Wednesday: Hili dialogue

February 1, 2023 • 6:45 am

Weather addendum: it was 6° F (-14.4° C) this morning when I walked to work.

Welcome to both a Hump Day (“siku ya nundu” in Swahili) and the first day of the month, Wednesday, February 1, 2023. That means it’s National Cake Pops Day (one of the worst ideas for a treat I know of.

But it’s also these food months.

Canned Food Month
National Chocolate Lovers Month
National Cherry Month
National Grapefruit Month
National Snack Food Month
National Potato Lovers Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
National Hot Breakfast Month
!st week of Feb- African Heritage & Health Week
3rd Weekend of February: National Margarita Weekend
“Superbowl Sunday” : National Pork Rind Day (aka National Pork Rind Appreciation Day)

It’s also National Baked Alaska Day (warning of future global warming), Decorating with Candy Day, National Dark Chocolate Day, Change Your Password Day, National Serpent Day, National Girls and Women in Sports Day, World Read Aloud Day, and National Freedom Day , the day in 1865 when Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment prohibiting slavery (it wasn’t ratified by the states until later).

And, appropriately, it’s the start of Black History Month (United States and Canada)

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 1 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Newly elected Republican Congressman George Santos from New York, who is also one of the most arrant liars of our time, having faked his entire past, has said that he’s not stepping down from his set just because he “embellished his resume” a little. Of course he should resign given that he’s not only a serial liar, but is wanted for check fraud in Brazil. It’s amazing that the Republican House leadership still supports him. But fall he must, and it’s already beginning:

Embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is stepping down temporarily from his committee assignments amid multiple investigations into his campaign finances after he lied about key aspects of his biography.

Santos, who has admitted to fabricating details about his education, work, religion and heritage since his election in November, told House Republicans in a closed meeting Tuesday that he would remove himself from his assignments on the House Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

The temporary retreat from committees marks Santos’s first major concession after weeks of maintaining a steadfast resistance to any consequences over his fabrications.

Santos told colleagues he will step down because “he’s a distraction,” according to a Republican lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. The conversation comes one day after Santos met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

In that meeting, Santos and McCarthy discussed various scenarios, according to people familiar with the conversation. Santos asked if his committee spots could be held in reserve until the conclusion of an investigation by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, the people said. McCarthy expressed support for that idea, telling the New York congressman that he appreciated it.

Santos should leave his House seat as he’ll be a permanent distraction, especially as the Brazilian government starts charging him with crimes. And his personal flaws are so obvious that he cannot be effective. The sick part is that the House is majority Republican, and if the House eventually votes on booting him out, he won’t get booted.

*From the NYT comes the story of an unusual friendship between two people of divergent stripes, as if a cat befriended a mouse: “One of the strangest friendships in Washington.

It might be the strangest friendship in Washington.

He’s a well-known Christian conservative who speaks out against gay marriage and abortion. She’s a former civil rights lawyer who has spent much of her career fighting to desegregate schools and protect transgender kids from bullying.

Given their résumés, one might think that Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, and Anurima Bhargava, who worked in President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, would be adversaries — if they ever crossed paths at all. Yet, over the past five years, they have managed to forge a bond that transcends politics and proves that you don’t have to agree on values here at home to promote basic human rights abroad.

They met in 2018, when they were both appointed to serve on the nine-member U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a quasi-governmental body of unpaid volunteers that investigates religious persecution abroad. Mr. Perkins was appointed by Mitch McConnell; Ms. Bhargava by Nancy Pelosi. On the commission, they spoke up for the rights of Yazidis in Syria, Baha’is in Iran and Muslims in India. Even after their terms expired in 2022, they kept in touch.

What does it mean when a Hindu from the South Side of Chicago joins forces with an evangelical Christian from Louisiana to fight for the rights of religious minorities abroad? Maybe it means that we’re all human, and when we lean into that common humanity, good can come of it. Mr. Perkins, Ms. Bhargava and their fellow commissioners pushed for the release of people imprisoned for their beliefs, including a Quranist Muslim in Egypt, an Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan and a Christian pastor in Turkey.

