Good day to you on Sunday, August 14, 2022: National Creamsicle Day. I loved these; it was my preferred buy from the Good Humor Man. What a great idea to encase vanilla ice cream inside a coating of orange sherbet! I bet they still make them, but I also bet that they don’t use real ice cream (probably a “frozen dairy preouct”. It’s also a good name for an orange and white cat.
It’s also Melon Day, National Tattoo Removal Day, Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, commemorating “the victims and sufferings of people during the Partition of India in 1947,” and National Navajo Code Talkers Day. The Partition of India may have been the biggest refugee crisis in history, involving the movement of 10-20 million people and an unknown death toll between 200,000 and a million. Without religion, this wouldn’t have happened.
As for the code talkers, you should learn about them; they were invaluable in speaking their native language as an unbreakable code during the Pacific phase of World War II. (There were several other Native American languages used besides Navajo) Here’s a video about their performance on Iwo Jima, and you can hear what the “code” sounded like:
Stuff that happened on August 14 includes:
- 1040 – King Duncan I is killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. The latter succeeds him as King of Scotland.
- 1592 – The first sighting of the Falkland Islands by John Davis.
The date and “first sighting” are disputed, but it’s clear that the islands were uninhabited when the first European saw them.
- 1791 – Slaves from plantations in Saint-Domingue hold a Vodou ceremony led by houngan Dutty Boukman at Bois Caïman, marking the start of the Haitian Revolution.
- 1880 – Construction of Cologne Cathedral, the most famous landmark in Cologne, Germany, is completed.
That took a long time! The construction began in 1248 and was halted in 1560. It began again in 1840. 592 years in the making! Is that a record for constructing a single building.
Here’s the cathedral—the most visited landmark in Germany:
- 1893 – France becomes the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.
- 1901 – The first claimed powered flight, by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21.
There’s no proof that this thing got off the ground, but if it did it anticipate the Wright Brothers by over two years. Wikipedia notes this:
Photographs exist showing the aircraft on the ground, but there are no photographs known of the aircraft in flight. A drawing of the aircraft in flight accompanied the Sunday Herald article. The No.21 was a monoplane powered by two engines—one for the wheels during the ground run, the other driving the propellers for flight.
Enough ancillary information is given (including the flight of an exact replica) to suggest that this contraption did get off the ground, even though it was aeronautically unstable. Here’s a photo and the Wikipedia caption:
- 1935 – Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, creating a government pension system for the retired.
- 1936 – Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last known public execution in the United States.
You’d think that if one of the functions of capital punishment is deterrence (it’s said by some to be so), all executions would be public. But the real motivation is retribution, and there’s no evidence that capital punishment deters anyone from murder. Here’s Bethea swinging from the gallows: the last time the public watched someone executed. Look at that crowd! Berea was an African-American, and was killed at age 26.
- 1947 – Pakistan gains independence from the British Empire.
- 1980 – Lech Wałęsa leads strikes at the Gdańsk, Poland shipyards.
*The NYT reports that the suspect in the stabbing of Salman Rushdie, 24 year old Hadi Matar, has been charged with attempted murder and assault, while the NY State police and the FBI are trying to suss out a motive.
Antonio Lopa, who lives across the street from Mr. Matar, said he saw between 10 and 15 F.B.I. agents outside Mr. Matar’s home on Friday afternoon. They stayed until nearly 1:30 a.m., he said.
Officials said at a news conference on Friday that they were working to get search warrants for a backpack and electronic devices that were found at the institution.
I’m more concerned about Rusdhie’s condition, which we know only from his agent. UPDATE: the NYT says that Rushdie was stabbed ten times, but adds some good news (my emphasis):
Mr. Rushdie, who had spent decades under proscription by Iran, was put on a ventilator Friday evening after undergoing hours of surgery, but by Saturday he had started to talk, according to his agent, Andrew Wylie.
He’s going to live! Here;s what we knew yesterday:
Mr. Rushdie, who had spent decades under proscription by Iran, was on a ventilator after undergoing hours of surgery and could not speak, Andrew Wylie, his agent, said in an email on Friday evening. Efforts to reach Mr. Wylie on Saturday were unsuccessful.
Mr. Wylie said on Friday that the author’s condition was “not good.” Mr. Rushdie might lose an eye, his liver had been damaged and the nerves in his arm were severed, he said.
The state police did not provide an update on Mr. Rushdie’s condition on Saturday morning. A spokeswoman for a hospital in Erie, Pa., where Mr. Rushdie is being treated, said it would not provide information on patient conditions.
Here’s an Independent video from yesterday of the suspect, Hadi Matar, pleading “not guilty”:
*One of Trump’s lawyers either misinformed or lied to the Justice Department by signing a statement two months ago that Trump had already turned over all classified material. That wasn’t true, because the recent search turned up more such material, some classified as “top secret.”
At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.
The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.
The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. And it could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the search warrant used to carry out the daylong search of the former president’s home on Monday, an extraordinary step that generated political shock waves.
If this is the case, then somebody knew that Trump had held back documents and reported that; in other words, there was a leak in the Trump camp:
It also helps to further explain the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months in which it had tried to resolve the matter through discussions with Mr. Trump and his team.
