Welcome to the first Monday in December—Monday, December 5, 2022. It’s National Comfort Food Day. The linked page shows mac ‘n’ cheese, a good comfort food, but I’d be hard pressed to pick just one. Here’s a thought: a giant BBQ beef rib from Black’s in Lockhart Texas, along with jalapeño cornbread, raw onion, sweet tea, bbq beans, potato salad, and banana pudding for dessert. Much, in fact, like this meal:
It’s also National Sachertorte Day, Day of the Ninja, National Blue Jeans Day, Krampusnacht, when the dreaded demon comes to punish bad children, Repeal Day (celebrating the end of Prohibition in 1933), and World Soil Day.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 5 Wikipedia page.
*This week the Supreme Court will take up a landmark case pitting religious freedom against gay rights. (Which do you think will win, LOL?) This issue was not decided in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in 2018, for the court basically punted after a baker refused, on religious grounds, to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. (The baker won, but only because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was found to be “not religiously neutral”. That was the punt.) The new case is very similar to the old one, involving a graphic designer who refused to create a wedding website for a gay couple; and this time the Court will truly weigh gay rights versus religious freedom:
That controversy has now arrived, and the facts are indeed similar. A graphic designer named Lorie Smith, who works just a few miles from Mr. Phillips’s bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, has challenged the same Colorado law on the same grounds.
“He’s an artist,” Ms. Smith said of Mr. Phillips. “I’m also an artist. We shouldn’t be punished for creating consistently with our convictions.”
The basic arguments in the case, which will be argued before the Supreme Court on Monday, are as familiar as they are polarizing.
On one side are people who say the government should not force them to violate their principles to make a living. On the other are same-sex couples and others who say they are entitled to equal treatment from businesses open to the public.
Both sides say that the consequences of the court’s ruling could be enormous, though for different reasons. Ms. Smith’s supporters say a ruling for the state would allow the government to force all sorts of artists to state things at odds with their beliefs. Her opponents say a ruling in her favor would blow a hole through anti-discrimination laws and allow businesses engaged in expression to refuse service to, say, Black people or Muslims based on odious but sincerely held convictions.
After Cakeshop, Court had refused to hear appeals in several similar cases, but we have a new Court that decided to finally take the bull by the horns:
The decision to hear Ms. Smith’s case was probably driven by several factors: an increasingly assertive six-justice conservative supermajority, a sense that Ms. Smith’s designs were more likely to be expression protected by the First Amendment and the desire of at least some justices to undo or limit Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision establishing a right to same-sex marriage.
Anybody see a 6-3 decision coming in favor of the graphic designer? I can’t imagine it would even be 5-4.
*For once there’s seems to be good news out of Iran, but it may be bogus. According to the BBC, the country is disbanding its infamous “morality police” in view of ongoing protests that began when the morality cops beat Mahsa Amini to death for wearing her hijab in an improper manner. (h/t: Divy) However, the story seems a bit, well, weird. It’s uncorroborated and not very clear (see the bold emphasis I’ve put in below):
Iran’s morality police, which is tasked with enforcing the country’s Islamic dress code, is being disbanded, the country’s attorney general says.
Mohammad Jafar Montazeri’s comments, yet to be confirmed by other agencies, were made at an event on Sunday.
Iran has seen months of protests over the death of a young woman in custody.
Mahsa Amini had been detained by the morality police for allegedly breaking strict rules on head coverings.
Mr Montazeri was at a religious conference when he was asked if the morality police was being disbanded.
“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said.
Control of the force lies with the interior ministry and not with the judiciary.
Note that Montazeri is a member of the judiciary, and has no authority, and what does “shut down from where they were set up” mean? There’s no confirmation from government higher-ups. It goes on:
On Saturday, Mr Montazeri also told the Iranian parliament the law that requires women to wear hijabs would be looked at.
Looked at!? Finally, the people don’t care; they’re honey badgers!
If confirmed, the scrapping of the morality police would be a concession but there are no guarantees it would be enough to halt the protests, which have seen demonstrators burn their head coverings.
“Just because the government has decided to dismantle morality police it doesn’t mean the protests are ending,” one Iranian woman told the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme.
“Even the government saying the hijab is a personal choice is not enough. People know Iran has no future with this government in power. We will see more people from different factions of Iranian society, moderate and traditional, coming out in support of women to get more of their rights back.”
Another woman said: “We, the protesters, don’t care about no hijab no more. We’ve been going out without it for the past 70 days.
It all smells fishy to me, and even Masih Alinejad says that it’s fake news. The video shows the morality police in action: do watch it to see how odious they are:
It’s disinformation that Islamic Republic of Iran has abolished it’s morality police. It’s a tactic to stop the uprising.
