Saturday: Hili dialogue

December 10, 2022 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Caturday, December 10, 2022: National Lager Day. It could have been worse: it could have been National IPA Day, with overhopped beers that many people seem to love. (There are some good lagers, but none of them are American.)

It’s also Nobel Prize Day, celebrating the man who gave the money (Nobel died on Dec. 10, 1896), Dewey Decimal System Day, Gingerbread Decorating Day, Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales, mourning all the whales humans have killed, and Human Rights Day. Which reminds me—aren’t the Nobels to be awarded soon?

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 10 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*This is a bit of a surprise: Kirsten Sinema, bane of the Senate Democrats, has just decided to change her party label from “Democrat” to “Independent”.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is changing her party affiliation to independent, delivering a jolt to Democrats’ narrow majority and Washington along with it.

In a 45-minute interview, the first-term senator told POLITICO that she will not caucus with Republicans and suggested that she intends to vote the same way she has for four years in the Senate. “Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she said.

Provided that Sinema sticks to that vow, Democrats will still have a workable Senate majority in the next Congress, though it will not exactly be the neat and tidy 51 seats they assumed. They’re expected to also have the votes to control Senate committees. And Sinema’s move means Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — a pivotal swing vote in the 50-50 chamber the past two years — will hold onto some but not all of his outsized influence in the Democratic caucus.

Sinema would not address whether she will run for reelection in 2024, and informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of her decision on Thursday.

So why did she do it? Axios gives four reasons:

Sinema hopes her switch to the new label will free her from partisan pressures and the expectations of her caucus as she attempts to remain a key bipartisan broker, the sources said.

  • “Her registration is now catching up with her reality. She was always miraculous at not caring about media reports and criticisms, but it’s just one less thing to worry about,” former Sinema aide John Labombard told Axios.
  • “It’s kind of a helpful reset of expectations. Anyone who assumed at any point that moderates in our party would always just fall in line, and do what the most vocal and loudest voices in our party wanted them to do was never a reasonable expectation,” he added.

Between the lines: Sinemaprides herself on having been a crucial, bipartisan dealmaker over the last two years — helping cut compromises on infrastructure, gun reform, the CHIPS bill, and more — and often did so without the support of her Democratic colleagues.

  • While her success in 2018 can in large part be owed to the Democratic Party’s support, Sinema maintains she’s always considered herself a separate entity.
  • On the campaign trail in 2018, she often touted bipartisanship and ran an ad titled “Independent.”

If Walker had won in Georgia, things would be the same as before, with the Democrats (including Sinema) still controlling the Senate, but Sinema would have more power, because her vote is essential to get the 50/50 split in the Senate to allow Harris to break the tie. And doesn’t Sinema lose party funding from the Democrats? I’m not sure, really, what she has to gain rather than having a label that corresponds more with her “lived experience.”

The new Independent Senator

*There were two games today in the World Cup, and this one is a shocker!

The World Cup continues Friday with the first two quarterfinals, and the day opened with a stunner: Croatia scored an equalizer in the final minutes of stoppage time and then eliminated five-time champion Brazil in a penalty shootout, 4-2, after a 1-1 draw. The top-ranked Brazilians were a heavy favorite to reach the semifinals, but now Croatia, the 2018 runner-up, will face the Netherlands or Argentina on Tuesday. Continue reading for highlights from the game.

  • Brazil benefited from the return of injured star Neymar in its round-of-16 game against South Korea, and he scored an incredible goal in extra time Friday that seemed likely to send the world’s top-ranked team through to the semifinals. But Bruno Petkovic answered for Croatia, which prevailed in penalties.
  • Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the star against Japan in the round of 16, and he came through again against Brazil. He made 11 saves, and Brazil missed two penalties to send Croatia to the World Cup semifinals for the third time.

The NYT comes pretty close to blaming the Brazilian loss on Neymar’s embrace, along with several of his teammates, of national extreme-right politics. It’s a very weird op-ed. But one thing’s for sure: nobody expected Croatia to win. Here are the highlights. The Croatian goalkeeper is the star!

I thought the matchup would be Brazil vs. Argentina in the final, but that’s clearly not to be. But at least Argentina still has a chance, as it beat the Netherlands—but in another game decided by penalty kicks:

Argentina almost did it the easy way. For a while, Lionel Messi and his teammates were sailing smoothly into the World Cup semifinals. And then, all of a sudden, they were not. They got there in the end, thanks to a victory over the Netherlands in a penalty shootout, but they had to suffer for it first.

