Monday: Hili dialogue

December 26, 2022 • 6:45 am

It’s Monday, December 26: the day after Christmas and time to return those ugly gifts. It’s also the second day of Coynezaa and National Candy Cane Day. Here’s how they make them:

Below: these are the best candy canes, which are not hard, like the regular ones, but have a softer, toothy texture and a great flavor. You can buy them at Amazon. The King Leo store, an old Southern tradition (since 1901), is here.

It’s also National Whiner’s Day, Boxing Day in the UK, Mauro Hamza Day in Houston, Texas, Mummer’s Day in Padstow, Cornwall, the first day of Kwanzaa, celebrated until January 1 (United States; note that this is NOT “Coynezaa”), the first day of Junkanoo street parade in the Bahamas (the second day of Junkanoo is on the New Year’s Day), Wren Day in Ireland and the Isle of Man, and the second day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Western Christianity).

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 26 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The Taiban in Afghanistan have not only barred women from secondary and university education, but have now stopped them from working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This is, I think, part of a Taliban religiously based strategy to prevent women from working in any jobs. But they shot themselves in the foot this time:

Four major international aid groups on Sunday suspended their operations in Afghanistan following a decision by the country’s Taliban rulers to ban women from working at non-governmental organizations.

Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE said they cannot effectively reach children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without the women in their workforces. The NGO ban was introduced a day earlier, allegedly because women weren’t wearing the Islamic headscarf correctly.

The four NGOs are providing healthcare, education, child protection and nutrition services and support amid plummeting humanitarian conditions.

“We have complied with all cultural norms and we simply can’t work without our dedicated female staff, who are essential for us to access women who are in desperate need of assistance,” Neil Turner, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s chief for Afghanistan, told The Associated Press on Sunday. He said the group has 468 female staff in the country.

This is, of course, coming on the heels of the oppression of women barred from getting an education. Now a lot of suffering Afghanis can’t get help, either. I blame the Taliban and Islam, on this dire state of affairs, as it would not be happening in a secular state.

*Once again Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest fills the op-ed pages of the NYT with Christian theology, all somehow excused by telling us “Christians believe that. . . ” (i.e. what SHE believes), swaddled in a warm blanket of sympathy. This week’s sermon, called “Having a Hard Christmas? Jesus did, too,” includes these inspiring words.

Christians believe that, unlike my father, Jesus was not simply a human messenger visiting us in our suffering. He was God-made flesh, “infinity dwindled to infancy,” as the 19th-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote. The Christmas story tells us that therefore Emmanuel — which means “God with us” in Hebrew — is in fact with us in the whole of our actual lives, in our celebration and merrymaking, in our mundane days, and in sickness, sorrows, doubts, failures and disappointments.

Christians believe that because God himself entered humanity, humanity is being transformed even as we speak. Because God took on a human body, all human bodies are holy and worthy of respect. Because God worked, sweating under our sun with difficulty and toil, all human labor can be hallowed. Because God had a human family and friends, our relationships too are eternal and sacred. If God became a human who spent most of his life in quotidian ways, then all of our lives, in all of their granularity, are transformed into the site of God’s surprising presence.

. . . I believe that this baby born in Bethlehem is the mystery our hearts keep chasing, the end of our all quests and the longing we cannot shake.

What was the sweating God trying to say?

Well, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s patootie “what Christians believe.” If Jesus didn’t exist, would human relationships lose their preciousness? (And does Warren think that Jewish bodies aren’t “worthy of respect, or their friendships not as precious as those of Christians?) And what about those Hindus, Jews, and Muslims. Didn’t Jesus say, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? I await Rev. Warren’s answer about what she (i.e., “all Christians”) believes about that. Either the Bible is wrong, and accepting Jesus isn’t the route to heaven, or many of us are damned.

*A piece in Quillette by Jonathan Kay shows that although the James Webb Telescope’s name is now fixed, after claims that he was a homophobe and fired gay people at the government’s behest were proven wrong. (This was detailed in a recent NYT piece.) That didn’t stop the haters (and yes, they’re haters) from making up assertions that one of the man who cleared Webb, Hakeem Oluseyi (former headacted of science education at NASA and now president of the National Society of Black Physicists) was guilty of sexual harassment in a previous university job. That, too was unsubstantiated.

