Greetings on Cat Shabbos: it’s Saturdy, July 30, 2022, the penultimate day of the month, and a fine holiday: National Cheesecake Day. Plain or with cherries are the only two rational choices. In my view, the best commercial ones come from Junior’s in NYC.
You can order the online, though they ain’t cheap, but they come perfectly packed in a cooler, on time, and can be frozen. My mom used to send me one on Thanksgiving, but she’s gone now, so very rarely I order one for myself.
I’m still sad because of the death of one of our juvenile mallards yesterday, so posting may be light today. I do my best.
Stuff that happened on July 30 include:
- 1419 – First Defenestration of Prague: A crowd of radical Hussites kill seven members of the Prague city council.
Here’s the New Town Hall, where the First (of three) defenestrations took place:
- 1619 – In Jamestown, Virginia, the first Colonial European representative assembly in the Americas, the Virginia General Assembly, convenes for the first time.
- 1859 – First ascent of Grand Combin, one of the highest summits in the Alps.
The Combin de Grafeneire is 4,314 m (14,154 ft) and was first climbed via the SW face. This is the view from the south:
- 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of the Crater: Union forces attempt to break Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia by exploding a large bomb under their trenches.
Here’s what the crater looked like in 1865. The explosion stunned and then killed many Confederate soldiers, but the Union botched it when their soldiers charged down into the crater, and then, because it was too deep, were picked off by the Confederates from above. The explosion was a good idea, but in the end the plan failed.
- 1930 – In Montevideo, Uruguay wins the first FIFA World Cup.
Here’s a short summary of the action in that match; Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2. Click “Watch on YouTube” to see a 3-minute video.
- 1932 – Premiere of Walt Disney‘s Flowers and Trees, the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first Academy Award winning cartoon short.
I love this cartoon; do have a look:
- 1956 – A joint resolution of the U.S. Congress is signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing In God We Trust as the U.S. national motto.
It replaced the previous national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” (“out of many, one”), which was a far better motto. Ike changed it because, during the Cold War, he wanted something to show that the U.S. was a god-fearing country.
- 1962 – The Trans-Canada Highway, the then longest national highway in the world, is officially opened.
There are several parallel roads now that can be called the “Trans-Canada Highway”, but the one most people refer to is the southern road on this map, terminating in Vancouver. I’d love to travel this road.
- 1966 – England defeats West Germany to win the 1966 FIFA World Cup at Wembley Stadium after extra time.
The final score: 4-2 favoring England. Here’s a short video of the championship game. As always, FIFA demands that you click “Watch on YouTube”. Note that the cup is presented by Queen Elizabeth:
- 1974 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon releases subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 1975 – Jimmy Hoffa disappears from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, at about 2:30 p.m. He is never seen or heard from again.
Nobody knows what happened to Hoffa, and nobody’s ever been charged. Here’s a speculative scene from “The Irishman” in which Frank Sheeran, Hoffa’s friend, has to kill him on orders of the mob. Nobody doubts that Hoffa was somehow “disposed of” by the mob, but this scene appears to be largely fictional.
Hoffa is played by Al Pacino, Sheeran (the Irishman) by Robert deNiro:
Here’s an interview with the real Hoffa, who was head of the Teamsters Union and had close connections with the mob. Hoffa disappeared at age 62.
*Nellie Bowles has her usual and eminently readable summary of the week’s news: “TGIF: Debunked! Edition“, a Friday feature on Bari Weiss’s Substack column. Here are three of Bowles’s takes:
→ Washington Post with a smart idea: “How to stop gun violence? End poverty and racism.” That’s a real headline this week.
→ England closes its pediatric gender clinic: In another win against terrible science: the Tavistock Centre, England’s top gender-transition clinic for children, is closing. This is the result of long, hard campaigning by people who risked (and sometimes lost) their jobs, their privacy, and their reputations. The closure is thanks in part to a damning report that found that children coming in with gender dysphoria were fast-tracked to medical interventions. The clinic saw a surge in young women and autistic children coming in expressing gender dysphoria. Clinicians were scared to push for a more restrained approach.
A lot of harm was done to children at that clinic, and it’s a very positive sign that it’s finally closing. This same week, Allison Bailey, an English barrister, won 22,000 pounds in her discrimination case against her former employer after the tribunal agreed she had indeed been punished by her workplace for being skeptical of the new gender politics.
Meanwhile America is going full-steam ahead with medically transitioning children. How could drug companies pass up this opportunity to have such a large and life-long new market of customers? And talking about it is getting harder and harder here. The Associated Press this week released an updated stylebook recommending reporters no longer use the phrase “biological male” or “biological female,” nor differentiate a trans woman from a natal woman in any way. As the stylebook says, it’s all just for clarity: “Phrasing like is a woman is more to the point than identifies as a woman.”
*WaPo reports suspiciously missing text messages from the phones of Trump’s two top Homeland Security advisers, all around January 6 of last year. The excuse is that the official government phones were “reset”, but there’s no explanation for why the records weren’t preserved—as they should be:
It comes as both congressional and criminal investigators at the Justice Department seek to piece together an effort by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the election, which culminated in a pro-Trump rally that became a violent riot in the halls of Congress.
