Wednesday: Hili dialogue

December 21, 2022 • 6:45 am

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.

Da Nooz:

*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.
In Polish:
Hili: Nic nie jest proste.
Ja: Co masz na myśli?
Hili: Ten patyczek, co leży na podłodze.


From The Cat House on the Kings:

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.

From Killian; I’ve posted this before, but Iove this video:

From Pinkah: The flawed theory is “three-cuing”, but I’ll let you read about it:

From Simon; I don’t think the woman on the left is going to play tennis with her pan!

From Barry: a very, very smart cat. But what is the object that the cat knocked off the door first?

From the Auschwitz Memorial: another child murdered upon arrival.

Tweets from Matthew. Did anybody think that the Taliban was truthful when they said they’d allow women higher education?

Yes, we do do this here, but these are gas burners next to the tracks:

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:

42 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Charlene lived at a time when the Devil’s Advocate was still a role in the beatification process. Pope John Paul eliminated to position in, I believe, 1983.

    1. I think he didn’t eliminate it entirely, but greatly reduced its usage. The Hitch was invited to act as devil’s advocate in making the case against Mother Teresa being canonised in 2003.

  2. By the way, surprised to see a discussion of a child being taught to read at school – in the Pinker article. Surely the parents should have got that started at home? Or is that a very middle class? Probably when I think about it… my father was a teacher & teaching adults to read & write at evening classes was a sort of retirement hobby for him.

    1. The unfortunate reality is, especially in poorer households, parents teach almost nothing to their kids. They show up for kindergarten packing much of the expected preparations, like knowing ABCs, simple counting, shapes, or very many colors, for example. Parents don’t read to their kids, they don’t buy books, and they don’t play with their kids. They hand them a device and tell them to shut up. Fewer and fewer kids get exposed to what little decent semi-educational TV is out there. No more Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street, Electric Company or Reading Rainbow, Mr Wizard or even the obnoxious Bill Nye. They’re watching internet influencers doing unboxing videos or video game play…yes, watching, not even playing the game themselves.
      I can still remember being on the couch with my grandfather, maybe all of 3 years old, being read the Three Little Pigs or the Tawny Scrawny Lion. My mother always had a shelf of books for me in my room, books were given as xmas and birthday gifts, as were comic books and as I aged, Mad Magazine, school and public libraries were well-used, and car trips always included a book or two. No iPhones, no in-car DVD players, although portable video games did exist.
      All of this saves me from this terrible reading technique, which I can recall being taught in elementary school (I’m an 80’s school kid). And for the record, my family in the 20th century went from poor hillbilly farmers to working class to lower middle class in three generations, but that desire to learn, to be educated, to read, probably started with a poor little girl born out of wedlock in the time of horse and buggy, violently abused by a stepfather, who decided she wanted to take two semesters at a normal school and become a one-room schoolhouse teacher in a tiny rural town. Hardly the middle class silver spoon suburban set.

      If you really want to be depressed, pick a few local schools and look up their reading and math standardized test scores. Pick urban, rural, and suburban to get a nice range. Then pour yourself a stiff drink. You’ll need it.

      1. IMHO

        Most parents do the same things but not in the same proportions or for the same reasons.

        Observation in public certainly tells a story but not the whole story.

        To keep this short I’d just say : if ever a case against free will existed, it’d be found in parents raising kids.

    2. My experience raising my kids in the US was that reading education for young children both at home and at school was pretty bad. My wife and I taught our twins to speak, read and write at home. Then we started them in Pre-K (typically ages 4-5). The curriculum was one letter per week. I think our kids actually got dumber over that school year.

      Fun story, in that class writing your name on a sign-in sheet when you arrived in the morning was a routine writing lesson for the kids. Most couldn’t do it without help. One morning that I took the kids to school my daughter was patiently waiting while across the table another child was laboriously working to write his name on the sign-in sheet. After several moments she picked up a pen, reached across and signed her name, quickly, neatly, and in the correct orientation, even though to her the sign-in sheet was upside down. I was very impressed because I’ve never seen an adult do that, let alone a 5 year old.

