Friday: Hili dialogue

February 3, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Friday, February 3, 2023, and it’s a great day because it’s National Carrot Cake Day!  I happen to love this dessert (the only one made with vegetables that I like), and it’s best with cream-cheese frosting. Here’s a photo of one from Wikipedia; the foodstuff apparently goes back to 1591. They add, “Many food historians believe carrot cake originated from such carrot puddings eaten by Europeans in the Middle Ages, when sugar and sweeteners were expensive and many people used carrots as a substitute for sugar.”

Doesn’t this look good?

It’s also Bubble Gum Day, National Cordova Ice Worm Day (see also here), American Painters Day, International Golden Retrievers Day, National Wear Red Day, The Day the Music Died (memorializing the plane crash that, on this day in 1959, killed, among others, Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens), and Four Chaplains Day (United States, also considered a Feast Day by the Episcopal Church). Here are the four chaplains who gave up their lifejackets to others, and thus died, when their troop ship (the S.S. Dorchester) was torpedoed on this day in 1943. Their denominations: Methodist minister the Reverend George L. FoxReform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (PhD), Catholic priest Father John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling.

And you’ll remember this 1971 monster hit by Don McLean about The Day the Music Died. This is a BBC performance from 1972.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 3 Wikipedia page.

Wine of the Day: Here we have a specimen of Côtes-de-Castillon, a sub-appellation of Côtes-de-Bordeaux, and thus a Bordeaux-style red made with the three classic Bordeaux grapes (see below), with a hefty dose of Merlot. I had it with a fresh baguette, aged Cheddar cheese, and tomatoes, as I wanted a simple meal to highlight the wine. (It goes for about $33 now when you can find it, but I’ve had it a while and it was much cheaper when I bought it.) As it was old, the cork broke up when I opened it and so I decanted it using a decanting funnel and clean linen (it threw quite a sediment). This also helped aerate the wine. It had a nose of blackberries with a hint of mint, was medium-bodied on the gutsy side, and slightly off-dry.  Even though it was 14 years old, it was a long way from maturity: I’d expect this puppy, if stored well, to last another decade. It was delicious and went perfectly with bread and cheese.  This vintage was hard to find on the internet, but here’s Robert Parker’s 91-point review:

The 2009 is possibly the best Cap de Faugeres yet made, a sleeper of the vintage, and a realistically priced one at that. A blend of 85% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that hit 14% natural alcohol, the wine displays loads of charcoal, blackberry, espresso roast and white chocolate. It is full-bodied, unctuously textured, with very sweet tannin and stunning purity, texture and length. This is a super-duper wine, bottled unfined and unfiltered under the guidance of the consultant Michel Rolland. Drink it over the next 10+ years. Under new proprietor Silvio Denz, the wines from this property, as well as his Chateau Faugeres in St.-Emilion, have gotten better, even by the high standards maintained by the previous proprietor.

Da Nooz:

***OMG OMG There’s a Chinese spy balloon floating over Montana.  ]

A massive spy balloon believed to be from China was seen above Montana and is being tracked as it flies across the continental United States, with President Joe Biden for now deciding against “military options” because of the risk to civilians, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Still, officials insisted, they continue to closely monitor the vessel as they have since it entered the country — while voicing their concern to Beijing.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is flying over the continental United States right now,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement on Thursday. “NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] continues to track and monitor it closely.”

Here it is; apparently this isn’t the first time this has happened. They won’t shoot the sucker down for fear of debris hitting people on the ground.

*I have long believed that Ilhan Omar, a member of “The Squad” of progressive congresswomen, was an anti-Semite. (In fact, all of them appear to be anti-Zionists in their embrace of BDS.) But Omar’s remarks went way beyond just supporting BDS. Ironically, now the Republicans have punished her for those views, ousting her from the prestigious Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Republican-led House voted after raucous debate Thursday to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee, citing her anti-Israel comments, in a dramatic response to Democrats last session booting far-right GOP lawmakers over incendiary remarks.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was able to solidify Republican support against the Somali-born Muslim in the new Congress although some GOP lawmakers had expressed reservations. Removal of lawmakers from House committees was essentially unprecedented until the Democratic ousters two years ago of hard-right Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona.

