Good morning at the week’s end—actually the beginning, but we can pretend. It’s Sunday, July 17, 2022: National Peach Ice-Cream Day, though I’m not sure why they put a hyphen in “Ice-Cream”. It’s also National Ice Cream Day (period), National Tattoo Day, World Day for International Justice, World Emoji Day, and International Firgun Day. What is “Firgun”? Wikipedia explains:
Firgun (Hebrew: פירגון) is an informal modern Hebrew term and concept in Israeli culture, which compliments someone or describes genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other person. Another definition describes firgun as a generosity of spirit, an unselfish, empathetic joy that something good has happened, or might happen, to another person. The concept does not have a one-word equivalent in English.
Today is the day when you’re supposed to “share compliments or express genuine pride in the accomplishment of others on social media.” Well, that is very rare, but here is a tweet I’ve issued extolling Dr. Cobb as my firgun for today. You should do it too: pick someone and call attention to your pride in them. I appoint all readers Honorary Jews® for today.
.@matthewcobb Today's Firgun Day, a day for expressing pride in the accomplishments of others (that's what "Fergun" means in Hebrew). So here's kudos for Matthew Cobb, biologist, friend, awesome scientist and lecturer, and writer on biology and history. I am proud to be his pal.
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) July 17, 2022
Stuff that happened on July 17 includes:
- 1203 – The Fourth Crusade assaults Constantinople. The Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos flees from his capital into exile.
- 1717 – King George I of Great Britain sails down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians, where George Frideric Handel‘s Water Music is premiered.
Here’s a group I love, the English Concert (I’m not sure if it still exists), performing the overture of Handel’s great composition, written at the request of the King.
- 1821 – The Kingdom of Spain cedes the territory of Florida to the United States.
- 1850 – Vega became the first star (other than the Sun) to be photographed.
Here’s that first photo of Vega as it appears on the website Secrets of the Universe, some info, and then the telescope that was used:
The first photo of Vega was also taken using this technique. The exposure time was 20 minutes. So on July 17, 1850, William Bond and John Adams Whipple imaged Vega. John Adams Whipple was a photographer and American inventor, completely unrelated to astronomy, and William Bond was the first director of the Harvard Observatory. The telescope in the picture is a 15-inch (38 cm) refractor.
- 1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.
Actually, he created the schematic drawings for one on this day, which I suppose is “creation.” Here’s Carrier with an early air conditioner, and of course his company is still the name in air conditioners:
- 1918 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are executed by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Once again, here is a video of the execution and its precursors, which I show because it was such a horrible event. Don’t watch it if you don’t want to see slaughter.
- 1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the “wrong way” to Ireland and becomes known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.
Corrigan wasn’t authorized to fly across the Atlantic, filed a flight plan to go to California, and then went to Ireland, later admitting it was a deliberate ruse. He made it! Here he is, along with a backwards headline from the New York Post on August 5, when he returned to the U.S., bringing his plane back by ship (third photo)
- 1945 – World War II: The main three leaders of the Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
Here are the Big Three. By this time Roosevelt had died of a cerebral hemorrhage and Truman had taken over as President.
- 1955 – Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.
Here’s a short video of the opening ceremony. Note that Mickey was still neotenic in those days.
- 1976 – The opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal is marred by 25 African teams boycotting the games because of New Zealand’s participation. Contrary to rulings by other international sports organizations, the IOC had declined to exclude New Zealand because of their participation in South African sporting events during apartheid
- 1984 – The national drinking age in the United States was changed from 18 to 21.
- 1989 – First flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
Here’s a video about this amazing plane:
*Joe Manchin’s repeated toying with the Democratic party and the leaders of the Senate has left Biden mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it any more. After scuttling Biden’s climate and “build back better agenda”, Manchin has been cast into perdition. That is, Biden’s given up on trying to compromise to secure Manchin the Third’s vote.
Rather than engage in another round of will-he-or-won’t-he negotiations with Mr. Manchin, Mr. Biden let it be known that he was done trying to secure his climate agenda in Congress.
Mr. Manchin’s abrupt withdrawal left Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, jilted after months of courting a colleague whose demands and red lines seemed to shift by the day, or the latest economic projection. And it prodded many Democrats into open revolt against Mr. Manchin, blaming him for the demise of their ambitions and the last chance for their party to tackle the existential threat of climate change.
Mr. Manchin, said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “has shown that he doesn’t know how to close a deal — or he doesn’t want to close a deal — and that you can’t trust him.”
For more than a year, Mr. Manchin, who at 74 is serving his third term in the Senate, has been situated exactly where he prefers to be: at the center of a high-stakes political and policy negotiation, with attention and speculation focused on him.
*Leah Stokes, a political science professor at UC Santa Barbara, savages Manchin in an NYT op-ed column called “What Joe Manchin cost us.” What he cost us, she says, is no less than the chance to reverse anthropogenic climate change. In fact, she accuses him of “torching the climate”.
