Monday: Hili dialogue

June 20, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Monday, June 20, and it’s a federal holiday in honor of Juneteenth, which was actually yesterday (see info given then). There’s a special Google Doodle celebrating the holiday (click on screenshot below), and after you click, wait a second for the animated celebration to begin.

It’s also National Vanilla Milkshake Day, though I have no idea who would want such a thing.

Finally, it’s both West Virginia Day (in West Virginia) and World Refugee Day. 

Note that the summer solstice occurs at 4:13 a.m. tomorrow, which will be the longest day of the year. 

Wine of the Day: Below: my Father’s Day wine along with a honking t-bone, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and rice. I picked the bottle out of my collection, and have no idea when I bought it or what I paid for it (prices now tend to be about $20-$24). It’s a Finca Villacreces Pruno 2012 from the Ribiera del Duero, a wine region in northern Spain near Rioja. Indeed, this wine resembles a gutsy Rioja—but much cheaper.

Robert Parker, giving it a high rating of 93, made these notes in 2014: :

This blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon emerges from a vineyard situated adjacent to one of the famous vineyards utilized to produce Spain’s greatest red wine, Vega Sicilia. Made from relatively old vines, the 2012 Pruno is a sexy, opulent, voluptuously textured effort that spent 12 months in two-year-old French oak barrels. Reminiscent of a baby Vega Sicilia, it possesses a dense ruby/purple color as well as notes of high-class, unsmoked cigar tobacco, creme de cassis, licorice, graphite and spice box. Full-bodied, deep, velvety textured, lush and heady, at $20 a bottle, it is another sensational bargain from Eric Solomon. Enjoy it over the next 5-6 years.

I’ll leave the tobacco and graphite stuff to Parker, but this is a dark garnet, full-bodied, blackberry-flavored tour de force, dry and powerful. And at this price point it’s a real bargain. Note that I drank it 2 years after Parker’s “drink by” date, but it was still terrific, with no signs of being over the hill. This one comes highly recommended, but be sure to decant it, as there’s a moderate sediment. A great value for the quality.

Stuff that happened on June 20 include

There were either 146 or 64 prisoners jammed into the cell (designed to hold 2 or 3 prisoners) overnight, and we know that when they opened the door the next morning, only 23 were left alive. Here’s a brief video:

Here’s the two sides of the original seal, and the machine meant to impress it, still in use though the stamping machine was made in 1903:

  • 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
  • 1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.

Here’s part of the patent:

  • 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
  • 1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The escape was successful in that none of the escapees were returned to the camp, though Piechowski was imprisoned for seven years by the Communists. Here he is in an Auschwitz prison suit.  See the tweet below about Piechowski’s death at 98.

  • 1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.

Here’s a German video showing some tests of the original V-2 (a lot were failures):

The eponymous song by Tom Lehrer. Remember this?

Here’s Rose Mary Woods’s demonstration of the “Rose Mary” stretch that supposedly explained the gap:

Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s loyal private secretary, was tasked with transcribing the tapes before they were turned over to prosecutors. Woods testified in front of a federal grand jury in 1974 that she was using a dictaphone, which had a pedal that would pause the recording when she lifted her foot off it, and she claimed she had erased part of the tape by mistake.

“Her explanation was that she was listening to the tape and … the telephone rang,” said Wine-Banks. “So she kept her foot on a pedal, pushed the wrong button. She pushed record instead of off and reached for the phone.”

Photo by the AP
  • 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters“.

The most famous scene from the movie:

  • 1991 – The German Bundestag votes to move seat of government from the former West German capital of Bonn to the present capital of Berlin.


*The NYT examined over a thousand photos taken by its own photographers and other wire-service photographers, looking to see what kind of weapons the Russians were using against Ukraine. They identified 2,000 munitions (I assume this means individual weapons, not 2,000 different munitions, and found what you expected:

Of the weapons identified by The Times, more than 210 were types that have been widely banned under international treaties. All but a handful were cluster munitions, including their submunitions, which can pose a grave risk to civilians for decades after war has ended. More than 330 other weapons appeared to have been used on or near civilian structures.