With a few minutes to play in front of a typically boisterous, partisan crowd at Lusail Stadium, Argentina was on course for a double victory. It led the Dutch by two goals, one created by Messi and the other a penalty converted by him. That was good enough. Even better was that it had already seen Brazil eliminated from the tournament, its greatest rival and its most immediate obstacle en route to the final, suddenly vanished.

Perhaps, as the game seemed to amble to its close, Argentina’s players might have allowed their thoughts to drift to next week, to an appointment with Croatia, or maybe even a little further still. If they did, they were soon snapped back to reality: Wout Weghorst, the looming Dutch striker, halved the deficit; and then, nine minutes into added time, thanks to the quicksilver imagination of Teun Koopmeiners, Weghorst drew the Dutch level. This was not the easy way.

. . . The last time these two teams had met on this stage, in 2014, it had gone to penalties; so it would again.

Emiliano Martínez, Argentina’s goalkeeper, is a specialist on these sorts of occasions. He saved the first two Dutch efforts. But that would have been the easy way, and Argentina does not take the easy way. Enzo Fernández missed. The Dutch started to claw their way back. It all came down to Lautaro Martínez, the final penalty taker. And he, at last, ended Argentina’s calvary. Brazil is gone. Argentina is through, even if it took the long way around.

The highlights (I’m rooting for Argentina because I want Messi’s team to win his last World Cup). Messi’s pass to set up Argentina’s first goal is one of the finest passes I’ve ever seen: there was no room for error.

*The tale of how the Russians came to trade Brittney Greiner for arms dealer Viktor Bout is a long and convoluted one, or so the NYT reports. What’s interesting is that the Russians were also willing to release American Paul Whelan (accused of espionage, I have no idea if he was guilty) IF the Germans threw in a Russian prisoner they were holding.

Month after month, as American diplomats pushed for the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan from Russian prisons, they received the same, infuriating answer: If you want both prisoners, we want Vadim Krasikov as part of the deal.

Mr. Krasikov is an assassin who murdered a Chechen fighter in a park in Berlin in broad daylight in 2019, a brazen killing that the German authorities say was committed at the behest of Russia’s intelligence services. Convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Germany, Mr. Krasikov was not in U.S. custody to be traded to Russia.

It was, the Americans thought, hardly a viable request for a swap that would include Ms. Griner, a W.N.B.A. star, and Mr. Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, who were being detained on what Biden administration officials considered trumped-up charges. American officials felt out their German counterparts to see if they might agree and were hardly surprised when Berlin refused to release what they considered a cold killer. Trying to be creative, the Americans even explored some sort of three-way deal that would give the Germans something in return, but that did not go anywhere, either.

The Germans weren’t interested in giving up Krasikov, both because they had nothing to gain and because of the nature of his crime. In the end, Russia made out better than the U.S. as Bout apparently has connections with the Russian security apparatus. And the NYT also reports that Putin is selling this as a victory over America. And it is, of a sort, but it’s a pretty pathetic way to offset Putin’s big losses in Ukraine.

*Ahead of next week’s UN biodiversity summit in Montreal, the NYT has an interactive article, “Animals are running out of places to live” (h/t Steve). First the article makes you sad by showing you all the animal species that have lost 30% or more of their habitat, and then makes you sadder when you read about this is is probably irreversible:

The groups of animals you just scrolled through aren’t the only species that have lost a third or more of their global habitat. They’re just some of the mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles researchers can currently track. Most live in tropical forests.

“If the forest disappears, they will disappear,” said Walter Jetz, a professor of biodiversity science at Yale University who leads Map of Life, a platform that combines satellite imaging with ecological data to determine how species ranges are changing around the world. Map of Life shared data with The New York Times.

Biodiversity, or all the variety of life on the planet — including plants, invertebrates and ocean species — is declining at rates unprecedented in human history, according to the leading intergovernmental scientific panel on the subject. The group’s projections suggest that a million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.

Nations are meeting in Montreal to try to chart a different path. Delayed two years because of the pandemic, delegations are working to land a new, 10-year agreement to tackle biodiversity loss under a United Nations treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction,” said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, in his opening remarks on Tuesday in Montreal.

The last global biodiversity agreement failed to meet a single target at the global level, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity itself, and wildlife populations continue to plummet.

Well, I was glad I lived at a time when I could still visit unspoiled areas of rain forest; and I hope (but don’t expect) that this would be possible in a few generations.

*The Washington Post reports that shark week, well, let me give you the headline that tells the tale (click to read the piece by Daniel Wu; h/t Luana):

What?  They quote a woman shark biologist.