    3. Depends how you define class, I suppose. I learnt to read before going to school – our home at the time was a static caravan (trailer in US English) with running water but no connection to the sewage system. Dad left school at 14, with no qualifications, to work at the local coal mine, but was struggling to become a professional actor by the time I was born. Mum’s dad was a carpenter so maybe skilled working class? Education and aspiration were prized by the British working class back then, but often seems to be the preserve of immigrants to the UK nowadays. Perhaps I’m out of touch?

      We ‘ad it tough, but try telling the youth of today…

  3. “… a lovely island where I used to catch flies.”

    Wow! What team were you on?

    [ is pelted with spoiled vegetables ]

  4. “Using person-first language helps to not define people by just one of their characteristics.” Does it? Because the first example seems to include only one characteristic. And I don’t see any improvement in “died by suicide” as opposed to “committed suicide”. (And what do they say in Canada, Died by government assistance?)

    The thing that the bowdlerizers of language don’t understand is that if you create a term for people or situations that other people think are bad or disadvantageous, then ultimately the new term will seem insulting, too. I remember when “homeless” became the term that replaced bum and vagrant. The thing described stayed that same, so now we have to not say homeless.

    And this: You should say “pronouns” rather than “preferred pronouns” because “the word ‘preferred’ suggests that non-binary gender identity is a choice and a preference.” People are literally being asked to pick their preferred pronouns!

    All I can say is that, next time I jump out of a place, I am sure as hell going to shout “Geronimo!”

    1. BTW I used to work for a company that was about 95% Asian Indian. I was on a call and said that one of the issues at a customer was that there were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. I was about ten minutes explaining what that meant.

    2. I, for one, shall not refrain from singing “Hallelujah I’m a bum, hallelujah bum again, hallelujah give us a handout to revive us again!” It just doesn’t scan if you replace bum with unhoused person. Besides, too much time is wasted arguing about PC terms. Any new term can carry the same negative connotations as the old term. A rose by any other name, still sleeps on the street.

    3. Here in Canada we call it dying with dignity, improving quality of dying, protecting end-of-life rights, and helping Canadians to avoid unwanted suffering. 

      1. Actually, Steve, it’s called “Medical Assistance in Dying” (MAiD). That what the doctor doing it puts on the death certificate as the cause of death. At least three of the four desiderata you mentioned were always goals in terminal disease, usually met, but none of them allowed killing people until the Supreme Court redefined murder by inventing the concept of end-of-life rights. I figure they used the lower-case “i” in the acronym so it didn’t spell MAID, which is probably a prohibited word now, and MAD just wouldn’t be good for the brand.

        Soon to come is allowing otherwise healthy people with depression to force* doctors to kill them instead of having to do the deed themselves, which absolutely no one who advocated for the reforms you mention wanted. The government has paused its plans to enact this latest, not because of a sudden attack of moral scruples but simply because our beleaguered health system lacks the resources to cope with the expected demand. Poor Canada. We no longer can afford to look after patients with difficult diseases, nor can we afford to kill them. (Since euthanasia is an insured service under our provincial single-payer schemes, it is illegal for a patient and doctor to agree to private payment.)

        * Yes, “force.” Under the rules, a doctor must either grant the request from an eligible patient or make a “meaningful referral” to someone who will. In practice there is a small band of MAiD doctors since most doctors find the idea repulsive and don’t want to learn how to do it, lest they be compelled to if the supply dries up.
        The out used to be that if death was not reasonably foreseeable soon, you would have to say No. But if a teenager who is depressed simply says, “I don’t want treatment for my depression, I just want to die”, it seems likely that you would have to say Yes. We won’t know until we see exactly what legislation emerges from the Prime Minister’s min, and how the provincial licensing Colleges interpret it.

    4. what do they say in Canada, Died by government assistance?

      I believe the most common expression here in Canada is “Medical Assistance in Dying” or MAiD. The actual assistance with the act is provided by medical and health professionals (typically a doctor and a pharmacist). Here in Ontario, MAiD is fully-covered by the universal provincial health insurance plan (OHIP).

  5. South Park has a small collection of caricatures of Chinese sports announcers applying the same caricatures to “stupid Americans” with “big eyes”. It is on YouTube, and I’ll leave it at that.

