Thursday: Hili dialogue

August 4, 2022 • 6:30 am

How the week has flown (not!): it’s Thursday, August 4, 2022: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Can you believe it? Some people put RAISINS in them, too!  Protip: cookies aren’t medicine! If you want health, ditch the cookies and have a bowl of granola.

The Nestle’s Toll House® version is still one of the best, but be sure to eat them warm, and abjure all hard chocolate chip cookies.

My dad used to ask me, “Jerry, can you imagine a face that you’ve never seen before?” I couldn’t do it, though computer programs can create them now. But imagine all the foods that could exist but don’t. Without evolution (and artificial selection), we might not have chocolate, bananas, and—Ceiling Cat forbid—coffee. Now there are equally good foods you can imagine, but they don’t exist. Try to imagine some! I bet you can’t. Somewhere out there in the realm of the imaginary, there’s some morning drink better than coffee.

It’s also National White Wine Day, Assistance Dog DayCoast Guard Day, and, in Illinois, Barack Obama Day, celebrating his birthday in 1961.  But there is no closing of schools or state offices here.

And Matthew has a mild case of Covid. He says he’s locked in his daughter’s room (she’s gone), watching television, drinking fluids and eating popsicles, and he doesn’t feel too bad. He tweeted it:


Photo taken on my way to work this morning. Shadow of a wastebasket on the sidewalk. I’ve made it black and white:

Stuff that happened on August 4 includes:

  • 1693 – Date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon‘s invention of champagne; it is not clear whether he actually invented champagne, however he has been credited as an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine.

The statement above is true, though Wikipedia notes that the friar tried to prevent refermentation, which is what gives champagne its sparkle. Here’s his grave, with the caption, “Dom Pérignon is buried in the church of Hautvillers, région Champagne.” Others made important innovations, like adding a bit of sugar to induce a second fermentation and creation of the sturdy corks. I have no idea where the August 4 date comes from. 

  • 1873 – American Indian Wars: While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, the United States 7th Cavalry, under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer clashes for the first time with the Cheyenne and Lakota people near the Tongue River; only one man on each side is killed.

Custer was killed by the Cheyenne in the famous Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876; here’s a photo of him from the previous year:

  • 1892 – The father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden are found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. She was tried and acquitted for the crimes a year later.
  • 1914 – World War I: In response to the German invasion of Belgium, Belgium and the British Empire declare war on Germany. The United States declares its neutrality.
  • 1944 – The Holocaust: A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find and arrest Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.

I’m reading this book now, and it’s a page-turner. The object was to determine who betrayed to the German occupiers the Frank family and others hiding in the Annex. I’m only halfway through so I don’t know the conclusion, but the amount of work it took by dozens of people to examine all the data is mind-boggling. Recommended (click to see Amazon link):

Here’s a diagram of the “secret annex” (right) behind Otto Frank’s former pectic factory, sold to non-Jews by law. It’s amazing that the occupants lived here for over two years without being detected, especially because the annex was visible from several other houses nearby. A rolling bookcase (I put an arrow by it) hid the entrance to the annex:

Here are their bodies (warning: dead people); they were pinpointed by an informant, who happened to be a Highway Patrolman from Mississippi. They were killed by the Klan and seven men were convicted, but none served more than six years. Another man was convicted in 2005, 41 years after the crime, and died in prison.

One of the great travesties in Nobel Prize history is that Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho (below) were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam. Le Duc Tho turned down his prize—the only person in history to reject the Peace Prize:

  • 1977 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs legislation creating the United States Department of Energy.
  • 2019 – Nine people are killed and 26 injured in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This comes only 12 hours after another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where 23 people were killed.
  • 2020 – At least 220 people are killed and over 5,000 are wounded when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate explodes in Beirut, Lebanon.

Remember this, which was two years ago? (It doesn’t seem that long.)Here’s a news report showing the explosion, which was massive. Nobody knows what caused it, though consensus suggests it was an accident:

Da Nooz:

*Yay for Kansas! In a vote that might have gone the other way, but came out strongly for the pro-choice side, the voters of Kansas strongly rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have restricted abortion rights. Kansas is a resolutely conservative state, especially in the rural areas, yet the drive to amend the constitution failed miserably.