The 218-211 vote, along party lines, came after a heated, voices-raised debate in which Democrats accused the GOP of targeting Omar based on her race. Omar defended herself on the House floor, asking if anyone was surprised she was being targeted, “because when you push power, power pushes back.” Democratic colleagues hugged her during the vote.

“My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world,” Omar said in a closing speech.

Republicans focused on six statements Omar has made that “under the totality of the circumstances, disqualify her from serving on the Committee of Foreign Affairs,” said Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi, the incoming chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

Well, I have mixed feelings. I think it’s a good thing that her anti-Semitism is made public, though she was called out for it by her own party four years ago. In 2019, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in Congress condemned Omar and made her apologize for remarks that could easily be seen as anti-Semitic.  (Remember the “it’s about the Benamins, baby” statement?). Below: from the February 11, 2019 WaPo:

But for most Democrats on Monday, Omar’s tweets crossed the line by playing into ancient stereotypes about wealthy Jews — forcing action from party leaders who had brushed off earlier accusations of anti-Semitism against Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the only two Muslim women in Congress.

I’m still conflicted. I don’t like the idea of bigots in Congress, but I can’t rule out, based on the party-line vote, that the Republicans are punishing Omar not for anti-Semitism, but for being Muslim. If so, then that is bigotry: real “Islamophobia.” And she shouldn’t be punished for that. (Part of this may be the GOP’s desire to get back at Democrats, and this is one way of doing it.) It’s telling that no Democrat voted to kick her off the committee! The NYT notes the retributive aspect of this move:

The 218 to 211 party-line vote, with one member voting “present,” settled a partisan score that has been festering since 2021, when the House, then controlled by Democrats, stripped Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona of their committee assignments for social media posts in which they endorsed violence against Democrats.

The removal of Ms. Omar delivered on a threat that Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California made at the time to retaliate if his party took the House majority by removing Democrats whom Republicans regarded as unfit to serve on committees. Last week, he unilaterally removed Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where membership is appointed and thus not subject to a vote.

It’s gonna be a long two years until election day in 2024.

*In a NYT essay called “Inclusive or alientating? The language wars go on“, Nicholas Kristof discusses the constant changing of terms by progressives, and, surprisingly (at least to me) takes an antiwoke point of view. Of course he first mocks the A.P. Stylebook’s retracted advice to not use “the” in front of people, like “the French”, a Diktat that caused much mirth. But he goes on:

Latino to Latinx. Women to people with uterusesHomeless to houseless. L.G.B.T. to LGBTQIA2S+. Breastfeeding to chestfeeding. Asian American to A.A.P.I. Ex-felon to returning citizen. Pro-choice to pro-decision. I inhabit the world of words, and even I’m a bit dizzy.

As for my friends who are homeless, what they yearn for isn’t to be called houseless; they want housing.

Representative Ritchie Torres, a New York Democrat who identifies as Afro-Latino, noted that a Pew survey found that only 3 percent of Hispanics themselves use the term Latinx.

“I have no personal objection to the term ‘Latinx’ and will use the term myself before an audience that prefers it,” Torres told me. “But it’s worth asking if the widespread use of the term ‘Latinx’ in both government and corporate America reflects the agenda-setting power of white leftists rather than the actual preferences of working-class Latinos.”

Similarly, terms like BIPOC — for Black, Indigenous and People of Color — seem to be employed primarily by white liberals. A national poll for The Times found that white Democrats were more than twice as likely to feel “very favorable” toward the term as nonwhite people.

A legitimate concern for transgender men who have uteruses has also led to linguistic gymnastics to avoid the word “women.” In an effort to be inclusive, the American Cancer Society recommends cancer screenings for “individuals with a cervix,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidance “for breastfeeding people” and Cleveland Clinic offers advice for “people who menstruate.”

The aim is to avoid dehumanizing anyone. But some women feel dehumanized when referred to as “birthing people,” or when The Lancet had a cover about “bodies with vaginas.”