An inventory of the material taken from Mr. Trump’s home that was released on Friday showed that F.B.I. agents seized 11 sets of documents during the search with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility.
Trump and/or his team could be charged under not only for the “obstruction statute” but also “the Espionage Act and a statute that bars the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents.” Of course, even an indictment is not a sentence, but if the government withholds an indictment if it sees Trump as culpable, there will be some very angry people. But the real anger—the anger that could lead to violence and insurrection greater than that of January 6—will be if Trump is indicted. Republicans will go bonkers, and they have guns.
*There are revelations at the Stamford Advocate, a Connecticut paper, that Alex Jones’s lawyer might have leaked some of the medical records of families of the Sandy Hoo school-shooting victims. (h/t: Reese)
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis of Waterbury ordered Norm Pattis, one of Jones’ many attorneys, to explain how, exactly, those medical records wound up in the hands of Jones’ attorney in Texas. Pattis is expected to explain what happened during a hearing that will likely take place next week, amid a series of lawsuits pitting Jones against the families he repeatedly defamed by claiming that the Sandy Hook massacre was a “hoax.”
*If you’re one of the saps like Joe Biden who thinks that we can negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran in good faith, read the NYT op-ed, “What the U.S. gets wrong about Iran.” The answer: virtually everything. (The piece is by a “senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on Iran and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East”).
Under [Big Religious Boss] Mr. Khamenei’s leadership, anti-Americanism has become central to Iran’s revolutionary identity, and indeed few nations have spent a greater percentage of their finite political and financial capital to try and topple the U.S.-led world order than Iran. On virtually every contemporary American national security concern — including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chinese threats against Taiwan, nuclear proliferation, and cyberwarfare — Tehran defines its own interests in opposition to the United States.
Although the nuclear program has easily cost Iran over $200 billion in lost oil revenue and has not deterred Israel from reportedly carrying out brazen assassinations and acts of sabotage against Tehran’s nuclear sites, the more committed the United States has been to diplomacy, the lesser Iran’s sense of urgency to compromise. Even if the nuclear deal is revived, Tehran’s worldview will endure.
. . . Multiple U.S. administrations have attempted to coerce or persuade Iran to reconsider its revolutionary ethos, but have failed. The reason is simple: U.S.-Iran normalization could prove deeply destabilizing to a theocratic government whose organizing principle has been premised on fighting American imperialism.
The short take: First, don’t trust Iran. Second, don’t trust that Iran will adhere to any agreements about nuclear weapons. Third, Iran is going to get nuclear weapons, and Israel seems to be the only country taking this seriously.
*And as long as you’re in the NYT op-ed section, have a look at John McWhorter’s conciliatory new piece, “Let’s have fewer cancellations. Let people take their lumps, then move on.” (I can’t resist pointing out, since McWhorter studies linguistics, that the antecedent to “move on” is unclear. He means people who give lumps to other people—the lumpers, not the lumpees.) He’s right, but the givers of lumps aren’t going to pay any attention to McWhorter, who is remarkably sanguine about what’s going on. He even seems to find E. O. Wilson culpable of racism (though urging forgiveness), though it’s not clear that McWhorter knows the whole saga of Wilson and Rushton:
One more: The biologist E.O. Wilson, who died last year, faced accusations of racism, a charge that continues to be explored. One article describes an epistolary cordiality with the Canadian psychologist J. Philippe Rushton, who had openly racist views about Black people. In one such letter, Wilson reportedly praised Rushton’s paper arguing that “Black and non-Black people pursue different reproductive strategies.” That’s far from ideal, but even less ideal is any sense that this aspect of Wilson must be ongoingly considered amid our assessment of his pioneering genius. I was knocked out by his book “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge,” about the progress of our understanding of the world, and considering how he may have felt about Black people would have been quite irrelevant to the experience.
Whether we’re talking about the past or the present, the idea that being insufficiently progressive or sensitive can wind up being the measure of a person’s worth is a call to disavow intelligent assessment in favor of gut-level impulses. It’s an all-or-nothing kind of thinking that, in the guise of insight, teaches a form of dimness. We seem to spontaneously understand this in some instances. We need to extend that basic common sense, that basic ability to make distinctions and see the whole picture, when evaluating trespasses by people of all walks of life and across time.
Well, maybe the column will prompt those who attacked Wilson or Alice “Lizard People” Walker to be gracious and admit that those people had good sides, too. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’m wondering what prompted McWhorter to say the obvious: people can do both good and bad things in the same life. That hasn’t stopped those who want to cancel people like Jefferson or Ed Wilson.
*Finally, Bari Weiss is writing her own words on her website, and when she is passionate, as she is about the attempted killing of Salman Rushdie in her column, “We ignored Salman Rushdie’s warning“, she reverts to the old Bari whose writings made me subscribe to her site. Read it, ye Woke, and despair. (h/t Divy):
We live in a culture in which many of the most celebrated people occupying the highest perches believe that words are violence. In this, they have much in common with Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued the first fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, and with Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old who, yesterday, appears to have fulfilled his command when he stabbed the author in the neck on a stage in Western New York.