Because of the difficulties in getting comprehensive information in wartime, these tallies are undercounts. Some of the weapons identified may have been fired by Ukrainian forces in an effort to defend themselves against the invasion, but evidence points to far greater use by Russian forces.

Customary international humanitarian laws and treaties — including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their protocols — demand that the driving principle in war be military necessity, which mandates all combatants direct their actions toward legitimate military targets. The law requires a balance between a military mission and humanity. Combatants must not carry out attacks that are disproportionate, where the expected civilian harm is clearly excessive, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to the direct and concrete military advantage that would be anticipated. Combatants must consider distinction, that attacks are directed only toward lawful targets and people and are not applied indiscriminately. And they must not use weapons calculated to inflict unnecessary suffering.

“The Russians have violated every single one of those principles almost daily,” said Mike Newton, a Vanderbilt University law professor who frequently supports efforts to prosecute war crimes all over the world.

One issue, however, is that I’m pretty sure that the Russians aren’t signatories on treaties that ban most of these munitions. By the way, besides cluster munitions, the dubious weapons include unguided missiles, rockets and bombs (stuff mostly abandoned by the West in favor of guided weapons), booby traps, and antipersonnel land mines. There are photos and diagrams in the article.

*Shoot me now! Sarah Palin is back, running for a House seat that’s vacant because its Republican holder died. The good news is that the seat expires next January. The bad news is that Palen is first among four candidates—three Republicans and one Democrat (the Dem is last). And if she gets her tuchas in a House seat, she may get to keep it, and then think about how many loons we’ll have in Congress!

*I heard this on the ABC Evening News (my usual NBC News was preempted by a GOLF GAME, for crying out loud, which is itself a crime), and it’s verified on their site. Nearly 60% of Americans think that Trump should be criminally charged for his shenanigans around the election and the January 6 insurrection:

With the first full week of hearings for the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol now complete, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the incident, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.

Six in 10 Americans also believe the committee is conducting a fair and impartial investigation, according to the poll.

In the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, 58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot. That’s up slightly from late April, before the hearings began, when an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 52% of Americans thought the former president should be charged.

When I heard this, I had a question. Ex-Presidents are protected by the Secret Service until they die. If Trump goes to jail, will the Secret Service be there to protect him?

*Helaine Olen, a young Washington Post writer, gets the Andy Rooney of the Future Award in her new column, “QR code menus are the death of civilization.” I could have written that title! And Olen is right. These are increasingly common menus that consist of a QR code; when you scan it with your phone, the menu comes up on your screen, and that’s how you order. It sucks big time, as Olen notes (and they’re no longer needed for covid prevention):

A physical menu sets the stage. It highlights the fact that this is a special occasion, even if it’s simply a quick bite at a local diner. The menu signifies that it’s time to take a break in a busy day, that this meal is something separate from the normal course of events. It also pushes us to interact with others. We share menus. We point to things; we ask the wait staff questions about the meal and what they particularly like. It’s like opening a program at a theater, for a show you and your companions are about to experience together.

Whipping out a phone to check the menu, on the other hand, is hardly conducive to setting a mood, unless you want to dine in the metaverse. Smartphones are endlessly distracting, and it takes discipline to put them away after checking a menu, a bit of self-control many can’t always muster. (Guilty.) It’s all too easy to rationalize checking just one email, sending just one tweet, taking just one glance at Instagram. (Guilty again.) We already spend almost five hours a day staring at our smartphone screens. Do we really need a prompt to spend even more time in our electronic silos?

. . . Yes, QR code menus have their defenders. I actually know a few of these benighted souls. Some of them are even my colleagues. They say QR code menus are healthier, and better for the environment. But let’s get real. Germy? If you’re that concerned, ask the restaurant management about paid sick leave policies for the staff, something that’s bound to be much more effective at cutting contagion. And no one who writes for a print newspaper has any business complaining about the waste of paper in printing a menu.

Look at the “likes” on this tweet!

This is a writer who knows how dining out is supposed to work: it’s an event! Ceiling Cat bless you, Ms. Olen!

*In the middle of last September, Jack the Cat, who’s staffed by the offspring of old friends, had a bad accident, falling off a third-floor porch and severely injuring his mandible and front paws. For a while we didn’t think he was going to make it, but thanks to the staff at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston and his own loving staff, he got fantastic care. I’m delighted to report that Jack is pretty much back to normal, walking without a limp and gallivanting about. (Go here to see the story of his original mishap and healing.)