The Department of Homeland Security notified the agency’s inspector general in late February that Wolf’s and Cuccinelli’s texts were lost in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021 in preparation for the new Biden administration, according to an internal record obtained by the Project on Government Oversight and shared with The Washington Post.
The office of the department’s undersecretary of management also told the government watchdog that the text messages for its boss, Undersecretary Randolph “Tex” Alles, the former Secret Service director, were also no longer available due to a previously planned phone reset.
The Office of Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari did not press the department leadership at that time to explain why they did not preserve these records, nor seek ways to recover the lost data, according to the four people briefed on the watchdog’s actions. Cuffari also failed to alert Congress to the potential destruction of government records.
And, as you recall, the texts of Secret Service agents who were privy to the Jan. 6 shenanigans are also missing, and may not be recoverable. “Reset” my tuchas! These are government phones and the data are the property of the government–and in this case of historical and legal value.
*There’s been an ongoing kerfuffle between the Dutch and Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, who’s having the world’s most expensive sailing yacht ($500 million) built for him in Rotterdam. To get the damn thing, with its tall mast, through the canal from shipyard to the sea, Bezos’s people asked the Dutch to remove the middle span from an unused railroad bridge, saying that they’d pay the cost of removal and replacement.
In sum, the operation would have been fast, free and disrupted nothing. So why the fuss?
“There’s a principle at stake,” said Mr. Lewis, a tall, bearded 37-year-old who was leaning against his bike and toggling during an interview between wry humor and indignation. He then framed the principle with a series of questions. “What can you buy if you have unlimited cash? Can you bend every rule? Can you take apart monuments?”
In late June, the city’s vice mayor reported that Oceanco had withdrawn its request to dismantle the Hef, a retreat that was portrayed as a victory of the masses over a billionaire, though it was much more than that. It was an opportunity to see Dutch and American values in a fiery, head-on collision. The more you know about the Netherlands — with its preference for modesty over extravagance, for the community over the individual, for fitting in rather than standing out — the more it seems as though this kerfuffle was scripted by someone whose goal was to drive people here out of their minds.
That request was a no-go for the Dutch, who resent Bezos’s wealth earned on the back of poorly paid Amazon workers.
. . . “The Dutch like to say, ‘Acting normal is crazy enough,’” said Ellen Verkoelen, a City Council member and Rotterdam leader of the 50Plus Party, which works on behalf of pensioners. “And we think that rich people are not acting normal. Here in Holland, we don’t believe that everybody can be rich the way people do in America, where the sky is the limit. We think ‘Be average.’ That’s good enough.”
. . .Building the earth’s biggest sailing yacht and taking apart a city’s beloved landmark? That’s the devil’s all-you-can-eat buffet.
The streak of austerity in Dutch culture can be traced to Calvinism, say residents, the most popular religious branch of Protestantism here for hundreds of years. It emphasizes virtues like self-discipline, frugality and conscientiousness. Polls suggest that most people in the Netherlands today are not churchgoers, but the norms are embedded, as evidenced by Dutch attitudes toward wealth.
What will happen to Bezos’s Big Boat? We don’t know:
It’s unclear how the yacht, now known as Y721, will be completed. In February, the City Council’s municipality liaison, Marcel Walravens, was quoted in the media saying that it was impractical to float the mast-less yacht to another location and finish it there.
Here’s the bridge, the “Hef,” whose middle span Bezos wanted temporarily removed.
*The Washington Post has a ranked list of Democratic candidates for President in 2024 if Biden doesn’t run: “Let’s say Biden isn’t the nominee. Here’s who runs—and wins.”
This week, each columnist on the Ranking Committee voted for the politicians they thought most likely to win the Democratic nomination. I tallied the votes to find the nine likeliest nominees. Then the columnists peppered the resulting list with their commentary.
Mind you, our rankers ruled not one month ago that Biden probably will run. But why should that stop a pundit from having a little fun? Read on!
These are the ones deemed most likely to run if Joe doesn’t, and the most likely are the ones at the top. The columnists comment on each one, but I have room only for Harris (Below). But AOC? No way!
- Vice President Harris
- Pete Buttigieg
- Gov. Gavin Newsom (Calif.)
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Mich.)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.)
- Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.)
- Sen. Cory Booker* (N.J.)
