Thursday: Hili dialogue

January 5, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the first Thursday in 2023: it’s January 5, 2023, and National Whipped Cream Day.

I believe Mr. Zappa was saying that the sound of a giraffe full of whipped cream being squeezed was the note he was looking for.

It’s also National Keto Day, National George Washington Carver Day (he died on January 5, 1943), National Bird Day, and the Twelfth day of Christmas and the Twelfth Night of Christmas.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 5 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*All hell is breaking loose in the House of Representatives, and I love it. Republicans are set against Republicans, and even pro-Trump Republicans are set against other pro-Trump Republicans! After a half dozen votes, the chamber appears deadlocked, with Republicans unable to decide who should be their Speaker. Kevin McCarthy, the favorite, has now failed to win after SIX successive votes. The longer the delay, the less the Republican House can do anything, for without a speaker no business can be done. From the NYT:

After three defeats on Tuesday, Mr. McCarthy and his allies were grasping to win over defectors, but his efforts were falling flat, even after former President Donald J. Trump made a direct appeal for Republican lawmakers to vote for Mr. McCarthy, saying he “will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB.”

Here’s what to know:

  • The thin Republican majority in the chamber means almost all of the party’s members must agree on a speaker. If all members of the House are voting and participating, the winner needs 218 votes. Republicans control 222 seats. On Tuesday, Mr. McCarthy drew at most 203 votes. On Wednesday, his total slipped to 201. [JAC: He’s a long way from election!]

  • The nation’s legislative process is at a standstill: Members cannot be sworn in, adopt rules or vote on bills until a speaker is chosen.

  • Far-right Republicans have lined up by turns behind candidates including, on Tuesday, Jim Jordan, who voted for Mr. McCarthy; and, on Wednesday, Byron Donalds, the party’s first Black nominee for speaker. Mr. Donalds, of Florida, drew 20 votes. The lawmakers do not expect their candidates to win but wish to register their displeasure with Mr. McCarthy.

  • The Democrats are united behind their leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who earned the most votes, 212, on all five ballots but will almost certainly not win because his party controls only 212 seats, short of the majority required.

  • Until Tuesday, the House had not failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote since 1923, when the election stretched for nine ballots. House precedent dictates that members continue to take successive votes until someone — Mr. McCarthy or a different nominee — secures the majority needed to prevail.

Either the hard-right Republicans are going to keep holding out, which is against the interests of their party, or they’re going to have to realize that in the end they’ll look really stupid if they keep delaying things. Of course holdouts like Boebert already look stupid for having  rock-filled craniums, but no other Republican save McCarthy is a viable Speaker.

The Washington Post adds this yesterday evening:

We’re about to find out whether the Republican Party can find someone — anyone — who can get the requisite votes, in a much more tenuous situation. It now has a mere 10-seat majority, and if all members vote, the speaker can shed only four from their party and still squeak by.

. . . All of the readily apparent alternatives have drawbacks that could forfeit five or many more votes.

. . . McCarthy’s hopes appear to be dwindling. Not only did 19 Republicans vote against him on the first and second ballots, but the number grew slightly on the third, with rising star Rep.-elect Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) becoming the 20th vote against McCarthy and making a pragmatic case for trying to find an alternative. Things are trending in the wrong direction for McCarthy. (All elected members of the House keep the “elect” on their title for now, since no one has been sworn in.)

Big fun!  Congress is like a huge clown car.

*Meanwhile, serial liar and wannabee Jew George Santos is sitting with his thumb up his bum, waiting to be sworn in. . . if he is sworn in.

On Tuesday, looking very much like a freshman at a prep school in hell, congressman-elect George Santos wore a black backpack, a periwinkle sweater underneath his navy jacket, and a sullen face with darting, evasive eyes, as if looking to see if anyone on Capitol Hill was going to accuse him of yet another lie about the basic facts of his existence.

A posse of journalists assembled before 9 a.m. Tuesday to stake out Santos’s new office on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building. The accused serial fabulist is now being investigated by the attorney general of New York, the district attorneys of Nassau County and Queens, and the government of Brazil.

“I only found out that he was my next-door neighbor about 20 minutes ago,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said around 9 a.m. “It’s a surprise and delight.

