the University of Chicago library a copy of a thin purely entomological monograph by Nabokov, and may have borrowed it. The library was well on its way to a thoroughly computerized circulation system, but many books still had the remains of earlier systems, such as card pockets and sometimes the check-out cards themselves. This volume still had the cards from a time when borrowers would write their name and campus contact address or phone.

      So I was excited to see that this volume had been signed out by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer! This novelist/ poet / academic has written several essays on Nabokov, and was at UChicago in different roles at several points in her career.

      My knowledge of the science was not nearly up to really understanding the work, but I got some sort of frisson from finding and examining this book, while pursuing literary and biographical studies of Nabokov. I can’t say whether the interest for Fromberg Schaeffer was similar, or if perhaps she could take in more of the science.

  6. “. . . that bans “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in Florida’s public schools. . . .” Just to be clear, it bans it through the Third Grade.

    1. My kid knew his sexual orientation in kindergarten, and had a trans friend in 1st grade. How conservatives can think that these subjects stuff magically never come up until the age of 9-10 is beyond me. Do they not remember that little kids get crushes too?

      1. Your child couldn’t know his sexual orientation in kindergarten. He knew he was a boy and not a girl, fine.

        I don’t believe there is such a thing as a trans first-grader. There are children whose parents, often only one of them, want them to think they are trans. With crushes between little kids it is better that they aren’t steered —some would say groomed—to interpret these pre-sexual feelings in adult directions.
        Let kids be kids. Don’t steer a little boy who wears his sister’s dresses into ideological blind alleys to suit an adult ideology. Sex education should be introduced as children want to know and can understand it.

        Being brought under the state law of Florida in which Disney’s corporate empire is domiciled is a small price to pay for dissent.

        1. Your child couldn’t know his sexual orientation in kindergarten.

          Complete bullflop. He was attracted to girls and found it weird and incomprehensible that another boy was attracted to boys. He had a girlfiend. They rubbed against each other. It was, frankly embarrassing for both us and her parents. How is that not knowing his orientation?

          See this is the whole problem with conservative responses to sex and gender. Rather than allowing teachers to grapple with what’s going on in the classroom, they’d rather pretend it can’t possibly exist.

          I don’t believe there is such a thing as a trans first-grader.

          You can not believe it all you want, and you can believe that the reason his male (sex) friend wore dresses and wanted to be called by a traditionally female name is due to bad parenting. But that kid DOES show up in class. She DOES ask to be called ‘she’ by her classmates. Her classmates DO ask the teacher questions. Preventing teachers from discussing the subject with their students is just bonkers. Unless you plan on preventing such kids from being in the classroom, this situation will (and does!) occur. So isn’t it better to develop a policy that helps teachers figure out what to say, rather than demanding they ignore their students’ questions upon pain of firing? If the “what to say” is a compromise between conservative rejection and liberal acceptance, well, that would still be infinitely better and far less crazy than DeSantis’ “you can’t discuss it or you’re fired” policy.

          1. When I was about six I declared to my extended family that I hated girls. All the adults in the room laughed. Turns out they were right to.

            I doubt if anybody of that age has any idea what sexual orientation is and the ones that appear to are probably just imitating the adults they see.

            1. Then you are empirically wrong.

              Now it’s not average to get urges that early, but when you have an elementary school of 1,000 kids, the teachers have to be allowed to deal with the tails of the distribution, because they’ll see them.

              This is really not much different from the sex ed problem. The reason for teaching it in junior high/middle school rather than high school is that while It’s not average for kids to go through puberty at 12, when you collect 1,000-2,000 kids together in a school, you have to be prepared to deal with the early tail of the distribution, not just the average.

      2. “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third
        parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur
        in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age
        appropriate or developmentally appropriate”

        That should be a completely uncontroversial rule. I suspect the real rage at the law is because it prohibits schools from
        “discouraging or prohibiting parental notification and
        involvement in critical decisions affecting a
        student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being”.

