Monday: Hili dialogue

January 23, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings at the beginning of the work week: Monday, January 23, 2023, and National Pie DayIt’s a good reason to read about the apocryphal story in which a royal personage, at dinner, was told by the waitress, “Keep your fork; there’s pie.”

It’s also National Rhubarb Pie Day, celebrating the Worst of All Possible Pies, Measure Your Feet Day (mine are 8.5 regular), National Handwriting Day (we’ve all forgotten how to write by hand), and, in the States of Orissa, Tripura, and West Bengal of India, it’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Jayanti, celebrating his day of birth in 1897. Bose was a hero for many for favoring Indian independence, but not for forming alliances with Nazi Germany and Japan. He died in a suspicious airplane crash in 1948. A photo:

A memorial to David Crosby from his bandmate (and one of his last friends), Steve Stills:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 23 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The shooter who killed ten and injured another ten in the L.A. suburb of Monterey Park has probably been found—and killed..  As usual, the paper has a patronizing “Here’s what’s to know” section:

  • The 10 victims — five men and five women — were pronounced dead at the scene and were “probably” all of Asian descent, Luna said. He said investigators have not yet identified the victims and did not know their ages.
  • The shooting occurred about 10:20 p.m., a little over an hour after the Lunar New Year event was scheduled to end, Meyer said. The second day of the festival has been canceled, the city of Monterey Park announced Sunday.
  • Officials said an incident that took place in the neighboring city of Alhambra minutes after the Monterey Park shooting may be related. In Alhambra, an Asian man walked into a dance hall with a gun before people wrestled the weapon away from him, authorities said. [JAC: it seems to be the same suspect: a male about 30 years old]
  • A business known as Star Ballroom Dance Studio is located at the same address as the one identified by Monterey Park as the scene of the mass killing, but officials have not confirmed whether this is where the shooting occurred.

There’s no motive yet, but we do know that the male suspect used a semiautomatic weapon.

I’ve just heard a report on the Sunday NBC News that police barricaded a white van at a Torrance, CA parking lot, and in a shootout after a long standoff the occupant was killed. It seems probable that he was the perp (a white van was identified as a vehicle of suspicion). The suspect was Asian-American, and so were his victims.

The NYT has identified the man:

  • The manhunt ended on Sunday afternoon when a SWAT team closed in on a white van in a parking lot in Torrance. Officers heard one shot as they approached the van, and discovered that the suspect, identified as Huu Can Tran, 72, had shot himself, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

The WaPo also says this:

The state also has an assault weapons ban. It is one of eight states, plus the District of Columbia, with such a law. (Police on Sunday said the weapon the Monterey Park gunman had used was not an assault-style gun.)

I was under the mistaken impression that semiautomatic weapons were assault weapons, but no, they’re not. Assault weapons has an option that allows it to keep firing so long as the trigger is depressed. Semiautomatic weapons are those in which one pull on the trigger allows one bullet to be fired.  I shouldn’t even have to know stuff like this!

*The NYT has a provocative article that will surely create a lot of buzz: “When students change gender identity, and parents don’t know.” In fact, even though the story went up yesterday, there were already 1480 comments  by 3 p.m. yesterday. The gist of the story, buttressed with examples, is that many schools will allow a student to change their gender identity (changing names and pronouns, using different bathrooms) without telling the parents.

The student, now 16, told The New York Times that his school had provided him with a space to be himself that he otherwise lacked. He had tried to come out to his parents before, he said, but they didn’t take it seriously, which is why he asked his school for support.

“I wish schools didn’t have to hide it from parents or do it without parental permission, but it can be important,” he said. “Schools are just trying to do what’s best to keep students safe and comfortable. When you’re trans, you feel like you are in danger all the time. Even though my parents were accepting, I was still scared, and that’s why the school didn’t tell them.”

Although the number of young people who identify as transgender in the United States remains small, it has nearly doubled in recent years, and schools have come under pressure to address the needs of those young people amid a polarized political environment where both sides warn that one wrong step could result in irreparable harm.