    South Park is synonymous with tasteless, and by design. Consume at your own risk.

  6. The persistence of the whole language approach to teaching reading, long after
    its deficiency compared to phonics instruction has been demonstrated, is a puzzle.
    My theory is that educrats keep it up as part of a deliberate plan. Their plan is to raise an entire generation of Americans who can write as well as Judith Butler. In a similar vein, the replacement of arithmetic instruction by “ethnomathematics” will do for numeracy what whole language reading instruction does for American literacy. In the end, when these other Ways of Knowing predominate amongst the whole US population, a takeover of university STEM departments will become possible—so that the faculties of these departments will at last do nothing other than attend DEI Committee meetings.

    1. The Whole Language (or “Look-See”) method of learning to read would hardly produce a generation who writes like Butler, since I defy anyone to draw clear pictures illustrating anything she says.

      I learned to read in the 60’s using phonics (first at home — the Chicago Tribune had a series of cartoons my mother used — and then at school) so taught both my toddlers in the 80’s using the same method. Both were reading before they went to school and I was appalled to find that the district wasn’t doing phonics. That is, as the excellent article describes, they were using phonics PLUS, which ends up not being about sounding the word out, but using letters as one of many clues.

      Both my kids weren’t getting any help at the level they were reading. I was told that spelling wasn’t even brought up till 3rd or 4th grade: it was “invented spelling” which was as bad as you think. In second grade my daughter was tested as “reading at the 11th grade level.” She was smart, sure, but I knew that was crap. Turned out they were overwhelmed by her ability to sound out advanced vocabulary words, many of which were simple (ie “abstract.”)

      I think the main motivation for using Whole Language is as it says in the article — quick results and easy engagement. Kids can read sentences like “Mary has a ball” on Day 1 by looking at the picture and teachers get to clap and praise them. It’s dynamic, fun, and builds confidence while engaging with the story. Contrast this with “e at the end means the vowel says its name … sometimes.”

      1. My son Aaron, who rejoices in an extra chromosome 21 (or Down Syndrome) was
        taught to read and write between ages 3 and 5 in an experimental early education program for DS children. The teaching of course leaned heavily on phonics. To this day, Aaron is rather good at Scrabble and UpWords (a more sophisticated and interesting Scrabble variant) and sometimes beats me at each.

        Also, Aaron occasionally used to ask to go to foreign movies with foreign names, which an English speaker like him can only decode phonically. It occurs to me that learning to read by phonics is in some ways a precondition for learning a second language. Maybe Americans tend to be monoglot partly because so many of them were mistaught reading by means of the “whole language” fad.

        1. A fellow UpWords fan! Wonderful. I thought everyone but me had forgotten about this game. I got an old one a couple of years ago but don’t have anyone to play it with and haven’t played since I was a kid. Glad you and Aaron have each other to challenge. Happy Solstice to the both of you!

  7. …pff… no fried egg?… no slice of beetroot?… not only is it most certainly not the best hamburger in the world, it is, at best a facsimile…

  8. There should be an investigation of Afghanistan. Like what the hell have we been doing over there for twenty years? What was the point since it seems to have made absolutely no difference? Are we also going to investigate the conduct of the military who after all were the ones who conducted the actual withdrawal? The Republicans want to blame Biden for how it ended while ignoring how it began and how it was conducted. Rather than running away from this the Democrats should acknowledge the problems and invite a wider investigation of the policy. Nothing seems more likely to shut down an investigation than the possibility of critiquing our military who are apparently beyond criticism.

    1. And while investigating, they might want to make clear Trump’s role in forcing the abrupt withdrawal in the first place. Many of Biden’s actions were a result of Trump’s bungling. Of course, they’ll stay clear of that, and the 20 previous years as you pointed out. The GQP are going to try and frame the entire Afghanistan war and withdrawal debacle as Biden’s fault. Perhaps Biden even started the war- let’s investigate that too, just in case!