The question presented to voters here was whether abortion protections should be stripped from the state constitution. A “yes” vote would allow Kansas’s Republican-led legislature to pass future limits on abortion — or ban it altogether — in its coming session in January. A “no” vote would leave those protections in place.

With 90 percent of the vote counted, 60 percent of voters wanted to maintain those abortion protections compared with 40 percent who wanted to remove them from the state constitution. Turnout for Tuesday’s primary election far exceeded other contests in recent years, with around 900,000 Kansans voting, according to an Associated Press estimate. That is nearly twice as many as the 473,438 who turned out in the 2018 primary election.

Kansans voted to protect abortion rights during their Aug. 2 primary. Those results could be a sign of what’s to come for more states in the 2022 midterms. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Abortion rights advocates pointed to their resounding win here as evidence that Americans are angry about the efforts to roll back women’s rights.

It’s always upset me that even in red states, most voters favored leaving Roe alone,  but legislators always manage to ban abortion. Here’s to Kansas, and let’s hope other states follow its lead.

*The U.S. Senate voted 95-1 to approve the applications of Finland and Sweden to join NATO.  Who was the holdout? Guess (my emphasis).

The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve a treaty that would expand NATO to include Finland and Sweden, with Republicans and Democrats linking arms for one of the most significant expansions of the alliance in decades in the face of Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine.

The ambassadors of Finland and Sweden were on hand in the Senate gallery to watch as senators voted 95-1. Only Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, voted no.

*The NYT has a fascinating article about “How the C.I.A. tracked the leader of Al Qaeda“.  We simply have no idea what intelligence agencies can do (remember Mossad assassinating a top Iranian nuclear scientist with a remote controlled machine gun, with no human around?). How did the C.I.A. find Ayman al-Zahwahri?

It’s a long story. First they found that his family, as they guessed, would move back to Kabul, and found the “safe house” (owned by a Taliban official) using a network of informants that had been built up.

It is not clear why Al-Zawahri moved back to Afghanistan. He had long made recruiting and promotional videos, and it may have been easier to produce them in Kabul. He also may have had better access to medical treatment.

No matter what the reason, his ties to leaders of the Haqqani network led U.S. intelligence officials to the safe house.

. . .Once the safe house was located, the C.I.A. followed the playbook it wrote during the hunt for Bin Laden. The agency built a model of the site and sought to learn everything about it.

Analysts eventually identified a figure who lingered on the balcony reading, but never left the house, as al-Zawahri.

. . . One key insight was that he was never seen leaving the house and only seemed to get fresh air by standing on a balcony on an upper floor. He remained on the balcony for extended periods, which gave the C.I.A. a good chance to target him.

The C.I.A. plans called for it to use its own drones. Because it was using its own assets, few Pentagon officials were brought into the planning for the strike, and many senior military officials learned about it only shortly before the White House announcement, an official said.

On July 25, Mr. Biden, satisfied with the plan, authorized the C.I.A. to conduct the airstrike when the opportunity presented itself. Sunday morning in Kabul, it did. A drone flown by the C.I.A. found al-Zawahri on his balcony. The agency operatives fired two missiles, ending a more than two-decade-long hunt.

There was no “collateral damage,” either, including al-Zawahri’s family. Read more to see what else Biden did to facilitate this.

*Yep, Nancy Pelosi not only visited Taiwan, but since she left yesterday, apparently having spent the night there, which of course inflamed China. And China “retaliated by sending ships closer to Taiwan than they have before, and fired off a few missiles into the sea.

Mrs. Pelosi’s visit sought to reinforce what she said was America’s ironclad commitment to preserving Taiwan’s democracy. Yet the trip also brings Beijing’s military activity into what Taipei claims as its territorial waters, according to Taipei’s Defense Ministry, raising the prospect of greater pressure on an island that is the most sensitive flashpoint in U.S.-China relations.

“The proximity of the exercises to Taiwan could become the new norm,” said J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior adviser with the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit whose board includes Republican Party heavyweights. He described it as “salami-slicing” that aims to constrain the spaces where Taiwan can operate.

Mrs. Pelosi, the most senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan in a quarter-century, framed her visit as part of a broader struggle over the future of democracy.

China’s Foreign Ministry warned of countermeasures to come against the U.S. and Taiwan in response to the visit.