[Lisa] Whitenack led a team of researchers to examine hundreds of “Shark Week” episodes that aired between 1988 and 2020. In a study published last month by the Public Library of Science, their research claims that Discovery’s programming emphasized negative messages about sharks, lacked useful messaging about shark conservation and overwhelmingly featured White men as experts — including several with the same name.

The programming featured more White experts and commentators named “Mike” than women, said David Shiffman, a conservationist at Arizona State University who was a co-author of the study.

“When there are hundreds of people of color interested who work in this field, [and] when my field is more than half women, maybe it’s not an accident anymore that they’re only featuring White men,” Shiffman said.

Discovery did not respond to a request for comment on the study’s findings. The company told NBC Boston that it wouldn’t comment on a study “that has yet to pass any scientific approvals” after a preliminary version was presented 2021. It has since undergone a scientific review, Whitenack said.
Well, if they disproportionately represented men as shark researchers, that does send a bad message, and I can’t fault the criticism. And if the “Mike” inequity was a point made to emphasize the dearth of women, I can’t really kvetch about this. Still, there’s hardly any aspect of science which isn’t rife with either implicit or explicit accusations of structural racism or sexism.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s all puffed up (fur plus winter weight plus normal avoirdupois):

Paulina: You look threatening.
Hili: We all try to make a strong impression on others.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Paulina: Wyglądasz groźnie.
Hili: Wszyscy próbujemy robić mocne wrażenie na innych.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

*******************

FOUR cat memes today. First, one from Simon:

From the Not Another Science Cat FB page:

From Anna:

From Beth:

I found this on Masih’s site, retweeted by Rowling. Iran is starting to execute protestors, even young ones:

His mother:

Matt Taibbi has a grim tale of dark doings about censorship at Twitter, recounted on Twitter. The long thread starts here:

From SImon. But how could God be wrong? As Archie Bunker said, he’s inflammabe!

From Barry: Moggies in flagrante delicto

From the Auschwitz Museum: a Jehovah’s Witness who lived but twenty days in the camp before she died:

 

Tweets from Matthew. First, a VERY NEEDY cat!

I’m sure I’ve posted this one before, but hey, it’s good!

I had a baby skunk, raised on a skunk farm (and descented), and it was just like this one. But they really do belong in the wild, and I wouldn’t get another:

Who said cats weren’t useful to humans beyond catching mice?

REALLY OLD galaxies!

27 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Looks like the Nobel awards Peace Prize ceremony and banquet are to commence at 13:00 CET at the Oslo City Hall, Oslo, Norway and the other prizes to be awarded at a ceremony at 16:00 CET at the Stockholm Concert Hall, with the banquet following at the Stockholm City Hall, Stockholm, Sweden.

      1. I had to look it up on the official website. I didn’t realize there were separate ceremonies and banquets. The site isn’t that helpful, either. I had to search for the times, which were in tiny, pale font that my sleepy eyes kept overlooking. But based on past ceremony photos, it looks like quite the fancy shindig, a real knees-up beanfest. They seem to do City Halls a bit different over there.

  2. According to one of my sources, on 10 December 1965, the Grateful Dead played their first public show.

    It’s also my father’s birthday (he would have been 105). In my youth, we waited until after my father’s birthday to put up all the Christmas decorations. The reason for this was so that no tipsy relatives would knock anything over and break it when we had the extended family over for the birthday party.

    For similar reasons, the decorations always came down just before my birthday in January.

    1. Did you see the recent CBS Sunday Morning interview with Bob Weir? He’s performing some of the Dead’s songs with a symphony orchestra and a conductor. Long strange trip indeed.

  3. I’m not sure, really, what she [Kyrsten Sinema] has to gain rather than having a label that corresponds more with her “lived experience.”

    I think Sinema is setting up a poison-pill situation for her 2024 reelection bid.

    Sinema is unpopular with her AZ constituents, particularly with the Democratic Party faithful, in large measure because she refuses to meet face-to-face with anyone in her state and because she almost always votes the interests the her big-dollar out-of-state donors she does travel around to meet with. She was widely expected to face a tough 2024 Democratic US senate primary challenge from Arizona congressman Ruben Gallego.

    By declaring herself an Independent, she’s essentially daring the Democrats to run a candidate against her during the 2024 senate campaign, thereby assuring a split party vote and all but handing the senate election to the Republicans.

    You won’t find someone more selfish and narcissistic with a “D” after their name than Kyrsten Sinema.

    1. Yep. She is so unpopular among Democrats that she was guaranteed to lose in the next primary. I don’t think she’ll run as an independent but this keeps her options open. She is among the greatest disappointments for Democrats who supported her when she ran the last time.

