Welcome to Sunday, January 29, 2023: National Corn Chip Day. I do love them with a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and they were on sale at the grocery store yesterday, but I didn’t buy them because they’re not exactly good for you. Having violated my principles by passing them up, I now greatly regret that I did so. Some people even put them ON the sandwich:
It’s also Freethinker’s Day (Thomas Paine was born on this date in 1737), Curmudgeon’s Day, National Puzzle Day, Seeing Eye Dog Day, World Leprosy Day (now called “Hansen’s Disease“), and Kansas Day (in Kansas, of course).
And there’s a Google Doodle, an interactive game in which you make bubble tea. Be sure to stop holding the mouse down BEFORE the ingredients reach the line. You get five chances to make the tea as a Formosan mountain d*g. The explanation?
Tangy and fruity or sweet and milky? The combinations are endless! Today’s interactive game Doodle celebrates bubble tea, also known as boba tea and pearl milk tea. Honeydew, matcha, raspberry, mocha – no matter the flavor, don’t forget to mix in some bubbly balls made with fruit jelly or tapioca. Bubble Tea gained such popularity globally that it was officially announced as a new emoji on this day in 2020.
This Taiwanese drink started as a local treat and has exploded in popularity over the last few decades. Bubble tea has its roots in traditional Taiwanese tea culture which dates back as early as the 17th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the bubble tea as we know today was invented. As waves of Taiwanese immigrants over the past few decades brought this drink overseas, innovation on the original bubble tea continues. Shops around the world are still experimenting with new flavors, additions, and mixtures. Traditional tearooms across Asia have also joined in on the boba craze, and the trend has reached countries like Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and more!
Satisfy your craving and make a yummy cup of bubble tea in today’s interactive Doodle, which features Taiwan’s indigenous Formosan Mountain Dog as well as a crew of familiar Doodle characters!
Click on the screenshot below to play, and turn the sound on (I do like bubble tea!):
Here’s a Formosan Mountain D*g, a regular dog breed that has become feral on Taiwan:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 29 Wikipedia page.
Wine of the Day: A quickie. My love of Rhone wines as the best reds I know is amply documented on this site (I haven’t sampled enough Burgundies or Barolos to compare). I was thus excited to see the well known Châteauneuf-du-Pape from 2016 (a great year) selling for $33 a couple of years ago. (That’s less than half the going price now.) Yes, I drank it at the tender age of 7 years (it had already thrown some sediment), but it called to me from my collection on t-bone steak night.
It was well worth it: the wine is eminently drinkable now, with the “black olive” nose I always detect in Rhones, as well as some blackberry-like fruitness. Plenty of stuffing and alcohol, this is a wine to have with meat (or a good cheddar cheese with bread). Here’s Jeb Dunnuck, who gave it a 94/100:
The finest base cuvée produced at this estate is the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and the balance Cinsault, all aged in a mix of foudre and older barrels. Beautiful plums, blackberries, garrigue, and marine-like seaweed and iodine notes all give way to a pure, polished, full-bodied Châteauneuf-du-Pape that has integrated acidity and a great finish. It’s a sensational classic cuvée that will keep for 2+ decades.
Oy! I should have bought a case! Two more decades! (Well, I won’t be here then anyway.)
Anyway, if you have extra dosh, find some good Rhones. Châteauneuf-du-Pape used to be cheap as dirt when I started collecting wine around 1984, but they ain’t so cheap any more! Still, they’re the best value for money of high-end Rhones.
*After the beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis that resulted in his death, I wondered what the public fallout would be like. Because all five indicted officers were black, I doubted that there would be riots against white police, though I’ve seen people blame bad behaviors of black cops on ingrained white supremacy.
So far there have been a lot of protests, which are fine (and warranted), but, thank Ceiling Cat, have also been largely peaceful:
Fallout from the brutal Memphis police beating of Tyre Nichols continued Saturday, as more protests were planned across the country in response to graphic video of the incident, while a broadening web of investigations expanded to scrutinize additional local authorities.
. . . On Saturday, more demonstrations are expected in Memphis, Atlanta and New York after hundreds had gathered the night before. Demonstrators who marched in Memphis on Friday called Nichols’s death a murder, and other protests were held from Los Angeles to New York.
