Welcome to Sunday, October 23, 2022, and it’s National Boston Cream Pie Day, which is actually not a pie but a chocolate-frosted, cream-filled cake created at Boston’s Parker House Hotel (also creator of the Parker House roll.)
Mole Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated among chemists, chemistry students and chemistry enthusiasts on October 23, between 6:02 a.m. and 6:02 p.m., making the date 6:02 10/23 in the American style of writing dates. The time and date are derived from the Avogadro number, which is approximately 6.02×1023, defining the number of particles (atoms or molecules) in one mole (mol) of substance, one of the seven base SI units.
I hope you celebrate this evening, as the holiday seems to be only one minute long.
Readers are invited to add in the comments notable events that happened on this day; to do so, look at the October 23 Wikipedia page.
Alas, my insomnia has not abated despite quite a few medical interventions. I think I need to be anesthetized for a couple of days.
*Kherson is both a city in Ukraine as well as a province, and it’s one of the four provinces illegally absorbed by Russia via fake elections after an illegal occupation. Now, according to the Washington Post, Russia is urging people in the city to leave, warning them of aggression from Ukraine and, moreover, telling them to go to Russia.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of seeking to blow up a major hydroelectric dam in Nova Kakhovka near Kherson, potentially flooding southern areas. “Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he warned in a television address, urging the West to act “powerfully and quickly” to prevent such an outcome. Russia has denied the accusations.
Is Russia urging the evacuations (and sending people whom it now deems as “Russian” to Russia) because they intend to blow up the dam? In the face of a Ukrainian advance, Russia is already withdrawing troops from the western part of the province. Do they intend to submerge a lot of it as retribution?
*Meanwhile—and I find this horrific—the Russians are snatching up parentless Ukrainian children, and children separated from their parents, and sending them into Russia to be adopted and become Russian citizens:
As Russian forces laid siege to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol this spring, children fled bombed-out group homes and boarding schools. Separated from their families, they followed neighbors or strangers heading west, seeking the relative safety of central Ukraine.
Instead, at checkpoints around the city, pro-Russia forces intercepted them, according to interviews with the children, witnesses and family members. The authorities put them on buses headed deeper into Russian-held territory.
“I didn’t want to go,” said Anya, 14, who escaped a home for tuberculosis patients in Mariupol and is now with a foster family near Moscow. “But nobody asked me.”
In the rush to flee, she said, she left behind a sketchbook containing her mother’s phone number. All she could remember were the first three digits.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Russian authorities have announced with patriotic fanfare the transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia to be adopted and become citizens. On state-run television, officials offer teddy bears to new arrivals, who are portrayed as abandoned children being rescued from war.
In fact, this mass transfer of children is a potential war crime, regardless of whether they were orphans. And while many of the children did come from orphanages and group homes, the authorities also took children whose relatives or guardians want them back, according to interviews with children and families on both sides of the border.
Can you imagine how confused and terrified these children are, many of them already apart from their own families? I cannot fathom a morality that would allow this, but of course the Russians haven’t been particularly moral about this war. I can only hope that those responsible, and Putin himself, will someday stand trial for war crimes, but that has a snowball’s chance in hell.
*A federal appeals court has put a temporary halt to Biden’s program to forgive student loan debt, a program that became divisive because those who already paid off their loans (and many others) found it unfair.
A federal appeals court late Friday issued an administrative stay temporarily blocking President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel billions of dollars in federal student loans, throwing the program into limbo just days after people began applying for loan forgiveness.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay while it considers a motion from six Republican-led states to block the program. The stay ordered the Biden administration not to act on the program while it considers the appeal.
It’s unclear what the decision means for the 22 million borrowers who already applied for the relief. The Biden administration had promised not to clear any debt before Oct. 23 as it battled the legal challenges, but the soonest it was expected to begin erasing debt was mid-November.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre encouraged borrowers to continue to apply for the relief, saying the court’s temporary order did not prevent applications or the review of applications.
“We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order,” she said in a statement. “And, the Administration will continue to fight Republican officials suing to block our efforts to provide relief to working families.”
The crucial question now is whether the issue will be resolved before Jan. 1, when payments on federal student loans are expected to restart after being paused during the pandemic. Millions of Americans were expected to get their debt canceled entirely under Biden’s plan, but they now face uncertainty about whether they will need to start making payments in January.
The states that appealed are Nebraska, Missouri, South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, and Arkansas. The stay may drag on because the states also asked the appeals court to stop the entire program until the challenge works its way through the entire system, which may include the Supreme Court.