“The relevant measures will be firm, powerful and effective,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday at a daily press briefing. “The United States and Taiwan’s independence forces will continue to feel it.”

On Wednesday, China announced new bans on imports of Taiwanese citrus and other food, saying it detected pests, excessive pesticide residue and Covid-19 in recent shipments.

The most serious risks could stem from maneuvers being carried out by China’s People’s Liberation Army. The PLA said naval, aerial, strategic-missile and other forces conducted joint training on Wednesday to the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan prior to the live-fire drills that are slated to begin Thursday. Those drills will involve the use of long-range weapons and conventional missiles.

Is this bluster or not? Who knows, but I applaud Pelosi’s visit, which is indeed a defense of Democracy (and I deplore Biden’s condemnation of a Speaker visiting a democratic country).

*In the NYT, Bob Menendez (D, NJ), head of the Senate Foreign relations committee, gives advice on “This is how the U.S. will stand with Taiwan.” He’s actually touting a bipartisan bill about the issue. After giving the (good) reasons why we should support Taiwan, Menendez says this:

That is why I have worked with Senator Lindsey Graham to introduce the bipartisan Taiwan Policy Act of 2022.

Our legislation would reinforce the security of Taiwan by providing almost $4.5 billion in security assistance over the next four years and recognizing Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally” — a powerful designation to facilitate closer military and security ties. It would also expand Taiwan’s diplomatic space through its participation in international organizations and in multilateral trade agreements.

The legislation would also take concrete steps to counter China’s aggressive influence campaigns, impose crippling economic costs if Beijing takes hostile action against Taiwan (such as financial, banking, visa and other sanctions) and reform American bureaucratic practices to bolster support for Taiwan’s democratic government. In short, this effort would be the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy toward Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

Sounds like Ukraine, doesn’t it, except with the aid coming now instead of after an attack. But by the time China attacks Taiwan, which is less than 1/15th the area of Ukraine and thus more easily conquered, it’ll be too late.

*Reader Rick cites an article from BoingBoing noting that Georgia, in light of its new abortion law that considers fetuses to be people, is proposing a new regulation that will allow you to claim a tax deduction for any fetus that has a heartbeat. You can see the stipulation at the Georgia Department of Revenue’s website:

In light of the June 24, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the July 20, 2022, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Sistersong v. Kemp, the Department will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat, as defined in O.C.G.A. § 1-2-1, as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption. The 11th Circuit’s ruling made HB 481’s amendment to O.C.G.A § 48-7-26(a), adding an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat to the definition of dependent, effective as of the date of the court’s ruling, which was July 20, 2022.

As such, on individual income tax returns filed for Tax Year 2022 where, at any time on or after July 20, 2022, and  through December 31, 2022, a taxpayer has an unborn child (or children) with a detectable human heartbeat (which may occur as early as six weeks’ gestation), the taxpayer may claim a dependent personal exemption as provided for under O.C.G.A § 48-7-26(a) and (b)(3) in the amount of $3,000.00 for each unborn child.

Can you imagine the mishigass that would follow something like this. Do you have to give the money back if there’s a miscarriage during the tax year? Will mothers who smoke be deemed guilty of child neglect? Stay tuned.

*Facing huge fines for inciting his supporters to harass the families of victim of the Sandy Hook massacre, gazillionaire loon Alex Jones (a Sandy Hook denialist) admitted in court that the Sandy Hook massacre was “100% real.” How credible is that in the face of the huge money he’ll have to ante up:—and this is a lawsuit by only one family:

Speaking a day after the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 attack testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment they’ve endured because of what Jones has trumpeted on his media platforms, the Infowars host told a Texas courtroom that he definitely thinks the attack happened.

“Especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100% real,” Jones said at his trial to determine how much he and his media company, Free Speech Systems, owe for defaming Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis. Their son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 students and six educators who were killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, which was the deadliest school shooting in American history.

But Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that an apology wouldn’t suffice and that Jones needed to be held accountable for repeatedly spreading falsehoods about the attack. They are seeking at least $150 million in the trial, which was held to determine how much Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, must pay for defaming Heslin and Lewis.

Jones was the only person who testified in his own defense, and he was ripped apart not only by Heslin and Lewis’s attorneys, but by the judge herself:

Speaking a day after the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 attack testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment they’ve endured because of what Jones has trumpeted on his media platforms, the Infowars host told a Texas courtroom that he definitely thinks the attack happened.