The first group believes they are motivated by inclusion and tolerance—that it’s possible to create something even better than liberalism, a utopian society where no one is ever offended. The second we all recognize as religious fanatics. But it is the indulgence and cowardice of the words are violence crowd that has empowered the second and allowed us to reach this moment, when a fanatic rushes the stage of a literary conference with a knife and plunges it into one of the bravest writers alive.
. . . Salman Rushdie has lived half of his life with a bounty on his head—some $3.3 million promised by the Islamic Republic of Iran to anyone who murdered him. And yet, it was in 2015, years after he had come out of hiding, that he told the French newspaper L’Express: “We are living in the darkest time I have ever known.”
You would think that Rushdie would have said such a thing in the height of the chaos, when he was in hiding, when those associated with the book were being targeted for murder. By 2015, you might run into Rushdie at Manhattan cocktail parties, or at the theater with a gorgeous woman on his arm. (He had already been married to Padma, for God’s sake.)
So why did he say it was the “darkest time” he had ever known? Because what he saw was the weakening of the very Western values—the ferocious commitment to free thought and free speech—that had saved his life.
“If the attacks against Satanic Verses had taken place today,” he said in L’Express, “these people would not have defended me, and would have used the same arguments against me, accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority.”
He didn’t have to speculate. He said that because that is exactly what they did.
“They” includes some cowardly members of PEN America who refused to attend a gala because PEN gave Charlie Hebdo an award for Courage in Freedom of Expression. Here’s Weiss’s ending, an eloquent attack on the stupid and harmful notion that “words are violence”:
Today our culture is dominated by those who blur that line—those who lend credence to the idea that words, art, song lyrics, children’s books, and op-eds are the same as violence. We are so used to this worldview and what it requires—apologize, grovel, erase, grovel some more—that we no longer notice. It is why we can count, on one hand—Dave Chappelle; J.K. Rowling—those who show spine.
Of course it is 2022 that the Islamists finally get a knife into Salman Rushdie. Of course it is now, when words are literally violence and J.K. Rowling literally puts trans lives in danger and even talking about anything that might offend anyone means you are literally arguing I shouldn’t exist. Of course it’s now, when we’re surrounded by silliness and weakness and self-obsession, that a man gets on stage and plunges a knife into Rushdie, plunges it into his liver, plunges it into his arm, plunges it into his eye. That is violence.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is beefing:
Hili: Szaron is occupying my armchair again.A: The armchair was empty.Hili: That is no excuse.
Hili: Znowu Szaron zajął mój fotel.Ja: Fotel był pusty.Hili: To nie jest żadna wymówka.
From Malcolm. I don’t have frozen ice, but I have unfrozen ice.
A quote from Rushdie by Joann:
Just for fun. Look at those dinosaurs! (Click on tweet to enlarge photos):
I GOT TWO NEW BABY EMUS AND THEIR NAMES ARE ELIZA AND ELLIOT pic.twitter.com/CdFomRp5W9
— eco sister (@hiitaylorblake) August 13, 2022
Kissing a call duck. I couldn’t get close enough to Honey to do this:
— why you should have a duck 🦆 (@shouldhaveaduck) August 13, 2022
From Luana; Rowling asking for support for Rushdie, and—after getting her own death threat—presumably asking Twitter to stop the threats.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 13, 2022
From Simon: a party invitation to the Tolkiens’ house!
The Tolkiens knew how to throw a party pic.twitter.com/v52vepCzCa
— Helen Ingram (@drhingram) August 7, 2022
From Barry: an iguana used as a scratching post:
does he like being used as a scratch pad ? pic.twitter.com/GC1cO5Vhf8
— glurpo (@glurpo) August 7, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial. I haven’t listened to the link, but it’s unusual for a Catholic priest to be murdered in Auschwitz. My guess is that he was helping Jews.
The new episode of our #OnAuschwitz podcast is dedicated to father Maximilian Kolbe who was murdered in #Auschwitz on 14 August 1941. Listen about his arrest, incarceration, sacrifice of life and death.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 14, 2022
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. I hope this first one doesn’t have to be used in an obituary:
"What man, indeed, can compose a fitting hymn of praise for the learning of letters? For it is by such knowledge alone that the dead are carried in the memory of the living"
Diodorus of Sicily Διόδωρος pic.twitter.com/AgsU2Dh8yQ
— Incunabula (@incunabula) August 13, 2022
What is this. One reader tended a guess, but what is the slot for?
Milking stool would be my guess pic.twitter.com/xH2E51gbO7
— Mr. Johansen (@BLJENGINEERING) August 12, 2022
And a fantastic statue. For more about Knorozov, go here; a photo of him and his kitty, Asya, is below
Soviet linguist Yuri Knorozov was instrumental in deciphering the Maya script. His whole life he tried to be co-credited with his cat Asya but his editors always refused. In 2012, the Mexicans honored him with a monument that included his beloved cat. pic.twitter.com/2awx8CvznM
— Uri Kurlianchik (@VerminusM) August 10, 2022
Yuri and Asya. They both look peeved.