    2. You’re right. She is blackmailing the Democratic Party. If she decides to run again for the Senate from Arizona in 2024 as an independent, she will have no chance to win unless the Democratic Party, with extreme reluctance, decides to field no candidate to run against her. If both Sinema and a Democrat run, it is guaranteed that the Republican candidate will win. She is an appalling person.

      Yet, the Democrats may pay the blackmail by supporting her. The 2024 senatorial map is very bad for Democrats. The odds that the Democrats will retain Senate control is very bad. Thus to give them at least a fighting chance, the Democrats may end up supporting her.

    3. Yes she is asking the Democrats to treat her the same way they treat Bernie Sanders and Angus King. Also independents, and the Democrats do not run candidates against them.

      1. Difference being that King/Sanders constituents generally like their senators. Sinema constituents, not so much. National Dems may support her but Arizona Dems won’t and they get to vote on it.

        1. Maybe, but in Arizona independents outnumber Democrats, so the preferences of a Democratic primary may be opposed by a large majority in a general election. Sinema at least could win a general election. Depends on whether you hate Republicans more or less than independents.

          1. The point is that Arizona Dems will run a candidate and will vote for that candidate regardless of whether national party types want them to.

    4. I was hoping that this would split Republicans away, as in many would vote for her, since she seems more moderate than a loony tune far right Republican.

    5. Yeah, it’s a very cynical and transparent ploy. And the fact that Axios completely missed it says a lot about political journalism in this country- the MSM is clueless. And they still don’t know how NOT to be manipulated by Trump and other right-wingers. They can’t even make the salient point that the GOP is now a neo-fascist party in plain sight.

  4. I think in asking why Sinema left the Democratic Party, it’s best to look her reasons, rather than partisan spin of Axios. It’s typical of the MSM these days that almost no one is quoting from her statement or even linking to it. She says, in part:

    Everyday Americans are increasingly left behind by national parties’ rigid partisanship, which has hardened in recent years. Pressures in both parties pull leaders to the edges, allowing the loudest, most extreme voices to determine their respective parties’ priorities and expecting the rest of us to fall in line. 

    In catering to the fringes, neither party has demonstrated much tolerance for diversity of thought. Bipartisan compromise is seen as a rarely acceptable last resort, rather than the best way to achieve lasting progress. Payback against the opposition party has replaced thoughtful legislating. 

    Americans are told that we have only two choices — Democrat or Republican — and that we must subscribe wholesale to policy views the parties hold, views that have been pulled further and further toward the extremes. 

    Most Arizonans believe this is a false choice, and when I ran for the U.S. House and the Senate, I promised Arizonans something different. I pledged to be independent and work with anyone to achieve lasting results. I committed I would not demonize people I disagreed with, engage in name-calling, or get distracted by political drama.

    The question should be, is that actually in line with what she has promised and maintained and how she has acted? I’d be thrilled if more Senators and Representatives, Democrat and Republican, followed her example.

    “Well, if they disproportionately represented men as shark researchers, that does send a bad message, and I can’t fault the criticism.” Does it? We have to stop accepting that there is some sort of natural equality that should be represented in different professions, and reject the idea that disparity, absent proof of discrimination, is bad.

    1. Why would you believe anything Sinema has to say? She’s a duplicitous narcissist who cares about one thing, and one thing only: $inema.

  5. Michelle Goldberg in today’s NY Times has an article on Senator Sinema’s announcement to become an Independent, and I agree with Goldberg’s analysis. Sinema needs to avoid a primary challenge in AZ because she has abandoned those (mostly Democrats) who elected her. Sinema embodies the cynicism and opportunism that defines so much of our politics, in that she was willing to sell out her voters and position herself to serve her corporate benefactors. She has no interest in good public policy. Had the GOP been successful in re-taking the senate, I have no doubt that Sinema’s decision to appear centrist–conveniently made after the Georgia run-off election–would be the version of centrism that gives Sinema the most power and fluffs her narcissistic tendencies, even if it meant becoming a Republican.

  6. No good American Lagers? I beg to differ.

    When German brewers came to North America they found that using the local six row barley resulted in hazy beer, due to the barley’s higher protein content (compared to the two row barley commonly grown in Europe). To compensate they added another local ingredient, corn. The six row barley had plenty of enzymes to break down the starch in the corn, and the corn added grainy sweet flavor to the beer. This style of beer was hopped aggressively in the style of European pilsners.