And their friendship has had salubrious effects on the religious freedom commission:

For the moment, the commission, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in October, is proving that it can be a rare bipartisan success, despite the division “religious freedom” can spark here at home. Thanks, in part, to efforts by Ms. Bhargava and Mr. Perkins, it has largely overcome the partisan infighting that plagued its early years. Christians helped push through the confirmation of President Biden’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom — Rashad Hussain, a Muslim — at a time when other ambassadorships were held up. This year’s international religious freedom summit, which opens on Jan. 31, lists both Samantha Power, President Biden’s U.S.A.I.D. administrator, and Newt Gingrich as speakers.

It’s sad that the bipartisan friendship is categorized—correctly—as “rare”. Surely there are many views that are shared by individuals on both Right and Left, but polarization prevents any “reaching across the aisle.” It’s ineffably sad, but I see the report above as at once heartening but also likely to remain the exception.

*CNN reports plans to resurrect the extinct dodo. It will not work because of difficulties in genetic manipulation of eggs, but, more important, they are NOT resurrecting an extinct creature. At great labor and expense, they are trying to put a few dodo genes into a pigeon genome, hoping to get something like a dodo. That won’t happen: the genetic differences are too great, many trait difference are based on many genes that remain unknown, and at best we’ll get a multiply mutant pigeon (h/t: Barry)

Now, a team of scientists wants to bring back the dodo in a bold initiative that will incorporate advances in ancient DNA sequencing, gene editing technology and synthetic biology. They hope the project will open up new techniques for bird conservation.

“We’re clearly in the middle of an extinction crisis. And it’s our responsibility to bring stories and to bring excitement to people in way that motivates them to think about the extinction crisis that’s going on right now,” said Beth Shapiro, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Shapiro is the lead paleogeneticist at Colossal Biosciences, a biotechnology and genetic engineering start-up founded by tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm and Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church, which is working on an equally ambitious projects to bring back the woolly mammoth and the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger.

Shapiro said that she had already completed a key first step in the project — fully sequencing the dodo’s genome from ancient DNA — based on genetic material extracted from dodo remains in Denmark.

The next step was to compare the genetic information with the dodo’s closest bird relatives in the pigeon family — the living Nicobar pigeon, and the extinct Rodrigues solitaire, a giant flightless pigeon that once lived on an island close to Mauritius. It’s a process which would allow them to narrow down which mutations in the genome “make a dodo a dodo,” Shapiro said.

At least CNN mentions some of the problems in this foolish endeavor:

However, the subsequent work that’s needed to resurrect the animal — programming cells from a living relative of the dodo with the lost bird’s DNA — will be significantly more challenging. Shapiro said she hopes to adapt an existing technique used involving primordial germ cells, the embryonic precursors of sperm and eggs, that has already been used to create a chicken fathered by a duck.

The approach involves removing primordial gems cells from an egg, cultivating them in the lab and editing the cells with the desired genetic traits before injecting them back to an egg at the same developmental stage, she explained.

Even if the team is successful in this high-stakes endeavor, they won’t be making a carbon copy of the dodo that lived four centuries ago, but an altered, hybrid form.

HA!  No, not even a hybrid. A hybrid has half its genes from a pigeon and half of its genes from a dodo. CRISPR gene editing won’t even get close to that. If this project works, which it won’t, it will produce, as I said, a multiply mutant pigeon which at best will be weak and unfit.

Truly, I wonder why people not only do this, but why scientists and journalists haven’t spoken up about how hopeless these endeavors are. (To be fair, Matthew has criticized George Church’s project to resurrect the wooly mammoth, which at best will produce an elephant that needs a shave.) The mammoth-dreamers promise us “mammoth calves” between 2025 and 2027. Anybody wanna bet?

*There’s a big kerfuffle in Scotland about the treatment of transgender women: biological men who self-identify as women. The background, according to a reader, is this: “Scotland has passed a law allowing men to gender self-identify as women and then be moved to women’s prisons.”  The report below implies that that law, however, needs to be approved by the UK, which seems reluctant to approve.

The result, according to the BBC, was dire: a man who was convicted in Scotland of raping two women decided to change gender while awaiting trial (I’m not sure if there was any surgery or hormone treatment, but there was certainly a change in asserted self identity) and the new “she” was put into a woman’s prison. There was an outcry, and the prisoner was moved back to a men’s prison:

A trans woman who raped two women before she changed gender has been moved to a men’s prison, BBC Scotland understands.