. . . The public school that Mrs. Bradshaw’s son attends is one of many throughout the country that allow students to socially transition — change their name, pronouns, or gender expression — without parental consent. Districts have said they want parents to be involved but must follow federal and, in some cases, state guidance meant to protect students from discrimination and violations of their privacy.

. . . But dozens of parents whose children have socially transitioned at school told The Times they felt villainized by educators who seemed to think that they — not the parents — knew what was best for their children. They insisted that educators should not intervene without notifying parents unless there is evidence of physical abuse at home. Although some didn’t want their children to transition at all, others said they were open to it, but felt schools forced the process to move too quickly, and that they couldn’t raise concerns without being cut out completely or having their home labeled “unsafe.”

I can see both points of view here, but thank Ceiling Cat I have no kids and thus no standing to pronounce. But I will say that if there are state regulations, they should be obeyed (or challenged in court), but I hope that NO school district will facilitate surgery or medical treatment without the parents’ knowledge.

*Several cruise ships headed to New Zealand have been forced to turn around or stop and undergo extensive cleaning because of “biofoul”. New Zealand is rightly and proudly scrupulous about letting foreign organisms or biomaterial into the country, as they’ve lost many species from introduces flora and fauna. This fauna comes in on ships:

The ship, along with Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, the Viking Orion and the Coral Princess, is one of at least six cruise liners traveling in and around New Zealand since December to come into conflict with these regulations, condemning those aboard to days of idleness at sea until a painstaking cleaning process, performed by local companies in international waters, can be completed.

For passengers, some of whom had spent tens of thousands of dollars and awaited the cruise for years, it was a crushing and unanticipated blow. For those in the industry in Australia and New Zealand, though, the incidents were all too foreseeable, even if the cause of a spate of them occurring in such a short time frame remained mysterious.

. . . Few countries take as many biosecurity precautions as New Zealand, which goes to great lengths to protect its natural ecosystems. Passengers who arrive by air, for example, are met at the airport by a phalanx of signs that urge them to dispense with any meat or vegetable products or face the consequences. Even a single undeclared apple, tucked into hand luggage and forgotten about, may carry an instant fine of 400 New Zealand dollars, or about $250. (A recent bill introduced in the country’s parliament seeks to increase that fine almost threefold.)

. . . Marine organisms — including mussels, oysters, algae, crabs and starfish, among a wider maritime cast — might hitch a ride either in the ballast water of ships, which helps the vessel’s stability, or by clinging to their exteriors, where they are known as biofoul. A global agreement, set by the regulatory authority known as the International Maritime Organization, dictates how ships handle organisms found in ballast water. But no such agreement exists for biofoul, allowing countries to set their own policy.

New Zealand’s standards, introduced in 2018, were the first of their kind in the world and are the most stringent. They stipulate that vessels must have a “clean hull,” with at most a coating of slime, stray gooseneck barnacles and a smattering of other organisms on their exterior. Once an initial clean is completed, usually in South East Asia, and the accompanying paperwork has been filed, the ship has 30 days to make its way to New Zealand.

The passengers were offered compensatory vouchers for the non-trip, but it didn’t work for one of them: “Another passenger. . . .publicly declined the offer of a compensatory voucher for a future cruise, saying that he had chosen to take the trip after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and that he did not expect to live long enough to take any other cruises.”  Oy!

*ANOTHER six classified documents have been found in Joe Biden’s Delaware home!  This is not looking good:

The search of Mr. Biden’s home, which came after his team offered Federal Bureau of Investigation agents full access to the property, lasted more than 12 hours and “covered all working, living and storage spaces in the home,” Mr. Bauer said. The six items taken included some papers from Mr. Biden’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, where he served for 36 years. Others came from his time as vice president.

During the search, which lasted from around 9:45 a.m. to around 10:30 p.m. Friday, members of Mr. Biden’s personal legal team were present along with officials from the White House Counsel’s Office, according to Mr. Bauer’s statement. Federal investigators also took materials including handwritten notes, “for further review,” Mr. Bauer said.

According to Mr. Bauer, the Justice Department had full access to the president’s home, including personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules and reminders going back decades.

Friday’s search is at least the fifth that has turned up classified material in places used by Mr. Biden.