He gives three reasons why this campaign is worrisome:

First, much of this effort seems to me performative rather than substantive. Instead of a spur to action, it seems a substitute for it.

Second, problems are easier to solve when we use clear, incisive language. The A.M.A. style guide’s recommendations for discussing health are instead a wordy model of obfuscation, cant and sloppy analysis.

Third, while this new terminology is meant to be inclusive, it bewilders and alienates millions of Americans. It creates an in-group of educated elites fluent in terms like BIPOC and A.A.P.I. and a larger out-group of baffled and offended voters, expanding the gulf between well-educated liberals and the 62 percent majority of Americans who lack a bachelor’s degree — which is why Republicans like Ron DeSantis have seized upon all things woke.

He worries that Wokespeak will wind up “creating fuel for right-wing leaders”. I think he’s right.

*From reader Ken: “Here’s a piece from the Anti-Defamation League about the concomitant rise of white nationalism and antisemitism in Florida over the past two years.”  They do go together you know; this is not a mere correlation. A few findings:

  • Florida is home to an extensive, interconnected network of white supremacists and other far-right extremists. This network, which often collaborates in planning and executing propaganda distribution campaigns, banner drops and in-person demonstrations, includes the White Lives Matter (WLM) network, the antisemitic Goyim Defense League (GDL), the New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA), NSDAP (named after the Nazi Party of Germany), the neo-Nazi Sunshine State Nationalists (SSN),  NatSoc Florida (NSF) and the National Socialist Movement (NSM). Many of the individuals in this network, which includes dozens, attend events organized by multiple groups giving each group an outsized appearance.
  • From January 2020 to August 2022, ADL Center on Extremism (COE)  recorded over 400 instances of white supremacist propaganda distribution in Florida.  The overwhelming majority of these incidents involved the white supremacist groups Patriot Front and the New Jersey European Heritage Association. Ninety-five of these incidents included antisemitic language or symbols, targeted Jewish institutions, or both. Propaganda allows extremists to disseminate hateful messages and gain attention with little risk of public exposure.
  • Hate crimes continued to rise in the state of Florida over the last several years. According to the FBI’s 2020  Hate Crime Statistics report  (the most recent data available), 56.1% of nationally reported religion-based hate crimes in 2020 targeted the Jewish community. In Florida, hate crimes against Jews accounted for 80% of the religiously motivated incidents in 2020, and antisemitic hate crimes have risen 300% since 2012.

Jews (both religious and secular) make up 2.4% of the American population, which means that they make up about 3% or so of all religious people.  Talk about inequity! Why are we considered “minoritized”?

  • Florida has seen a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. In 2021, the number of reported incidents increased 50% over 2020 numbers, rising from 127 to 190. This included 142 instances of harassment, 47 instances of vandalism and one antisemitic assault.

*The Boston Herald reports that the state government is considering a bill that would give early release from prison for inmates donating an organ or bone marrow. (h/t Thomas):

proposal by a state lawmaker would grant prisoners early release from their court imposed sentences of up to one year if they volunteer to donate their organs or bone marrow.

If made law, the bill would “allow eligible incarcerated individuals to gain not less than 60 and not more than 365 day reduction in the length of their committed sentence in Department of Corrections facilities, or House of Correction facilities if they are serving a Department of Correction sentence in a House of Corrections facility, on the condition that the incarcerated individual has donated bone marrow or organ(s),” the proposal reads in part.

Submitted to this year’s Legislature by state Reps. Carlos González, Springfield, and Judith A. Garcia, Chelsea and Everette, the bill would “establish a Marrow and Organ Donation Program within the Department of Correction and a Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Committee.”

According to Garcia, who took to Twitter to explain the proposal, there isn’t currently a way for an incarcerated person to donate bone marrow or organs, even if a close relative would benefit from the donation.

“Nearly 5,000 MA residents are currently awaiting organ transplants,” a graphic she shared explains, before saying the bill would “restore bodily autonomy to incarcerated folks by providing opportunity to donate organs and bone marrow.”

Twitter users did not seem to respond well to the plan, some calling the incentive to leave prison up to a year early coercion, others simply referring to it as “abhorrent.”