Santos, 34, was elected in November to represent the third district of New York, which includes the Gold-Coast enclaves on Long Island used by F. Scott Fitzgerald to stage “The Great Gatsby,” whose titular character’s background was mysterious at best, shady at worst. The North Shore Leader, a local newspaper, reported that Santos listed no property on his financial disclosures despite claiming repeatedly to own mansions in Oyster Bay Cove and the Hamptons. The newspaper’s editorial board, keen to support a Republican, instead endorsed Democrat Robert Zimmerman, calling Santos a “bizarre, unprincipled and sketchy” man who “boasts like an insecure child.” Voters elected Santos anyway, flipping a crucial seat for the Republican Party, which barely eked out a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Last month the New York Times delineated apparent fabrications in Santos’s work and educational backgrounds: He apparently did not work at Goldman Sachs or Citigroup; he apparently did not go to Baruch College or New York University. (“It is no surprise that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at the New York Times who are attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations,” Santos’s attorney, Joseph Murray, said in a written statement at the time.)

But why is Beyer delighted? Is he being sarcastic? Anyway, the smart money is that Santos, even if he’s seated, will have to resign after the multiple investigations about not just his lying, but his fraudulent behavior.

*Remember the college scandal in which Rick Singer masterminded a scheme in which he and others would be paid big bucks confect fake admissions data for the children of celebrities like Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman(both of whom did short time in jail for complicity)? Well, Singer himself just got a longer sentence in the federal pen:

William “Rick” Singer, the mastermind of the sprawling college admissions scam aptly known as Operation Varsity Blues, is set to be sentenced in a federal courthouse in Boston on Wednesday, nearly four years after the scandal was publicly exposed.

Singer was the central figure in the scam in which wealthy parents, desperate to get their children into elite universities, paid huge sums to cheat on standardized tests, bribe university coaches who had influence over admissions and then lie about it to authorities.

Singer pleaded guilty at the time to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of justice, and he agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation.

Prosecutors have asked the court to sentence him to six years in prison and pay over $19 million in fines and asset forfeitures. Singer’s attorneys have asked for probation with home detention and community service.

The sentencing represents the culmination of an extensive criminal case first made public in March 2019, when authorities arrested and charged over 50 people, including coaches, test administrators, prominent CEOs, and the actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

With only a few exceptions, almost all of them pleaded guilty and served prison terms generally measured in weeks or months. For example, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days and Loughlin received two months behind bars. The longest sentence in the case, for former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, was for 2.5 years in prison.

I was especially exercised by this one because it gets my knickers in knots when people buy their way into college. (Of course, that’s sort of what the children of rich donor alumni do, and I’m opposed to that, too.)

*I’m not sure that the execution of the first transgender inmate in America counts as a “first” worth noting, but since the whole press is noting it, I’ll join in briefly. All it shows is that being transgender doesn’t eliminate all possibility of your being a heinous criminal.

A Missouri inmate was put to death Tuesday for a 2003 killing, in what is believed to be the first execution of a transgender woman in the U.S.

Amber McLaughlin, 49, was convicted of stalking and killing a former girlfriend, then dumping the body near the Mississippi River in St. Louis. McLaughlin’s fate was sealed earlier Tuesday when Republican Gov. Mike Parson declined a clemency request.

McLaughlin spoke quietly with a spiritual adviser at her side as the fatal dose of pentobarbital was injected. McLaughlin breathed heavily a couple of times, then shut her eyes. She was pronounced dead a few minutes later.

“I am sorry for what I did,” McLaughlin said in a final, written, statement. “I am a loving and caring person.”

A database on the website for the anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center shows that 1,558 people have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the mid-1970s. All but 17 of those put to death were men. The center said there are no known previous cases of an openly transgender inmate being executed. McLaughlin began transitioning about three years ago at the state prison in Potosi.

Note the paucity of women murderers? I don’t think the excess of men is due entirely to their being socialized to kill.  But at least they used pentobarbital instead of the gruesome three-drug cocktail.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is going a-hunting:

Hili: I will be back soon.
A: Where are you going?
Hili: I’m going to check whether the mice need anything.
In Polish:
Hili: Zaraz wracam.
Ja: A gdzie idziesz?
Hili: Sprawdzić, czy myszy czegoś nie potrzebują.