Now I think Biden is handling this pretty well, though he might have announced the earlier findings in November, when the first discoveries were made.  And they keep replaying Biden’s statement about how unbelievable it was that Trump had classified documents in his home. Here’s a CNN video in which Joe and Jill Republican, Democrat, or Independent weigh in.  The opinions are pretty predictable.

*Dear President Biden, Chancellor Scholz (of Germany), and all other heads of state in Western Europe:

The Ukraine has asked for battle tanks to fight off the invading Russians. You won’t hand any over, or sell any. Please do so immediately. They will help Ukraine a lot, and since they can and will be used defensively, there’s no reason not to be generous here. Or are you afraid that Putin will drop a nuke or two on Zelensky if he sees you handing over tanks.

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus)

As you know, Ukraine has begged both the U.S. and Germany t send them battle tanks, as they have only shabby equivalents to fight off the Russians. First the U.S. refused, and then, as I recall, Germany said it would give tanks to Ukraine so long as the U.S. did, too. Now Germany seems to have withdrawn from that promise, but said it would allow Poland to send tanks to Ukraine,

Ukrainian officials have been calling on Western allies to supply them with the modern German-made tanks for months – but Berlin has so far held back from sending them, or allowing other NATO countries to do so.

Asked what would happen if Poland went ahead and sent its Leopard 2 tanks without German approval, Annalena Baerbock said on France’s LCI TV: “For the moment the question has not been asked, but if we were asked we would not stand in the way.”

Her remarks appeared to go further than German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s comments at a summit in Paris earlier on Sunday that all decisions on weapons deliveries would be made in coordination with allies including the United States.

Germany has been under heavy pressure to let Leopards go to Ukraine. But Scholz’s Social Democrat party is traditionally sceptical of military involvements and wary of sudden moves that could cause Moscow to further escalate.

German defense minister Boris Pistorius said on Sunday that he expected a decision soon on the tanks, though he kept up a note of caution.

. . .German sources have told Reuters they would allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine to help its defence against Russia if the United States agrees to send its own tanks. But U.S. officials have said President Joe Biden’s administration is not poised to send its own tanks, including the M1 Abrams.

The Kremlin’s spokesman said on Friday that Western countries supplying additional tanks to Ukraine would not change the course of the conflict and that they would add to the problems of the Ukrainian people.

Where are the tanks? There ought to be tanks. Well, maybe next year. . . .

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili can’t stop thinking about snacking on a bird:

Hili: The birds of the air; they do not sow or reap.
A: But they are cute.
Hili: And tasty.
In Polish:
Hili: Ptaki niebieskie nie sieją, nie orzą…
Ja: Ale są ładne.
Hili: I smaczne.
And a cute photo of Baby Kulka by Paulina. Caption by Andrzej: “The snow almost disappeared. Paulina’s picture is from Saturday.”
In Polish: “Śnieg prawie zniknął, sobotnie zdjęcia Pauliny są.”
And Pauliuna’s picture of Kulka with Andrzej’s words:
The snow almost disappeared. Paulina’s picture is from Saturday.


From Merilee, a Mark Parisi cartoon:

From Stash Krod, we have ducks in a Leunig cartoon:

A great Bizaro comic:

From Masih: translation from Farsi:

We received a video in which one of the armed oppressors in Tehran beats a woman for no reason on November 24.

Video Sender says: “This gentleman attacked the pedestrians without any reason, and when this lady did not run away, he kicked and punched her and asked her to run away.”

It does seem to be a completely unprovoked attack:

Speaking of Matt Yglesias, a tweet found by Luana:

From Barry, who adds,”I love how the other toads turn to the interloper with a ‘we’re gonna kill you’ look”:

From Malcolm, A Tower Of Books:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, four siblings gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. This could be thought of as sexual selection via male-male competition (or does the female empty the sperm because a better male has come along?)

Geneticists: what is wrong with this announcement?

What a bizarre comparison!

46 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1556 – The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.

    1570 – James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, regent for the infant King James VI of Scotland, is assassinated by firearm, the first recorded instance of such.

    1795 – After an extraordinary charge across the frozen Zuiderzee, the French cavalry captured 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns, in a rare occurrence of a battle between ships and cavalry.