But once the woke have determined to end someone’s career, they never give up. Kay shows that, leading the continuing campaign against Webb (which has now morphed into a campaign against Oluseyi) is Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, an assistant professor of physics at the University of New Hampshiire.

From Kay:

I would urge everyone to read Oluseyi’s report for themselves—as it provides an absolute master-class in how a dedicated, intellectually curious person, acting in good faith, can debunk the received wisdom of an entire online subculture. By his own account, Oluseyi had few allies in his fact-finding mission, because denouncing Webb was seen as the ideologically fashionable thing to do.

Leading the charge against Webb (and now Oluseyi) is Prescod-Weinstein, who also lead author of an article in Scientific American calling for the renaming of the Webb as the man “acquiesced to homophobia”.

The first listed author in that Scientific American piece, it’s worth noting, is Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a University of New Hampshire theoretical cosmologist and book author. Through articles such as Science Shouldn’t Come at the Expense of Black Lives, and Making Black Women Scientists under White Empiricism: The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics, Prescod-Weinstein has built a brand as a vocal and implacable advocate for social justice in STEM. She casts her campaign against Webb in religious terms, telling Powell, “this is about who we canonize and who are our real saints … We can’t just exonerate a dead white guy [Webb] who was in the thick of a repressive government.”

. . . By way of response to Oluseyi’s report, Prescod-Weinsteintweeted a lengthy thread in which she accused him of “writing poorly researched articles that are basically hit pieces on me, and I am fucking tired,” while also cryptically suggesting that the issue was somehow related to a “procedural disagreement” that the pair once had at a 2011 National Society of Black Physicists “business meeting” (a disagreement she subsequently described as being related to a “Hitler-was-a-good-guy joke” that someone had apparently told). She also claimed that Oluseyi “doesn’t like me very much”; that “I have had [Oluseyi] blocked on twitter for a couple of years”; and that Oluseyi was “justify[ing] historic homophobia.” Meanwhile, [science writer Matthew] Francis is promising his readers that he “will not be writing about JWST [the James Webb Space Telescope] or its science,” as “NASA destroyed any enthusiasm I had for this telescope.”

In her Substack response to Powell, Prescod-Weinstein argued that her naysayers’ motives should be situated within what she describes as the misogynistic culture of the organization that Oluseyi now leads—the National Society of Black Physicists. In this vein, Prescod-Weinstein offered a long list of accusations, including that she “was sexually assaulted at NSBP meetings twice.” That’s an extremely serious claim to make, though Prescod-Weinstein provided no further details about the alleged assailants or the circumstances in which their alleged crimes were committed.

As for Michael Powell, thereporter who put this controversy on the front page of the New York Times, Prescod-Weinstein claims that “since I started writing about my experience with this yesterday, multiple people have reached out to me to share stories of Powell’s inappropriate handling of stories and interviews.”

It’s time for Prescod-Weinstein to lay off, apologize to those she’s defamed, and move on But she’s constitutionally incapable of that. In addition, she’s rendered herself immune to criticism by emphasizing her quadruple victim status (black, gay, Jewish, female) and characterizing anything well known who criticizes her as “punching down.”  This is while she’s trying to destroy careers and reputations. The woman is a hater: the very thing she claims to attack.

*When Dave Barry’s at his best, he is really funny. He’s on show in the Washington Post with his “2022 Year in Review“.

And there were other positive developments in 2022:

— Millions of Americans on social media realized — it took them a while, but they finally got there — that nobody wants to know how they did on “Wordle.”

AGREED!

— For the 13th consecutive year, the New York Yankees failed to even get into the World Series.

— Best of all, the looming apocalyptic threat of catastrophic global climate change was finally eliminated thanks to the breakthrough discovery that the solution — it has been staring us in the face all this time — was to throw food at art.
He goes through the disastrous year, month by month. Here’s from March:

… Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during the Oscars and is arrested for assault.

No, that’s what would happen to a noncelebrity such as yourself. Will Smith, on the other hand, sits back down and shortly thereafter receives an Oscar and a standing ovation. This incident results in a massive outpouring of media think pieces from media thinkers pondering the significance of The Slap. This story dominates the news for days, receiving far more coverage than the war in Ukraine, which is still going on but which unfortunately, from a public relations standpoint, does not involve any American celebrities.

