Greetings on Friday, January 20, 2023, and “National Cheese Lover’s Day.” And again with the apostrophe that implies that the day is celebrating only a single lover of cheese.The best cheese I ever had? A three-year-old Comté cheese I bought in the weekly market in Dijon, France. A visiting American cheese lover agreed with me that it was the finest piece of solidified milk he’d ever had. It was so aged that it was almost granular, but oy!, what a flavor!
Finally, in the U.S. it’s Inauguration Day for new Presidents, described as being “held every four years in odd-numbered years immediately following years divisible by 4, except for the public ceremony when January 20 falls on Sunday (the public ceremony is held the following day; however, the terms of offices still begin on the 20th) (United States of America, not a federal holiday for all government employees but only for those working in the Capital region).” We have two years to go, and I hope we aren’t inaugurating a Republican.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 20 Wikipedia page.
*Obituaries first. I’ll be brief: David Crosby, whom you’ll know if you know anything about rock music, died yesterday at 81. The cause was not revealed, but he hasn’t been in good shape for a long time.
The death came as a surprise to those who followed his very active Twitter account, which he’d kept tweeting on as recently as Wednesday. One of Crosby’s final tweets the day before he died was to make a typically jocular comment about heaven: “I heard the place is overrated… cloudy.”
Here’s that tweet:
I heard the place is overrated….cloudy https://t.co/Bpl7pM9k7s
— David Crosby (@thedavidcrosby) January 18, 2023
Mr. Crosby’s drug abuse may have exacerbated his medical problems, including a long battle with hepatitis C, which necessitated a liver transplant in 1994. He also suffered from type 2 diabetes and, in 2014, had to cancel a tour to endure a cardiac catheterization and angiogram.
If you saw the 2018 documentary about Crosby, “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” you’ll see that he was irascible and had a hard time getting along with people, including his bandmates. He recognized that he could be a jerk and was widely disliked. Nevertheless, Graham Nash paid him a postmortem tribute:
Former CSNY partner Graham Nash, who had been estranged from Crosby in recent years as their group went its separate ways, paid tribute on his social media. “It is with a deep and profound sadness that I learned that my friend David Crosby has passed,” Nash wrote. “I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and me more than anything was the pure joy of the music we created together, the sound we discovered with one another, and the deep friendship we shared over all these many long years.
“David was fearless in life and in music,” Nash continued. “He leaves behind a tremendous void as far as sheer personality and talent in this world. He spoke his mind, his heart, and his passion through his beautiful music and leaves an incredible legacy. These are the things that matter most. My heart is truly with his wife, Jan, his son, Django, and all of the people he has touched in this world.”
A trailer from that movie, which is well worth seeing:
And the music. Here’s an older CS&N singing an appropriate farewell song, “Wasted on the Way”. They still had the harmony.
RIP, Mr. Crosby:
*America hit its debt limit yesterday, but as I’m not much of an economist, I’m not sure what that means. I know that if the limit is not raised, the credit of the U.S. government will drop, and sometimes the government shuts down. But what’s the problem if our credit is downgraded? Readers can help me understand this. Anyway, here’s the skinny:
The United States hit its debt limit on Thursday, prompting the Treasury Department to begin using a series of accounting maneuvers to ensure the federal government can keep paying its bills ahead of what’s expected to be a protracted fight over whether to increase the borrowing cap.
In a letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said the government would begin using what is known as extraordinary measures to prevent the nation from breaching its statutory debt limit and asked lawmakers to raise or suspend the cap so that the government could continue meeting its financial obligations.
“The period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future,” Ms. Yellen said. “I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.”
The milestone of reaching the $31.4 trillion debt cap is a product of decades of tax cuts and increased government spending by both Republicans and Democrats. But at a moment of heightened partisanship and divided government, it is also a warning of the entrenched battles that are set to dominate Washington, and that could end in economic shock.
What I don’t understand is that they keep raising the debt limit over and over, and nothing bad ever seems to happen. So what’s the issue? At any rate, Republicans, who now control the House, have vowed not to allow an increase in the debt limit unless Biden makes deep cuts in federal spending. Biden, on the other hand, says he won’t do that, and simply wants the Congress to raise the limit to his specifications.
*Jacinda Ardern has resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand, assuring that she won’t be up for the scheduled election for her job later this year. There are a number of factors involved, one of which was her decision to further empower the Māori (the Washington Post implies, completely mistakenly, that it was partly due to sexism, when another Post article blames it on her handling of the Covid crisis; and her approval rating was down to 29%. As Nellie Bowles writes in her weekly TGIF, the Post is losing the plot.
