Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, December 6, 2022: National Gazpacho Day, honoring an underappreciated soup.
It’s also National Microwave Oven Day, National Pawnbrokers Day, National Trick Shot Day, and, in Canada, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Here are 100 minutes of trick shots in pool, many by the greats:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 6 Wikipedia page.
*If you listened to much of today’s Supreme Court hearing on the web designer vs. gay wedding case, you’ll have heard that the Court’s conservatives seemed sympathetic to the web designer who wouldn’t set up a website for a gay marriage. But there were a lot of “hypotheticals” asked to try to demarcate who could and couldn’t be refused service under different conditions. The web designer, Lorie Smith, says that being forced to make gay-themed websites would be “compelled speech,” violating the First Amendment. The NYT summary:
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed prepared on Monday to rule that a graphic designer in Colorado has a First Amendment right to refuse to create websites celebrating same-sex weddings based on her Christian faith despite a state law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.
But several justices leaning in that direction appeared to be searching for limiting principles so as not to upend all sorts of anti-discrimination laws.
They explored the difference between businesses engaged in expression and ones simply selling goods; the difference between a client’s message and that of the designer; the difference between discrimination against gay couples and compelling the creation of messages supporting same-sex marriage; and the difference between discrimination based on race and that based on sexual orientation.
The bottom line, though, seemed to be that the court would not require the designer to create customized websites celebrating same-sex marriage despite the state anti-discrimination law.
The court’s three liberal members expressed deep qualms about the damage a ruling in favor of the designer could do to efforts to combat discrimination.
The decision won’t come down until June, but if anybody wants to bet me that they’ll rule against the website designer, I’m on. It’s going to be a 6-3 decision, and a very long one, with, of course three dissents. I was wrong earlier today in couching this as a freedom-of-religion case, as if that were the only thing at stake, then the designer would have to serve gay customers. No, the case is about the First Amendment:
The precise question the justices agreed to decide in the new case is “whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”
That presumably wouldn’t apply to cakes, unless bakers are considered as “making statements” when concocting a gay wedding cake. Now what’s next: overruling the right to gay marriage enshrined in the Obergefell v. Hodges case? Thomas and his cronies are itching to do away with that right.
*There’s still considerable doubt about whether Iran really is going to do away with the morality police, or eliminate the hijab requirement. The government has not confirmed the former, and the latter is a matter of pure speculation. What we do know is that more women are going without headscarves than ever before.
Confusion over the status of Iran’s religious police grew as state media cast doubt on reports the force had been shut down. Despite the uncertainty, it has appeared for weeks that enforcement of the strict dress code has been scaled back as more women walk the streets without wearing the required headscarf.
The mixed messages have raised speculation that Iran’s cleric-run leadership is considering concessions in an attempt to defuse widespread anti-government protests that are entering the third month. The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the religious police.
Monday marked the start of another three-day nationwide strike called by protesters. In Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, about a third of the shops were closed, witnesses said. In response, Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi ordered the arrest of anyone encouraging the strike or trying to intimidate shops into shutting down.
. . . On Saturday, Iran’s chief prosecutor, Mohamed Jafar Montazeri, said the religious police “had been closed,” in a report published by the semi-official news agency, ISNA. He was also quoted as saying that the government was reviewing the mandatory hijab law.
“We are working fast on the issue of hijab and we are doing our best to come up with a thoughtful solution to deal with this phenomenon that hurts everyone’s heart,” he said, without offering details.
But late Sunday, Arabic-language state outlet Al-Alam issued a report suggesting Montazeri’s comments had been misunderstood. The report said the religious police were not connected to the judiciary, to which Montazeri belongs. It underlined that no official has confirmed the closure of the religious police.
If you ask me (and you didn’t), I think the protestors are going to win on both counts: no more morality police and no mandatory hijab. Iran’s international reputation has suffered severely since the murder of Mahsa Amini. And women are openly flouting the law, apparently without punishment.