Protesters are not facing guns and bullets to abolish morality police or forced hijab.They want to end Islamic regime.#MahsaAmini
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 4, 2022
*Who is “The man who neutered Trump“, as Michelle Cottle writes in a NYT op-ed? None other than Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia. How did he neuter Trump? This way:
. . . some folks might have found it a tad curious to see Mr. Kemp hanging out in the store’s parking lot, hugging and mugging for the cameras with Herschel Walker, the Republican Party’s deeply problematic Senate nominee. The former football star is in a tick-tight runoff with the incumbent, Raphael Warnock, and Mr. Kemp was imploring the crowd to turn out for him in this Tuesday’s vote. “He will go and fight for those values that we believe in here in our state,” the governor insisted.
Talk about a postural shift. Throughout his re-election race, Mr. Kemp practiced scrupulous social distancing from his ticketmate.
. . . Which, honestly, was the only sensible course of action considering the freak show that has been Mr. Walker’s candidacy. Accusations of domestic abuse? Semi-secret children? Allegations (which he denies) that he paid for abortions for multiple women? Making up stuff about his academic and business ventures? The guy has more baggage than a Kardashian on a round-the-world cruise. No candidate with a sense of self-preservation would want to get close to that hot mess. [JAC: great snark here!]
. . .Whatever happens with Mr. Walker, keep an eye on Mr. Kemp. The 59-year-old Georgia governor is positioning himself to be a major Republican player — one that, unlike so many in his party, is not a complete Trump chump.
If Mr. Kemp’s electoral victory over Stacey Abrams was decisive, besting her by more than seven percentage points, his psychological victory over Donald Trump was devastating, in ways you cannot measure in votes. Mr. Trump had targeted Mr. Kemp for defeat this year, after the governor refused to help him subvert the presidential election results in 2020. The former president put a lot of political capital on the line in his crusade against Mr. Kemp, only to get spanked once again in Georgia. The governor’s refusal to bow to Mr. Trump wound up burnishing his reputation across party lines, which served him well in the purplish state. In the general election last month, Mr. Kemp won 200,000 more votes than Mr. Walker did in his race.
. . . It’s all upside for Mr. Kemp. No one will seriously blame him if he can’t rescue a candidate as lousy as Mr. Walker, and he wins friends and influence within the party simply by trying. He also gets to wallow in his status as a separate, non-Trumpian power center. After all the abuse he has taken from Mr. Trump, the governor must on some level relish being asked to salvage the former president’s handpicked dud — even as the party made clear it did not want Mr. Trump anywhere near the Peach State this time.
And so Trump is figuratively neutered.
*Today’s World Cup results, and no surprises here. Poland managed to eke out one goal compared to France’s three, and poor Senegal didn’t score once against England.
England vs. Senegal via CNN:
The Three Lions triumphed over the Lions of Teranga in our second knockout round match of the day.
In the first half, late goals from Jordan Henderson in the 39th minute and Harry Kane in stoppage time gave England a 2-0 lead going into halftime. The Senegalese were reeling going into the break. And things didn’t get better when play resumed.
Twelve minutes into the second period, Bukayo Saka made it 3-0 England. It is the third goal of the tournament for the young forward.
England’s victory sets up a clash of the titans in the next round. They will face France in the quarterfinals next Saturday.
Here are the highlights; all three English goals are lovely:
And France over Poland:
Earlier in the day, Les Bleus easily dispatched Poland, 3-1. Kylian Mbappé scored twice for the French to take the lead in the tournament’s Golden Boot race (five goals).
The highlights, with that nice pair of goals by Mbappé.
*FInally, there’s a big week ahead for the Artemis-1/Orion Moon flyaround, the first test launch preparing for a Moon habitation and then a trip to Mars. Jim Batterson tells us what’s happening this week:
Today (Monday) and Sunday are days of final, critical Artemis-1/Orion maneuvers – The Artemis-1/Orion mission concludes this week, hopefully with continuing success, after a few key maneuvers to position the spacecraft for its trip back to Earth and for a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, followed by splashdown into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego, CA.
For the past several weeks, the spacecraft has consisted of two mated subunits: the Orion Crew Capsule and the Service Module, joined together. The Crew Capsule is where the human crew will live in an oxygenated, shirtsleeve environment on future crewed missions. The Service Module provides internal power via its solar panels and the maneuvering thrust from its main rocket engine. There are also smaller thrusters to speed up, slow down, and orient the stack and they’ll continue to do so until it (the Service Module) separates from the Orion Crew Capsule just before the Crew Capsule re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere for the final stage of its return at noon on Sunday Dec 11. At that point the capsule’s thermal shield, which has been covered by the Service Module since launch, will be exposed to absorb the heat from the friction of the Earth’s atmosphere until splashdown forty minutes later.