*It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of the few Christmas movies I can stand; in fact, it’s an excellent movie regardless of the season. And it’s wildly popular. Yet, as the WSJ relates, its success is a quirk.  At the time it was made, movies were copyrighted for 28 years, and copyrights could be renewed for another 28 years just by filling out paperwork. But the movie, made in 1946, it was a big flop, and the studio didn’t renew the copyright.

It was after the movie fell into the public domain in 1974 that the movie took off, and anybody could show it for free. (Movies now are copyrighted for at least 95 years.)  “Bert, do you know me?”:

It’s around this time of the year when Americans return to a certain black-and-white film released in 1946. The demand for “It’s a Wonderful Life” on streaming platforms and linear networks over the past four holiday seasons was 11 times greater than the average movie, according to the research firm Parrot Analytics. It’s easily the oldest title in Parrot’s top 10 and right up there with “Home Alone” among the Christmas movies we can’t stop watching.

That is odd for many reasons. For one thing, it’s not exactly “Elf.” It was a dark movie about a financially devastated businessman who meets a guardian angel and peeks at a world in which he never existed. It was also a disappointment. This was a film by a legendary director featuring the postwar comeback of a huge star, and the publicity blitz included the cover of Newsweek and a Life magazine spread. But it fizzled at the box office. “It’s a Wonderful Life” actually lost money, according to film historian Richard B. Jewell, before eventually fading into obscurity.

It would take nearly three decades for it to be saved by a Hollywood miracle.

. . .The unplanned series of events behind the film’s second life wouldn’t have unfolded in the same way today. Movies are now protected for at least 95 years, no matter how many people might forget about them. Meanwhile, a studio began enforcing some of the old copyrights associated with “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the 1990s, based on a Supreme Court decision that rewrote the rules slightly. These days, it’s broadcast on NBC but isn’t available on every streamer.

But two decades in the public domain turned out to be long enough for a movie that was on its way to being ignored forever to become memorable. The renaissance was such a fluke of randomness that the person responsible for “It’s a Wonderful Life” couldn’t even take the credit. He knew better than anyone how a Christmas movie could be a testament to the value of chance.

“I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president,” Capra said. “I’m proud as hell, but it’s the kid who did the work.”

George comes back to real life:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is chillin’:

A: What are you doing here?
Hili: I’m observing the passing of time.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Obserwuję przemijanie czasu.

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

A SNL video from Jean: “Christmastime fr the Jews”:

From Science Humor on FB:

Santa makes a mistake and shows up in a Jewish home. But they forgot to offer him rugelach!

From reader David:

A tweet from God (his header at Mastadon says, “No, I will not now be “TheTootOfGod”. I’ve built too much brand equity.” His take on Christmas:

An interview with Masih, who details what crimes are being used to execute Iranian protestors:

Dawkins calls attention to new findings, based on “fossil DNA”, highlighting a CNN article listing seven intriguing new results. Here’s one:

The Black Death, the world’s most devastating plague outbreak, killed half of medieval Europe’s population in the space of seven years in the 14th century, shifting the course of human history.

But research published in October suggested it was more than luck that determined who lived and who died. Analysis of centuries-old DNA from both victims and survivors of the Black Death identified key genetic differences that helped people survive the plague, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

Fricking amazing!

From Barry: A camera trap captures a rare Amur tiger.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: an eight-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. First: being the center of the Dinner Circle:

SANTA BRAWL!

Some light in Ukraine, even if it illuminates a church:

34 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. I think we are way to mesmerised (if I may use that term) by the war in Ukraine, I think that will be a relatively short-lived affair (if I’m allowed to use that term) if the ‘West’ keeps up it’s support.
      As long as the more or less rational, ‘moderate’ Putin is in power (compared to the bat-shirt crazy ultra-nationalists) we do not need to fear nuclear missiles (nuclear accidents in existing reactors is another matter). Russia will be kicked out of Ukraine, and then serious peace negotiations will begin.

      I’m in fact much more worried about Iran, and Afghanistan, well the Islamic world in general. This most despicable faith (especially in it’s fundamentalist form) needs to be gotten rid of or reformed. I have no clue how to support these Iranian women in any significant way.
      How to tame fundamentalist Islam is a question I’m often breaking my head over, but I have no real good ideas. Even Ayaan hasn’t. A good first step would be to not take the nonsense of offended woke students seriously.
      I mean, Russia as a threat is temporary, Islam’s threat to the world is for the long run.