Isla Bryson was remanded to Cornton Vale women’s prison in Stirling after being convicted of the rapes when she was a man called Adam Graham. She has since been moved to HMP Edinburgh.

Bryson decided to transition from a man to a woman while awaiting trial.

She was taken to a male wing of HMP Edinburgh on Thursday afternoon.

It came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Bryson would not be allowed to serve her sentence at Cornton Vale.

Remember that Bryson had already been put in a women’s prison according to Scottish law. this put Sturgeon in a difficult bind. If transwomen are women, and the law is the law, why was Bryson transferred to a men’s prison. Sturgeon stammered and equivocated (see below), and then decided that, at least in Bryson’s case, transwomen were not identical to biological women!

Bryson is due to be sentenced next month after being convicted of the rapes on Tuesday. It is thought to have been the first time a trans woman has been convicted of raping women in Scotland.

But where that sentence should be served has been the subject of heated debate, with concerns being raised about the safety of other women in the female jail if Bryson was placed there.

The Scottish Parliament passed legislation last month aimed at making it easier for people to change their legally-recognised sex, but Ms Sturgeon has said the changes did not play any part in the Bryson case.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill has been blocked by the UK government over its potential impact on equalities laws that apply across Scotland, England and Wales.

.  . . Ms Sturgeon said she expected that Bryson would not be at Cornton Vale in Stirling by the end of a 72-hour segregated assessment period, which ended on Thursday afternoon.

The first minister also stressed it was careful that people “do not, even inadvertently, suggest that trans women pose an inherent threat to women”, adding: “Predatory men, as has always been the case, are the risk to women.” BUT Bryson was a predatory biological man who identified as a woman. In other words, moving Bryson to a men’s prison did indeed suggest that trans women can pose a threat to biological women (note that she draws a distinction between “women” and “trans women”).

Speaking to journalists outside the chamber, Ms Sturgeon said she had not given any “formal direction” to the Scottish Prison Service on removing Bryson from Cornton Vale.

A spokesman for the first minister would not say if it was now Scottish government policy to bar all rapists from female prisons.

Here’s Bryson before transitioning:

From a later BBC piece:

Opposition parties say the government’s handling of the row has been “botched”, and characterised by “chaos, confusion and U-turns”.

The controversy began last week when Isla Bryson, who now identifies as a woman, was convicted of two rapes committed prior to her gender change.

Pending sentence, Bryson was initially remanded to Cornton Vale women’s prison, near Stirling – prompting an outcry – before she was transferred to HMP Edinburgh.

. . .At the weekend it was reported that another transgender woman, Tiffany Scott – who was convicted of stalking a 13-year-old girl before her transition and has a history of violence – was due to be moved to the female prison estate.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown then announced a “pause” on the transfer of transgender prisoners, with a history of violence against women, to women’s prisons. An urgent review is now taking place into the Bryson case and there is an ongoing review by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS)

Now this is not a common situation, as there are only 15 transgender prisoners in Scottish jails (7 in men’s prisons, six of which are trans women; and 8 in women’s prisons, 5 of which are trans women). But what this shows is that the mantra “trans women are women” and “trans men are men” sometimes doesn’t hold in practice when other factors like jail are involved. (Another of these factors should, of course, be athletic participation.)

J. K. Rowling, often accused (wrongly) of being a transphobe, took at dig at the situation. The video of Minister Sturgeon Posed by Rowling below is funny, as Sturgeon tries to completely avoid a dogged reporter’s question about whether trans women like Bryson really are women. Sturgeon can’t bear to respond “not in every circumstance,” but that’s the tenor of her answer. Politicians! (A “TERF” is a trans-exclusionary radical feminist”—a pejorative term for feminists who, like Rowling, have been characterized by trans activists as transphobes.)

Rowling is terrific (or should I say TERFic?); she’s an example of how everyone should react to horrific and unfair smear campaigns. Of course, she’s a billionaire and can’t be canceled, but I’d like to be her friend.

*There’s trouble at the Houston Zoo: Dorito-eating miscreants are stealing and releasing the animals. Two lovely monkeys were just taken or let loose. Even a clouded leopard got loose recently, but it was recovered.