Still, for weeks, fewer morality police officers have been seen in Iranian cities. Across Tehran, It has become common to see women walking the city’s streets without wearing the hijab, particularly in wealthier areas — but also to a lesser extent in more traditional neighborhoods. At times, unveiled women walk past anti-riot police and Basiji forces.
The anti-government demonstrations have shown few signs of stopping despite a violent crackdown in which, according to rights groups, at least 471 people were killed. More than 18,200 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations.
Protesters say they are tired of decades of social and political repression, including the dress code. Women have played a leading role in protests, stripping off their headscarf.
*An article by Nicholas Wade in the City Journal gives more credibility to the hypothesis that the Covid-19 virus truly was a lab leak rather than an escapee from a Wuhan wet market. The linked article gives two pieces of evidence that the genome of the virus might have been altered by human intervention:
a). The SARS-CoV2 genome, some 30,000 nucleotide units in length, contains a 12-nucleotide insert, known as a furin cleavage site, which greatly enhances its infectivity. Closely related viruses frequently exchange genetic material, so it would be easy to see SARS-CoV2’s furin cleavage site as having a natural origin if any other viruses in its group possessed one. But none does. Hence Farzan’s perplexity and his inference that the furin site must have been engineered into the virus.
Well, that’s suggestive but not dispositive; natural selection could have favored an insertion and then DNA-code changes. But this one is the kicker:
b). Inside the anomaly of the furin cleavage site is another puzzle, also highly indicative of an engineered virus. The genetic code is universal but also loose enough to allow for spelling preferences that differ from one organism to another. So coronaviruses prefer one set of spellings and humans another. Six of the 12 nucleotides in the furin cleavage site, the sequence CGG-CGG, represent the human-preferred spelling. Indeed, this sequence, when in correct frame, is unknown in coronaviruses, raising the clear possibility that it came from a lab kit, not from nature.
Now that gets me perked up. The rest of the article discusses how American scientists were aware of these issues but kept pretty quiet about it, presumably not wanting to accuse the Chinese of either malfeasance (they would not deliberately release the virus in their own country), incompetence, or a plan to make a bioweapon that accidentally got out of the lab. I’m withholding judgment because the evidence goes back and forth in this one.
*Here are yesterday’s World Cup results in the knockout Round of 16. First, Croatia beat Japan, a team now headed home
The highlights: Japan scores 45 seconds in, Croatia ties at 1:17. In the shootout after play ended, the Croatian goalkeeper guessed right and stopped three Japanese shots, and Croatia slipped one in to win:
And. . .South Korea got mashed by Brazil but the score would have been even more lopsided without many saves by the Korean goalkeeper.
Brazil is through to the quarterfinals after a convincing 4-1 victory over South Korea in the Round of 16.
The Seleção did the majority of its damage in the first half. Vinicius, Jr., Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta all found the back of the South Korean net during the first 45 minutes of action.
Despite the insurmountable deficit, the South Koreans came out in the second half and showed a lot of fight.
The video (the third goal for Brazil, involving head-juggling [1:55], is brilliant, as is the sole South Korean goal [4:07]):
*The Washington Post‘s Food Fascists are at it again with an article called “Ask a doctor: are salads actually good for you?” You know the answer: put more yucky stuff in them and leave out the tasty dressings, especially the bottled kind like ranch dressing.
The main health benefit of lettuce and other greens in a salad is the fiber. Salads are usually packed with fiber, which is a nutrient — just not for you! Fiber is really food for the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut. Fiber is also the key to metabolic health. Bacteria in your gut turn fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which can regulate immune function and keep inflammation in check.
In other words, think of your salad as MEDICINE rather than food! It goes on, sadly:
But the healthiest salads include plenty of other good-for-you ingredients, such as antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals that are essential for your liver, which detoxify virtually all the environmental poisons that enter the body. To perform this magic trick, your liver needs these antioxidants.