The attorney also showed the court an email from an Infowars business officer informing Jones that the company had earned $800,000 gross in selling its products in a single day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year. Jones said that was the company’s best day in sales.

Jones’ testimony came a day after Heslin and Lewis told the courtroom in Austin, where Jones and his companies are based, that Jones and the false hoax claims he and Infowars pushed made their lives a “living hell” of death threats, online abuse and harassment.

They led a day of charged testimony Tuesday that included the judge scolding the bombastic Jones for not being truthful with some of what he said under oath.

In a gripping exchange, [Judge] Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away. Earlier that day, Jones was on his broadcast program telling his audience that Heslin is “slow” and being manipulated by bad people.

At one point, Lewis asked Jones: “Do you think I’m an actor?”

“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones responded before the judge admonished him to be quiet until called to testify.

This is only one suit among several brought by Sandy Hook parents, and I hope to Ceiling Cat that Jones winds up bankrupt.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili had a fright:

Hili: There was a big dog behind the fence.
A: So what?
Hili: Claims that the world without fences would be better might be false.
In Polish:
Hili: Za płotem przebiegł duży pies.
Ja: I co z tego?
Hili: Twierdzenia, że świat bez płotów byłby lepszy mogą być fałszywe.


From Su, the Grim Quacker, a cartoon by Jim Benton:

This is from FB, of course, but I can’t remember who sent it to me, or if I found it myself:

From Su:

Two tweets from God, who is NOT in a good mood! He’s very disappointed in his creation (i.e. humans), and rightly so.

From me. Cat games, and I may have put segments of this up before:

Reader Malcolm says this seems really useful, but I find it deeply confusing:

From the Auschwitz Memorial. Of the eight arrested and sent to camps, only Otto, the father, survived.

Tweets from Matthew. Nothing like humor in a science paper! (Original English provided.)

A very bad Photoshop:

Tuna crabs encounter an alien (tuna crabs are in a species of squat lobster):

I’m not sure what this insect is, but it’s gorgeous. I hope the colors aren’t artificially enhanced.

58 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. I think this captures the spirit of the first section of the Hili today – visualization :

    I’m Looking Through You – The “Bee at lahs” – Rubber Soul :

    ^^^ anyone know where that pronunciation is from? “Bee at lah”?

    That pic of the shadows … I love those kinds of shadows… I used to be unsettled by them – looked like a mess, I’d look away. It isn’t – it is very clear and rational.

  2. I am glad that the Kansas amendment failed and that Pelosi went to Taiwan. I still say we should give Taiwan (and South Korea) nukes.

  3. “Somewhere out there in the realm of the imaginary, there’s some morning drink better than coffee.”
    Sure there is: Diet Coke. 🙂

    “…cookies aren’t medicine! If you want health, ditch the cookies and have a bowl of granola.”
    Exactly what I told the daughter who developed breakfast cookies (dates, oats, carrots, who knows what else) that were healthy and included chocolate chips.

    Have a great day!

  4. Re: book by Rosemary Sullivan.
    I wonder if you are aware of the extremely harsh criticism by many experts that this book has received. See . The study seems to be full of holes and based on selective use of data, looking for a sensationalist outcome.
    Nothing is certain about the “betrayal” of Anne Frank, not even that she was betrayed at all. After all she was hiding in the middle of Amsterdam, so a random visit of the SD was not impossible. It is also possible that the SD was looking for Lammert Kugler or Victor Kugler who were involved in illegal activities in the same building where Anne (and 7 others) were hiding, but that too is perhaps just speculation. See:

    1. Indeed, here in Germany the German edition was pulled by the publishing house soon after the book’s appearance.

      1. I concurr. There was a great backlash from the German media and also from various researchers and experts that none of the book’s theses could stand up to a critical review.

        Nevertheless, I am interested in the opinion of our esteemed host.

    2. In the Netherlands, the Dutch version of the book “The betrayal of Anne Frank: a cold case investigation” has been taken out of circulation after a few days, after heavy criticism by experts. The NIOD, the official center for war documentation, called it flawed, based on assumptions and deficient knowledge: The book was widely criticized for tunnel vision and lack of any understanding of wartime conditions. See any quality newspaper. It had better be regarded as fiction.