*You’ll probably want to see this movie, not only because it’s about “cancel culture,” but also because it stars the great Cate Blanchett and because the NYT’s Michelle Goldberg gives it a stellar review, “Finally, a great movie about cancel culture.”
Midway through the enthralling new film “Tár,” the heroine, a brilliant and imperious classical music conductor named Lydia Tár, is talking about the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer with her elderly former mentor.
“Schopenhauer measured a man’s intelligence against his sensitivity to noise,” her mentor says.
“Didn’t he once also throw a woman down a flight of stairs?” asks Tár.
“Yes,” he responds. “It was unclear that this private and personal failing was at all relevant to his work.”
This question — how to weigh a genius’s private and personal failings against her work — is at the center of “Tár.” It’s a movie about a woman, played by Cate Blanchett, who has built herself in the image of the great, arrogant male cultural titans of the 20th century, only to be undone by the less indulgent mores of the 21st century. In other words, it’s a film about cancel culture, making it the rare piece of art that looks squarely at this social phenomenon that has roiled so many of America’s meaning-making institutions.
. . .Early on, a young conducting student tells her that “as a BIPOC pangender person,” they are not into Bach because of his misogyny. Tár, a self-described “U-Haul lesbian,” humiliates the student before making an impassioned case for artistic universalism. “You want to dance the masque, you must service the composer,” she says fiercely. “You’ve got to sublimate yourself, your ego. And yes, your identity.”
The New Yorker critic Richard Brody, who dissented from the largely rapturous reception “Tár” has received, mentioned this scene while arguing that the film is bitter and reactionary. I saw it differently. Though a misleadingly edited version of the exchange appears later in the film, it has little to do with Tár’s downfall; this is not a movie complaining that you can’t say anything anymore.Rather — stop reading here if you’re avoiding spoilers — Tár is destroyed because of the lives and careers she has ruined. The film unfolds like a thriller, but what is pursuing the protagonist are her own sins.
. . . “Tár” demonstrates that all this flux and uncertainty is very fertile territory for art. Hopefully its success — many are predicting it will win a best picture Oscar — will encourage others to take on similarly thorny and unsettled issues. Hysteria about cancel culture can encourage artistic timidity by overstating the cost of probing taboos. In truth, there’s a hunger out there for work that takes the strangeness of this time and turns it into something that transcends polemic.
Tár gets a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 78% approval by the public. Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t tell you much about the movie, but anything with Cate Blanchett in it is worth seeing.
*I’ve written before how Fred Crews, retired English professor from Berkeley, has tried and failed to bring out potentially exculpatory issues in the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse case at Penn State—issues that people don’t want to hear (they have deemed him guilty and don’t want to hear anything that casts doubt on that). Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in jail; he’s 78 and won’t be eligible for parole for 30 years. Yet there are holes in the case against Sandusky, and Fred has had a devil of a time even getting anything about them published (see link at the beginning of this item). Much of the evidence against Sandusky consists of one incident that in fact almost surely never occurred. As Fred wrote me:
Graham Spanier served for a decade as Penn State’s president, and it’s likely that he was the best one ever. He raised academic standards for both research and teaching, and no one ever questioned his integrity.But four days after Sandusky was indicted in November 2011, Spanier was forced out by his board of trustees, along with his athletic director, Tim Curley; a vice president, Gary Schultz; and the legendary football coach Joe Paterno, eleven weeks before his death at age 85. The trustees’ panic stemmed from the fact that the grand jury indictment of Sandusky, written by the prosecution team, included the allegation that those four officials had conspired to cover up an act of sodomy on campus by Sandusky a decade earlier.That was the infamous case of the so-called “little boy in the shower”––the case that everyone remembers with horror, even though, in fact, Sandusky was acquitted of that charge in his June 2012 trial. The “witness,” Mike McQueary, never directly affirmed that he had witnessed a sex act; he changed his story four times; he protested, in an email to one of the prosecutors, that his account had been twisted; and there is now irrefutable evidence that “the little boy in the shower” was a good friend of the Sanduskys––indeed, virtually a family member––who remained on cordial terms with them and who explicitly denied that Jerry had done anything wrong.The four Penn State officials were ambushed by the Sandusky indictment. Even though all four had willingly testified before the grand jury, they were never told that they themselves (the aged Paterno excepted) were criminal targets. Consequently, when Curley and Schultz were indicted for child endangerment and perjury, they were completely unprepared. As for Spanier, he learned only later that he too faced criminal charges. In fact, though, he was the big fish all along. Curley and Schultz were expect to “flip” on him––but they refused, reluctantly taking plea bargains instead. Then began a five-year period of legal moves and countermoves between Spanier and his pursuers, eventuating in a jail term for Spanier.During those five years, Spanier kept meticulous notes and drafted a book that he didn’t want to see in print until his legal situation was settled. Once released from jail, he finished up the book and formed a publishing company, Gryphon Eagle Press, whose sole purpose was to get this work into circulation. The book, In the Lions’ Den: The Penn State Scandal and a Rush to Judgment, is lengthy, meticulous, and thoroughly convincing. No one who reads it will doubt that Spanier and the others were victims of a vendetta from the highest political circles in Pennsylvania. In addition, Spanier documents a great deal of corruption in the state’s admninistration of justice.Spanier refrains from passing judgment on Sandusky’s all-around guilt or innocence, but he absolutely refutes the legend of the little boy in the shower. Moreover, his damning portrait of his own accusers from the attorney general’s office is of utmost relevance to the Sandusky case, for exactly the same malefactors––then attorney general Linda Kelly and her deputies Frank Fina and Jonelle Eschbach––employed similar illegal tactics on the naîve Sandusky.Hence my essay, which remains unpublished but has been picked up by a pro-Sandusky website:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, who hasn’t yet made peace with Kulka, is worried
Hili: Kulka is coming.A: So what?Hili: She is unpredictable.