. . . but not entirely peaceful:
fter body camera and surveillance footage of the violent traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols was released Friday, in which 29-year-old was restrained, battered, tased and pepper-sprayed by Memphis police, protests quickly swept Memphis, Atlanta, New York and other parts of the country, demanding justice for Nichols and calling for serious police reform. The protests are expected to continue throughout the weekend.
On Friday evening, protesters marched to Interstate 55 in downtown Memphis where they shut down the highway that connects Tennessee and Arkansas. Protests also took off around Martyrs Park in Memphis, Tennessee. More than a hundred protesters marched, chanting “we ready, we ready, we ready for y’all,” and asked to speak with the city’s mayor and chief of police, according to local news outlet, Memphis Commercial Appeal.
In Atlanta, Georgia, protesters gathered at Centennial Olympic Park. The city is still reeling from intense protests last week over the police shooting of local activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency this week, allowing him to call 1,000 National Guard troops.
In California, about a hundred protesters gathered outside of a Los Angeles Police Department, where they were met with police officers in riot gear, according to the Los Angeles Times. Protesters were also calling for justice for 31-year-old Keenan Anderson, who died in LAPD custody in early January after he was repeatedly tased by police.
Protestors also tore down metal barriers that the department had put up, the paper reported. Protests also took place in San Francisco and, and Portland, Oregon.
In New York City, where more than 200 people gathered near Times Square, at least three protestors have been arrested, one of whom jumped atop an NYPD vehicle and smashed the windshield, according to NBC. In Washington, D.C., protesters also gathered outside The White House. Apart from isolated incidents, the protests have been primarily peaceful, but with heavy police presence, poised and ready to intervene.
*I hope this general is being a Chicken Little, but he knows some things that we don’t, and it’s a bit unsettling to read stuff like this, especially because both principals have nukes:
China could be at war with the United States two years from now, a top Air Force general predicted in a bombastic and unusual memo to troops under his command, asserting a shorter timeline before potential conflict than other senior U.S. defense officials.
Gen. Michael A. Minihan, who as head of Air Mobility Command oversees the service’s fleet of transport and refueling aircraft, warned personnel to speed their preparations for combat, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aspirations and the possibility that Americans will not be paying attention until it is too late.
“I hope I am wrong,” Minihan wrote. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. Xi secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”
. . . The memo, first reported Friday by NBC News, is dated Feb. 1 — which is still days away — and was distributed to Minihan’s subordinate commanders. An Air Force spokeswoman, Maj. Hope Cronin, verified its authenticity, writing in a statement shared with media after the memo began circulating on social media that Minihan’s order “builds on last year’s foundational efforts by Air Mobility Command to ready the Air Mobility Forces for future conflict, should deterrence fail.”
As the article notes, the China problem is the main issue preoccupying the entire Department of Defense, but an anonymous member of the organization says that Minihan’s remarks ““are not representative of the department’s view on China.” I hope so, but all it takes is one screwup to destroy both countries. Would China really fight the U.S. with nukes to take over Taiwan? Or would the U.S., though it has promised to defend Taiwan against attacks, really do so when push comes to shove?
*The Justice Department announced the arrests of three men in a plot to kill Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad, whose tweets on behalf of Iranian women I post daily. (Her own tweet on the plot is below.)
The Justice Department announced new arrests Friday in a plot to kill a New York-based journalist and human rights activist who is critical of the Iranian government.
The three men charged, who are allegedly part of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran, are facing murder-for-hire and money laundering charges for plotting to kill journalist Masih Alinejad.
All three of the defendants, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday, are currently in custody.
“Today’s indictment exposes a dangerous menace to national security – a double threat posed by a vicious transnational crime group operating from what it thought was the safe haven of a rogue nation. That rogue nation is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference unveiling the charges.
Alinejad vowed to continue her activism in a video statement released Friday shortly after the department announced the charges: “Let me make it clear: I’m not scared for my life.”
She’s a brave woman standing up for a lot of brave women in Iran.