      1. Yes, I’m hearing this and will do my due diligence reading the criticism. But I’m going to finish the book first (in two days I’ll be done), and then read the criticism. I’m now aware that this book is quite controversial and will follow the controversy.

  5. In Kansas, a deep red state, the rejection in Tuesday’s primary by an overwhelming majority in a record turnout of a proposed state constitutional amendment, which would have allowed the state legislature to ban virtually all abortions, is indicative of how the theocratic dominated Republican Party throughout the nation has badly misunderstood the sentiments of the electorate. The Democrats now have the opportunity to make political hay and mitigate what previously appeared to be a very bad year. It is now clear what motivates people to go to the polls. Democrats must move quickly and be relentless. The most extreme Trumpists have won their primaries in many states. They must be stopped – and now is the chance to do it.

    The Kansas vote has a broader implication for electoral politics. There is a deep divide among pundits as to what will determine how people will vote in November: the economy or culture. Those who argue for the economy note that polls indicate that inflation is the most pressing issue for people. They go on to urge Democrats to emphasize “kitchen table” legislation that they have been promoting. But, the Kansas vote indicates that the mantra of “it’s the economy, stupid” isn’t always the determinant as to how people vote. Sometimes, cultural issues are more important. Certainly, evangelicals are not motivated by economy issues. Now, it appears that the reaction to the theocrats has set in. So, while not running away from their economy proposals, Democrats need to assault the Republicans’ extreme views on abortion while disclaiming the cultural issues of the far left. It is often said that the United States is a centrist country, rejecting the extremes on both the left and right. I think this is largely true. Democrats need to grasp this and perhaps the Trumpist dystopia can be avoided.

    1. This was a plebiscite vote on a single culture question that was costless in terms of kitchen-table issues and the result didn’t change the status quo. In an election for a representative, voters have to decide if their enthusiasm for abortion, an issue that concretely affects very few people, is sufficient to trump their economic and other culture questions that are also in play, distilled and embodied in the candidates running in the election.

      In Kansas specifically, the thinly populated rural counties in the western two-thirds of the state voted heavily in favour of removing abortion rights. (See Wiki, whose Abortion in Kansas page already has the vote-by-county map up.) The urban-rural cultural divide is still vivid.

      1. The vote may have been costless for most, but that doesn’t explain why the issue resulted in a record turnout, far exceeding that of recent primaries. Indeed, the proposed amendment was placed on the primary ballot, rather than on the general election ballot, because its supporters assumed wrongly that the usual low turnout for primaries would make it easier for the measure to pass. This means that hundreds of thousands of Kansas voters cared deeply enough about the issue to vote in the primary, something they would not ordinarily do. It also means that this passion could be strong enough throughout the country for millions of voters to turn out to vote in the general election, thus helping Democrats. I am not saying that the abortion issue will result in preventing the Republicans taking control of the House or retaining control of various state legislatures (due to gerrymandering), but it does mean that the predicted Republican landslide may not happen.

        1. Another thing it shows, election forecasting is worse than ever. Almost makes me think there’s a chance the midterms won’t be as bad as I think they could be, despite the constant doom and gloom of political pundits and prognosticators.

        2. I think it also germane to note that the Catholic church spent over $3 million to defeat it, and other Republican opponents created a massive disinformation campaign, telling voters to vote “yes” to save abortion rights, instead of “no”. I didn’t read the bill, but apparently it is also poorly written and purposefully confusing, since the legislators didn’t want the measure to pass.

      2. “an issue that concretely affects very few people” — I’m a 67-year-old childless male, so I would be one of those that you assume is not “concretely affected” — but I have nieces and great-nieces whom I love, and I believe that women have just as much a right to their own healthcare decisions and the control over their own bodies as I do. And I am furious at the Supreme Court decision. So yeah, I’m affected!

        1. Get back to us the day after Election Day and we’ll see how important it was, all things considered.

      3. Residents of rural counties may want to ban abortion, but we libruls intend to ram the freedom to choose down their throats and they’re just going to have to live with it.

      4. “…if their enthusiasm for abortion, an issue that concretely affects very few people…”

        25% of American women under the age of 45 have had an abortion. So if you’re saying 25% of American women aren’t “concretely affected” by this (and I’m not even considering the men who can also be affected) then I don’t think you grasp the immensity of the issue. Unless you have some arcane definition of “concretely” that I don’t understand.