Here he was right after the accident and the operations on his paw (the buttons are there to help fasten the wires in his jaw):

But look at him now!


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is offended, and now I am offended by Hili. But the insult to ducks is really an insult to something else. Malgorzata explains:

The name of the leader of the party ruling in Poland since 2015 (and take my word for it – it’s the worst government in the history of Poland) is Jarosław KACZyński. “Duck” in Polish is KACZKA. His name is  a derivative of it. All possible jokes about ducks are now circulating in Poland. This man is the remaining twin of the duo which we call “the horrible twins”, who have been a bane of Poland for decades. The other twin died in an air crash in 2010. He was then President of the country and the remaining twin was Prime Minister. So Hili is criticizing the horrible man who is the de facto ruler of Poland.

A: In Egypt they again found a whole lot of mummies of ancient cats.
Hili: And what were they supposed to mummify? Ducks?
In Polish:
Ja: W Egipcie znowu znaleźli mnóstwo mumii starożytnych kotów.
Hili: A co mieli mumifikować? Kaczki?
Yes, Hili, DUCKS!
And here’s Little Kulka on the windowsill:



From Tom:

From Debra, who says, “This is the guy that saved all those kittens on the road. I like how this kitten put his/hers hands up when faced with a shooter.”  Yes, it’s probably a Photoshop job, but I still like it.

From Stash Krod:

More later on this announcement from God. The data cited by Axios happen to be true:

From Simon: the “infinite monkeys” scenario:

A couple of days ago NYT staff writer Emily Bazelon produced a really good piece on “The battle over gender therapy,” detailing all the fighting about puberty blockers, “gender affirming therapy”, and so on. Because she didn’t hew absolutely to the trans-activist line, but actually gave arguments from both sides, the activists are ripping her apart (look at the comment below by the odious Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s chief lawyer for gender affairs. I suggest you read Bazelon’s long article for yourself.

The tweet is from Josh Szeps, who works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

From the Auschwitz Memorial. See the note (and link) above about this escape:


Tweets from the estimable Professor Cobb.

A quote from Rather’s piece:

Trump and his confederates — and I choose that word in full recognition of its historical meaning — sought to foment this chaos through the raw exploitation of power and intimidation to nullify Joe Biden’s victory. That a conservative of Judge Luttig’s stature would speak with such unequivocal force, and that it would be echoed by Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and the Republican staffers on the committee, makes clear that there is a delineation in what they are investigating that is based not on politics but on fidelity to the law and America’s democratic principles.

As the hearings paint a devastating picture of Trump’s plot, there is an emerging Republican talking point that this is all old news. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose ambition to be president is about as naked as a jaybird, called it “beating a dead horse.” It’s an approach that works both to minimize the coup attempt and suggest the Republican Party should move beyond Trump and embrace something new (as in him).

DeSantis’s self-serving protestations, and those of others like him, deliberately obscure the truth. Exposing an attempt to override elections and the will of the voters is not beating a dead horse, unless that horse is American democracy. Promoting the Big Lie as an excuse to nullify Democratic victories has become a mantra for large swaths of the Republican Party.

Read the thread below: what they found inside the building, preserved by the landslide, is stunning, especially the floor and frescoes:

Some of the interior:

The big news on those interested in sports and gender is below, but we’ll have more on it later today. This means that any transgender woman who has gone through any part of male puberty cannot swim against biological women in the Olympics, period. FINA sets the criteria for Olympic swimming and other international competition in water sports.

64 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. LOL, you are saying it’s better than a hot fudge sundae or a banana split? I am not alone in knowing that either of these, or almost any other flavor, is superior to a vanilla milkshake. At least put some fudge sauce in it!

      1. It really is about the quality of the vanilla, but such preferences are pretty subjective. Mine is to make the best vanilla ice cream I can, and just add a hint of freshly picked berries.
        When I see someone ask for well done steak, then put lots of sauce on it, I assume that they have not have much exposure to properly raised and cooked beef.
        On the other hand, you post often about wine, and I never really developed much of a palette for that. It can be embarrassing at times.