When police said two small monkeys were taken from the Dallas Zoo this week and a cut was found in their enclosure, it deepened a growing mystery that has included other cut fences, the escape of a small leopard and the suspicious death of an endangered vulture.

Police said Tuesday that they’re still working to determine whether or not the incidents over the last few weeks are related. Police, who haven’t made any arrests in any of the incidents, released a photo and video Tuesday of a man they want to talk to about the missing monkeys.

The photo shows the man eating Doritos chips while walking, and in the video clip he is walking down a path.

Here’s what is known so far about the incidents:


The zoo closed Jan. 13 after workers arriving that morning found that the clouded leopard, named Nova, was missing. After a search that included police, the leopard weighing 20-25 pounds (9-11 kilograms) was found later that day near her habitat.

Police said a cutting tool was intentionally used to make the opening in her enclosure. A similar gash also was found in an enclosure for langur monkeys, though none got out or appeared harmed, police said.

On Jan. 21, an endangered lappet-faced vulture named Pin was found dead by arriving workers. Gregg Hudson, the zoo’s president and CEO, called the death “very suspicious” and said the vulture had “a wound,” but declined to give further details.

Here’s what the two monkeys who were purloined, emperor tamarins (Saguinus imperator), look like (Dallas Zoo via AP). The name reportedly comes from their prominent mustache, making them look like the German Emperor Wilhelm II.

Wilhelm II, who doesn’t look like this monkey (the ‘stache, for one thing, is curled the wrong way):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili mourns the winter, as she always does. Doesn’t she look sad?

Hili: Evenings are getting longer and less dark.
A: But it’s still a long time until spring.
In Polish:
Hili: Wieczory robią się dłuższe i mniej ciemne.
Ja: Ale do wiosny daleko.


From Merilee, a Wayne and Piraro cartoon:

From Beth:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Masih. It’s weird that both Orthodox Jews and strict Muslims ban mixed-sex dancing. In this case, the crime was compounded by anti-regime activism. Click on the blue button to see this horrible crime.

From Rita King, a Futurist at the :

From Malcolm. The cat likes it! (There’s music.)

From Gravelinspector, who adds, “We’ve all laughed at the creationist’s ‘argument’ of ‘what use is half a wing?’. And here, in a quite domestic setting, is an example of sequential replacement and acquisition of additional function.”

From the Auschwitz Memorial. Gassed upon arrival; ten years old.

Tweets from Matthew. Alison Martino is the daughter of the late singer Al Martino:

You can read about this narcissistic bear (and see more selfies) at the Guardian; it was on the NBC news two nights ago:

On the first day of February, I declare this the Tweet of the Month for January:

39 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. … nope…

    I checked some old “confirm” emails and nothin’ – any tips appreciated… unless everyone is tired of my sense of humour, which I can understand….

  2. What I also don’t get about the whole ‘resurrecting a species’ idea: even given that you’re creating something that’s not really a dodo (or a mammoth), how do you possibly create enough of them to create a population with enough genetic diversity to support itself?

    On the Scottish issue – given how prevalent male on male sexual violence is reputed to be, I’d hope they solve the problem of where to put offenders based on a lot more than biological sex and gender.

    And I find the whole “is a transgender woman a real woman” to be a category error of a question, since it depends on whether you’re talking biological sex or gender.

    1. I saw a wonderfully snarky tweet the other day asking if anyone had done a study about late-onset gender dysphoria and prison sentences.

    2. Right. And for the issue of prisons, as with sport, it’s clearly sex that matters. Where data are available on transgender prisoners (and not blocked by the ALCU, as happened in Washington state), it’s clear that trans women follow a male-typical pattern of offending and trans men follow a female-typical pattern of offending. That is, there are more trans women in prison than trans men and trans women are more likely to have committed sexual offenses than trans men, exactly as it is with their respective male and female counterparts who aren’t transgender.

      If one believes that female prisoners should be separated from male prisoners, and the data show that trans women prisoners are as likely as any male prisoner to do harm, then keeping trans women out of female prisons is obvious.

      Of course, transgender prisoners face a greater chance of harm in male prisons. So do other male prisoners, like very young male prisoners or homosexual male prisoners, Methods should be found to keep all those populations from harm, including transgender prisoners. But placing trans women prisoners in female prisons is not the solution.