And a photo of Szaron:

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

From Facebook. DO NOT LEAVE EDWIN!

From Stash Krod:

From Malcolm: Is this animal altruism?

Titania tweeted for the first time in a month (second tweet):

From Masih: another protestor killed in Iran.

From Malcolm, a very large d*g:

Malcolm wonders what this is, but it appears to be a very poorly looked-after silvery marmoset (Mico argentatus). Poor thing!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 7 year old girl killed upon arrival:

Tweets from Professor Cobb:

A picture says 9 words: “Cat goes out, steps in snow, comes back in.”

Lists of lists:

The cat has to push the lever and then stand on it with its rear foot!

58 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

    1. Thanks much, Coel. I’m someone who Used to be UU, and I read this with great interest. Yes, the now-entrenched wokeness of the Association was one of the reasons I left it, though not the main reason, which I won’t go into here. I must say, right before I left, my head was spinning at the rapidity with which wokeness took over the UUA, though in retrospect it’s not surprising, since the UUA had been, as Martin Gardner said, a Temple to Political Correctness for a long time.

  1. On this day:
    1875 – The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is inaugurated in Paris.

    1895 – Dreyfus affair: French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.

    1900 – Irish nationalist leader John Edward Redmond calls for revolt against British rule. [Sergeant: Major! Major! The Irish are revolting! Major: I know, Sergeant. I can smell them from here! ]

    1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.

    1941 – Amy Johnson, a 37-year-old pilot and the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, disappears after bailing out of her plane over the River Thames, and is presumed dead.

    1968 – Alexander Dubček comes to power in Czechoslovakia, effectively beginning the “Prague Spring”.

    1972 – US President Richard Nixon announces the Space Shuttle program.

    2005 – The dwarf planet Eris is discovered by Palomar Observatory-based astronomers, later motivating the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term planet for the first time.

    Births:
    1855 – King Camp Gillette, American businessman, founded the Gillette Company (d. 1932).

    1876 – Konrad Adenauer, German lawyer and politician, Chancellor of West Germany (d. 1967). [General Gerald Templer, Director of the British zone of occupation, dismissed Adenauer from his position as Mayor of Cologne for incompetence in December 1945. Adenauer considered the Germans the political equals of the occupying Allies, a view that angered Templer. A little awkward for the Brits when Adenauer was elected the first Chancellor of West Germany…]

    1902 – Stella Gibbons, English journalist and author (d. 1989). [Best remembered for her wonderful debut novel Cold Comfort Farm, but she wrote a further twenty-two.]

    1909 – Lucienne Bloch, Swiss-American sculptor, painter, and photographer (d. 1995). [Apprentice to Diego Rivera and close friend of Frida Kahlo.]

    1917 – Jane Wyman, American actress (d. 2007). [Received an Academy Award and three Golden Globe Awards. First wife of Ronald Reagan.]

    1923 – Sam Phillips, American radio host and producer, founded Sun Records (d. 2003).

    1931 – Alfred Brendel, Austrian pianist, poet, and author.

    1932 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (d. 2016).

    1934 – Phil Ramone, South African-American songwriter and producer, co-founded A & R Recording (d. 2013). [It would be quicker to list the stars he didn’t work with…]

    1946 – Diane Keaton, American actress, director, and businesswoman.

    Ended “the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that Flesh is heir to”?:
    1173 – Bolesław IV the Curly, High Duke of Poland (b. 1120). [Irresistible name – sorry!]

    1922 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish sailor and explorer (b. 1874).

    1933 – Calvin Coolidge, American lawyer and politician, 30th President of the United States (b. 1872).

    1943 – George Washington Carver, American botanist, educator, and inventor (b. 1864).

    1979 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, bandleader (b. 1922).

    1994 – Tip O’Neill, American lawyer and politician, 55th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (b. 1912). [Speaker of the House? What’s one of those?]

    2016 – Pierre Boulez, French pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1925).

    2017 – Jill Saward, English rape victim and activist (b. 1965).

      1. From jazz’s annus mirabilis, 1959, the year that, in addition to Mingus’s magnum opus, Miles released Kind of Blue; Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz To Come; and the Brubeck Quartet, Time Out.