  1. Good for FINA! Although the usual suspects are describing the ruling as “forcing young trans kids to complete their transition before age 12.” It does no such thing: it would mean that puberty blockers have to start before 12, preventing the onset of puberty. Given that I doubt many eleven year olds are able to say they are going to be Olympic-level swimmers and thus must start their Lupron injections before their 12th birthday, I don’t foresee many people meeting this requirement (and never mind the irresponsibility of giving GRH antagonists to children!) The promise of an ‘open’ category of competition is the most hopeful thing I’ve heard for sorting out this mess in a way that is fair to all who wish to compete.

    1. This is a breakthrough. That uncompromising language should be adopted by all competitive sports, across the board, and especially where physical contact can cause injuries. Thank CCat for an organization with (ahem) courage.

  2. QR codes: as the resident codger in our family, I have never used one…do not know how and do not care to invest even a few pico seconds to learn. Do you need yet another app for this? They had the symbol on a table when we walked into my grand daughter’s high school honor society induction ceremony last week and if you wanted a program for the evening, you were directed to “scan the QR code” taped to the table at the entrance to the auditorium. There were no printed programs. Luckily my resident codgette who was with me is literate in all things digital, easily scanned the code with her iphone, which made a 4×2 inch or so image of the schedule of the evening’s festivities and inductees names available to squint at. She said that we could have shlepped an ipad to have a bigger image. You kids get off my grass!

    1. Remember the good old days of print technology and the ADA requirements, where stuff had to be legible? Now, fix it yourself— it’s on your computer.

      QR codes? Sure. Why stop now? Every store I shop has been working for years to removing those pesky (expensive) human employees.

      Have a question? If you’re lucky enough to find someone to ask, they’ll look it up. On the store’s website. Need to know a price? Scan it yourself.

      My new health care provider’s office has taken it further: find out what you were charged later. On their website. (From my last doctors appointment, verbatim)
      >“OK, what’s the charge for this office visit?”
      >“Receptionist: I don’t know. They send it out, and you’ll be billed.”

      She was stunned that I’d ask. If I have a problem, use the website. Which exists to jerk me around long to keep me from making contact with a live person who might be held responsible for figuring it out.

      Just like the cartoon.

      1. At my wife’s practice, there is no person in the building, even in the state, who has any direct access to billing information. People ask, perfectly reasonably, what things will cost, and she has to tell them that she has no idea.
        The front office still has about 10 desks, but there is now just one person out there. She checks them in. I guess if someone collapses in the waiting room, she can push an alarm or something.

    2. “Do you need yet another app for this?”

      Depends on your phone. On some phones the camera software already has the capability to read QR codes and interface with other systems that it has permission to do so (settings), so that it can do things like automatically take you to an internet site when you scan the QR code with your camera. Anytime the camera sees a QR code it recognizes it as such.

      However on some phones the camera software doesn’t have that capability and you do need to download an app.

      1. Thanks darrelle, but I think I will continue to rely on my wife for QR and if she be not with me, hope it is not a matter of life or death relying on the purchase….or perhaps recognize this as a method of thinning the old school herd.

        1. 🙂 Definitely not a necessity. Basically QR codes are just like clicking on a link with a mouse. And like clicking on a link with a mouse, “buyer beware.” You’re at risk for spam, and worse.

      2. I wonder how much schmutz it takes to make a QR code unreadable…because I’m tempted to carry a Sharpie around with me and make a “Z” or something similar on every gratuitous QR code I encounter.

        1. LOL

          About the only time I’ve used QR codes is for registering a new product for warranty purposes. That has been pretty convenient. The warranty card has a QR code printed on it and you can use it to go directly to the registration form at the manufacturer’s site, type in a few lines of info, upload a picture of the product, and you’re done.

          1. Some hardware devices have a QR code printed on an attached label. Unlike the menu ones, the URL contains an identifier unique to that physical unit. I find that very cool as it allows the maker to automate the entire customer experience and avoid the typing of some long and complicated code or iffy bluetooth setup procedure. QR codes are great but not for things like menus.

      3. On Android, Google has its Lens program which does QR codes and many other things like text recognition and translation. On my phone, as Darrelle suggests, the QR functionality is built into the camera app but I’m not sure if that makes the Lens program completely obsolete.

