Welcome to a Hump Day (“Dia de gepa” in Basque): January 11, 2023. It’s National Hot Toddy Day, celebrating the hot whisky drink, usually with honey, lemon, and spices. According to Wikipedia, the origin of the name is Indian:
The word toddy comes from the toddy drink in India, produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees. Its earliest known use to mean “a beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices” is from 1786. It is often referred to as a ‘Hot Toady’ However, a few other sources credit Robert Bentley Todd for his prescription of a hot drink of brandy, canella (white cinnamon), sugar syrup, and water.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 11 Wikipedia page.
*Reader Enrico is surprised that the NYT didn’t find this piece newsworthy (I haven’t been able to find it there, either), but it certainly is newsworthy, especially since a federal appellate court ruled that Title IX protects people on the basis of biological sex, not gender. That has all kinds of ramifications, most obviously for women’s sports in schools, and note that the next step up if there’s an appeal will be the Supreme Court, which would uphold the appellate decision. From the Independent Women’s Forum:
A federal court of appeals has held that Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination “on the basis of sex” refers to biological sex, not gender identity. The year-end ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit calls into question the legality of the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX rules, which equate “gender identity” with “sex” and would require schools to open up women’s sports and other spaces to males who identify as women.
The case, Adams v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cty., involved a challenge to a Florida school district’s bathroom policy. The Florida school district separates bathrooms based on biological sex while providing sex-neutral bathroom accommodations for students who identify as trans or gender fluid.
The 11th Circuit ruled 7-4 on December 30 that the bathroom policy violates neither Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 nor the U.S. Constitution. The court rejected the claim that the school board’s actions discriminated against trans-identifying students.
. . .But the decision has implications far beyond the bathroom context, as Title IX prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” in all aspects of education.
In determining whether the policy at issue violated Title IX, the court of appeals was forced to consider whether the word “sex”, as used in the statute, includes “gender identity.” The court held that it does not, noting that if Congress wants to prohibit discrimination against trans-identifying students, it must say so explicitly.
It seems that Congress would have to make a new law modifying Title IX to get around this decision, and I don’t see how, given that the House is Republican, this would happen in the next two years. And although I don’t think transsexual people should be subject to discrimination in nearly all cases, in a couple of cases, including sports, prisons, and rape counseling, there’s a case to be made for a meaningful difference between sex and gender.
*The NYT published five letters from readers about the Hamline University/Muhammad’s Face controversy. Three are properly critical of Hamline’s hamhanded approach, which involved firing the instructor who showed the two pictures that outraged the fragile, while two other letters are ambiguous in that they say that it’s not a clearcut case. But it is. I’ll give excerpts from those two.
This is part of a letter from one Catherine DeLazzero, described as an “educational researcher”:
During class, Dr. López Prater could have provided a link to the painting, offering options to participate by viewing or listening (as it’s unfair to ask students to leave the class). Before offering such options, educators can seek guidance from experts with different perspectives as well as from students themselves, through one-to-one conversations, written reflections, anonymous surveys or dialogues with student organizations.
Ultimately what matters most is the students’ right to a quality education, which requires taking their needs into account and not forcing them to adopt an educator’s choice of whether or how to perceive an object.
First, did DeLazzero read the NYT article? For it says this:
In the syllabus, she warned that images of holy figures, including the Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha, would be shown in the course. She asked students to contact her with any concerns, and she said no one did.
In class, she prepped students, telling them that in a few minutes, the painting would be displayed, in case anyone wanted to leave.
It wasn’t that they had to leave the class, for they could have contacted the instructor López Prater in advance, and could thus have received advance warning. Further, a “quality education” doesn’t mean catering to the fragilities of every single student. In my view, those who complained might have been offended, but given the advance warning, they wanted to be offended. What they need is not teachers who cater to them, but therapists to work on their hypersensivity.
Here’s part of a letter from one Michael Rigsby from Connecticut:
There are many disturbing aspects of this sad story, but what concerns me most is the apparent inability to acknowledge that more than one truth can exist simultaneously, even when they are not in complete alignment.