One of the three men had been arrested this past summer in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Alinejad lives. At the time, he was charged with possessing a firearm after police found in the back seat of his vehicle a suitcase containing a “Norinco AK-47-style assault rifle … loaded with a round in the chamber and a magazine attached, along with a separate second magazine, and a total of approximately 66 rounds of ammunition,” according to a complaint.
The DOJ said in a statement Friday that since at least July, the three men have been “tasked with carrying out” the murder of Alinejad, “who previously has been the target of plots by the government of Iran to intimidate, harass and kidnap” her.
“As recently as 2020 and 2021, Iranian intelligence officials and assets plotted to kidnap the (Alinejad) from within the United States for rendition to Iran in an effort to silence the (Alinejad’s) criticism of the regime,” the department said in a statement.
The Iranian theocracy knows that Alinjad’s Twitter feed, and her constant speeches and interviews, serve as a constant fuel for the human rights protestors in Iran. They want her gone—by any means necessary.
*As Tanya Gold reports on Bari Weiss’s Substack site, “Dubai paid Beyoncé $24M. She gave them her integrity.”
Last week, at the grand opening of Atlantis The Royal, Dubai’s newest luxury hotel, Beyoncé gave her first live performance in five years. This gig featured a 48-person all-female orchestra—how feminist—a Lebanese dance troupe, and her daughter. She was reportedly paid $24 million for the occasion.
Her latest album, Renaissance, is, among other things, an homage to black queer culture. She performed no songs from it; how could she in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death? So she sang her back catalog for the equivalent of ten Bugatti Chirons. Oil-rich tyrannies have generous marketing budgets; they’re selling tyranny itself.
What Beyoncé does or doesn’t do for money wouldn’t matter but for the trend of celebrity activism, which insinuates that morality travels with a star like her wardrobe. Beyoncé acolytes say that just by arriving in Dubai she made the city gayer, a kind of subtle protest. Perhaps so subtle that even Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid—accused of abducting two of his daughters for noncompliance with his wishes, one from England, and another from a ship as she tried to flee Dubai—wouldn’t notice. Did his enforcers reconsider their stance on gayness as they sang along to “Drunk in Love”? Or are they laughing themselves stupid at the PR coup of persuading an until-now gay ally to perform at the opening of a hotel in a country that hates gays?
Dubai, along with Saudi Arabia, wants to reinvent itself as a tourist destination for when the oil runs out. There is nothing understated there—the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world; the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made archipelago in the shape of a palm tree. Everything is vast and highly colored, a distraction. It has to be: To enjoy yourself in Dubai, you must close your eyes to suffering. Almost 90 percent of Dubai’s residents are migrant workers, and many of them live in conditions amounting to indentured slavery.
Beyoncé is wildly rich, of course (net worth around half a billion; and a billion with her husband’s dosh), and doesn’t need the money. Plus she is an activist, fostering women’s and LGBTQ rights: all the stuff Dubai doesn’t stand for. But I guess $24 million for one performance is hard to resist. Once you have half a billion, though, do you NEED do abase yourself in this way?
*I didn’t realize how screwed up the American organ transplantation system is in America until I read this NYT piece, “Tonya Ingram feared the organ donation system would kill her. It did.” It turns out the the procurement of organs for donation is farmed out to a number of organ procurement organizations, or OPOs,
The organ procurement system is made up of 56 organizations, each with a monopoly in its jurisdiction. When someone dies and can donate an organ, O.P.O.s are supposed to go to the hospital, talk to the person’s family and manage the process of transporting donated organs to those in need, but all too often they have failed to show up — literally. The most recent government data from 2020 shows that most are either underperforming or failing, and some O.P.O.s have reported inaccurate data to cover it up. According to a study updated in 2019, O.P.O.s failed to recover around 28,000 organs a year, viable organs that could save some of the roughly 100,000 people waiting for them.