        1. Yeah, anti-abortion laws directly affect every woman between the ages of menarche and menopause — and, indirectly, anyone else who loves or cares about such a woman.

          I should hope that includes just about everyone.

          1. And don’t forget all the women who have natural miscarriages; I’m sure it’s also in the double digits percentage wise. In the new forced-birth states, these women are also adversely (concretely?) affected.

              1. You have to look at this as a women’s health-care issue. In forced-birth states, women’s health-care is in crisis. Clinics are closing, hospitals are confused as to when and if procedures (like terminating ectopic pregnancies) can be performed legally, women health-care workers are leaving the field or leaving their state in droves. Many forced-birth fanatics want to investigate miscarriages to make sure they’re “natural”. With that being the case (and other issues I didn’t get into), use your imagination.

              2. There are states in which it is currently unclear whether (or in which there are pending bills prohibiting) a doctor from removing an ectopic pregnancy until any detectable fetal heartbeat stops on its own. And — you tell me, doc — does not any such delay increase a woman’s chances of developing septic shock?

              3. To Ken,
                All state laws I’ve looked at have language that nothing in the law is intended to restrict the management of ectopic pregnancy, or that treatment for maternal medical emergencies is exempt from prosecution if the fetus dies inadvertently, or that abortion is permitted to save the mother’s life. Most contain all three provisions. Some, not all, even allow it to prevent grievous loss of body function. Further, I have seen no news report that any state prohibits operation for ectopic pregnancy. I submit that worry that ectopic pregnancy cannot be lawfully operated on anywhere in the United States as soon as diagnosed is awfulizing.

                The case in Texas was widely reported in detail where the hospital, not the government, would not let the doctor induce abortion in a woman with premature rupture of the membranes, a different condition, because the pre-viable fetus had not yet died and infection had not set in. News reports said that the hospital’s ethics committee had decided to OK the procedure earlier in the day that infection did, coincidentally and unknown to the committee, develop. Another woman reportedly flew to Colorado to be treated there as the first woman had considered doing.

                To people who see no moral standing of a fetus whatsoever and see the question not even fit for debate, these cases are unconscionable. To those who see it differently, religion aside, they represent the challenge of weighing rights and duties in the individual hard cases. Cynically, I would predict that if pro-life women who want to keep their pregnancies find themselves in these situations more than rarely, the law will change to accommodate them.

    2. > It’s always upset me that even in red states, most voters favored leaving Roe alone, but legislators always manage to ban abortion.

      There is no evidence that voters wanted to leave Roe alone, leaving the decision to the courts; they wanted to leave the outcome of Roe alone, the freedom to abort. I am glad that people are embracing pro-choice values through legislative processes.

    3. The Kansas vote was reassuring and a bit surprising, but not shocking. According to their state website (, there are 852,000 registered Republicans in Kansas, 495,760 registered Democrats, 21,453 Libertarians, and 546,161 Unaffiliated. Nationwide Gallup polls ( found Republicans identify as pro-choice vs. pro-life at 23% vs. 70%, while Democrats are at 88% vs. 10%, and Independents are at 54% vs. 39%. And while it’s not exactly a scientific poll, this site ( says Libertarians are at 71% vs. 29% on pro-choice vs. pro-life.

      Applying those poll numbers to the voter registration numbers in Kansas, you’d get 45.2% pro-life, 49.2% pro-choice, and 5.6% undecided. While those calculations don’t quite make pro-choice the majority, it still came out the top. i.e. Even before the vote took place, you’d have expected the pro-choice side to prevail.

      The somewhat surprising part is that it won 60% of the vote instead of just squeaking by. But, depending on how you divvy up the undecided voters from each party (whether they all swung pro-choice, or broke along the same lines as the rest of the party), and leaving all other parties the same and only shifting Republican voters, you still end up with 57% to 60% of Republicans voting against women’s rights.

      For Republican politicians in safe districts, things haven’t changed drastically, since a strong majority of Republicans still favor banning abortion. That’s what Republican politicians are going to try to do to play to their base to win re-election. I suspect this will inform the strategy of other Republican dominated legislatures going forward, who will attempt to keep all such votes within the legislatures as opposed to putting them to the people.