Since early 2021, congressional Democrats and President Biden have worked relentlessly to negotiate a climate policy package. When Build Back Better passed the House last fall, it included $555 billion in clean energy and climate investments. After four decades of gridlock in Congress, the Democrats were poised to finally pass a major climate bill, with agreement from 49 senators. But yesterday, one man torched the deal, and with it the climate: Mr. Manchin.
By stringing his colleagues along, Mr. Manchin didn’t just waste legislators’ time. He also delayed crucial regulations that would cut carbon pollution. Wary of upsetting the delicate negotiations, the Biden administration has held back on using the full force of its executive authority on climate over the past 18 months, likely in hopes of securing legislation first.
The stakes of delay could not be higher. Last summer, while the climate negotiations dragged on, record-breaking heat waves killed hundreds of Americans. Hurricanes, wildfires and floods pummeled the country from coast to coast. Over the last 10 years, the largest climate and weather disasters have cost Americans more than a trillion dollars — far more than the Democrats had hoped to spend to stop the climate crisis. With each year we delay, the climate impacts keep growing. We do not have another month, let alone another year or decade, to wait for Mr. Manchin to negotiate in good faith.
I wonder if historians of the future, all living in Canada and Patagonia since everything else is burned up or inundated, will see Manchin as the linchpin of a movement that stopped the climate-change movement cold.
*Speaking of the New York Times, it’s just started new weekend opinion section called “Sunday Opinion.” Nothing much has changed in terms of the regular Sunday op-ed writers, but there are new features as well, as Opinion Editor Kathleen Kingsbury describes:
Sunday Opinion also has several new regular features that we hope will make the section even more surprising and enlightening. Each of them has been conceived with an eye toward Opinion’s goal of creating a platform for ideas and conversation, where people from all backgrounds can see themselves meaningfully represented while encountering opinions that may complicate their thinking.
That sounds both woke and anti-woke. We shall see. “Complicate their thinking”, though, is lame. “Challenge their thinking would be more straightforward.” She goes on:
Twice a month, the section will present our America in Focus series, in which Times editors ask groups of Americans to share their views on life, society, politics and more. The series has already convened independent voters on the direction of the country, parents on what they want their kids to learn in school about race and racism, and millennials on work and the Great Resignation, among others, and I’m excited to see where it goes as we head into the U.S. midterm election season. This week we gathered 10 pro-abortion-rights Americans and 12 anti-abortion Americans and asked them about pregnancy, abortion and the decision that overturned Roe.
That’s long-form Twitter.
Once a month, the back page of the section will be devoted to a longer piece of first-person writing. Along with Opinion’s newest podcast, “First Person,” this signals our commitment to going beyond broad trends and demographics to explore how people’s opinions and ideas are shaped by their individual experiences. The essays will be grouped in limited-run series, and first up is Fortunes, a series on the psychology of class. (You can read more about it in this note from our Sunday Opinion editor, Rachel Poser.)
Rounding out our roster of new features are Witness (portraits of people whose lives have intersected with national events) and Footnotes (recommendations of things to read, listen to and watch that provide context for the news of the week). .
*Reader Ken has some news for us:
The public library in rural Vinton, Iowa, which opened in 1904. was driven to shutter its doors on July 8th after right-wing activists whipped up controversy over its display of books about prominent Democrats and LGBTQ subjects and its having LGBTQ folks on staff.
The Left is not the only censorious ideology—far from it.
*If you want to get slightly ill, Andrew Sullivan has put his toe back in Republican territory with his Friday column, “The DeSantis dilemma,” devoted to arguing that electing Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis is the only way to prevent Trump from being reelected. His thesis is that the Democrats have no viable candidates, including Biden, and so DeSantis, who according to Sullivan has many admirable qualities (he’s a “family man”, for example), is supposedly the sensible Republican who keeps Trump out of the White House:
The Democrats, meanwhile, appear to have run out of fake “moderate” candidates, are doubling down on every woke mantra, presiding over levels of inflation that are devastating real incomes, launching a protracted war that may tip us into stagflation, and opening the borders to millions more illegal immigrants. They are hemorrhaging Latino support, and intensifying their identity as upper-class white woke scolds. And a Biden campaign in 2024 would be, let’s be honest, “Weekend At Bernie’s II.”
So get real: If you really believe that Trump remains a unique threat to constitutional democracy in America, you need to consider the possibility that, at this point, a Republican is probably your best bet.
One stands out, and it’s Ron DeSantis, the popular governor of Florida.
Granted, Sullivan recognizes that some of DeSantis’s policies are odious, but he’s the best of a bad lot:
. . . I’m deeply uncomfortable with much of this.
But how different is it really from the Biden administration rigging Title IX to impose trans ideology and end due process for the accused in schools and colleges? Or from the federal government mandating active race and sex discrimination for the sake of “equity”? Or trying to ban any mental health therapy for gender-dysphoric kids that doesn’t instantly affirm the self-proclaimed gender of a child? Or proposing vaccine distribution by race? Or imposing mask mandates and lockdowns with a fervor that lasted far beyond the need to control the first and second waves — and that were instantly and conveniently waived when BLM arrived on the scene?