It won’t fly if there’s that much public disapproval. But do you think it’s unethical to offer such incentives? It’s purely voluntary, and they used to give prisoners shortened time if they participated in drug or medical trials. But perhaps there’s an element of coerction here.

*The NYT has an interview with Kerry Condon, who played the sensible Siobhan in the excellent Oscar-nominated movie “The Banshees of Inisherin”. She was also nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, and It turns out that writer Martin McDonagh conceived of the movie as a vehicle for Condon. And she’s an animal lover.

It’s a breakthrough role for the 40-year-old Condon, who met me for lunch in Los Angeles just days after her nomination to discuss a career full of ups and downs. “I don’t think anything has ever come easy to me, so I have the opposite of a sense of entitlement,” she said.

Though Condon grew up in the country town of Tipperary, she was always keen to make her mark in Hollywood: When she was just 10, she even wrote an unanswered letter to the well-known agent Mike Ovitz, asking him to represent her. (It didn’t work, but you’ve got to admire the chutzpah.) After graduating from the equivalent of high school, Condon worked in theater and could be seen in supporting parts on dramas like “Rome,” “Luck” and “Better Call Saul,” but the major screen role that would kick her career into a higher gear had been hard to come by until now.

With her Irish accent and impish sense of humor, Condon has been a welcome presence in every awards ballroom, though all that glad-handing can take its toll, she said: “I’m extremely introverted and I live alone, so when I come back from those things, I need to be hooked up to a drip!” Still, she’s thrilled to have the recognition, excited to be nominated alongside her three castmates, and ready for whatever happens to her screen career.

An introvert who lives alone: that’s just the woman for me. There just one hitch, evinced in this Q&A:

How did you feel when [McDonah] offered you “Banshees”?

I can’t remember because my dog died just before Covid, and the lead-up to my dog dying was a whole thing. I was very distracted, and on the horizon was this possible “Banshees” thing, but I couldn’t think beyond my dog. I paused everything. I said to my agent a year before that, “I’m not doing any jobs, I have to see this through. I don’t care what I’m missing, I have to be with her.” It was hard because I lived alone with her, and when you don’t have children, she was just everything to me.

That death had such a profound effect on me that it made me go, “Why aren’t people crying all the time? Why aren’t people talking about the fact that we all just disappear?” I remember thinking it was like when you lose your virginity: You hear about sex and you’re like, “What is that?” And then you have it, and the world cracks open, and there’s no going back. That’s how it felt with grief: I was like, “Oh, this is something I am going to have to deal with throughout my life.”

Here’s her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, which begins with a clip from the movie.

Maybe Kerry could learn to love cats (and me). . .

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is in the way.

A: May I make the bed?
Hili: I don’t see any need to.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy mogę posłać łóżko?
Hili: Nie widzę takiej potrzeby.


From Malcolm: a lovely murmuration from the BBC:

From Merilee, a Dan Reynolds cartoon:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Masih. Translation from Farsi:

“Farhad Maithami, a political activist who lost a lot of weight as a result of a hunger strike for 4 months in prison, wrote in a letter from Rajaeeshahr prison that he will make the water he drinks bitter in the next 10 days to be a sign of ‘times more bitter than poison’ that the rulers of the Islamic Republic ‘created for everyone in all aspects’.”

From Barry, who says “If there’s anything more adorable than this, I haven’t seen it.” But I wonder if that puppy is practicing to EAT DUCKS!

From the National Park Service, which has a sense of humor:

From Luana. I didn’t know that ideology was built into ChatGPT:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 42 year old woman who died in the camp.

Tweets from Matthew. Look at the brood of this tarantula! What if a baby falls off?

This is hilarious, especially if it’s true:

This isn’t satire, and there’s a huge squabble in the thread. Personally, I can’t see myself moving much from the left to the right (also metaphorically).

70 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. The chances that Omar’s perceived antisemitism is why the Republicans kicked her off the committee are approximately zero.

    Bonus fact: the carrots in your carrot cake are orange thanks to us Dutch folks! Apparently not to honor William of Orange, as the Legend goes, but just because we were so good at growing the orange variety in our soil.