For antioxidants, try chopped colorful vegetables (the darker, the better), chopped fresh fruits, herbs (fresh or dried) and spices. Then add proteins, like free-range eggs, pastured beef, fish, chicken, tofu, beans or lentils.
Well, it could have been worse: they could have said to put in ANCHOVIES! I don’t mind eggs, fruits, or chicken. Then it gets worse again:
Bonus points go to kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts — cruciferous vegetables that can increase your body’s own natural production of antioxidants and stimulate the production of liver detoxification enzymes.
. . .Okay. Now let’s talk about salad dressings. To make a great homemade dressing, focus on ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, tahini, vinegar, Dijon, herbs, spices and citrus juices low in sugar (lemon, lime, grapefruit).
But the same can’t be said about most store-bought dressings. Store-bought versions are often made with canola and soybean oils, which are chock full of linoleic acid, an inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.
And OMG sometimes there’s sugar in bottled dressings. Look, I don’t mind people eating healthy, but when you start making food into a medicine, some of the joy goes out of life.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows her Jewish-cat pessimism:
Hili: If you want to be an optimist it’s your business.A: And you?Hili: I prefer to be careful.
Hili: Jeśli chcesz być optymistą to twoja sprawa.Ja: A ty?Hili: Ja wolę być ostrożna.
A cartoon sent by Stash Krod on FB. It’s a pretty accurate summary of every postgame sports interview ever done, and not just including soccer!
A winter snow globe from Nicole:
Two tweets from Masih. The new Iranian revolution is growing:
Complete failure of regime to brainwash students in Iran
These female students are chanting the new revolutionary song “barayeh”. 43 years of brainwashing by the clerics have failed. This new generation is the nightmare of this regime#IranRevolution
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 5, 2022
Iranian protesters call for 3-day nationwide strike and protests starting today December 7.
Shop owners kept their shops closed this morning in Tehran, Isfahan, Bushehr, Khuzestan, Alborz, N Khorasan, Arak, Azarbaijan, Ilam, Kurdistan, and many other provinces.#MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/o4qPvC7sf8
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 5, 2022
From Barry: inter-male competition in sexual selection (Darwin called it “the law of battle”):
He found one he liked better lol pic.twitter.com/siJfz0FigR
— Lance🇱🇨 (@BornAKang) December 4, 2022
From Malcolm, a fun way to lay bricks’ the reverse wave has a physical explanation:
When you lay bricks like dominoes at the proper distance, on top of the obvious domino effect, you get an unexpected opposite wave starting as soon as the last bricks falls down
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) November 29, 2022
From Luana, a true news story:
THIS HILARIOUS STORY deserves far more attention:
Public crossdresser Sam Britton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Office of Spent Fuel & Waste, allegedly steals woman's luggage at airport.https://t.co/DvelHqn59Q
— Belissa Cohen #NoFemaleLanguage4Men. Ever. (@BelissaCohen) November 28, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
6 December 1911 | A Czech Jewish woman, Vilemina Wittlerová, was born in Prague.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 6, 2022
Tweets from His Eminence Professor Cobb. First, what is this kid doing?
Meanwhile in The Netherlands.. pic.twitter.com/QnSqDL4FXB
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 8, 2022
The Whitechapel fatberg was a 130-ton, 250 m-long congealed mass of fat and other gunk found and removed from London’s sewers. There’s a commemorative manhole cover!
FINALLY found the commemorative manhole cover celebrating the defeat of the Whitechapel fatberg, after 5 years of looking for it. pic.twitter.com/2gaCOqcHTm
— GAUDETE CRISTUS EST NAT US (@unfortunatalie) December 3, 2022
I may have posted this amazing murmuration of starlings before, but if so you get to see it again. It’s amazing, and a long video: 2¼ minutes. Watch it all!
OK so tonight might just be the best I’ve ever seen. Mesmerising doesn’t come close. pic.twitter.com/zqSGKkjsVl
— Mark Lowen (@marklowen) November 18, 2022