The unexpected announcement — which stunned supporters and political insiders — signaled an abrupt end to the five-year tenure of a prime minister whose empathetic brand of governance during several crises elevated her to the global stage, even as her popularity recently began to slip behind the main conservative opposition at home.
Ardern said she would step down by Feb. 7. Lawmakers representing her ruling center-left Labour Party will vote Sunday on a new leader, who will lead the party to a national election Oct. 14.
. . .Ardern won praise for her calm stewardship of the Pacific nation through a number of major events, including the coronavirus pandemic, a volcanic eruption and the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack. She spearheaded legislation to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles just six days after the attack, in which more than 50 people were killed.
She also acted quickly to close her country’s borders in March 2020. That decision, coupled with stringent quarantine requirements for returning New Zealanders and snap lockdowns, kept her country largely covid-free until early last year. It helped her secure a rare landslide reelection in 2020. That year, the Atlantic magazine described her as possibly the “most effective leader on the planet.”
More recently, however, local sentiment toward her administration has soured as the island nation emerges from a long period of pandemic isolation. In March, anti-government protests outside Parliament turned violent when demonstrators hurled bricks and set fire to their tents. Dozens were arrested. Personal threats against Ardern nearly tripled in recent years, according to police, and the prime minister at times was a target of misogynistic abuse.Ardern’s plans to tax agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, revise the country’s water system and give more power to Maori groups also served to consolidate the opposition, Curtin said.
*According to the WaPo, both Alex Baldwin and the “armorer” on the set of the movie “Rust” will be charged with involuntary manslaughter. As you may recall, Baldwin fired a gun containing a live round that was supposed to hold a blank, and it killed the cinematographer and wounded the director. I can understand negligence on the part of the armorer, whose job it was to make sure no live ammunition was used, but Baldwin was just given the gun to fire. I guess it was his responsibility to check, too, but could he tell live ammo from a blank (I have no idea what blanks look like):
. . . “If any one of these three people […] had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today,” special prosecutor Andrea Reeb added. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set.”
. . .Prosecutors stated that they will file the criminal charges at the end of the month. If convicted, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could face up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine per charge — or even stiffer punishments based on what a jury decides.
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said in a statement Thursday that the decision to pursue charges “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death,” calling it “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
That’s what I would have thought, but the D.A. decided that the case was worth pursuing. A bit more:
According to prosecutors, one definition of involuntary manslaughter charge implies underlying negligence and includes the misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a firearm. A second type “requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death” and tacks on a penalty referred to as a “firearm enhancement.”
Each involuntary manslaughter charge carries a possible sentence of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The firearm enhancement is punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.
I still don’t understand why Baldwin was charged, but we have lawyers reading this, so one of them please explain it in the comments.
*The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood gives his take on the Hamline University/Muhammad painting controversy He’s on the side of the fired instructor, as all right-thinking people should be:
It turns out that Muslims have different views on this matter and many others, and that the fatwa from the president of a Methodist college in St. Paul, Minnesota, has somehow sided with the most intolerant element of the American Muslim spectrum.[Hamline President} Miller invited a Muslim speaker to campus who compared the professor’s art-history class to a pro-Nazi or pro-child-molester class, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Then he suggested that a Muslim might want to kill her, and that these murderous feelings deserved recognition. “You’ve seen what happened in the horrible tragedies of Charlie Hebdo,” Jaylani Hussein warned the faculty and students of Hamline. “Muslims revere our Prophet in a meaningful way, and regardless of whatever you are teaching, you have to respect them.” (Hussein runs a local chapter of CAIR, which distanced itself from his comments—perhaps because “American-Islamic relations” are not improved by reminding people to watch what they say, because some Muslims might want to kill them.)
Miller is deferring to the most fragile Muslims. She must think Muslims have skulls like crepe paper, and brains that can be bruised by a light gust of academic inquiry. Such people exist, and her student may be one. But most Muslims—including some who would object strenuously to a depiction of the Prophet—navigate the world without the shelter offered by the Hamline administration. The Muslims I know generally realize that the world is full of insults and challenges, and that education requires willingness to live with them and learn from them. Miller wants to make this resilient Muslim majority, and everyone else, hostage to their most brittle and blubbering brothers and sisters. If any Hamline students really need this kind of protection, I suggest they enroll at a university in Kabul.