In the rush to identify villains and heroes, we lose sight of the complicated possibility that a) the professor was justified and well intentioned and b) the student was nevertheless genuinely offended by the professor’s decision to show the image.
Or that a) the professor gave opt-out options in advance but b) the student didn’t feel empowered to exercise them fully.
If the university had begun with a presumption that all of these things were simultaneously true and had attempted to find a better conflict resolution process along the lines of restorative justice, both the student and the professor might have felt that they had benefited from the conflict.
This is absurd. Of course truths can be in conflict: one person can genuinely love Hitler and his ideas, while another can teach in class that they were reprehensible. This isn’t complicated. The professor was justified and perhaps the student was offended, but the solution was for the student not to have come to class or looked at the image. The claim that the student didn’t feel empowered is equally ludicrous. Students are adults, and shouldn’t be treated as if their every need should be catered to. They’re getting an education, and that involves challenging their ideas. As for “restorative justice,” Mr. Rigsby can pick a number, get in line, and. . .
*From reader Ken:
Donald Trump has filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN. If ultimately successful, it would gut the Free Press protections established by SCOTUS in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964).You can read the complaint here.
First, this is what the Sullivan decision said:
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s freedom of speech protections limit the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. The decision held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or candidate for public office, not only must they prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—they must also prove that the statement was made with “actual malice”, meaning the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether it might be false.
And the AP’s description of the lawsuit, which asks for $475 million (almost half a billion dollars!):
Former President Donald Trump on Monday sued CNN, seeking $475 million in damages, saying the network had defamed him in an effort to short-circuit any future political campaign.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, focuses primarily on the term “The Big Lie” about Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud that he says cost him the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden.
CNN said it had no comment on the lawsuit.
Trump repeatedly attacked CNN as president, which resonated with his conservative followers. He has similarly filed lawsuits against big tech companies with little success. His case against Twitter for knocking him off its platform following the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection was thrown out by a California judge earlier this year.
Numerous federal and local election officials in both parties, a long list of courts, top former campaign staffers and even Trump’s own attorney general have all said there is no evidence of the election fraud he alleges.
Trump’s lawsuit claims “The Big Lie,” a phrase with Nazi connotations, has been used in reference to him more than 7,700 times on CNN since January 2021.
“It is intended to aggravate, scare and trigger people,” he said.
Trump ain’t going to win this one. His claims are not only bogus, but the standard of defamation is simply too high. He’ll have to prove that CNN was trying to keep him from running for political office again. Regardless, the AP notes that Trump intends to fire similar lawsuits against other media companies.
*The Washington Post reports that there is an online science journal edited by kids, and they are very demanding—in a good way. For instance, they send papers back to authors if the writing isn’t understandable to an 11 year old:
Such is the stringent editing process at the online science journal Frontiers for Young Minds, where top scientists, some of them Nobel Prize winners, submit papers on gene-editing, gravitational waves and other topics — to demanding reviewers ages 8 through 15.
Launched in 2013, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based publication is coming of age at a moment when skeptical members of the public look to scientists for clear guidance on the coronavirus and on potentially catastrophic climate change, among other issues. At Frontiers for Young Minds, the goal is not just to publish science papers but also to make them accessible to young readers like the reviewers. In doing so, it takes direct aim at a long-standing problem in science — poor communication between professionals and the public.
“Scientists tend to default to their own jargon and don’t think carefully about whether this is a word that the public actually knows,” said Jon Lorsch, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. “Sometimes to actually explain something you need a sentence as opposed to the one word scientists are using.”
. . Frontiers for Young Minds, which has drawn nearly 30 million online page views in its nine years, offers a different message on its homepage: “Science for kids, edited by kids.”
I think this is a terrific way to get kids interested in science, and if the journal can attract reputable authors, so much the better. Of course, it’s not going to be a place for primary research papers (or so I think), but it could be a good replacement for the rapidly-degenerating Scientific American.