      1. I find it hard to follow the language in your comment, Quercus. You say sex matters, which of course it does, but then start talking about dangerous trans women. I would suggest a rewrite as, starting in second sentence, ” . . . it’s clear that cross-dressing men follow a male-typical pattern of offending and cross-dressing women follow a female-typical pattern. . . . That is, there are more cross-dressing men in prison than cross-dressing women and cross-dressing men are more likely to have committed sexual offenses than cross-dressing women, exactly as it is with their counterparts who don’t cross-dress.” Which, of course, accords with common sense and makes the solution perfectly obvious: dress style is an irrelevant criterion for housing felons.

        Your last paragraph about the risks that vulnerable prisoners face from violent male prisoners is of course true and must be respected. But protecting all cross-dressing male prisoners, even those capable of looking after themselves on the open range, by incarcerating them in female prisons just because they choose to cross-dress is not the solution.

        Letting them warp the language to suit their own ideology leads to incoherence. Once you start calling someone a “she”, how can you then turn around and tell “her” he’s going to Kingston Pen with all the other dangerous male prisoners?

        If people find “cross-dressing” too pejorative, we could go with “cross-gender” but we must not accept that “trans women” are a variety of women, like indigenous women, white women, left-handed women, etc. If “trans women” are really men, which they are, the only way you can meet them logically is to call them cross-gendered men.

        1. Finding language that is both neutral and descriptive is practically impossible on this topic, especially when certain terms get tied to specific viewpoints and assumptions are made about a writer who uses those terms. You call me out on using “trans women”. In other spaces, the participants would be furious for me pointing out that trans women are male, and would object to Derek’s use of “biological sex”. I used “trans women” because I believe it is clear to the largest audience which population I’m talking about. It’s like using the term “alternative medicine” if it makes it clear what I’m talking about, but that doesn’t mean I accept that alternative medicine is medicine. Still, I understand your concerns with that term. Probably “trans-identified male” is the most accurate term, but that one is too strongly linked to the gender critical viewpoint. I do strive to use “male” and “female” exclusively when speaking about sex. But the whole issue of language on this topic is a difficult needle to thread.

          1. I’m not really calling you out in heckler mode, Quercus. It’s certainly true that what language you use has to be tempered by how likely you are to get fired or beaten up for saying the wrong thing and I understand you were trying to find common ground. If the audience starts throwing things as soon as you open your mouth, you can’t get your message across.

            I’m not at all sure that everyone outside the agitator industry and those of us who criticize them do know what a transwoman actually is claimed to be, though. There is bickering about whether “trans woman” should be enforced over “transwoman”. One or the other is violent erasure. But as soon as you say either, the next response in the Catechism is “transwomen are women. Get over it.” Pretty soon they’ll just be “women”.

            There was a story of an inmate in a prison in Washington state who was told her new cellmate was going to be a trans-gendered woman. She assumed it was going to be a girl like her who had had some kind of surgery “down there.” She was flabbergasted when a big muscular dude showed up and then when she saw him stand up to pee in the cell toilet she freaked out. She thought the prison had made a mistake. (There is a feminist project in Washington to expose these stories since the state’s recent directive to house men with women. They are of course being reviled as transphobic haters.)

            My wife says, “If he’s got a dick, he’s a guy.” She’ll never call him any kind of woman.

          2. That story sounds pretty fishy to me as presented, very much urban legendy.

            I can only assume your wife has never knowingly met a trans person. I think it would be terribly rude to call a trans woman a man to her face. At least I’d never do it to the few trans folks I know. I think the right wing / demagogues have been pretty successful in completely forgetting that trans people are actual human beings worthy of just as much respect as any others. But they’re a nice small community without a lot of power, so they make a very attractive target for the right wing rage machine.

          3. I’d say Biden interviewing Dylan Mulvaney shows quite a bit of power wielded by trans rights activists, not to mention the full support of the left wing progressive media. And backed by TRA groups who target, harass and try to silence women for defining women as “adult human females.”

          4. If you think it’s an urban legend that men are being put in prison cells with unwilling women in women’s prisons, Derek, then I don’t think we have much common ground to share there.