        Sure, kids get crushes. They play doctor in the hay barn. They always have, and always will. There is no need for a first grade teacher to facilitate every child’s sexual awakening by showing them pictures of erect penises, or describing how a blow job is performed.
        There is no reason whatever that a teacher in a public school needs to introduce their class to the concept of “genderfucking”.
        Since the schools and teachers do not seem to be able to (or desire to) prevent such things, parents are pressuring legislators to act.
        Importantly, in my child’s class, it was not the case that a student asked about genderfucking during some off-curriculum discussion. Nope, the teacher introduced the subject to a group of kids, some of whom probably got their mouths washed out with soap when they brought their day’s lesson up at dinner.
        I feel very uncomfortable writing the word (it is one word). A person who feels the need to use such language to a group of little kids is not a normal person.

        1. It puzzles me that of all the issues where they could draw a red line and make a stand, they choose their need to talk inappropriately about sex with young children.
          There are a bunch of reasons why that is bad strategy, foremost being that responsible parents, once aware of the situation, are just never going to back down. They can’t. The safety and welfare of their children comes before every other issue in the world.
          I understand that disrupting bourgeois sexual mores is a tactic for dismantling oppressive capitalist hierarchies, but there are many subtle ways that a red teacher can push Marxism without alarming parents.
          Very importantly, Queer Theory, where a lot of this originates, does not seek to bring LGBT issues so that they “fall within the reach of acceptable societal norms”. It is intended to be a disruptive and subversive tool for breaking societal norms. As soon as LGBT issues become accepted, they are of no further use to the activist. The quality of life or happiness of the LGBT child is not a real consideration.

  7. As you know, a federal judge overturned the government’s mask mandate on airplanes…

    My local news coverage on this has me greatly peeved. They keep telling the public the situation is “confusing” and making a big deal out of it. It’s sensationalist and infantilizing. The situation is not at all confusing: the mask mandate has been struck down and it’s undergoing appeal. It’s like journalists don’t know the difference between “rules could change” and “OMG I can’t understand what’s going on.”

    You’ve likely heard about the fracas involving Florida vs. Walt Disney Company…

    I put this in the “right action, wrong reason” category. DeSantis is a right-wing demagogue who is doing this for no reason other than political revenge. He’s a jerk punishing a corporation for no reason other than it dared to speak out in favor of liberal politics. But…Disney should never have been allowed to run their land on Florida like their own separate fiefdom anyway. The whole ‘special arrangement’ was IMO a disservice to the people of Florida to begin with. So the fact that they no longer get to control their own police force, FD, health, safety etc. is probably a good thing. It just goes to show how corrupt politics is around these big businesses, that they were allowed to do this for decades and the only reason it’s being stopped is because they no longer sufficiently grease the palms of the governor.

    Okay, I guess that’s my old guy rants for the day.

      1. Genuine question: how does that work, Ken? I thought that the arrangement had saved Disney hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes?

        1. As I understand it, if the Reedy Creek Improvement District is dissolved, Osceola and Orange counties (meaning the residents who pay taxes there) would be stuck paying for sewer and road maintenance, etc., as well as get stuck absorbing $1 billion in outstanding bond debt. Here’s a Miami Herald article explaining the situation.

          I think the creation of the Reedy Creek District to lure Disney to Florida was a rip-off for Floridians in the first instance. See, e.g. novelist/journalist Carl Hiaasen’s book Team Rodent. But DeSantis’s seeking to dissolve it now isn’t being done to rectify this past wrong, but to punish Disney for not bending over for his “Don’t Say Gay” nonsense, resulting in a brand new taxpayer rip-off.

    1. For a cool take on AC/DC, I recommend 2 Cellos live performance of “Thunderstruck.” It’s quite something both visually (bow work) and audio-ly.

    2. I tend to favor the 1st generation AC/DC with Bon Scott. Though Back in Black, their 1st album after Scott’s death and with Brian Johnson on vocals, is a great album. Probably their best. But after that they started trending towards sounding the same, song after song, album after album.