      1. I have not used QR codes either. I think my phone camera has the ability to read them, but it requires an internet connection and I have mobile data turned off. I do not understand the need to always have one’s phone connected to the internet. I use a prepaid sim card and only pay $10 every 3 months for service, so I only turn on mobile data for a minute or two if I really need it, and then I turn it off so I don’t get charged for apps connecting to the internet all day long. If I went into a restaurant, and they could not give me a paper menu, I would just leave.

        1. I know there are all kinds of crazy service provider contracts out there and I’ve never understood why anyone uses them. Since I first got a phone capable of internet (maybe 2010-2012 or so?) I’ve always had a cheap unlimited data plan. They were rare then, but these days they are common. My phone bill is $150 per month, no extras, no added charges, no data limit, and that’s for 5 phones / “lines” and includes Canada and Mexico as local calling areas.

          1. I’ve had really good experience with the Google Fi service. It switches between several different providers depending on what is more powerful. This even works internationally with no setup required. Data isn’t unlimited but I have a latest model phone and never worry about whether I’m connected to wifi or not and I end up paying around $30 per month. The only time I paid more than that was during a 2-week Euro trip when, if I remember correctly, I paid $70 for that month.

          2. I use an H2O Mobile sim card. It works on the AT&T network, so if there are no AT&T towers, I might not get service, but that is not common.. It is cheap and reliable, and meets all my needs for a phone and, as I mentioned, is only $10 for 3 months–$40 per year. The minutes roll over, so I now have a lot of time accumulated for calls/text/data. I last used the phone a couple of days ago to call our electric company when the power went out. When I need the internet, I can find free wi-fi almost everywhere. For international travel, I have a separate phone with an international sim card that works in almost all countries, at least all that I want to visit. Before the power outage, that last time I actually need to phone or text was a message to my daughter on May 28. So that is why I use a “crazy service provider.”

            1. Your phone “plan” wasn’t really what I had in mind. I was thinking of those plans with convoluted rules, all sorts of limits and conditions, a monthly bill you’d need a lawyer and a theoretical mathematician to figure out, and that could cost as much as $150 – $200 a month. Or much higher if one of your kids got ahold of your phone and played hours of online games. Those sorts of plans used to be the norm.

              Your plan is admirably economical, though the average user probably wouldn’t be able to limit themselves to the minutes you do.

  3. I don’t want seem niggling, but I think it’s a bit odd to copy the bullet points word-for-word from without any attribution. While there are links to Wikipedia throughout, it’s not obvious to the average reader that the bullet point text is copied. Please take this as constructive criticism. There are many Wikipedians who write and maintain those date-related pages.

  4. Yes, pick the “phone” up for one thing, end up with a cascade of other things. That happens over and over again. Example : this comment!

  5. I’ll not defend QR code menus since I find them annoying. But I do like the QR code payment option at the end of the meal when the check is delivered. It makes paying way less tiresome since you don’t have to wait for someone to wander by to get your credit card, take it off somewhere else to process, come back with a pen for you to sign.

    I’ve heard warnings about potential security issues with this sort of usage, but I doubt it is any worse than handing your credit card to a stranger who takes it to some back room for a while.

    1. Gosh I can’t remember the last time I signed a credit card chit with a pen. Probably the last time the uniformed Texaco gas station attendant filled my tank, checked my oil, cleaned my windshield, and inflated my tires, then brought back the manually imprinted charge slip on a little plastic easel smelling of grease and gas* for me to sign, with my credit card sticking up in a slot so I wouldn’t forget it. After signing it I’d rip my copy off the top and give the authentic literal carbon copy back to the attendant. With the pen.
      * Still two of my favourite fragrances ever, and I’m not even a car guy.

  6. I did not know that Dan Rather (along with co-author Elliot Kirschner) has a substack site. Thanks for introducing me to it. Here is the key sentence from the post in regard to the coup attempt: “As becomes more and more clear through a cascade of revelations, this was an organized attempt to destroy the United States as a nation based upon the rule of law and the principle that when we hold elections, we honor the results, no matter if our preferred candidate wins or loses.”