That’s good strong writing!
*Bari Weiss’s site The Free Press features an article, “America’s Police Exodus,” about the decline of America’s police forces by journalist and filmmaker Leighton Woodhouse. He gives the depressing statistics, which will hearten the “defund the police/ACAB” crowd, and then says this:
A big part of what’s prompting police to leave America’s big cities is the perception the public has turned against them. A 2020 poll showed that only seven percent of police officers would advise their kids to go into law enforcement. Eighty-three percent of those who wouldn’t recommend it cited “lack of respect for the profession.”
“Suddenly, everyone is telling us how to do our jobs. They’re saying we’re biased, racist, only want to hurt black and brown communities,” said McCray, who is black. “These officers worked in these communities, were invested in these communities. Suddenly, people who don’t know us are saying you’re this, you’re that.”
The statistics say that most people want more cops, not fewer.
In August 2022, President Biden announced his Safer America Plan in response to rising crime. Among other things, it includes plans to hire 100,000 more police officers. That upset the ACLU, which disparaged the plan as “more criminalization and incarceration,” and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which asserted—without providing evidence—that adding police officers would only victimize black people.
Peter Moskos, the former Baltimore police officer now teaching at John Jay College, was mystified by progressives who insist that the single greatest threat faced by black Americans is systemic racism. “Congratulations!” said Moskos, who has called for legalizing drugs in response to the drug war’s ineffectiveness and its disproportionate impact on young black men. “You’ve increased the black murder rate. You’re giving blacks worse policing through this transfer of cops—and doing it smugly in the name of racial justice.”
*Finally, my favorite singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell was awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress. (h/t Steve)
Joni Mitchell is this year’s winner of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress. Since the lifetime achievement award was established in 2007, it has gone exclusively to A-list celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie.
Mitchell is the third woman to be recognized, after Carole King in 2013 and Gloria Estefan (in tandem with her husband Emilio) in 2019.
. . . “Joni Mitchell’s music and artistry have left a distinct impression on American culture and internationally, crossing from folk music with a distinctive voice whose songs will stay with us for the ages,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a statement. “Joni Mitchell’s music has so many artists and music lovers all singing her tunes. We are honored to present the Gershwin Prize to this musical genius.”
WHAT? Lionel Richie got the award before Joni? Seriously?What kind of tin-eared people are making these decisions?
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has her weather eye peeled:
Hili: An owl sat on the bough.A: So what?Hili: Interesting; where does she see mice in our garden?
Hili: Sowa usiadła na gałęzi.Ja: I co z tego?Hili: Ciekawe, gdzie ona widzi myszy w naszym ogrodzie?
A Gary Larson Far Side cartoon from Facebook. I’d never seen this one before, and I think it’s hilarious. Why did he stop making cartoons? He was the best!
From Bruce. Are you old enough to remember these?
From Kurt, posted on Facebook. Maybe these people are vegans?
From Masih, a woman asserts her right to dress as she wants, sans hijab. It’s women like her who kicked off the protests. A man defends her rights against two theocratic jerks:
A woman was harassed by two men in Isfahan. This woman strongly defended her right to choose her own clothing and does not allow them to interfere. In the video, a brave young man defends this
woman and her right to choose.#MahsaAmini#WomanLifeFreedom
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 19, 2023
From Barry, a helpful otter:
Employee of the Month 🏆 pic.twitter.com/bDqaxTsRo1
— Kelly Canuck🍁 (@KellyCanuckTO) January 16, 2023
From Malcolm, a mother and her joey:
A mother and her child pic.twitter.com/eDOH1ZrAnk
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) January 16, 2023
From Ziya Tong (“Earthling”), who now has a Mastodon account (I have to take screenshots as I can’t embed Mastodon’s “toots”):
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man gassed upon arrival. He was 45.
20 January 1897 | A Polish Jew, Isaak Einstein, was born in Bialystok. During the war he lived in Belgium.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 20, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. First, a showboating goalkeeper who nearly loses the ball. Pick it up, dumbass!
We have a new favourite goalkeeper.pic.twitter.com/l9QhoOkYVz
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) January 18, 2023
Cutest duck tweet ever, and look at the mug!
— why you should have a duck 🦆 (@shouldhaveaduck) January 17, 2023
A happy horse kicks up its heels. Be sure to watch the video:
— YorkshireShepherdess (@AmandaOwen8) January 17, 2023