        Also the year that Trane (who was still part of Miles’s first great quintet on Kind of Blue) recorded Giant Steps, though that side wasn’t released until early ’60.

        1. Agreed.

          … note this reflects the recording technology almost as much – iconic LP covers, large, in your hands, reading material, amazing sound in the grooves – Bird, Diz, and further back were probably _limited_ by the recording technology – and by affordable record players.

          Fascinating…

        2. 1959 was also the year that Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes collaborated on several songs for the film Orfeu Negro, bringing them to the attention of the rest of the world and marking the beginning of Jobim’s rise to international acclaim.

          Jobim was already on my mind because just the other day I dusted off one of my favorite Jazz recordings that for some reason I haven’t listened to in years, Elaine Elias Plays Jobim. Wonderful album.

  2. That sounds like Zappa – not sure where he wrote or said it.

    There’s a YouTube video of him on the Steve Allen show where he shows Steve how to play a bicycle.

    I also still think “Weird Al” Yankovic is a musical descendant of Zappa (and also more obviously Spike Jones).

    1. I actually have a newspaper (remember them?) clipping of that quote in my wallet. A reminder that life is too important to be taken seriously.

      I have to disagree with both the host and with Stephen later on in the comments. I think this giraffe is meant to be a surrealistic non sequitur, in much the same way as Zappa and his wife named their in-home recording studio the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen (UMRK).

      It’s like the joke “how many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?” The answer: “Green.”

      And Weird Al, being more of a wordsmith than a musician, is probably more directly descended from Allan Sherman…

      1. Surreal is a good way to put it – sonic surrealism – not performance , although that is part of Zappa for sure.

        Abstract maybe – avant garde …
        _humorous_ though, in the way Monty Python is humorous.

  3. “Anyway, the smart money is that Soros, even if he’s seated, will have to resign after the multiple investigations about not just his lying, but his fraudulent behavior.”

    Elsewhere, I have suggested that if we can start a rumor that George Santos’ name is actually George Soros, the Republicans – with their affinity for conspiracy delusions – would drop him real quickly.

  4. Republicans are set against Republicans, and even pro-Trump Republicans are set against other pro-Trump Republicans!

    They’re essentially all pro-Trump Republicans — or at least pretend to be. There’s still no place in the national GOP for anyone willing to take Trump on openly. Of the 10 Republican congress members who voted to impeach Trump after the 1/6 insurrection, there are just two left hanging around the lower chamber now waiting to be sworn in for a new term. The other eight either lost to Trump-backed candidates in their GOP primaries, or read the handwriting on the wall and retired.

  5. Sooner or later a Speaker of the House will be elected. It doesn’t matter if that person is Kevin McCarthy or some other Republican. The important thing is that the House will be effectively controlled by the radical right. Their numbers are much greater than the 20 that have opposed McCarthy’s election. This group will have no compunction in destroying the government to get their way. This includes refusing to raise the debt ceiling, thereby destroying the credit of the United States. Almost all needed legislation will not pass. Endless investigations of Biden and the Democrats is all they care about. In other words, chaos will reign for the next two years.

    A fundamental component of democracy is that competing factions understand the need for compromise. They accept that they can’t get everything they want. Moderation must prevail among the political interests. When a faction becomes extremist, as is the case with current Republican Party, democracy breaks down and opens the way for authoritarianism. In the United States, this extremism manifests itself in fascism. The speakership battle is a harbinger of very bad times to come. Things will get even worse if a Republican wins the presidency in 2024, whether or not that person is Trump.

    1. Why don’t the democrats agree which one of them will vote for that McCarthy, to make him speaker just to snub the extremists?

      1. The Dems should go to the six most reasonable Republicans — if, indeed, six reasonable Republicans are to be found — and tell them, “You six decided which one of you would make the best Speaker, and we’ll supply the remaining 212 votes you need.”

    2. The worst aspect of the situation I saw yesterday was Dan “Pirate” Crenshaw calling his own party’s dissidents “terrorists” and calling for them to be stripped of their Committee assignments. Neither is likely to engender an attitude towards compromise.