    This attempt was more insidious and dangerous than an external invasion. It is a reflection of a nation tearing itself apart because of fundamental differences in core values. Democracy would not be jeopardized over economic issues such as tax or healthcare policies or even over foreign policy. The crisis is caused by cultural values – those beliefs that shape and affirm a person’s identity, self-esteem and perceived value as a human being. One group is convinced that its core values are threatened by another and will do anything, including jettisoning democracy, to retain them. The other group (and its allies) have chosen this time to demand in no uncertain terms that it will wait no longer for a redress of grievances that have existed for centuries. Unlike economic issues, there is no willingness to compromise to resolve differences. This is not surprising – who would be willing to abandon beliefs that compose a person’s sense of value? Hence, I and no one else I have encountered have offered a workable resolution of the crisis. A mighty cataclysm with an unpredictable but disastrous result seems to be our future. I hope I turn out be wrong, but I don’t see an alternative.

    1. Maybe historian can help me out here on differences between the 1860’s and now. It seems that in the 1860’s slave states who wanted autonomy from the U.S. federal government (including rights to own and trade human beings), simply seceded from the U.S. rather than taking over the established mechanisms of government and U.S. wealth, looking to start their own separate independent nation. (Took their ball and went home). But the current efforts by the group that calls itself the republican party is to take control of all the current United States and subject all citizens of all states to their new Republican values and laws. The confederate states rebelled and left; today’s group is truly conducting a full revolution. I do not know what the intent of the CSA was regarding invading the remaining united states as it seems almost all of the CSA was playing defense on its own land….i think. But of course my social studies education such as it was, was provided by the Commonwealth of VA in segregated schools of the 1950’s & 60’s. Talk about your systemic racism!

      1. Jim, as you can imagine, historians have been arguing about the causes of the Civil War since the day it started, although almost all reputable historians agree that slavery was at the root of the national split. I expect that hundreds of years from now historians will be debating the root of today’s problems. Of course, they will have the benefit of knowing how things ended up. So, I will answer your questions in broad strokes with tentative and probably simplistic observations about today’s situation.

        The commonality between the 1850s and today is that the nation was divided between two groups with different cultural values. You’ll note that I take a cultural approach to understanding the origins of the Civil War and today’s problems. It would not be hard for you to find historians that have a much more economic focus. In any case, by the 1850s most white Southerners (but not all), whether they owned slaves or not, considered slavery as a bedrock component of their civilization, which they viewed as different and superior to that of the North. The white Southerners had come to view the North as a threat to their dominance of the national political institutions, which had been the case since the nation’s independence. Now, they realized that due to demographics that dominance was ending and the threat to slavery increasing. Secession was the route they chose to alleviate the threat to slavery. In the North during the 1850s and even earlier, opposition to the South and slavery had grown for several reasons: the view that the South was arrogant and a bully, the fear that the expansion of slavery represented a threat to free labor, and a moral awakening that slavery was an evil that could no longer be condoned. Opposition to slavery, for whatever reason, was quite compatible with being racist.

        So, then as today, there existed a great cultural divide among Americans. However, I see one major difference between then and now. By the 1850s, the division between pro and anti-slavery divisions were more or less defined by the states in which people lived. Most people in the northern free states were not enamored with slavery. In the southern slave states, most white people endorsed slavery to varying degrees. Today, it is not so easy to explain the cultural divide by geographic area. True, there are strong blue and red states, but within them there are strong minorities deeply and passionately opposed to the majority viewpoint. In other words, in contrast to the 1850s, the cultural divide is much more marbled. Hence, from my perspective, it is impossible to break the nation apart by geographic area as the South attempted to do by secession. This makes reconciliation within the nation much more difficult than the very partial result of the Civil War.

        1. As always, historian…very enlightening! (You had earlier recommended the excellent “Robert E. Lee and Me” book which, it turned out, our governor, Ralph Northam had also recently read in his atonement efforts; and I found Kate Masur’s “Until Justice Be Done – america’s first civil rights movement from the revolution to reconstruction” helpful in understanding the range of attitudes and laws within the states-both north and south, before the war.). Attitudes never changed after the war and that racism has continued to today to a large degree in the South. In “T he Warmth of Other Suns” we see that while laws have changed, many people have not even almost 100 years later. Again thanks!