    1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States’ first female doctor.

    1870 – In Montana, U.S. cavalrymen kill 173 Native Americans, mostly women and children, in what becomes known as the Marias Massacre.

    1941 – Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.

    1986 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

    2002 – U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan and subsequently murdered.

    2018 – The China–United States trade war begins when President Donald Trump places tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines.

    1832 – Édouard Manet, French painter (d. 1883).

    1910 – Django Reinhardt, Belgian guitarist and composer (d. 1953).

    1928 – Jeanne Moreau, French actress (d. 2017). [Best known for François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962). Most prolific during the 1960s, Moreau continued to appear in films into her 80s. Orson Welles called her “the greatest actress in the world”.]

    1930 – Derek Walcott, Saint Lucian poet and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2017).

    1944 – Rutger Hauer, Dutch actor, director, and producer (d. 2019).

    Harvesting turnips with a ladder:
    1803 – Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer, founded Guinness (b. 1725).

    1931 – Anna Pavlova, Russian-English ballerina (b. 1881).

    1944 – Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and illustrator (b. 1863).

    1976 – Paul Robeson, American actor, singer, and activist (b. 1898).

    1989 – Salvador Dalí, Spanish painter and sculptor (b. 1904).

    2002 – Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher (b. 1930).

    2004 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (b. 1920).

    2005 – Johnny Carson, American talk show host, television personality, and producer (b. 1925).

    2017 – Gorden Kaye, English actor (b. 1941).

    2018 – Hugh Masekela, South African trumpeter, composer and singer (b. 1939).

    2021 – Larry King, American journalist and talk show host (b. 1933).

    1. This nonsense is happening in the UK, too: “I asked my daughter’s teachers not to call her a boy… they reported me to social services: Schools won’t apply sun cream without parental permission. But some will ‘socially transition’ children who want to change gender without a word to their families”.

  2. Assault weapon is one of those terms that most people don’t really understand and that’s because there is no definitive definition. It’s generally tied to physical characteristics such as a detachable magazine, pistol grip, or other military looking features. AR style rifles are mostly semi automatic, the same as many hunting rifles. The real difference is in how they look. One gets labeled as an assault weapon and the other does not. Fully automatic weapons are illegal without a special permit that is quite expensive and pretty hard to obtain. I am not aware of any mass shooting in recent years that has involved a fully automatic firearm.

    1. An assault rifle is a rifle with select fire capability (i.e single shot and continuous fire mode) and usually an intermediate round (i.e. more powerful than pistol ammunition but less powerful than full powered rifle ammunition). If there’s no single shot mode, it is a machine gun. If there’s no full auto mode, it’s just a rifle.

      The term assault weapon is more nebulous. An AR-15 might be considered an assault weapon. An FN-FAL might be considered an assault weapon. An MP-5 might be considered an assault weapon. The gun lobby will use the fact that the term is ill defined to pour scorn on the arguments of their opponents. They will say an AR-15 is no more lethal than a semi automatic hunting rifle. They are correct, so I say let’s ban all semi automatic rifles. That’s not a nebulous term.

      1. The problem for the gun lobby opponents is that they often clearly know very little about firearms. Maybe if they truly cared they would take the time to understand the difference between something like semi automatic and fully automatic. Unfortunately, most of them don’t take that time or maybe they purposefully conflate the two.

  3. “Assault rifle” is a term introduced and pushed by the anti-gun lobby. It is not a term used by gun manufacturers or gun owners. People (like Geraldo Rivera) often think the AR in AR-15 stands for assault rifle, but, in fact, it stands for ArmaLite, the original manufacturer of that rifle. Ignoring the differing mechanical operating schemes for pistols, rifles are either single shot (muzzle loading or breach loading), semi-automatic (will fire once and reload by pressing the trigger), or automatic (will fire continuously while the trigger is depressed). Some modern automatic rifles have an option to select whether they fire in semi-automatic or full-automatic mode. Individuals require a special license from the ATF in order to own automatic weapons, and it is illegal to own an automatic weapon manufactured before 1986. The various add-ons that people use to try to define “assault rifles” (such as flash suppressors or bayonet lugs) do not add to their lethality. If one wants to argue about the right to own guns, one should educate oneself. I would say that the best place to start is with the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller.