  6. Santos, 34, was elected in November to represent the third district of New York, which includes the Gold-Coast enclaves on Long Island used by F. Scott Fitzgerald to stage “The Great Gatsby” …

    Santos is about as welcome a sight as the piles of refuse in the “Valley of Ashes” Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan would drive by on their way from the North Shore to the city to meet up with Buchanan’s mistress, Myrtle.

    1. I think that Don Beyer’s (D VA) “delight” expresses his genuine interest in getting to know and work with pretty much anyone. He is a former lt governor of VA serving both with a Dem and Rep governors in the 90’s. He is a wonderful philanthropist, has carried out public service for several presidents and is just a really good guy. He is under no delusions about Santos, but is always open to conversations with people from both sides of the aisle and from all sides of an issue.

  7. I wish I could enjoy the chaos in the House, but what is happening there is very bad. The most extreme fringe Republicans like Boebert are setting themselves up to have control over the operation of the House, and that is truly frightening.

    McCarthy apparently has just now made another concession to them. Now the objection of just one member will be enough to force a new vote on the Speakership. With this he will be beholden to their agenda during his term.

  8. I am not sure that what is happening in the House is a crisis. It may be salutary. I don’t think it was in the interest of the GOP to help pass the last budget bill, so electing someone other than McCarthy, whose guiding principal seems to be self-interest, is in the interest of the GOP. So far as I’ve heard the reasons for opposition to McCarthy, none of them seem particularly radical. They seem more geared towards shifting power from the Speaker back to the House, which is probably good for any party. At this point the compromise has to come from the members who are backing McCarthy, unless the Dems agree to change the rule to be not majority selection but plurality. If the GOP did that, it would, indeed, be an indication that McCarthy is NOT the right man, since he would be more willing to compromise with the opposing party than with his own in order to further his ambition.

    1. There is at least one dangerous demand that the far right wingers want. As CNN reports: “He [McCarthy} also agreed to allow just five Republicans to force a vote to remove the speaker instead of the current requirement that a majority of Republicans join the call.” There are some reports that McCarthy may agree to allowing just one member to call for a vote. What this means is that McCarthy or whomever is the Speaker will be the captive of the far right. At any time that he does something to piss off the radicals, he could be ousted. This demand of the radicals can only sow chaos, if enacted.

      https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/04/politics/mccarthy-gop-speaker-hardliners-what-matters/index.html

      1. Actually, he would be captive of every single Republican. He wouldn’t last a month. In any case, to be a McCarthy supporter is not to be sensible, moderate, or not-a-radical. Hell, Marjorie Taylor Greene is a McCarthy supporter!

        1. McCarthy is unprincipled, spineless, and the most maladroit political operator to aspire to the House Speakership in modern times. He has no legislative agenda, no policy positions he’s willing to put himself on the line for.

        2. MTG is only a McCarthy supporter because he promised her committee leadership: she wants power, he promised power, she backs him. So if she gets her way, we’ll have an unhinged Qanon Maga nut as head of some committee or other. You go GQP!

          1. I would argue that those who believe in Modern Monetary Theory (most of Congress?) are far more dangerous than QAnon nuts.

          2. Oh, she’ll get her way. Whoever the Republicans finally elect will be subject to everything McCarthy has promised. Talk about your shit shows.

          3. … she wants power …

            I’m not so sure MTG actually wants political power — at least not power to exercise to any policy end.

            What she’s looking for is the highest visibility trolling platform.

    2. I disagree. See my comment above. These days nearly every politician is guided primarily by self-interest, so I don’t think it is practical to disqualify a candidate for that reason alone (though I agree that in an ideal world, it should).

  9. “Santos, even if he’s seated, will have to resign…”

    I’m not sure this is true, insane as it seems. Assuming the Republicans manage to elect a Speaker, they are very likely to eliminate the Ethics Committee. There’s no rule or law requiring someone like Santos to resign, even if he is charged and convicted of a crime. IMO, the Republicans are perverse enough to leave him in office simply for the headcount.

    1. He’s also a McCarthy supporter, so McCarthy wants to keep him around, and if he becomes speaker, Santos will stay. But if he’s indicted by any of the current investigations of fraud, all bets are off.

  10. As a Zappa fundamentalist I insist we must believe in a literal giraffe filled with whipped cream instead of a figurative one.