        2. Today, it is not so easy to explain the cultural divide by geographic area. True, there are strong blue and red states, but within them there are strong minorities deeply and passionately opposed to the majority viewpoint.

          What we have is a series of blue islands — mainly large urban centers and major university towns — surrounded by a vast sea of lightly populated rural red America. The so-called “blue states” simply have more of these islands; the red states, fewer.

      2. I still remember, ca 1959 or 60, my 4th grade brother proudly informing the family at the dinner table, that the Civil War was NOT caused by slavery, but was an issue of “states’ rights.” My parents (from NY and PA) were temporarily speechless, and tried to give him an alternative view. But a year later, I remember I was reading our required VA history textbook, and there it was in black and white (so to speak). And of course we were tested on that very “fact.”

        Meanwhile, despite the various political “minorities,” the 2022 TX GOP platform (from which I can’t copy/paste) clearly declares (that Tx “retains the right to secede.” (Resolution # 65)

        1. In the very narrow view, your brother was right: it was state’s rights that was the trigger for the Civil War. But it was the specific right to allow slavery that was the real cause.

          1. Of course, but IIRC, there was also the emphasis that slavery per se was not a significant factor, the essential one being the attempted overreach by the Federal govt. over the States. And, perhaps not in the textbooks, I heard many “very fine people” assert that slaves were happy as such, and didn’t really want emancipation.

        2. The “states rights” argument can still be taught in schools today. A few years ago my youngest son in high school said that very thing when I asked him about the cause of the Civil War. This was taught to him in a history class! I showed him an article explaining the truth of the matter, and I think it worked.
          Although the term was used during the time, I believe the broadened view about states rights was a way of glossing over the history of the south after the Civil War. This went with viewing the Civil War as a romanticized “lost cause”. Along with that came the virtual beatification of general Lee, and very notably the virtual cancellation of Grant . Back then, Grant was arguably the most famous and admired man in the world. But now he is comparably forgotten.

    2. Something I never hear Trump supporters, Republicans, or others who downplay the significance of the Jan, 6th insurrection address is what would have happened in this nation on Jan. 7, 2021, if Mike Pence — the most obsequious VP in US history — had given the last full measure of his servility by capitulating to Trump’s hectoring that Pence go along with the scheme to accept the bogus “alternative” electors and declare Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential race.

      We’d have been on the brink of a civil war of sorts, I think.

      It’s possible that SCOTUS would have stepped in and resolved the issue. (I agree with Pence’s legal counsel, Greg Jacob, that IF the Court were to reach the merits of John Eastman’s cockamamie theory regarding the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Act Count Act of 1887, the Court would have ruled 9-0 against it — as even Eastman himself eventually conceded in his discussions with Jacob.) But it’s also possible that the Court, or at least its five most hard-right justices, would have decided that the electoral-college count was a nonjusticiable “Political Question” and let the bogus electoral-college count stand.

      That is how close we came to the complete subversion of US democracy.

      1. Ken, I think that Pence giving in to Trump’s hectoring would not even have been necessary, if he had been whisked away from the Capitol and would have come back only a day or so later, many Republicans would have accepted that several of the electors should be replaced by pro Trump ones. It is rumoured that many were already dithering.
        And Trump could have declared martial law in the mean time.
        In other words, I think the US came even closer than that close to the complete subversion of US democracy.

  7. I think the SU did sign the Geneva Convention, but Putin had this revoked a couple of year ago. From Reuters:

    The Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Convention was ratified by the Soviet Union’s Supreme Council, or parliament, in 1989.

    Putin’s letter, dated Oct. 16 and addressed to the speaker of lower house of parliament on the “recall of the statement made at the ratification”, said an international commission, set up in order to investigate war crimes against civilians, “has effectively failed to carry out its functions since 1991”.

  8. > No male who has experienced any part of male puberty is eligible for female categories.

    In other news, racial segregationists support the one-drop rule.

    Whether we support or oppose the policy, I think we can all agree that FINA and similar bodies will revisit the policy over and over again until we’re all sick of the question.

    1. I hope you don’t think those first two statements, the one you quote about puberty and yours about the one-drop rule, are in any way parallel scientifically or comparable logically. At best they make a clumsy political analogy.