      1. Agreed. They peaked with Back in Black and then began a long descent into relentless sameness. Albums became indistinguishable.

        1. Saw them on the Back in Black tour at the London Victoria Apollo (not through choice, I got taken as part of a friend’s birthday surprise) and they were dire. I was surprised, as back then I thought that their live performances were supposed to be tight.

    3. Well, my nurses say I work more efficiently (faster and less complications) when I play Bach, but I dunno about AC/DC, I have my doubts. Note, that is my nurses who say that, I’m not sure it works better than silence. We never did an actual accounting. Maybe I’m just ‘better mooded’ when I have Bach playing. For all clarity, if that wasn’t clear enough, I love Bach. Probably the greatest composer ever, although Handel comes close.

            1. Both. I was thinking of Domenico Scarlatti, famous for his keyboard sonatas, but his father Alessandro was also a mean composer.

  8. “on the level of human decisions, classical mechanics (“macro” determinism) is a sufficient explainer.”

    I don’t think this is true.The whole solar system is a quantum fluctuation. The formation of the earth was chaotic even from a classical standpoint, so tiny quantum uncertainties were magnified. Everything about our world (including its very existence) is a product of quantum uncertainties, and these things influence our behavior.

    Even a limited object like the human brain is likely to be a chaotic system and so will also be affected by QM uncertainties. Neural firing depends very precisely on the simultaneous arrival of signals from other neurons. Tiny uncertainties in the arrival times of these signals could create very large uncertainties downstream from that neuron.

    It is even wrong to say that everyday simple classical objects like (real) billiard balls are accurately described by classical physics. After enough bounces, billiard ball trajectories would show macroscopic QM uncertainties in their paths.

    American Journal of Physics:

    As Sean says, we have to stop arguing about free will as if the world is even approsimately determinate. Making that argument just adds unnecessary baggage.

    1. Chaotic /= indeterminate. You only need to play the business school “beer game” to figure that out.

      Quantum fluctuations are not (necessarily) amplified, physical systems often work the opposite way where microscopic fluctuations average out producing a highly determinate macroscopic state. The gas molecules in your room have a wide range of energies, yet the temperature and pressure do not, and statistical mechanics in general is an entire subject dedicated to showing how a wide range of microscopic states can give rise to a single or narrow macroscopic state.

      When Carroll talks about, for instance, QM not being a viable ‘go to’ to explain free will, that’s what he’s talking about: neurons are too big for most quantum effects to matter. They contain 1E14 atoms each. Illustrative example: claiming quantum effects will occasionally cause a change in neural signaling (a claim you didn’t make, but which Carroll has discussed before) is like claiming your car will occasionally quantum teleport. When it comes to structure, scale, and wavefunction collapse, neurons are/behave like cars. They do not behave like electrons, protons, or neutrons. Laypeople often don’t get this, because to them, atoms and neurons are both just ‘small things.’ But in terms of physics and chemistry, a neuron is closer to an elephant than it is a subatomic particle.

      1. “Chaotic /= indeterminate.” Yes it does. A “chaotic” system technically is one in which arbitrarily small changes in initial conditions lead to different outcomes. “Arbitrarily small” includes quantum fluctuations.

        “Quantum fluctuations are not (necessarily) amplified”. You are right, and not all systems are chaotic either. But some are. And if you go back in time far enough, even the very largest things, like the earth and the solar system, are the products of quantum fluctuations. But as I said, you don’t have to go that far back to find macroscopic systems that show quantum uncertainties. Even billiard balls do.

        “…neurons are too big for most quantum effects to matter. They contain 1E14 atoms each.”
        You can see that argument is invalid by considering a much bigger device, a Geiger counter or a cloud chamber. They are much bigger than neurons but their visible macroscopic states are QM-uncertain at all times.