    Is there any actual controversy going on among speakers of gendered languages like Spanish? Or is this an exclusively American kerfuffle?

    1. Some English-speaking idiots appear to be trying to do the same in other languages: https://nonbinaryconnection.com/they-them-pronouns-in-spanish/

      I know that the @ symbol is sometimes used to avoid using gendered nouns (e.g. amig@s) – otherwise a group of 99 women and one man takes the masculine form, which is little crazy from an outsider’s perspective.

      There was a news report about trying to use non-gendered German as part of the University of Cambridge’s modern foreign languages German course too, although that went down badly with some native speakers.

  11. Can the speaker be removed part way through their term or is it set in stone once they have been elected? Is it possible that McCarthy could agree compromises, get elected and then find a way to fail to deliver on his compromises? Or is there an equivalent to a “recall”?

    Or, to imagine a much spicier but fanciful scenario: if the recalcitrant Republicans, instead of voting for somebody else, all voted “present” so that the bar for an absolute majority came down and Jeffries got in, would there be a way for the GOP to subsequently get him out again?

    1. Speakers can be removed if the rules allow for it. Electing a Speaker is the first step in establishing the rules. They are currently fighting over how easy to make removal of the Speaker.

    2. Another question from the other side of the Atlantic. I have read that the Speaker does not necessarily have to be an elected member of the House. Is this true? And if it is, could an ambitious outsider – say, an orange-tinged former President – be elected Speaker? In theory?

      1. My understanding is “yes” in theory Agent Orange could become Speaker, but I’m not sure of the machinations to get it done.

      2. I also just learned that on the 7th vote for McCarthy’s Speakership Matt Gaetz did indeed choose Trump. Oh man, it just gets crazier.

  12. While we are all focused on the latest political squabble, real things are happening in the world. Note that the driving force for the petroyuan is the “weaponization” of the dollar by the Biden administration.

    While China has for some time been buying increasing amounts of oil and liquefied natural gas from Iran, Venezuela, Russia and parts of Africa in its own currency, President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Saudi and Gulf Co-operation Council leaders in December marked “the birth of the petroyuan”, as Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar put it in a note to clients.

    According to Pozsar, “China wants to rewrite the rules of the global energy market”, as part of a larger effort to de-dollarise the so-called Bric countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, and many other parts of the world after the weaponisation of dollar foreign exchange reserves following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    What does that mean in practice? For starters, a lot more oil trade will be done in renminbi. Xi announced that, over the next three to five years, China would not only dramatically increase imports from GCC countries, but work towards “all-dimensional energy co-operation”. This could potentially involve joint exploration and production in places such as the South China Sea, as well as investments in refineries, chemicals and plastics. Beijing’s hope is that all of it will be paid for in renminbi, on the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange, as early as 2025.

    That would mark a massive shift in the global energy trade. As Pozsar points out, Russia, Iran and Venezuela account for 40 per cent of Opec+ proven oil reserves, and all of them are selling oil to China at a steep discount while the GCC countries account for another 40 per cent of proven reserves. The remaining 20 per cent are in regions within the Russian and Chinese orbit.

    Those who doubt the rise of the petroyuan, and the diminution of the dollar-based financial system in general, often point out that China doesn’t enjoy the same level of global trust, rule of law or reserve currency liquidity that the US does, making other countries unlikely to want to do business in renminbi.

    Perhaps, although the oil marketplace is dominated by countries that have more in common with China (at least in terms of their political economies) than with the US. What’s more, the Chinese have offered up something of a financial safety-net by making the renminbi convertible to gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong gold exchanges.

    https://www.ft.com/content/d34dfd79-113c-4ac7-814b-a41086c922fa

    1. …“weaponization” of the dollar by the Biden administration.

      The Biden administration? America has been weaponizing the dollar since the end of WWII. It began with FDR and every POTUS since actively pursues the dollar’s dominance on the world stage. Nothing new here. China would be following this course whether Biden was POTUS or not.