    Unfortunately the combination of prohibition and World War 2 resulted in the decline of this style, as both the overall strength of the beer and the hop levels were reduced (some blame the increase of women in the work force during WW2 as a cause, as they allegedly preferred the lower strength beer). The use of rice over corn became more common, as this further lowered the malt and grain flavors of the beer. And that is your modern Miller or Budweiser.

    Today, the original style is given the name Pre-Prohibition Lager by beer geeks, but it is a style which is hard to find. Coors Batch 19 is supposedly in this style, and other versions can sometimes be found from time to time in a craft brewery. I often brew this style, it is a great summer beer, both flavorful and refreshing. Analogous to a good English bitter in its flavor yet simplicity.

    A second American original in this vein is the California Common, known by most beer drinkers as Anchor Steam, one of the earliest beers in the US craft beer revival. Steam beers are hybrids, they use lager yeasts but are fermented at warmer temperatures, like ales. This style originated in San Francisco, and came about simply due to a lack of refrigeration. It is not my favorite, but is certainly notable as an American original and a flavorful beer as opposed to Bud, Miller, Coors, Pabst, etc.

    1. Yeungling lager ain’t too shabby, and I’d agree that Anchor Steam is an acceptable beverage, although it’s not something I drink very often. The biggest local brewery near me, Boulevard, in KC MO, can make a decent lager, at least hypothetically speaking, but they tend towards to Coyne’s Law candy and sugar dessert beers these days. Dreadful stuff. They’ve also made the most revolting lager I’ve ever tasted, I forget what it was called, maybe simply Kansas City Lager, but it had the flavor of children’s chewable Tylenol that I remember from childhood.

      1. Boulevard’s Tank 7 is an excellent brew. I confess I have not tried their lager, but generally I like Boulevard.

  7. Actually, there is a good American lager, the Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. Basically, a European pils, Americanized with 30% corn, 6-row malt, and American hops for bittering.

    I don’t know of any commercially, but I made one back in the nineties, it was fantastic. I’ll never forget it.

  8. In a study published last month by the Public Library of Science, their research claims that Discovery’s programming emphasized negative messages about sharks, lacked useful messaging about shark conservation and overwhelmingly featured White men as experts — including several with the same name.

    Watching “Shark Week” is what Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels did in lieu of foreplay before their illicit hook-up. According to Stormy, the Donald has a morbid fear of sharks and wishes they would all die.

    I wish I could bleach my brain and forget I ever heard about that.

  9. The howls of outrage from the left regarding Sinema remind me of similar howls from the right over McCain’s various positions.

    Russian state media personalities wasted no time exploiting the Brittney Griner story: the Biden administration opted for her release over that of Paul Whelan because he is 1) white, 2) male, and 3) heterosexual.

    Say whatever else you want to about Putin, the man does know how to stoke the culture wars.

  10. Re ‘surprise’ results: Croatia eliminating Brazil in the quarter finals is not very surprising. Croatia was a finalist in 2018, while Brazil hasn’t reached the final since 2002.
    I’m disappointed in Lionel Messi (despite him still being the greatest extant player). He hit a deliberate, he stretched his arm to reach, handball in the 10th minute of the second half, he should have been yellow or red card-ed, and his making ears to the Dutch players after the match was also not really edifying. His rant (called X-rated in the media) against the Dutch coach was uncalled-for and shameful. I do not care anymore for his feelings about being part of a world cup winning team. He appears a spoiled superstar.
    I hope Croatia will beat Argentina.
    Note that the final may still be a repeat of the 2018 final : France vs Croatia.

  11. Regarding the Shark Week study…

    “When there are hundreds of people of color interested who work in this field, [and] when my field is more than half women, maybe it’s not an accident anymore that they’re only featuring White men,” Shiffman said.

    Let’s see if I can cogently describe my objections to the above claim of discrimination and others like it.

    The claim: The Shark Week show discriminates against women.

    Evidence: Today, more than half of the people in the “field” are women. Men are overly represented as experts on the Shark Week show. The show therefore discriminates against women.

    Objections:

    1. The study covers the years 1988 to 2020. How do we know that the percentage of women in the “field” was not always below 20% until 2010 at which point it grew steadily each year until it reached 51% in 2020. If this was the case, then there would be no “evidence” of discrimination until 2020.

    2. Furthermore, let’s assume it takes 15 years for men or women to become experts in the “field” and only “experts” are featured in the show. If the male/female ratio in the field 15 years ago was 80/20, then 80/20 representation on today’s show would not be evidence of discrimination. (This objection applies to any position that requires years of experience such as CEOs, orchestra conductor, NFL head coach, etc.)

    3. How does the study authors define the terms “field” and “expert.”

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