      1. I hope there’s at least some contingency planning going on in the West on how to assist Iran when a regime upheaval does happen, particularly since I expect that an upheaval would benefit Ukraine since I wouldn’t expect Iranian drones and such to be headed to Russia after that.

        At least, I hope there’s at least some covert help from the West to the Iranian rebels.

  1. Happy second day of Coynezaa to all. Just two remarks: just spending the time typing Prescod-Weinstein takes potentially useful seconds from reading or writing useful things and redirects them to the black hole of odious opinion and wokeness of this woman. She has had enough amplifying exposure. Arguments against her ravings have been made. Let’s allow her to just circle the drain of isolated woke anonymity until she disappears.

    On the other hand, I always enjoy Dave Barry’s end of year takes. His dry, wry, and even humor is totally entertaining.

    1. I don’t see how P-W will disappear into irrelevancy any time soon. Her detractors are attacked and then isolated. Her supporters are not (this being bc the detractors have a shred of decency). Meanwhile a majority of those in positions to do anything about her are evidently in fearful silence.

  2. If God had a human family and friends, and spent most of his life in quotidian ways, how come Paul didn’t rush to meet them immediately after his spectacular conversion? Either Paul’s conversion was insincere or Paul didn’t believe Jesus was a real person.

  3. The Apostle Paul makes it pretty clear in Romans 11:25 (to the end of the chapter) that all of Israel will be saved. It’s simple then… If you want to get to heaven for sure, convert to Judaism. Tell a friend!

  4. ” I am fucking tired,”

    Not as tired as the rest of us are from hearing that phrase from the woke. It’s their calling card.

  5. IRT Warren’s piece, I don’t remember Jesus being addressed as or called Emmanuel anywhere in the New Testament.

    1. Christians do a lot of retconning of the Old Testament. The interpretation of the passage in Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” to refer to Mary and Jesus being one example.

      1. Sure. And it is referred to in one of the synoptic gospels. But is Jesus addressed by that name in the Christian Bible?

        I have not asked a scholar this question, so I don’t know what issues of translation are involved.

  6. Hoooooly shit. I just looked at JCPW’s tw**ter. It was a mistake. It seriously reads like a parody account of an ultra-woke person. First, she tweets probably 50 times or more a day, every day (not exaggerating). Every single tweet is either self-promotion, complaining about the newest social justice issue (whatever new issue has come up that day, she already knows and is tweeting about it), or complaining about how victimized she is. She has her hand in literally every single social justice issue you can possibly think of on any given day.

    If I was her employer, I would genuinely wonder how she could possibly get her work done while tweeting as often and as verbosely as she does, and with the extreme self-absorption she possesses. She often tweets 20 or 30 times in a single hour. I couldn’t bring myself to scroll far back enough to see how much she tw**ted about the Webb telescope and Oluseyi (though there were, of course, a few sprinkled in there, some about how much harassment she’s receiving — with no evidence, of course — and others being retweets supporting her). I imagine she was up to 200 or 300 tweets a day during that debacle.

    1. On second thought, everyone should take a look. It’s like narcissistic personality disorder in tw**t form. It must be seen to be believed.

    2. I would genuinely wonder how she could possibly get her work done while tweeting as often …

      Well, she was a joint appointment with the department of “women’s and gender studies”, so Tweeting wokely all day could be construed as (half of) her job.

      And, if you were the one tasked with evaluating her job performance or her promotion bid, knowing what you do about her, would you dare be critical?

      1. Yes, there is an argument people make now that their activism IS their research.
        NZ yet again provides an example of how NOT to respond. A new definition of ‘research’ along these lines has recently been incorporated into the NZ government’s funding mechanisms for universities (ie, PBRF). The new definition gives Maori academics extra credit for all the time they have to spend ‘being Maori’ and for the time they have to spend telling the rest how awful our democratic tradition is.

      1. For a variety of reasons, I wouldn’t go by arXiv but by ADS (which is relevant for cosmolog/astrophysics/astronomy):

        https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/search/fq=%7B!type%3Daqp%20v%3D%24fq_database%7D&fq_database=database%3A%20astronomy&q=author%3A(%22Prescod-Weinstein%22)&sort=date%20desc%2C%20bibcode%20desc&p_=0

        18 refereed-journal papers, of which only four are first-author papers and one is a single-author paper (but that is a social-justice paper).