  13. Think it’s time to drag out the old Wil Rogers quote with a minor modification. “I don’t belong to any organized political party, I am a Republican. “

  14. I would urge anyone who has an interest to pay a visit to the George Washington Carver National Monument, his birthplace, in Diamond, Missouri. The grounds are beautiful, showcasing many native plants that played such an important part in inspiring him to become such an excellent botanist, agricultural scientist, painter, and horticulturalist. There are also at least two prairies nearby worth a visit. Go in the spring if you prefer the woodland wildflowers or summer for the prairies. I was there during covid so I didn’t see the insides of the building at the site, but it was a great walking path, the outline of his very tiny home, a period building, and a few other things. He should be more of an inspiration to the current generation, (considering how much they love race issues) being born a slave, nearly dying while being kidnapped as an infant, growing up on this former master’s plantation, but becoming an excellent scientist in spite of it all. Unfortunately, people only know he did something with peanuts.

  15. Lists of lists:

    Is there anyone here who has actually programmed in LISP? It was mentioned in my CS course, after recursion IIRC, but before the “recursion is bad” introduction to Ackermann’s function. But it’s utility in the real world … ?

  16. Here is how I think McCarthy should handle the house speakership election situation … between the current failed ballot and the next one he should ask to be recognized, stand up and say “Okay Freedom caucus people, here is the deal: All of the concessions I have agreed to until now are revoked as of now. And I’ve asked two of my supporters to vote Present in the next ballot. After that I will ask three more to vote Present in the ballot after that. I’ll leave it to you geniuses to do the arithmetic and figure out how many ballots it will take until you have handed the speakership over to the Democrats.”

  17. January 5, 2023, is the sixth anniversary of the death of my beloved kitteh Timmy Starr. RIP, my longhair baby.

  18. I believe that the Zappa quote is referring to the early days of the Mothers of Invention, when they had a residency at a theatre in New York called the Garrick.
    They used a variety of stage props which they kept in a box behind the stage, and I remember him telling a story about how they had a stuffed giraffe among the various items, which had been covered in whipped cream at some point and in the summer heat of the non air conditioned theatre, had started to really reek.
    He had a thing for intentionally ugly Dadaistic imagery, as you can tell by some of the early MOV album covers.

      1. That is precisely my evidence that “Weird Al” is the (hopeful) descendant of Zappa :

        The “Weird Al” song “Albuquerque” specifies a box of “weasels” that “latch on to” the singer’s face – though they only “start bitin’ [the singer] all over”.

        The Zappa cover though shows the guy’s face.

        I rest my case.

  19. >But at least they used pentobarbital instead of the gruesome three-drug cocktail.

    I still think you are confusing the non-gruesomeness of the specific drugs with the sometimes gruesome difficulty in getting access to the circulation to give any drugs at all, especially in a person who may not want to cooperate. Since readers who are considering medical euthanasia are likely aware that capital punishment in American states uses the same general approach, I would hate for them to be put off by the idea that their treatment will be “gruesome.”

    For medical euthanasia in humans in Canada, a series of drugs is used instead of a single dose of pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is available here only for animal euthanasia. While the human formulation is licensed in Canada, it has not been available for a long time. The manufacturer doesn’t make any because there is no demand for it. I don’t think I ever prescribed it for anything in my whole career. Much safer sedatives had already appeared long before I graduated.

    See the reference below for the general outline of what we do. Professional regulators have their own expectations and standards. Suffice to say that all the steps and drug types used in sequence executions are, or may be, used in human euthanasia.

    A few patients have taken two hours to die, timing from the first drug started. This usually means that the i.v. failed during or after the first drug or during the second drug and another vein had to be found, the first drug repeated and then the procedure completed. It is not always straightforward.

    For euthanasia, a patient who had no accessible veins left would get a discussion about alternatives including not having it. Such is not available to condemned prisoners, whether for the cocktail approach or for pentobarbital, which undoubtedly contributes to the gruesomeness of the whole deal.

    https://www.cmajopen.ca/content/10/1/E19 January 18, 2022
    Medications and dosages used in medical assistance in dying: a cross-sectional study

    1. There are some rules, but usually it is best just to learn them when learning the word. Yes, three genders in Dutch, but it is evolving towards two: comman and neuter, like in Swedish (Norwegian and Danish still have traces of three genders). How far this evolution is depends on what part of the country one is in. Dutch is a bit different since although there are three genders, masculine and feminine both have the same definite and indefinite articles, so it is only the personal pronouns one has to keep track of.

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