        Neurons are particularly good candidates for amplifying QM uncertainties. Each neuron is fed by the outputs of many other neurons, but each neuron only fires if a certain threshhold number of “feeder neurons” fire at the same time. Slight QM uncertainties in signal transmission times across synapses (a space of about 20nm wide, easily small enough for QM effects to be important) can make the difference between the firing threshhold being reached or not. If you comnsider a long chain of such neurons, the uncertainty in the firing of the fartherst downstream neuron could be substantial.

        “But in terms of physics and chemistry, a neuron is closer to an elephant than it is a subatomic particle.” I urge you to look more closely at how neurons work. You might change your mind.

        Sean’s point is not that QM effects are too small to matter. Just the opposite. “Determinism can be a good approximation for macroscopic dynamics sometimes. So what? Sometimes it’s not. You don’t want to base arguments about something as fundamental as free will or its absence on a principle that is just a good approximation sometimes. “. His main point, which we probably all agree on, is that indeterminism is irrelevant to the question of free will. But everything is indeterminate at some level, and arguoing that it is too small to matter only burdens the argument with a false premise.

        1. “Chaotic /= indeterminate.” Yes it does.

          No, it literally doesn’t. Look up the definition. Look it up in a textbook. Look it up on wikipedia. Pretty much every text or source covering chaos theory will tell you that it is the study of how deterministic laws combine with highly sensitive starting conditions to lead to unpredictable outcomes.

          You’re literally getting the definition wrong.

          1. I know the definition. The definition specifies classical laws of dynamics but does not say anything about the nature of the variation in initial conditions. Any system that is truly chaotic is QM indeterminate, even though it follows determinsitc laws, because QM tells us that the initial conditions cannot be precisely determined.

  9. Interestingly, in Putin’s recent broadcast appearances, he seems to have become sort of frail, and has to hold the table tightly with his right hand, as if he has tremors there.
    He really looks like Bruno Ganz in Downfall, right after he learns that Steiner will be unable to defend Berlin.

    1. I’ve read a rumour on the Internet (so it must be true) that the reason he ordered the troops not to enter the steelworks (what he was doing in the clip to which you refer) is that they were threatening a mutiny. Assaulting the steelworks with ground troops would result in huge numbers of casualties and they were refusing to do it. This was a face saving exercise. At least that is the theory.

  10. This shows that there is no plausible way to save Ukraine—unless we want to trigger World War III and destroy everyone. Putin’s move was a canny one, even if the Russian Army has proven itself pretty hamhanded.

    I’m sorry but the fact that two newspaper editors disagree on sanctions does not tell us anything other than things are pretty uncertain at the moment. I can think of a couple of plausible ways Ukraine can be saved.

    1. They could win the war. It’s not beyond the bounds of credibility that they could push the Russian troops out of most of Ukraine (probably not Crimea though).

    2. They could fight the Russians to a stalemate. This would also count as a win for Ukraine. Russia cannot sustain a protracted years long conflict. The sanctions are destroying their ability to replace lost equipment. Keeping an army in occupation is expensive in money and morale and humans.

    3. Putin could be deposed or die of natural causes. If Putin is gone, I think his successor will negotiate a Russian withdrawal in exchange for lifting some or all sanctions. This will be accompanied by a massive Russian media campaign exposing Putin’s crimes to the Russian population.

    Putin’s move was not canny, it was total miscalculation. He thought his forces would roll over Ukraine in days and he would install a puppet government in a week, job done. Instead he’s slowly (well, not so slowly) turning his military equipment into scrap metal, he’s made Russia a pariah state, he’s persuaded some of his neighbours that NATO membership is a good idea, he’s tanked the Russian economy and shown the World that his previously feared military forces are pretty useless.

    1. Much wisdom here. Thanks.
      And to your previous post, the legions of Russians soldiers attempting to seal off the steelworks “so that even a fly can’t get in” are not available for the Grand Heroic Offensive to de-nazify Ukraine on the rest of the front. Every day the defenders can hold out is another day for weapons to find their way across Ukraine to Donbas while Putin is distracted in Mariupol trying to feed his besiegers.

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