    1. “If one wants to argue about the right to own guns, one should educate oneself.”

      I guess it never hurts to be well informed about any subject but I would dispute that there is any need to know the difference between different categories of gun in order to question whether it is desirable for a citizen to own a weapon that is capable of killing a large number of people in a short space of time. However the weapon used in Monterey Park is classified it was clearly capable of doing that.

  4. When did “penguin” become a unit of measure? I am not saying it’s wrong, just curious. What is the abbreviation? PN? PG?

    1. The tweet was posted on Penguin Awareness Day, apparently.

      In the UK, the units used for this type of comparison on the BBC are “Olympic swimming pools” for volumes and “the size of Wales (or France, depending on size)” for areas.

      1. There are a few other commonly used units of this type in the UK: ‘bags of sugar’ (a unit of mass), ‘double decker buses’, ‘football pitches’, and ‘blue whales’ (a particularly helpful one given that very few of us have ever seen a blue whale) spring to mind.

    2. In the last several years I’ve noticed in the NY Times and on NPR (no doubt elsewhere also) that a “hand full” (e.g., a “hand full” of states) has become a unit of measure.

  5. I know that we astronomers tend to use some odd non-SI units for distances (astronomical unit, light year, parsec) but I am pretty sure that the International Astronomical Union has not sanctioned the penguin as a unit.

  6. We are going to have more mass shootings in the US…this is as certain as anything. More this year, the next year, the year after…

    We also know that some countries, such as Australia, have had mass shooting problems but have either entirely eradicated them or made enormous progress in reducing their occurrence.

    So we clearly have made a choice in the US to tolerate mass shootings. Perhaps we see them as a net good….for every mass shooting, we receive something better in return.

    I would just ask the gun advocates to explain the net benefit that we receive from all of these mass shootings.

    1. Good question, Joe. Anticipating that gun advocates typically say that they need guns for self defense, I would ask them to prove their need with hard data backing it up.

      1. Also, here’s German Lopez from today’s NYT:
        “All over the world, there are people who argue, fight over relationships, suffer from mental health issues or hold racist views. But in the U.S., those people can more easily obtain a gun and shoot someone.”
        Read the whole thing:
        Mass Shooting in California

      2. The guy in Florida who shot a piece of garbage who accosted his girlfriend while she was trying to get into her car when she came off her shift at a tavern late at night has hard data. Five rounds of hard lead. (I know lead is soft but work with me on this.)

        He had driven over to make sure she got home safely. The assailant emerged from a Port-a-Potty where he had been lurking and jumped the waitress, knocking her to the ground and beating her in an apparent attempt to steal her car, which attempt ceased abruptly and permanently when the boyfriend intervened. The sheriff’s office said that neither the waitress nor the boyfriend were facing charges.

        Now, I get it that very few people, including me, would be capable of doing this. So for us, the idea of carrying a pistol around for self-defence seems Rambo-ridiculous and we would of course ban the carrying of handguns as being more dangerous than they are worth. Sure, someday the guy’s toddler — surely the girlfriend will marry him! — will find the pistol and shoot himself just like we anti-gun folks always say will happen. But jeez, what a bad-ass!

    2. A good friend claims his second amendment right as protection against the government. When I point out that the peoples’ guns are no match for the government’s tanks, warships and attack helicopters, he mumbles.

      Two days ago, I sent him this quote from an article about the capture of Ovidio Guzmán,

      “But the small army of gunmen proved no match for Mexico’s military, which used gunships to strafe the convoy of pickup trucks rigged with makeshift armor and high-caliber guns in the capture of Ovidio Guzmán, the son of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, witnesses said.

      “We were defeated,” said a 30-year-old cartel gunman brandishing an AK-47 rifle and pistols… “They were better prepared.”

      1. I’ve used the same arguments before, noting that there wouldn’t be anything left of your “cold, dead hand”, to take the gun from, maybe nothing more that a smoking crater. But it’s hard to argue with people who picture themselves as Rambo, John Wayne, and Chuck Norris all rolled into one.

