Welcome to a Hump Day (known as Kupros diena in Lithuania), Wednesday, December 21, 2022, and National Hamburger Day. Here is America’s best burger, which means the world’s best burger, but you have to go to San Diego to get it:
Note that the Winter Solstice occurs today at 3:47 Chicago time, so get yourself warm—big storms are coming our way!
It’s also only 4 days until Coynezaa begins, but I may have to cancel my trip to Poland as my hosts are both ill.
It’s also Ribbon Candy Day, National French Fried Shrimp Day, National Kiwi Fruit Day, National Coquito Day (also known as “Puerto Rican Eggnog“), Anne and Samantha Day (check the link), and Crossword Puzzle Day.
Related to the solstice are these holidays: Blue Christmas (some modern American liberal Protestant groups), Dongzhi Festival (Asia), Sanghamitta Day (Theravada Buddhism), and Yule in the Northern Hemisphere (Neopagan Wheel of the Year). Finally, it’s Forefathers’ Day (Plymouth, Massachusetts) and São Tomé Day (São Tomé and Príncipe), celebrating a lovely island where I used to catch flies. I will not see it again.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 21 Wikipedia page.
*According to the Washington Post, the Biden White House is pretty damn worried about an upcoming investigation by a majority-Republican Congress. No, not about Hunter Biden, though that may come, but about the administration’s conduct in Afghanistan.
From the moment President Biden’s Afghanistan pullout began to go wrong — chaos at Kabul’s airport, 13 U.S. service members killed by a suicide bombing, Afghans falling to their deaths from departing planes — the White House braced for withering congressional inquiries.
But it never had to face one from an empowered opposition — until now. While much attention is focused on Republicans’ plans to investigate Biden’s son Hunter, some White House and other administration officials privately say an Afghanistan probe could prove more emotionally difficult and politically damaging.
The White House can — and plans to — dismiss any investigation into Hunter Biden as a conspiratorial witch hunt, but even Democrats concede that Congress has a right to scrutinize a troubled military action that resulted in American and Afghan deaths. Democrats may argue Hunter Biden’s business dealings aren’t of concern to ordinary Americans, but few would say the same of the Afghan pullout.
The investigation would probably gear up just as President Biden launches his reelection campaign early next year. The August 2021 withdrawal was a low point in Biden’s presidency, sending his approval ratings into a tailspin as desperate scenes from Kabul aired across the world, and the probe would probably resurface such troubling issues as the fate of Afghan interpreters who worked for the United States but were left behind.
. . . an investigation led by House Republicans who chair committees and wield subpoena power is a different matter, and GOP lawmakers have made it clear that Afghanistan will be a top investigative target.
Is this enough to derail what is apparently another Biden bid for the Presidency? It sure didn’t help him at the time, and, truth be told, I wish the Democrats would find new blood, perhaps in Mayor Peter. I think there are some questions to be asked, like “did you discuss the possibility that the U.S.-backed regime would collapse so quickly?”, and we’ll see if the Republican House will try to get back at its predecessor for the January 6 investigation.
*As a tweet below shows, and as I predicted, the Taliban flat-out lied when, after taking over Afghanistan, it promised that women would be given equal educational opportunity—in primary school, secondary schools, and colleges. They’ve now banned all women from attending nearly any school including university, a stupid move that immediately hurts half their people:
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Tuesday banned female students from attending universities effective immediately in the latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms.
Despite initially promising a more moderate rule respecting rights for women’s and minorities, the Taliban have widely implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
They have banned girls from middle school and high school, restricted women from most employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks and gyms.
. . .The decision was announced after a government meeting. A letter shared by the spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, Ziaullah Hashmi, told private and public universities to implement the ban as soon as possible and to inform the ministry once the ban is in place.
Hashmi tweeted the letter and confirmed its contents in a message to The Associated Press without giving further details.
The decision is certain to hurt efforts by the Taliban to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis. The international community has urged Taliban leaders to reopen schools and give women their right to public space.
. . . The university ban comes weeks after Afghan girls took their high school graduation exams, even though they have been banned from classrooms since the Taliban took over the country last year.
Can you imagine keeping half of your population from having the opportunity to learn, to follow their dreams? Only religion could do something like that. Sanctions won’t work, either, because this has been done in accordance with sharia law, and that supersedes any pressure from other countries.