      In all seriousness, I think the American public (sans Maga cult perhaps) is done with that entire 20 years of American history. I know I am. Good riddance. Though I do feel horrible about what the Taliban have done and are continuing to do to the citizenry, esp. the women. But it’s a helpless situation, through and through, and has been from the start. Religion is the cause, and it’s not going anywhere, so what to do? Do what Biden did and what the Amityville house advised: Get Out!

      1. I suspect the accelerated denial of women’s education and the demand of full coverage has been influenced by the chaos in Iran.

      2. It seems a stretch to be able to blame the whole 20 years on Biden. Of course, he was a big booster of nation building there as Senator.
        From a military perspective, much of what happened in the withdrawal was unforgivable. We had a well protected and supplied base, which we abandoned intact in order to conduct the final withdrawal from a civilian airport not under our control. Leaving vast amounts of weapons, including those considered essential to national security, goes against even the most basic military doctrine.
        40K operational military vehicles. Encrypted radios by the tens of thousands. Stinger, TOW, and Javelin missile systems.
        Plus, we seem to be still sending planeloads of cash to the Taliban, for some reason.

  9. 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.
    So sorry to hear this – very best wishes to your surrogate parents for a speedy recovery.

    1. I too hope that Hili’s servants are well enough to entertain visitors by the start of Coynezaa. And I also can’t help but observe that Hili has the most incredible aquamarine-colored eyes I’ve ever seen… Or is that just a trick of the light?

  10. 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.
    Completely blindsided the USA’s allies causing havoc for them, too. Though the UK managed to make a bad situation worse through its own incompetent handing of events on the ground.

  11. I really like Mayor Pete to succeed Biden, but living in a red state and having red relatives gives me qualms. There is so much prejudice among a large sector of the US population, it could prove insurmountable.

    1. The sector of the population your relatives inhabit, Rick, don’t matter because they won’t vote for a Democrat anyway. The reason why Pete Buttigieg will never be president is that the core constituency of the Democratic Party, which votes >90% Democrat when it votes, will stay home on Election Day if a homosexual is the nominee.

      There may well be more homophobia among Republicans generally — that’s what everyone says so it must be true — but among Democrats it is concentrated where it really hurts you.

  12. I’m pretty sure that when a group of woke scholars gets together to decide what is offensive, they don’t actually use surveys and other research tools to identify who is actually offended. I suspect it’s a matter of projection- “I find this offensive, therefore it’s offensive”.

  13. “They’ve now banned all women from attending nearly any school including university, a stupid move that immediately hurts half their people:”

    In truth it hurts all of their people if – as seems reasonable – we suppose that education benefits society as a whole, not just the recipients of it. By preventing half of the pool of potential talent in the population from developing and realising that talent the Taliban handicaps the country as a whole. (Sadly it is but one of the ways in which they handicap their country).

    1. I wonder if we can count on the ACLU to chime in on this controversy. I assume it will
      insist that trans-women must be the banned from higher education along with cis-women.

  14. Sorry Jerry, a burger without beetroot, bacon, cheese, pineapple, tomato and lettuce as a minimum is not the the world’s best burger

    1. You must be Australian…or at least live there.

      I googled beetroot (not a term I’m used to in the US) and I got back Australian burger recipes, tons of them, and many included pineapple. Yet nobody mentions the pickle! That’s key for me. Pickle better be good, or else I’m going elsewhere. Perfectly fermented! No half-sours, please. And no need for vinegar.

  15. “ Welcome to a Hump Day (known as Kupros diena in Lithuania)”

    People realize that it’s not actually called the translation of hump day in most (all?) other languages, right?

  16. Thank you for the tweet and background about heating the track switches in Chicago. I couldn’t open it earlier for some reason. We use the hot-air blowers in the Toronto area, not just near the main Union Station but at key switch locations along the main commuter lines. It’s the double-slip switches in the throats where three main tracks have to branch into 15 platform tracks that are the most vulnerable, appears to be the same in Chicago. A man with a broom is the most effective way to clear snow (but not ice) from the gap between switch points and the stock rails against which the moving points must press tightly when thrown. But very labour-intensive, and tough work in a blizzard!

    You have some complicated trackwork in Chicago…and colder than we get. Nice little glimpse into the effort it takes to run a railroad that has to perform safely and (mostly) on time in all weather. People have no idea.

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