  7. Regarding tanks and Ukraine, I find many of the articles on the Responsible Statecraft web site to be, well, responsible. Here’s an article from Saturday arguing that further assistance to Ukraine should be paired with “real moves toward a peace settlement.” That may sound obvious, but it’s not clear if there really is any effort along that important axis. Read Saturday’s (short) article here:

    1. The article you cite by Suzanne Loftus at the Responsible Statecraft site (which is devoted to advocating for restraint in U.S. foreign policy) basically says nothing. She cites various sources that are pro and anti for the necessity of ending a protracted war. She is for the U.S. pushing a negotiated settlement. She says:

      “Based on the negative consequences of a protracted conflict illustrated above, it is within our interest to bring this war to an end. Rather than doing so by dramatically escalating the war, we need to pair our military assistance with real moves towards a peace settlement in Ukraine. The United States so far has not exhausted all its possibilities to initiate talks and should be investing far more into a diplomatic approach. As the main provider of Ukrainian financial and military support, the United States is in the position to take on this role. People’s lives and livelihood depend on it, as does the future of European security.”

      What are the real moves that could aid a negotiated peace? She links to another article on the Responsible Statecraft site by George Beebe. In my estimation, the Beebe article goes on and on about how bad a protracted war is, but provides no concrete suggestions as to what a negotiated settlement would look like. The reason for this is that there may not be any settlement that can be negotiated to the satisfaction, perhaps reluctantly, of both sides. These calls to negotiate remind me of how the anti-war folks during the Vietnam conflict continually argued for negotiations to end the war. We now know that negotiations were a farce and that Kissinger and Nixon were simply trying to maintain face, knowing real well that the U.S. had lost the war. The war in Ukraine will eventually end with Ukraine ceding some of it sovereign territory to Russia or Ukraine driving the Russians out. This means that a so-called negotiated settlement, if it ever comes, will reflect what took place on the battlefield, with one side winning and the other losing.

      1. “This means that a so-called negotiated settlement, if it ever comes, will reflect what took place on the battlefield, with one side winning and the other losing.”

        This is a great point. Until the Ukraine has Russia in the equivalent of a rear-naked choke, or vice versa, there will be no substantive “negotiations”. Once the fighting has started, the state of the war determines the state of the negotiations, not other way around!

      2. I too would like to hear some further explanations from people that want to make further aid contingent on pursuing negotiations. I’m not sure they’ve thought this out, or that they’ve been paying attention to Russia over the past couple of decades.

        The US is free to decide whether or not to support Ukraine, and how much support to provide. But let’s not pretend that Ukraine has not previously indicated that they are willing to negotiate a peace or that Putin has ever shown a sign that he would be willing to negotiate a reasonable peace in good faith. The evidence across all of Putin’s reign shows that to be a ludicrous hope. And coercing Ukraine to accept loss of territory and a Russian Yoke against their will in current circumstances is both not nice and pragmatically it isn’t the smart move. Very arguably it will not reduce human suffering either. It will shift the balance of it to Ukraine and spread it out over many years.

        And let’s not pretend that the reason Putin invaded Ukraine is because the US / NATO forced his hand by being too friendly with former Soviet satellites. Let me clarify. That may be true but the point is that to the extent that it may be it’s because Putin felt like NATO was cramping his style, and his style is some blend of mafioso crime boss and fascist prick. NATO would never have invaded Russia and Putin knows that. But NATO would likely move to prevent him from invading NATO member states, though Putin worked hard for years to weaken NATO’s cooperation and resolve. And invading NATO member states that used to be Soviet satellites is exactly what Putin hoped to do some day.

        In pragmatic realpolitik terms, supporting Ukraine is the best move. That’s too understated. It’s a gift offered on a silver platter. The costs of supporting Ukraine is a bargain. Anyone interested in US national security, heck international security for that matter, should favor supporting Ukraine. It’s also the decent thing to do. Their country has been invaded. They want to fight the invader. Their morale is high and their resolve is strong. Though it isn’t their intent they are doing, have already done, the world a huge favor. They’ve caused Putin to make the mistake of showing the whole world what a sham the Russian military is. And Putin will likely push Russia into failed state status and end up dead himself while continuing to try and defeat Ukraine.