      1. Leslie, you beat me to it, the comparison is neither here nor there.

        I think the easiest way out is to check for an SRY gene (overwhelmingly found on they Y chromosome) If SRY chromosome present: no competition in female competitions. Simple and fair -as far as fairness goes in life.

  9. I always check a few local stores for your featured wines Jerry, but unfortunately I couldn’t find today’s in any vintage anywhere near me.

    I did, however, find a bottle of the Vega Sicilia, mentioned in the review you quoted as “Spain’s greatest red wine,” that is available locally. It’s a Vega Sicilia Ribera Del Duero that James Suckling awarded a score of 99. I’ve never seen a 99 awarded to anything. I’d love to try it but at $539.99 a bottle that’s never going to happen.

  10. “Ex-Presidents are protected by the Secret Service until they die. If Trump goes to jail, will the Secret Service be there to protect him?”

    I don’t know but I like how you’re thinking.

  11. God is back! I was worried that the wretched atheists might have driven him away. It’s not easy to keep one’s faith when God misses a tweet. Harrowing stuff, but I pulled through.

    The article says a Gallup poll ‘found just 47% of Americans reported belonging to a house of worship, down from 50% in 2018’. That’s distressing news. The irony is that they keep talking about filling a ‘God-shaped hole’, which surely must be evidence that God exists. What idiots. No doubt they will fill it with their favourite woo to keep out reason forever.

    But conventional religion’s power is on the wane, and it might take a miracle for that to change.

    Very funny. Ha.

  12. My guess is the QR menus will go away sooner or later. They are a pain. I went to a fairly high end restaurant that had a QR menu. Unfortunately, they didn’t have their own wifi and my phone service was too weak to connect to the internet. They just brought me the usual physical menu. I suspect this happens a lot.

  13. So the telegraph was patented on this day in 1840 and the first telephone installed on this day, 37 years later. People must have thought it was wonderful when they no longer had to tap out a coded message but could pick up a telephone and speak to the person. Fast forward one and half centuries and we no longer have to pick up a telephone and speak to a person but can tap out short, coded messages instead.

    1. That’s fairly old news now. From what I heard, they over-stayed their permission. They were supposed to have left the building at a certain time but they ignored it. According to CBS:

      “Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed,” the Hollywood Reporter said. “After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.”

      1. From your article:
        “… *arrested* by the same group of police that ordered them to leave the building earlier in the day… They were charged with *unlawful entry of the Capitol*…”

        Not to worry. I think they’ll be fine. They’re anti-Trumpers.

        You know what’s *really* old news now?


          1. I wonder how many Jan6 protesters were arrested who were waived inside the Capitol by the police?
            Here’s another Capitol story that was news to me:

            Timothy Hysom, who used to work for Adam Schiff and is now chief of staff for Massachusetts Dem Rep. Jake Auchincloss, was caught by Capitol police defacing posters outside the Capitol offices and was referred by the police for criminal prosecution.

            But guess what?
            No prosecution!
            (The arrest warrant was denied by the same U.S. Attorney’s office which is pursuing the Jan6 “insurgents”.)

    2. According to Media Bias/Fact Check, the New York Post is not the best of sources:

      Factual Reporting: MIXED
      Country: USA (45/180 Press Freedom)
      Media Type: Newspaper
      Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic
      MBFC Credibility Rating: MEDIUM CREDIBILITY

      I also noted they do not give actual dates for the story: ‘Thursday’ was what date? A bit vague. We don’t know whether it was anyway near 1/6 (it could have been, but we don’t know). However, it is clear from the story they were in no way intent in overthrowing US democracy, contrary to the insurrectionists.
      What was your point again?

  14. I’m cracking up at a fine wine named “Pruno.”

    “Pruno” is slang for illicit alcohol made in prison by allowing fruit to ferment, usually in a plastic bag hidden in the toilet.

  15. Big fan of QR code menus here. Ok there’s a time and a place, there’s a whole theatre involved in fine dining, but if I’m just down the pub and can order my burger and chips and a pint without having to go to a busy bar that’s fantastic. I’m from UK, living in Australia, and get that perhaps the service component of a meal is bigger in the US, “have a nice day” and all that.

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