      Here’s hoping that in the swing districts, this issue will help the Democratic candidates.

      (Sorry for the long comment – just explaining my math.)

      1. “I suspect this will inform the strategy of other Republican dominated legislatures going forward, who will attempt to keep all such votes within the legislatures as opposed to putting them to the people.”

        Do state legislatures have the power to block ballot measures created by the state’s citizens? I’m sure it’s different in every state, but I’ve never heard of state legislators having the power to block proposals that have gone through the proper procedures. I think the Kansas case is different because they were simply trying to overturn what was already in the Kansas state constitution, and it could only be overturned by the citizens of Kansas, not the legislature. Either way, SCOTUS created a complete shitstorm for the country and itself. That’s what happens when ideology is used to trump reality.

        1. Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4 to the state constitution, restoring the voting rights of convicted felons once they have served their sentences.

          Florida’s Republican governor and legislature effectively gutted this provision by requiring that convicted felons prove that they have paid all court costs and fines imposed as part of their sentences — something that indigent defendant usually cannot do, and something that often cannot even be determined from the court records available for older cases.

          1. Yeah, I’ve read about Florida’s new poll tax. Surprised they can get away with it. I guess there are philanthropic efforts to pay released felons’ taxes, so there’s some pushback. I didn’t know about records being lost in older cases, what a cluster.

            But you cite a cautionary tale of how a state can subvert the will of its citizens. None dare call it democracy.

  6. Note that what has not changed is the Kansas Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Kansas state constitution. That interpretation could easily change with new justices (where have we seen that happen before?). The Kansas counties that voted down the amendment were the counties with larger cities and universities, the rural counties all supported the amendment. Watch for the Kansas GOP to introduce a bunch of new TRAP laws.

  7. Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho (below) were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam. Le Duc Tho turned down his prize—the only person in history to reject the Peace Prize …

    Le Duc Tho turned down his piece of the Peace Prize for a very good reason: no peace in Southeast Asia had been established by the so-called Peace Accord. All it did was allow Nixon and Kissinger to cut and run — with a decent interval, as some wag put it, before the first South Vietnamese virgin could get raped.

    LBJ had negotiated a better deal four years earlier, just ahead of the presidential election that Nixon won over Humphrey in the fall of 1968, but that deal was subverted by Nixon through the bad good offices of Madame Anna Chenault (who intervened with our South Vietnam allies to convince them to reject it to help assure Nixon’s electoral victory). That act of sedition resulted in the names of another 25,000 dead US GIs being engraved in a black granite wall in Washington, DC, as well as in untold suffering by millions of Southeast Asians — among the long list of crimes for which Nixon and Kissinger remain unpunished.

    1. This is news to me that LBJ was close to achieving a cease-fire by the fall of 1968, on better terms than what Nixon eventually achieved. My recollection from long ago, supported by Wikipedia fwiw, is only that he was close to an agreement with North Vietnam that would have halted aerial bombardment of the North, which agreement Nixon and the South did conspire to subvert to Nixon‘s political advantage. Nixon might, or might not, have hoped to get more concessions in return for a bombing halt but it would not have led to an immediate cease-fire on the ground. The 20,000 or so U.S. combat deaths from 1969 on are not all on Richard Nixon, therefore.

      My primary source, which my son has borrowed, is Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie.

      1. Nixon subverted Johnson’s plan ahead of the ’68 election that was on path to potentially achieve peace in Vietnam. (The halt in bombing of North Vietnam was merely a precondition to starting full-blown peace talks in Paris.)

        Nixon’s conduct was sufficiently egregious that it caused Johnson to call his old senate colleague, Illinois’s Everett Dirksen, and accuse Nixon of treason. Nixon did this solely for his own political advantage in the election, and he lied about it until his dying day.

        During his 1968 campaign, Nixon claimed to the American people that he had a “secret plan” to achieve peace in Vietnam. In fact, he had bupkis. Nixon needlessly prolonged the war for four years after his election — indeed, illegally expanded it into Cambodia — and the agreement he and Kissinger eventually reached achieved nothing beyond saving face by getting US troops out in advance the North Vietnamese victory.