        1. So the U.S. is not “poised” to provide the Abrams tank to Ukraine. (Do I correctly recall that the German defence minister has said words to the effect that Germany will provide tanks if the U.S. will provide a piddling number of Abrams?) Something about it being incredibly high-maintenance, what with jet engines and aviation fuel. Why would the U.S. employ such a design in the first place on its own behalf? Apparently it’s not THAT high-maintenance. I conjecture that the U.S. does not want to reinforce the perception that it is in a proxy war with Russia.

          The 1/23/23 NY Times hard-copy pooh-poohs Germany’s concerns about the last eighty or more years of history vis-a-vis the Soviet Union/Russian:

          “The clear pattern for Mr. Scholz is to move slowly, to try to bring his voters along (despite the annoyance of his NATO allies) and to finally agree to send in the tanks once he convinces the German public that it will actually bring peace closer by pushing Russia to negotiate.”

          ” . . . despite the annoyance of his NATO allies”?!? How highly they think of themselves. Thank you Mr. NY Times reporter for your personal opinion. With whom are NATO ally uppity-ups annoyed – the German citizenry? Will these NATO denizens – will U.S. officials – be deploying to Deutchland villages and hamlets to lecture these poor volk (much as Obama decamped to London at taxpayer expense to lecture the Brits on Brexit)?

          During last Friday’s NPR “Morning Edition” I heard a reporter hold forth on the German defense minister: “He seemed to hint that he might [provide tanks].” “Seemed,” “hint,” “might.” Such is the state of contemporary objective reporting.

          1. My understanding, which could be wrong, is that the majority of the German public was not supportive of sending large weapon systems like tanks to Ukraine earlier in the war, but that public opinion has changed and now the German public is very supportive of sending tanks.

            The Abrams tank is an odd duck in that it is the only tank that has a turbine engine. That probably would make it more difficult to maintain for Ukraine, but how much more difficult I couldn’t say. The turbine can run on anything from regular diesel to JP 8 jet fuel, so fueling it probably wouldn’t be any more difficult for Ukraine than fueling any other tanks, but maintaining the engine might be. The turbines are modular, designed to be easily removed and installed and I believe that SOP in the US Army is to simply swap out engines if there is a problem. Large weapon systems always require a lot of support, equipment and trained personnel, to maintain. Especially when they are fighting. As you probably know just sending the weapon is nearly useless. You need to also send lots of spare parts, munitions and people that know how to maintain the weapon, or train others to do so. Given that, I’m not sure how problematic Abrams tanks would be for Ukraine compared to any other type of tanks. We’d just need to send them enough spare engine modules along with everything else.

            Performance-wise the Abrams turbine has advantages and disadvantages. It’s relatively fast and quiet for a tank, or at least it can be. They have a limiter to limit top speed to something reasonable but supposedly one of the first things tank crews do when they are going to be in a real battle is bypass the limiters. The downside is that they have poor fuel consumption.

  8. Rhubarb pie is great when it is well made. But it is one of the harder pies to make, balancing the sourness of rhubarb correctly with the rest.

    1. Rhubarb pie was on offer a la mode at the old No Name Restaurant on the pier in Boston. You heard the cry, “ice the rhubarb!” from behind the counter. Perhaps that helped with the balance. In any case, I opted for the apple.

  9. I taught in public schools for 32 years before retiring. I have repeatedly defended public education in arguments with people who contend that “government” schools are a nefarious plot to undermine everything they hold dear. But I am telling you the truth: allowing kids to “transition” and concealing it from their parents is going to absolutely destroy support for public education. This ends in tears, I assure you.

    1. When I taught high school math and physics in the early 70’s, I found that the public view and understanding of what went on in our schools was extremely biassed toward hysteria, based on anecdotal reporting in local media and/or just plain rumors that were amplified and spread without balancing factual content. Not that there were not problems, but from inside the system, in general, they seemed to be much lass draconian than my neighbors and non-education friends believed.

      1. I taught in a majority-minority high school for most of my career, and I was asked more than once if I carried a gun to school.