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
- The others
One opinion on Harris (there are three):
The best argument for Biden to run again is that Harris will be the likely Democratic nominee if he doesn’t. Even if her lame-duck boss didn’t endorse her, the nomination would be Harris’s to lose, assuming she could lock down Black support. But Harris has shown herself more than capable of blowing it: Her 2020 bid was a debacle, she churns through staff faster and harder than anyone in politics, she speaks in word salad, and she’s failed at most of the tasks she’s been assigned as vice president. — James Hohmann
Early in the Democratic primary for 2020, I considered Harris to be Donald Trump’s toughest potential opponent. But her impressive performances in early debates and at Judiciary Committee hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominees were apparently due to effective coaching by a solid staff. Since becoming vice president, Harris’s lack of gravitas and slapdash preparation have become painfully obvious. Her current office gives her an entree into the presidential discussion, but the conversation won’t last long. — Gary Abernathy
My current fave is Mayor Pete, and a lot of the columnists like him, putting Harris as #1 only because she’s the VP:
Nobody is smarter, nobody is better in a debate. The deficiencies that hampered Buttigieg in 2020 — he was so young, he had never run anything bigger than a small Midwestern city — are taken care of. And he is a member of a persecuted minority who can inspire the base but who also has the Obama-like ability to come across to the majority as non-angry and nonthreatening. — Eugene Robinson
*Do you want to see a column by someone who has nothing to say? This phoned in piece of self-help baloney is by David Brooks, titled “How to find out who you are?” The lame answer is that we’re all a palimpsest of people we tried to copy, and then out of those influences miraculously emerges a “self”. (Brooks compares this to the Beatles, who began copying blues and miraculously developed their own voice.) What Brooks neglects is to discuss how one’s “own voice” develops.
Gradually, out of these interactions a self emerges. This is the hardest phase. You can pile up myriad influences. You can pile up performances. But eventually it all has to cohere into a distinct way of perceiving the world, a distinct way of expressing yourself in the world.
Now that’s wisdom!
*In view of yesterday being International Tiger Day, Greg asked me to convey this good news from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN):
Happy International Tiger Day!
We are very excited to announce that there has been a 40% increase of tigers in the wild according to the latest IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM assessment.
As many of you might know, IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) contributes to a worldwide effort that aims to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022. In fact, ITHCP was created in response to the Global Tiger Summit in 2010, where this ambitious goal was set.
While tigers remain Endangered on the IUCN Red List, this upward trend indicates that projects such as the ITHCP are successful, and species recovery is possible as long as conservation efforts continue.
And a photo of a melanistic tiger sent by Matthew in honor of yesterday. Look how dark it is!
Tigers are symbol of sustainability of India’s forests…
Sharing an interesting clip of a rare melanistic tiger marking its territory on international Tigers day.
From a Tiger Reserve poised for recovery of an isolated source population with a very unique gene pool. Kudos🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/FiCIuO8Qj4
— Susanta Nanda IFS (@susantananda3) July 29, 2022
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej talk seriously. Malgorzata explains:
There is so much talk now about people’s “identity”, “feeling as…”, etc. that it reminded Hili about Marxist idea of false class consciousness (very, very popular at the time). Andrzej answers that now it’s more egalitarian, meaning that it can be about any member of any minority who does not support the far-Left’s ideas of what his/her opinion should be.
Hili: Once upon a time people had false class consciousness.A: And now false consciousness is more egalitarian.
Hili: Ludzie dawniej mieli fałszywą świadomość klasową.Ja: Teraz fałszywa świadomość jest bardziej egalitarna.
From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy on FB:
A protective kitty from Jesus of the Day:
The Tweet of God:
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish, he'll contribute to the global overdepletion of the ocean.
So give him a salad, maybe.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) July 29, 2022
One I found:
— why you should have a duck 🦆 (@shouldhaveaduck) July 28, 2022
Two from Simon. First, a blooper:
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss accidently swears in front of Elmo in a 1994 "Sesame Street" blooper pic.twitter.com/QE1tgRS1ib
— History Evolution (@old5choolcool) July 27, 2022
And tips for academics from Oded Rechavi:
Work life balance pic.twitter.com/A0yxpUnuhT
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) July 29, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a priest who lasted six weeks:
30 July 1875 | Wojciech (Anicet) Kopliński was born. A Polish monk of German origin, a Capuchin called 'almsgiver of Warsaw’. During the war he was involved in helping Jews.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 30, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First, Freya is still sinking boats in Norway. They have to get her back to Svalbard!
Walruses like Freya are " like potato sacks on a floating device, but like acrobats in water," one scientist says. https://t.co/P1g7x1wcoa
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 29, 2022
Two gals out on the town:
— #WOMENSART (@womensart1) July 29, 2022
A 4,500 year old boat:
This logboat was carved, using stone axes and fire, from a giant oak trunk around 4,500 years ago. It measures over 14 m long by 1 m wide. The so-called Lurgan canoe was discovered in 1901, in a Co. Galway bog in Ireland. https://t.co/PDOX3JGpcc pic.twitter.com/6z4ervOA6F
— Ticia Verveer (@ticiaverveer) July 26, 2022
I wonder if this artist ever saw a walrus?
Figure d’un Elephant de Mer, i.e. walrus, 1582, Ambroise Paré, 'Named the Sea Elephant it is bigger than the Elephant: it lives in the water, & on the earth, & has two teeth similar to those of an Elephant' #seafever 203/365 ⚓️🐘⚓️🐘⚓️🐘https://t.co/URWgkXE4k9 pic.twitter.com/FmRPn0VVU7
— Claire Jowitt (@clairejowitt) July 24, 2022