*This is Unfair Department. Reader Barry reports that a Vermont cat has been deemed unsuitable to run for the post of mayor of Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Spooky Bones’ political dreams came crashing down Friday, after Attleboro election officials deemed the mayoral hopeful ineligible to run.
After all, Spooky isn’t a registered voter and doesn’t meet the 18-year minimum age requirement.
Oh, and he’s also a cat.
“Dear supporters, it is with great disappointment that I concede the race for Mayor of Attleboro,” Spooky’s post read. “Apparently, you must be be a ‘registered voter.’”
He also vowed to continue fighting for “control of the town’s rat problem, funds for a cat park, and lower tuna prices for all.”
The city responded on Facebook:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, both Hili and Andrzej have become quite pessimistic and cynical.
Hili: Is the New Year a milestone?A: Yes, on the road to oblivion.
Hili: Czy Nowy Rok to kamień milowy?Ja: Tak, na drodze do nicości.
. . . and a picture of Szaron:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Masih, another impending execution of a protestor in Iran:
#EbrahimNaroui was arrested by plainclothes forces in Zahedan during nationwide protests in October. He has been sentenced to death on charges of "Waging War Against God.” This innocent 25 year old citizen will be executed immediately if his sentence is upheld by the court. https://t.co/gjqbbZeSbI
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 10, 2023
From Simon, who agrees with both of these sentiments, as he used to have to wait for long periods behind chatty customers.
1) think this is genuinely lovely, and I hope it helps the people it’s meant to
2) would personally rather chew my arm off https://t.co/4O0ml3wDin
— Daniel Summers, MD (@WFKARS) January 10, 2023
From Ken. Here’s Rudy Giuliana, of all people, teaching us about kangaroo reproduction. The thing is, he’s right!
On his podcast, Rudy explains how a kangaroo gives birth and nurses her babies. pic.twitter.com/axy3wX7irX
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) January 9, 2023
From Barry, who’s worried that I’ve committed ton of crimes:
“Isn’t it weird how, the more science you know, the more crimes you do? My nephew Sebastian took one semester of geology and now he runs an exotic bird smuggling ring.” pic.twitter.com/84uabWn5mL
— Take That Darwin (@TakeThatDarwin) January 9, 2023
From Malcolm. I think I’ve posted it before, but it’s adorable, so here it is again:
Cat asks deaf owner for food using sign language pic.twitter.com/8nbvNqNJga
— Weird and Terrifying (@weirdterrifying) January 5, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a family wiped out:
11 January 1939 | Czech Jewish girl Věra Vohryzková was born (right).
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 11, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. First, a new lecture by Richard Dawkins, and it sounds interesting. Go here to register and watch the event live online, which is this Thursday at 5 pm (Israel time, I guess, which is 9 a.m. Chicago time and 3 p.m. London time. Or, if you’re in Israel, you can register for in-person attendance.
9 בפברואר 2023 | האקדמיה הלאומית הישראלית למדעים מתכבדת להזמינכם להרצאה השנתית על שם צ'ארלס דרווין. פרופ' ריצ'רד דוקינס ירצה על "Darwin's Five Bridges". ההרצאה תועבר בשידור חי באתר האקדמיה. לפרטים ולהרשמה: https://t.co/7zhYeGNA77 pic.twitter.com/93431gs5d3
— The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (@IsraelAcademy) January 3, 2023
Matthew’s word for this is unprintable, and I share his sentiments. Will the new variant going around make us get a new booster?
Moderna is planning to increase price of its Covid-19 vaccine from $15 to over $110 per vial. Moderna received over 1 billion USD from the National Institute of Health during the development stage of the vaccine. A clear case of price gouging and corporate greed. https://t.co/2lCVu7TPoJ
— Kevin Mc Loughlin (@Kevin_Palawan) January 10, 2023
You can casually drop this information about manatees at your next social gathering to become the hit of the party!
I am head-over-heels smitten with this infographic about MANATEES from @NatGeo.
— Jason Bittel (@bittelmethis) January 6, 2023