        By the way, are you the astronomer Steve Warren I met at a conference once?

  7. So glad you appreciate “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Among other things, it may be the best-edited, most efficient movie in the history of cinema: not a minute is wasted; every frame is doing something character- or plot-wise. I watch it every Christmas and notice some new detail each time. E.g., in the scene at the dinner table where George Bailey is telling his father that he’d bust if he had to stay in Bedford Falls, the framed pictures behind his father’s head are a display of pinned butterflies, a perfect metaphor for the content of the scene. Also, the range of emotion that Jimmy Stewart covers is amazing. As a screenwriter myself, I can’t say enough good things about it. A masterpiece.

  8. Jerry, did you notice that you have a new fan? Over Christmas, Elon Musk replied to a Tweet by Dawkins promoting your “progressive professors” post. Given his 120M Twitter followers, that might have registered in the “views” rate.

  9. To paraphrase Britain’s 41st best stand-up comedian:

    Tish Harrison Warren is either a fool who actually believes all the nonsense she spouts, or she’s a genius who has worked out exactly the most accurate way to annoy Prof CC(E).

  10. . . . I believe that this baby born in Bethlehem is the mystery our hearts keep chasing, the end of our all quests and the longing we cannot shake.

    Seriously? First off, she transposed “all our”, but what is this blather about? A mythical baby invented 2,000 years ago is somehow a mystery in our hearts (genetic?) that we chase and quest for because of an unshakeable longing?

    I believe THW is a delusional nitwit. I think I have more proof for my belief than she does for her belief.

  11. Jimmy Stewart’s performance in Wonderful Life was almost surely aided by his war experiences. He flew B-24s over Europe from 1943-1945, and experienced real horror there.
    Someone who can draw on such experiences is almost certainly going to be able to convey what despair and redemption look like in a person better than someone who has led a more sheltered life.
    Similarly, someone like Lee Marvin is going to be believable when playing a soldier or gunfighter because he knows very well what it feels like to shoot someone in the head or to be hit by machine gun fire.

  12. My favorite moment of Dave Barry’s recent wrap-up was when he characterized King Charles as King Charles the Uncomfortable. Spot on. Poor guy.

  13. after claims that he was a homophobe and fired gay people at the government’s behest

    Considering this was (allegedly) in the 1960s, surely the blame should be laid at the door (feet, orifice of choice) of the “government” of the “behest”, and most likely the cross-dresser in chief at the FBI. Or maybe him and his are a slightly less intimidatible target than some astronomy professor/ administrator.

    1. There is no blame here for anyone. At the time–Red Scare 1950s and five high-level British Intelligence agents unmasked as long-time Russian spies, all homosexuals–, homosexuality was believed sincerely to be a perversion, a mental illness, and a grievous character flaw. And they could look and act totally normal! Just waiting for a chance to sell out the nation. Who could be blamed for wanting to ferret out these security risks before they turned into the next Kim Philby? Everyone in government was a “homophobe”. They had, they believed, every reason to be, just as they were all communist-ophobes. Whether Webb cooperated reluctantly or enthusiastically with investigations of his staff is completely immaterial. Remember these people were only fired for cause. They weren’t imprisoned without habeas corpus or even prosecuted for illegal homosexual acts.

      The government was right to apologize and even reinstate those who were still of working age when these ideas about homosexuality were scientifically discredited and the men and women were accepted as being loyal and dedicated, if not loved as gay people. But if human beings in authority do what would be the right thing acting on information that they sincerely and reasonably believe to be true, they commit no moral crime if the information turns out later to have been wrong. It is not for a simple copper like J Edgar Hoover to second-guess expert psychiatric opinion, especially when it confirms what he wants to be true anyway. Gay people might have always known they weren’t sick perverts, but there was a time when no one else did, and no one wanted to let them work with secrets.

  14. Espionage is all so topsy turvy and confusing! If Kim Philby had never been caught there would never have been a postage stamp made after him or even a monument of him in Moscow and most of us would never have heard of him. If only he had read the epic spy novel Beyond Enkription in The Burlington Files series. It’s a must read for espionage cognoscenti. Have a look at a recent news article in TheBurlingtonFiles website dated 31 October 2022 about Col Pemberton’s People in MI6, John le Carré and Kim Philby.

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