            Do you think trans people are so exotic that few people have met one? They are honestly not that special.

            In usual ordinary social interactions it is polite to call someone by whatever they say their name is and it is not necessary to confront anyone about his or her sex. But if a self-identified “trans woman” made a pass at me or at my wife (if she was available and lesbian), each of us would confront the person politely (to start) but firmly, to his face, “Sorry, I don’t do men. You are a man, Maxine, so please leave me alone.” If escalation is needed, “I don’t care that you think I will change my mind about you personally if we have a few drinks and get to know each other better. Ain’t gonna happen. You’re a man. Go bother someone else.”

            Ditto if my wife was guarding the door inside the Vancouver Rape Crisis Centre which, thanks to generous donations from people like us, has been able to continue its “no men” policy despite attempts by the Vancouver City Council to starve it. “You are a man. You can’t enter. If you have been a victim of male violence, go seek help with your own kind.”

    3. I don’t think it can be a category error if one of the categories is too poorly defined to be of use. What, exactly, is the “woman gender?”

  3. My guess is that Republicans want Santos (a first term congressman of no significance) to stay in Congress, not just because they need his vote but also they want him as a distraction from the public becoming aware of their far right agenda of gutting social programs, cutting off aid to Ukraine, and extorting the Biden administration over the debt ceiling. The liberal media has once again fallen for the right-win con. I have noticed on MSNBC that a lot of segments are devoted to him. Maybe the network views him as entertainment value and discussions about him will boost ratings, but every minute spent on Santos is a minute that could have been spent on the real issues confronting the nation.

  4. On this day:
    1861 – American Civil War: Texas secedes from the United States and joins the Confederacy a week later.

    1865 – President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    1884 – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.

    1893 – Thomas A. Edison finishes construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in West Orange, New Jersey.

    1960 – Four black students stage the first of the Greensboro sit-ins at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    1964 – The Beatles have their first number one hit in the United States with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

    1968 – Vietnam War: The execution of Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém by South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan is recorded on motion picture film, as well as in an iconic still photograph taken by Eddie Adams.

    2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during the reentry of mission STS-107 into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

    1894 – John Ford, American director and producer (d. 1973).

    1915 – Stanley Matthews, English footballer and manager (d. 2000).

    1918 – Muriel Spark, Scottish playwright and poet (d. 2006).

    1921 – Peter Sallis, English actor (d. 2017). [“They’re the wrong trousers, Gromit – and they’ve gone wrong!”]

    1937 – Don Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2021).

    1942 – Terry Jones, Welsh actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 2020).

    Put to bed with a shovel:
    1851 – Mary Shelley, English novelist and playwright (b. 1797).

    1944 – Piet Mondrian, Dutch-American painter (b. 1872).

    1966 – Hedda Hopper, American actress and journalist (b. 1885).

    1966 – Buster Keaton, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1895).

    1976 – Werner Heisenberg, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1901).

    2019 – Jeremy Hardy, English comedian, radio host and panelist (b. 1961).

    1. 1861 – American Civil War: Texas secedes from the United States and joins the Confederacy a week later.

      Texas has a “Government Holiday” on Jan. 19 called “Confederate Heroes’ Day.” Yep, the entire Texas government gets a paid day off. What a benighted state. But I was wondering if the date of succession is somehow a part of the holiday as well. 🤔

  5. ‘“We’re clearly in the middle of an extinction crisis. And it’s our responsibility to bring stories and to bring excitement to people in way that motivates them to think about the extinction crisis that’s going on right now,” said Beth Shapiro.’

    Even if it had a chance of producing an actual Dodo (which as PCC makes clear, it doesn’t), this project is absolutely not the appropriate response to the extinction crisis. First, the resources of money, time and intellectual effort would be far more effectively spent on protecting significant areas of wildlife habitat for extant species. Secondly, the message this actually sends out to the public is that all that is needed to avert the crisis is a bit of clever gene technology – a false hope that undermines the sense of urgency that we need to instill in the face of the attrition of biodiversity around the world.

    If Colossal Biosciences wish to proceed with this that’s up to them but they shouldn’t pretend it has anything to do with conservation.

      1. I don’t know. In both cases there are certain to be new science, new technologies and new industrial capabilities developed that will be applicable to many other things than the specific tasks their originators developed them for. Including conservation efforts.