  10. On the issue of tanks, I don’t understand why Germany has a say in what other countries do with their Leopard 2 tanks. Once Poland or Austria, say, buy those tanks are they not theirs do with what they please? Or is there some kind of contract in place under the auspices of NATO that give the country of origin some kind of veto power over their deployment?

    1. I’m not familiar with the specifics of the military contracts between Germany and Poland, but it is not unusual to have restrictions in place as a condition of sale to another country that govern the use and further distribution of sensitive military technologies. One would not, for instance, sell certain sensitive US technology to a country if there was a possibility that that country would transfer it to China or Russia–either directly, via an intermediary, or by abandoning it on a battlefield for them to collect and subsequently study.

    2. I’ve no idea if NATO has anything to do with it, seems possible though, but it is pretty common for contracts for purchases of weapons to include certain restrictions. The government that is selling their weapons technology has an interest in preventing that technology from ending up in the hands of certain other parties for a variety of reasons, so they can and often do include restrictions to protect their interests. Forbidding re-selling them or giving them to someone else without approval of the seller is a common one. This is especially true for large weapon systems like MBTs and aircraft.

    3. The US Department of Defense requires that nations purchasing military equipment from US defense contractors have a valid “end-user certificate” for the equipment. That certificate prohibits the country obtaining the equipment from transferring it to another country that does not have a valid DoD end-user certificate for the equipment.

      We don’t want deadly US-made ordnance ending up in the hands of hostile foreign powers that might use that ordnance to kill US GIs, or that might use it to design defenses that would neutralize the US-made equipment.

  11. We geneticists refer to the Benzer/Brenner phenomenon as introgression, or alternatively
    as horizontal name transfer. Actually, I remember this very episode, and my recollection is that the seminar notice in question was a deliberate prank. [I think at least one of my own graduate students was involved, but their identity is now lost in the mists of time.]

  12. Re semi-auto rifles: a modest suggestion for America if you are (again) considering action against them.

    Watch how Canada’s recently enacted ban rolls out this year. The legislation is clear: if it is chambered for centre-fire ammunition and uses the recoil energy by any means to cycle the action, it is now prohibited* and must be surrendered in a mandatory buy-back. To further remove ambiguity, the RCMP has scheduled by name and model all the firearms that will be confiscated under this law.

    Enforcing the ban is another matter. It ought to be easy. All these semi-automatic rifles were restricted* before, like handguns, meaning that the licensed owner is allowed to keep them only at a designated address. He can’t carry one around in his truck or take it from one residence to another. So the Canadian police know exactly where all these guns are (or are supposed to be) unless they’ve been smuggled and there are far fewer of them than in the United States. Yet there seems to be little stomach for the police to visit every address on the list with a pad of IOUs and come away with the gun(s) harboured therein. There is also a common sense of resentment that there are sanctuaries where owners of smuggled or even registered guns will never be compelled to give them up.

    The police don’t like bothering people, even scofflaws, who aren’t currently a threat to the peace. Even though only a few rural people own semi-automatic guns, they and their neighbours are the eyes and ears of the police to help deter rural crime. Alienating them is not smart police work. Supervisors do have discretion about how to deploy police resources and even about what laws are worth enforcing. In most provinces the only policing outside large towns is the RCMP who are spread very thin.

    The confiscation was supposed to start this month but it doesn’t seem to be getting off the ground. These guns are hardly ever used in crimes. There is no popular swell clamouring to go to the trouble of hoovering them all up. It’s really something that animates the Leftie instincts of the Prime Minister’s inner circle. Now that the virtue has been signaled, the follow-through is meh — so quintessentially Canadian. There is no Second Amendment culture in Canada but there is also no wild enthusiasm for confiscation of legally acquired scary rifles locked away in rural gun safes. Gun crime is not common, and where it is less rare it is unlicensed handguns in cities that worry Liberal base voters.

    My suggestion to Americans thinking about banning AR-15s and the like is to watch how we do here. If the cops can’t get these guns out of the hands of our docile population, y’all haven’t a chance of doing it on your patch.
    * “Prohibited” and “restricted” when applied to firearms are technical terms in Canada’s Firearms Act and Criminal Code and don’t necessarily hew to the common-sense meanings.

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