The wait time for an organ can differ drastically from state to state. In some states the wait time for a kidney can be up to ten years, but the average time a person lives on dialysis is only five. What we need is a country-wide government-run organization, for if anything requires equal opportunity for the needy, it’s getting an organ. People should not have to make personal appeals, or travel among states, to increase their chances. The fixes:
Tonya’s death wasn’t caused only by a failure of her kidneys but also by a gross failure of our government and its lack of urgency and effectiveness. In politics, this problem has all the makings of an easy one to fix: The solution already has bipartisan support and would be both cost-saving and lifesaving. CMS has projected that holding these government contractors accountable would save more than 7,000 lives a year — translating to $1 billion saved in foregone dialysis. If the 28,000 organs that go to waste each year were recovered and transplanted, the wait for livers and lungs could disappear altogether within just two years.
We also know that the solution we called for back in 2019 — government oversight — actually works. After Senator Todd Young of Indiana started calling into question his home state O.P.O.’s potential misuse of Medicare funds in 2019, improvements were almost immediate. In what seemed to be a response, the O.P.O. reported a 57 percent increase in potential donors approached, and a 44 percent increase in actual donors in just one year.
Tonya died of kidney failure a year after testifying before Congress on these issues.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej discuss epistemology:
Hili: Is it possible to understand reality?A: No, but you have to be reconciled to it.
Hili: Czy można zrozumieć rzeczywistość?Ja: Nie, ale trzeba się z nią pogodzić.
First, a pint of my favorite British ale, hoisted in my honor yesterday by readers Dom and Jez (actually, they had several). Tim Taylord’s Landlord is not overly hopped like American IPAs or, these days, many British real ales. It is perfectly balanced: a delight to the taste buds. And it’s a “session pint”: one that you can drink several of without palate fatigue or tongue laceration from overhopping. The Campaign for Real Ale voted it as the Champion Beer of Britain an unprecedented four times—and there are a lot of competitors!) You can find it very rarely in the U.S., but only then in bottles. A fresh and well-cellared pint of Landlord is what I’d drink if I could have only one brand for the rest of my life.
Oy, would I like to down this now:
From Barry. I don’t think that’s a pet rat, though it’s extraordinarily light-colored!
From Bizarre and Wonderful World: a honking BIG nest:
From Jesus of the Day:
God’s new message to us:
The FBI told Masih that the FBI arrested three plotters aiming to assassinate her at the request of Iran.
I just learned from 12 FBI agents that the 3 men hired by the Iranian regime to kill me on US soil have been indicted. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards have been conducting these terrorist operations for four decades.
Islamic Republic is ISIS with oil. #WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/T9Hbp0iwG3
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 27, 2023
From Malcolm: Proof of how good the Leopard 2 tanks are (made by Germany, some headed to Ukraine):
I’m reading so much great stuff. Time for my first beer.
Btw., beer check for the Leopard 2 from the 1980s. pic.twitter.com/DRb1NQiutG
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) January 27, 2023
From Thomas: Look at that detail!
— Amazing Astronomy (@MAstronomers) January 20, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, two tweets. First, let’s not forget that there was a Holocaust of the Roma as well (“Zigeuner” in German):
29 January 1943 | The RSHA ordered deportation of all #Roma people from Germany and occupied territories to #Auschwitz.
At least 23,000 Sinti & Roma were later deported there. Most were murdered. Their story:
🔹podast: https://t.co/uURtCUYRiF pic.twitter.com/QtXCs5IEBK
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 29, 2023
Sent to Auschwitz at 19 to die:
29 January 1924 | A Polish Jewish woman, Gerda Ferber, was born in Lipiny. During the war she was confined in the ghetto in Będzin.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 29, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. A duck and her babies:
So lovely 🥰 pic.twitter.com/dlp9oF4Vry
— why you should have a duck 🦆 (@shouldhaveaduck) January 27, 2023
Matthew’s own retweet of a man who helped make forged identity papers for Jews during WWII (the obit is here):
Obituary of Adolfo Kaminsky, the Parisian whose forgery skills saved tens of thousands of Jews in France. https://t.co/IpsgnKw6Uw
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) January 27, 2023
Hermanns was on the St. Louis, a ship full of refugee Jews that nobody would let land. It was sent back to Europe, with many passengers meeting the expected fate (story here).
My name is Julius Hermanns. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz. pic.twitter.com/GbgOW4p08G
— St. Louis Manifest (@Stl_Manifest) January 27, 2023