      2. For Mars maybe, but I think all the side benefits would accrue from sending more robots. The major discovery from trying to send humans will be in learning how to shield them from ionizing radiation for many months at reasonable cost. Not sure the USA needs to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to discover this, but those aren’t my tax dollars so I guess none of my business.

        For conservation definitely not. We know what needs to be done most urgently: reduce human harvesting of wild species, and reduce human conversion of wild habitat into farms and housing etc. Everything else (reduced pollution, climate change, deextinction, etc.) is secondary. I don’t see an urgent need for technologies that will arise from the dodo or mammoth projects (whole genome CRISPr, artificial wombs) but maybe that’s just me. Deextinction is not exactly a grift (Church and Shapiro are not evil conmen), it’s more a sincere but misguided effort by molecular biologists to contribute something to conservation.

        [edit: I think maybe this is what Shapiro means by “our responsibility to bring stories and to bring excitement to people” – she’s arguing that molecular biologists can’t just sit around doing mere research, she thinks they need to somehow inspire other people with shiny baubles like the dodo.]

  6. “Tiffany” Scott is one of the most dangerous prisoners in Scotland – his sentencing had to be moved to a more secure court, and even then the public had to be excluded for their safety. (He has been known to tear his veins with his teeth in order to spray his blood onto people.) The decision to transfer him to Scotland’s only female prison is beyond belief. A 6’5″ transwoman who filmed a 13-year-old girl in the toilets of one supermarket and sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in the toilets of another supermarket just weeks later was recently housed in the female prison estate, but appears to have just been released. Neither of these two, nor the double rapist, have undergone surgery or possess a gender recognition certificate (GRC) – why the Scottish government and its agencies believe that the feelings of men override the rights of imprisoned women to single-sex facilities for their safety, privacy, and dignity is beyond me.

    A former female prisoner talks about her experiences in this article:

    1. It seems like the strategy was to move trans-identified male prisoners into women’s prisons as quickly as possible because once it was entrenched it would be the clincher to any future objection.

      “But it’s not fair to put transwomen on women’s rugby teams!”
      “Tiffany Scott was put in a woman’s prison.”
      “Oh, right. Well, since we allow that, rugby’s not such a big deal. Never mind.”

      1. Absolutely! Whatever their crimes, female prisoners deserve a safe environment away from men, not least because something like two-thirds of incarcerated women have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault. Instead, they are being imprisoned with violent men and punished if they complain. The world is going mad!

  7. I have a dumb question about extinct species. I am assuming we have access to the whole sequence of dodo DNA. If they add some number of dodo genes to a pigeon embryo, they get some sort of hybrid. If they use that hybrid as a host, and continue adding dodo sequences, could they eventually get close to the desired result?

    As for the trans prisoner thing, that seems like a perfect cause for queer theory activists. They want their causes to stay transgressive and controversial. Male sex predators roaming women’s prisons seems pretty unlikely to ever be normalized. I just wish people who are casually promoting all of this had a better understanding of the motivations of the movement’s originators. Mainly, that none of this is even intended to better the lives of the individuals that are the subject of it. Or their families, or even society as a whole. It is meant to be generally destabilizing and revolutionary, although they seem pretty vague on the stages between revolution and utopia.
    Such people should be printing pamphlets and arguing dialectics with each other in basements with the doors locked and shades drawn, not dictating policy.

    1. I think the dodo answer is in this sentence Jerry wrote:

      “…many trait difference are based on many genes that remain unknown…”

      Even if we have the entire sequence, it doesn’t mean we can translate the sequence into traits since we don’t know what the underlying genes do. At least that’s how I understand it…I could be way off here.

  8. is one such group “reaching across the aisle.” The facilitate workshops and live and video trainings on most hot-button topics, “equally balanced between conservatives and progressives at every level of leadership.”

    I’ve only been to one online workshops, but they are very organized and determined.

    1. Sorry, I watched that 28 minute video and it’s pure guilt by association. Why don’t you use Rowling’s own words, which you reject because, says this anonymous YouTube, she’s ASSOCIATED with people who have unpleasant views.
      Go to the primary source. If this video convinced you, you were very willing to be convinced.

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