As a registered Democrat, I will not be voting in any Repubican primaries, so I don’t have a say in whether DeSantis will get the GOP nod as Presidential candidate. But if he does, I don’t think I could bear to vote for him in the final election. For chrissake, Mayor Pete or Amy Klobuchar are much better, and we should vote for the candidate we most want, not one that can keep Donald Trump from regaining the White House. But perhaps readers disagree with me. Maybe we should vote tactically rather than ideologically.
*From Inside Higher Ed, which is somewhat paywalled, we have this report about “streamlined” (i.e., hidden) reporting of data.
The College Board will no longer make public data on race and the scores of those who take Advanced Placement exams.
The change was first noted by Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost for enrollment management at Oregon State University, who wrote on Twitter that the change was “the most 1984-esque example of College Board-speak I’ve seen in a while” because the College Board says “withholding data is now called ‘streamlined reporting.’”
Jaslee Carayol, director of communications at the College Board, said the data are available to some. “AP provides demographic data to schools, districts, and state departments of education. Schools and districts have already received their AP data for the 2022 AP Exam Administration and, later this month, AP data will be delivered to state departments of education. Researchers who would like access to AP data can make requests via online form,” she said.
The data from 2018 show that Asian students excelled on the exams in biology, calculus (advanced), computer science, English language and composition, and U.S. history.
As the tweet below indicates, the data used to be public, but are now hidden except from those who want to use them to practice differential admissions.
College board will no longer report AP test scores by race, so nobody on Twitter can see, but will make the data available for government bureaucrats so they can practice affirmative action. They also scrubbed historical data. https://t.co/M2bTa40gCI pic.twitter.com/sU7Z89heHW
— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) July 16, 2022
*Finally, I just saw this ad for a pain-relieving patch on the NBC Evening News. It is SO phony that it makes me wonder what the ad guys were thinking. Three doctors are having lunch in the hospital in their spotless white lab coats (their food in undentifiable, but is undoubtedly healthy and in small portions), and they have a conversation about pain relief. And one of them just happens to have a box of Salonpas patches with him to show the others. Which one of the “licensed medical doctors” put the Salonpas box on the table? And the conversation is so stilted! Why even pretend this is a spontaneous discussion? Get off of my lawn!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili objects to having her picture taken if Kukla’s in it
Hili: You will have to trim this picture.A: Why?Hili: There is a superfluous detail
Hili: To zdjęcie będziesz musiał przyciąć.Ja: Dlaczego?Hili: Tam jest jakiś zbędny szczegół.
From Merilee: Animals, mostly corvids) messing with other animals (source: Quora)
A classic from Gary Larson’s The Far Side. But did he have to make a cat part of the formula for creationism?
From Merilee; the artist is in the header:
The Tweet of God:
There is no future.
There is no past.
There is only now.
And there it goes.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) July 16, 2022
Titiania’s started tweeting again:
Lia Thomas has been nominated for Woman of the Year! 👏👏👊
If all women were more like Lia, the patriarchy would be finished. https://t.co/d8NRJe6FV1
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) July 16, 2022
A tweet sent by reader Andrée. Damn cats have been a nuisance for over 5 centuries. Or, I could say, “Cats will be cats, and thus it has ever been.”
inky pawprints left by a medieval cat on a 15th-century manuscript from dubrovnik, croatia pic.twitter.com/05Vawun7Cc
— weird medieval guys (@WeirdMedieval) July 14, 2022
From Barry, who says, “Emmanuel won’t listen!”
Holy crap this is wonderful pic.twitter.com/kSUiQd0XQP
— David (@p4ndr_) July 15, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: Renée Kipf was 13 when she went to Auschwitz, the same age as Anne Frank when Frank got the book that became her diary (it was a 13th birthday gift).
17 July 1929 | A French Jewish girl, Renée Kopf, was born in Paris.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 17, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. His comment on the first tweeter:
Thomas is a comedian, with an interest in evolutionary biology (which he doesn’t really get ). But this is good
— Bill Buffinburger (@MrSplendiferous) July 15, 2022
Amanda’s an evolutionary biologist, and I know her. Hi, Amanda!
So many convenient uses… pic.twitter.com/iUn58Qm6LI
— Dr Amanda Moehring (@FlyBehaviour) July 15, 2022
This is a most excellent tweet, though I might have posted it yesterday (I can’t be arsed to look):
Everyone keeps their own score in war. pic.twitter.com/dmxoYQuPU4
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) July 15, 2022
No, she’s not a literal angel because angels don’t exist. She is a caring and wonderful human being—a metaphorical angel, if you will.
this girl is a literal angel. she cleans the extremely dirty and trash filled homes of people who struggle to do so themselves, all for free and doesn’t judge them at all. incredible pic.twitter.com/ARJX12L6po
— 🍒isoceles kramer🍒 (@plsleaveamsg_) July 14, 2022