*I rarely cite the Wall Street Journal opinion section, but I can’t resist mentioning that one of their pieces highlight Stanford University’s “guide to forbidden language,” which was previously behind a paywall but has now been published publicly. The link is below:
Parodists have it rough these days, since so much of modern life and culture resembles the Babylon Bee. The latest evidence is that Stanford University administrators in May published an index of forbidden words to be eliminated from the school’s websites and computer code, and provided inclusive replacements to help re-educate the benighted.
Call yourself an “American”? Please don’t. Better to say “U.S. citizen,” per the bias hunters, lest you slight the rest of the Americas. “Immigrant” is also out, with “person who has immigrated” as the approved alternative. It’s the iron law of academic writing: Why use one word when four will do?
You can’t “master” your subject at Stanford any longer; in case you hadn’t heard, the school instructs that “historically, masters enslaved people.” And don’t dare design a “blind study,” which “unintentionally perpetuates that disability is somehow abnormal or negative, furthering an ableist culture.” Blind studies are good and useful, but never mind; “masked study” is to be preferred. Follow the science.
“Gangbusters” is banned because the index says it “invokes the notion of police action against ‘gangs’ in a positive light, which may have racial undertones.” Not to beat a dead horse (a phrase that the index says “normalizes violence against animals”), but you used to have to get a graduate degree in the humanities to write something that stupid.
You might find it amusing to go through the guide and find out what words the woke have deemed verboten. (It took them 18 months to compile this bowdlerization of language.) Here are a few from the 13-page list. See if you can guess why they’re offensive: guru, he, seminal, American, Hispanic, straight, survivor, victim, immigrant. prisoner, prostitute, beating a dead horse, and so on ad infinitum. . .
*John McWhorter’s new column in the NYT (has he been taking time off?) explains “How a racist joke does not merit cancellation.” The example is a totally tasteless, and yes, racist joke made by the President of Purdue University Northwest:
The chancellor of Purdue University Northwest, Thomas L. Keon, did seriously screw up a couple of weekends ago. At a commencement ceremony, the speaker before him mentioned that he sometimes uses a made-up language with his family. Keon, upon reaching the podium, picked up this theme, barking out a sentence in what sounded like an embarrassing attempt to imitate Mandarin Chinese. He then chuckled, “That’s sort of my Asian version of his.”In other words, as a warm-up note, Keon pulled out a routine reminiscent of Mickey Rooney’s bucktoothed Japanese character that makes the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” all but unwatchable in spots today. The stunt reminds me, too, of an episode of the antique Milton Berle show on television in 1949, in which Berle wore a silly outfit to be “Chinese,” singing in a goofy accent with Keye Luke, an accomplished Chinese actor of the era, having to stand beside him pretending to enjoy singing the song.We’re long past that kind of thing today. A Chinese person need not suffer the indignity of allowing a coarse imitation to pass as just kiddin’ around. Why Keon thought his gag would be funny in 2022 is elusive. Perhaps he thought what was funny was him, as a white guy, speaking a language obviously not native to him. But what he missed was that his imitation looked more as though he was ridiculing how people look and sound when speaking Chinese.
Keon apologized, saying ““We are all human. I made a mistake, and I assure you I did not intend to be hurtful and my comments do not reflect my personal or our institutional values,” and the board of trustees accepted his apology. But others didn’t, and people are calling loudly for Keon to be fired. Perhaps he will, but McWhorter (and I) don’t think that’s appropriate, as Keon has no history of racist behavior. He just screwed up.
Sherrilyn Ifill, a former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, has deemed the apology “utterly insufficient.” Would a different apology suffice, or is the idea that Keon committed an unpardonable sin? Purdue Northwest’s Faculty Senate and American Association of University Professors chapter are seeking Keon’s resignation. Calls on social media for him to step down have been legion even after the apology
What is it about people that they cannot forgive a single misstep like this? Where has any empathy gone, and a realization that humans are fallible? If Keon had a history of racist behavior, that would be different, but then he wouldn’t be President of Purdue, either. I’m not betting that he keeps his job, but he shouold:
“Why is this man still in his job?!?” a tweet may plausibly read. I wonder if we have reached a point where a critical mass of responsible people will be confident enough to answer, within themselves, “Because a mature society does not wreck people’s careers because of a single gaffe, even a racially insensitive one” — and vote no on a move to performatively expel Keon from employment.
*I was intrigued by a very long article in the NYT: “The miraculous life and afterlife of Charlene Richard,” about an attempt to make a Louisiana girl who died at 12 into a saint. Charlene was religious, and once claimed to see a figure like the Virgin Mary, but of course the Catholic Church requires miracles wrought in the name of the prospective saint to begin the process of canonization. I was surprised to see that they seem to be even a bit rigorous about the process.