For WEIT readers interested in following events in real-time, here are some key times/events over the next week (all scheduled to be broadcast on NASA Live TV; all times are EST):
(Per NASA-published flight plan as of 1400EST Sunday)
Monday Dec 5
0900- NASA Live TV coverage begins for powered fly-by of moon event in which the spacecraft flies less than 80 miles above the lunar surface and fires its maneuvering rocket to kick it out of lunar orbit and into a trajectory for Earth.
1143 – Powered fly-by: rocket burn at 80 miles above lunar surface to leave lunar orbit into a return-to-Earth trajectory
Thursday Dec 8
1700 – NASA TV briefing to preview Sunday events for Orion’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown.
Sunday Dec 11
1100 – NASA TV coverage begins
Noon – Service Module and Crew Module separate
1203 – Crew module aligned with heat shield forward for re-entry into atmosphere
1240 – Splashdown! Followed by retrieval of Orion Capsule by recovery ships.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is a hunting and fain would lie down:
Hili: The situation is not clear.A: I don’t understand.Hili: Either there is something or there is nothing there.
Hili: Sytuacja jest niejasna.Ja: Nie rozumiem.Hili: Albo tam coś jest, albo tam nic nie ma.
From Dom, who sent a photo taken from yesterday’s Sunday Times. I suspect it’s mockery, but it’s funny mockery.
From Ginger K. (they forgot my dwarf, “Sleepless”):
Titania finally tweeted something, and I’ve seen equivalent sentiments by some Wokesters. An excerpt from her article:
It is no exaggeration to say that Elon Musk’s annexation of Twitter is the most terrifying development in recent history. Only a fascist would seek to impose free speech on humanity.
This is why there has been such a chorus of execration from left-wing commentators, celebrities and influencers. On the day that Musk seized control of Twitter, Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz noted that it was “like the gates of hell opened on this site tonight”. Charlie Warzel in The Atlantic wrote that there was “an apocalyptic feel to the ordeal”.
But it was the Independent that really grasped the full gravity of this moment. Its headline read — “RIP Twitter, 2006-2022: Dead at the Hands of Elon Musk”. It is a testament to the cool-headed stoicism of left-wing journalists that they have managed not to overreact.
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is far worse than anything Hitler ever did.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) December 4, 2022
Masih is tweeting up a storm; this one made me happy (not that I want the Shah back!)
Last night, a billboard of Khomeini was burned by protesters in #Ardabil. Khomeini brought 4 decades of darkness, gender apartheid, oppression, and isolation to Iran. Iranians are done with his ideology. #IranRevoIution is on full swing.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 4, 2022
From Luana: this is clearly a parody site, like Titania’s, but this is a good one:
“I affirm your identity”
Be sure to obtain consent before whispering in anyone’s ear. https://t.co/YJJk4LbUCB
— Ann Lesby, PhD (she/her) 🌈 (@AnnLesbyPhD) December 3, 2022
From Malcom; parrots growing on trees!
It looks like an ordinary tree, but look closer
📸 Dilip Agarwal pic.twitter.com/9P77ZVf4NG
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) December 1, 2022
From Ron, who says the data behind this graph come from Pew. Poor Poland!
There is a difference between cultural preference for religion and actively participating in religious practices. Church attendance has been dropping for decades. Identification with religion drops with a lag of several years (if not decades) after church attendance drops. pic.twitter.com/2SfQ6B2Kmw
— Simon Kuestenmacher (@simongerman600) November 30, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
5 December 1886 | A Czech Jew, Adolf Běhavý, was born in Jičín.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 5, 2022
Tweets from Professor Cobb. First (and I may have posted this recently), a girl befriends and raises a baby runner duck. Sound up:
Little girl teaches her baby duck how to swim 😍 pic.twitter.com/BvGYlqnER4
— The Dodo (@dodo) November 29, 2022
I’m not sure where this comes from; perhaps a British reader will know:
— No Context Brits (@NoContextBrits) November 24, 2022
And some British phrases translated into English:
“I was under the impression”
Translation: I’m furious
“As per my email”
Translation: I’m furious
Translation: I’m furious
“Whilst I appreciate”
Translation: I’m furious
“As I’m sure you’re aware”
Translation: I’m furious
— VeryBritishProblems (@SoVeryBritish) November 24, 2022
They forgot: “A quite nice article”. Translation: “That article sucked!”