        1. I stand by my view that peace was not at hand in summer-fall 1968 and the war would have continued even if private-citizen scoundrel Nixon had not conspired to sabotage Humphrey’s chances.

          The partial bombing halt announced by President Johnson after Tet was not magnanimity to the North from strength, only a concession to reality: it was costing the U.S. Navy and Air Force more in planes and irreplaceable pilots than could be justified by the damage they were doing to the enemy. Misplaced confidence in the decisive nature of air power against a supposedly primitive but determined adversary fighting on its home turf was one of the many follies in the war.

          To the best of my knowledge—your Times link is paywalled—no information has ever come to light about any war-ending concessions the North might have been about to make in the pressure they were putting on the South in return for let-up of an air war of attrition that they, not the U.S., were winning. Even without Nixon egging him on, Pres. Thieu still had every motive to manipulate Johnson into supporting him with 500,000 GIs in country. “On path to potentially achieve peace” is wishful thinking unless you know what peace in 1968 would have looked like to Ho Chi Minh. He was, after all, winning, with no incentive to quit until he had won. Perhaps he never made any concessions at all and was just waiting for the Americans to quit and go home.

          1. Here’s a non-paywalled piece from Politico (by Nixon biographer John Farrell) that covers some of the same ground as the NYT piece.

            Lyndon Johnson was serious about ending the Vietnam War as part of his legacy before leaving office. Nixon’s treachery cut the legs out from under him.

            Any deal struck by Johnson to end the war could have hardly been on less favorable terms than those struck by Nixon and Kissinger in January 1973. Nixon’s prolonging the war for four more years accomplished nothing. Thus, the blood of the US GIs who died during that period, as well as the blood of the million or so Southeast Asians killed or maimed as a result of US military action during that time, lies squarely on the hands of Nixon and Kissinger. In any just world, those two would have gone to prison for this and their many other crimes.

  8. “God” seems to hate you all so much that His logical thinking skills are starting to slip. If we really are doomed a couple of decades hence—of course no one seriously thinks that, least of all the Chinese and the Indians, but let’s pretend—then it makes every sense to take out a 30-year mortgage. You and your heirs will be dead and gone long before it has to be paid off and you will have enjoyed the lowest possible monthly payment during your (brief) life. By God’s own prediction we should be indifferent to the benefit of owing the house free and clear with no more payments 5 or 10 years sooner.

    1. “… then it makes every sense to take out a 30-year mortgage.”

      My thought exactly!

      I suppose he works in mysterious ways…

  9. Just a please get well wish to matthew. I had the dreaded positive line last december and was banished straightaway to our empty mother in law suite by my retired nurse wife. Food appeared on a tray in the doorway three times a day and empty dishes then disappeared. I spiked a 101.9 fever for two days but large doses of tylenol for three days moderated any discomfort. I had had both vaccinations. After the fever left and 5-7 days later i tested negative, but felt less than great for several weeks. I w@s released to the rest of the house after the negative test i think. There were no paxlovid or remdesivir in those early days. In any case, i am sure you will be fine, but be prepared for a possibility of some lingering fatigue and “brain fog”. I do not know what the rate of occurence of those aftereffects is.

  10. Wishing Matthew a speedy recovery. I was very pleased to see that he was still able to provide evidence of humor in science publications. It reminded me that once a certain author was listed as Jerry (The King) Coyne — at least in the proofs. I can’t remember if that was in Evolution or The American Naturalist, and I also can’t remember if it made it all the way to publication (but that’s just because I’m getting old). The new policy of publishing titles and abstracts in numerous languages must be an absolute pain for the copy editors, but I love the publication in “Scots”!.

  11. Imagining faces: AI is good at it. Jerry, I know you watch 60-minutes. Did you see the segment on “deep fakes”? That is some spooky technology.

  12. A neighbor who has a business selling used agricultural equipment (combines and such) mostly to China tells me that regardless of Nancy Pelosi, China is currently a clusterfuck. Their economy is in the toilet and it is virtually impossible to get into the country now – I think because COVID is rampant, which suggests that their inactivated-virus vaccine Sinovac isn’t up to the job (a one-month quarantine is required, on your dime, and if you clear that hurdle, a two-wk quarantine is required once you reach your destination), and that they have frozen all bank accounts for foreign transactions.

    So maybe there’s a backstory to the saber-rattling.

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