Finalist miracles had to satisfy three primary criteria. They had to be rigorously documented. They had to be verified by objective experts. And they could not be explainable except by supernatural intervention. Father Brennan believed that the story of Tara Roy fulfilled all three.
Two of the miracles offered by Richard’s advocates included the cure of a stage 3 colon cancer in a 21-year-old woman, and, unbelievably, the cure of an infant who was born with Down Syndrome. The Church rejected the cancer cure because the woman had had chemotherapy, which could rule out “supernatural explanation”, and —get this—they ruled out the Down Syndrome “cure” because a chromosomal test showed no abnormality. (Down children have three copies of chromosome 21.)
I was flummoxed to see that the church would really go to that length when it’s accepted other “miracles” that are far more easily explicable by simple remission. (No saint has grown back an arm, for instance.) In my view, the Vatican is just being hard-ass about this because they don’t want the girl to be a saint. So be it; I don’t care if she is or not given that I’m an atheist. But if you want to see the power of belief-, have a read of the NYT’s very long article.
*Lagniappe: Reader Jez just emailed me a BBC article saying that the Argentina victory parade after the World Cup had to be canceled because FOUR MILLION PEOPLE filled the streets of Buenos Aires, preventing the bus procession. Look at this:
. . and here’s an adorable Instagram post by Leo Messi showing him waking up next to the World Cup trophy:
Buen dia, indeed! Let’s look at a few of Messi’s great plays:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is perturbed because her environment has changed:
Hili: Nothing is straight.A: What do you have in mind?Hili: This stick which is lying on the floor.
Hili: Nic nie jest proste.Ja: Co masz na myśli?Hili: Ten patyczek, co leży na podłodze.
From Malcolm, a woman’s great balancing skills. Be sure to watch until the end.
From Jesus of the Day:
From Masih: Another execution in the offing. His parents beg for mercy.
Iranian protester #MohammadMehdiKarami is only 22. French MP and sponsor of karate champion Mohammad-Mehdi @Clem_Autain: "According to my info, my godson would be executed by hanging tomorrow morning. This is an absolute disgrace. France must immediately stop this execution. pic.twitter.com/hLdLdtS6EM
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 20, 2022
From Killian; I’ve posted this before, but Iove this video:
Why is ducks landing on ice so funny? 😀😂 pic.twitter.com/V0olv0jQoC
— LADbible (@ladbible) February 9, 2022
From Pinkah: The flawed theory is “three-cuing”, but I’ll let you read about it:
How a flawed idea (popular among teachers & in ed schools, but perennially debunked by cognitive scientists) is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers. https://t.co/y5lFPHhgle
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) December 19, 2022
From Simon; I don’t think the woman on the left is going to play tennis with her pan!
The importance customer segmentation and describing your product based on the use cases😊 pic.twitter.com/EVIw1wuS8C
— Tansu YEĞEN (@TansuYegen) December 18, 2022
From Barry: a very, very smart cat. But what is the object that the cat knocked off the door first?
Smart kitty. 😱 pic.twitter.com/v9cjKWgLz1
— Dave (@SpotTheLoon2010) December 19, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: another child murdered upon arrival.
Samuel would be only 90 years old today. That's how recent events at #Auschwitz are, but already the lessons are being forgotten. Please follow @AuschwitzMuseum and ask your followers to do the same to help their work and keep the names alive https://t.co/whMRIzlffx
— Kevin Duffy (@therealkevduffy) December 21, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. Did anybody think that the Taliban was truthful when they said they’d allow women higher education?
BREAKING: The Taliban have announced the CLOSURE of universities for women in Afghanistan, according to a letter by the Taliban's higher education minister.
The letter states that all universities will remain closed for women until further notice.
— Shabnam Nasimi (@NasimiShabnam) December 20, 2022
Yes, we do do this here, but these are gas burners next to the tracks:
since the temperature is hitting -6°F/-22°C later this week (not even factoring in wind chill), I’d like to remind everyone what we intentionally do to our train tracks here in Chicago when it gets super cold pic.twitter.com/Jdtr2Mj1Hs
— BICYCLE MENACE (@KetuAlbrecht) December 19, 2022
Some of the best camouflage I’ve seen in a while. Notice that natural selection has also changed the mantid’s behavior, so it hugs the twig:
The unbelievable camouflage. This is their own defence mechanism. pic.twitter.com/52oHaozIw6
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) December 20, 2022