Hili: Idzie Kulka.Ja: No to co?Hili: Ona jest nieprzewidywalna.
Here’s Hili’s nemesis in a tree:
Now that I found this picture of Prince Charles, doing exactly what Al Franken did that got Al expelled from the Senate, can we expect Charles to resign as King?
The photo that brought down Franken:
From Divy, a Scott Metzger cartoon:
God doesn’t like people snooping around in the cosmos:
This is an invasion of privacy! Lay off, paparazzi! https://t.co/FP7hRzAmLa
— God (Thee/Thy) (@TheTweetOfGod) October 19, 2022
Here’s an MSNBC interview with Masih Alinejad about the protests in Iran. She looks absolutely worn out, and has since the trouble started. I think she’s spending a lot of time interacting long distance with Iranian dissidents, and of course she’s deeply invested in overthrowing the misogynistic and theocratic regime. See if you agree with her claim that if the regime gets rid of the hijab, the regime will be doomed, as she sees the forced wearing of hijab as a fundamental pillar of the Iranian government.
Iranian protests are a tipping point & we the people of Iran call on the West to expel Islamic republic’s diplomats.
Please listen to my interview with @DeadlineWH & spread our message.
Teenagers are getting killed in Iran for chanting woman Life Freedom
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 22, 2022
From Luana, who sent the second tweet (it was linked to the first one). Both are official tweets by Microsoft, but the flag is getting every more complicated, and as identities proliferate, it’s going to get unmanageable.
Inspired by the public's response to our 2022 Pride flag, we’re expanding our design to represent 40 LGBTQIA+ communities—and making it available for everyone to use and build on: https://t.co/YugwQGp7b6 pic.twitter.com/BfQbSmkkzP
— Micros🎃ft (@Microsoft) October 20, 2022
From Malcolm. Making this requires not only the right notes, but putting the right spaces between the notes. Plus there are a couple of sidetracks that produce rapid sequences.
A ball rolling down a massive xylophone plays Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in a forest in Japan. pic.twitter.com/2EpUbD1bpS
— Fascinating (@fasc1nate) October 20, 2022
From Simon, who sighs, “The British tabloids. . .” The speculation was originally whether Liz Truss would last longer as PM than an edible head of lettuce. She did (six weeks), but the Daily Star claims otherwise. It was pretty close, though!
A front page for the ages pic.twitter.com/6nCYGebi1v
— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) October 20, 2022
From the Auschwitz memorial: This woman died right after arriving:
23 October 1878 | A Czech Jewish woman, Marie Hirschová, was born.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 23, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. He speculates that the butterfly below might be mimicking a red-eyed fly, but I can’t really see an evolutionary advantage of that. Can readers? Unchanged: Tweets from Matthew. He speculates that the butterfly below might be mimicking a red-eyed fly, but I can’t really see an evolutionary advantage of that. Can readers?
Pareidolia or is this mimicking a big red eyed fly (see opening but in particular)?? https://t.co/QdoeCB637V
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) October 21, 2022
Good for Canada. Now ban private ownership of handguns!
Update: People can no longer buy, sell, or transfer handguns within Canada – and they cannot bring newly acquired handguns into the country.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 21, 2022
God doesn’t like people snooping around in the cosmos:
I have never been more inspired by anything than this work of art pic.twitter.com/kxaKzA0Fbw
— Kae "Pumpkin Pie" Lani Palmisano (@KaeLaniSays) October 21, 2022