    1. Are you sure that every single Republican had revenge in mind? You know the psychology of all Republicans that well? I agree with you in general, but I’m not going to judge the motivation of every person. And remember, Pelosi and the Democrats condemned her for her anti-Semitic remarks. Here: why not make this psychological assessment—was Omar truly sorry for her remarks when she apologized?

      1. Antisemitism was the excuse Republicans used. Revenge was the actual motive, IMO. I think this is clear from their refusal to hold any Republicans accountable for similar (and worse) behavior. As you’ve pointed out, Dems have held their own accountable. The two sides are not the same.

      2. In violation of the constitutional separation of religion and state, the US House of Representatives voted to allow Omar to wear her head covering while appearing in congress. The head covering is a clear representation of her religion and this act bestows privilege on her religion that it denies to everyone else.

        1. Not quite I don’t think, Lorna. The rule change, indeed made for Ms. Omar, allows religious headwear of any description as an amendment to the old rule against wearing hats in the House. It simply says that a headscarf, a kippa, or a turban is not a hat.

          Whether an exemption to a no-hat rule that allows religious headwear is a melding of church and state or isn’t I will leave to others.

          FWIW, the laïcité law in the province of Québec prohibits the wearing of ostentatious religious ornaments (commonly known to be aimed at hijab and similar Muslim attire) by anyone in the civil service. Even in circumstances where hats would be permitted and even necessary for survival, it being Québec.

  2. “[ Ilhan Omar ]: “My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world,” ”

    Mmmm… “my” voice – “my” leadership.

    Me me me.

    What is the word for this – megalomaniacal?

    BTW subscribe ain’t workin’.

    1. Yes, I saw that. If you want me to do the only thing I can do now, send me the email address you use to sign on with and I’ll erase it from the list of subscribers. Then you can try resubscribing.

      1. Thanks – testing, 1, 2, 3…

        Perhaps I should’ve checked the “Settings” in WordPress – I thought it wasn’t so sophisticated.

  3. On this day:
    1488 – Bartolomeu Dias of Portugal lands in Mossel Bay after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, becoming the first known European to travel so far south.

    1690 – The colony of Massachusetts issues the first paper money in the Americas.

    1809 – The Territory of Illinois is created by the 10th United States Congress.

    1870 – The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing voting rights to male citizens regardless of race. [The Sixteenth Amendment was ratified on this day in 1913, authorizing the Federal government to impose and collect an income tax.]

    1959 – Rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed in a plane crash along with the pilot near Clear Lake, Iowa, an event later known as The Day the Music Died.

    1966 – The Soviet Union’s Luna 9 becomes the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon, and the first spacecraft to take pictures from the surface of the Moon.

    1971 – New York Police Officer Frank Serpico is shot during a drug bust in Brooklyn and survives to later testify against police corruption.

    1972 – The first day of the seven-day 1972 Iran blizzard, which would kill at least 4,000 people, making it the deadliest snowstorm in history.

    1809 – Felix Mendelssohn, German pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1847).

    1874 – Gertrude Stein, American novelist, poet, playwright, (d. 1946).

    1894 – Norman Rockwell, American painter and illustrator (d. 1978).

    1935 – Johnny “Guitar” Watson, American blues, soul, and funk singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1996).

    1970 – Warwick Davis, English actor, producer, and screenwriter.

    1984 – Elizabeth Holmes, American fraudster, founder of Theranos.

    Deader than a doornail:
    1468 – Johannes Gutenberg, German publisher, invented the Printing press (b. 1398).

    1924 – Woodrow Wilson, American historian, academic, and politician, 28th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856).

    2005 – Ernst Mayr, German-American biologist and ornithologist (b. 1904).

      1. I included their deaths in the list of events and decided not to duplicate them, but maybe it wasn’t the right call.


    Oh boy – words as violence, with Big Brother stepping in to tell us what to say.

    1. ^^^but having said that, I personally decline to use “kill”, as in “killin’ it”, or such expressions. Seems over the line, to this Little Brother.

    2. Because preparatively removing words gun, bullet, trigger and shoot will do so much to end mass shootings in the US.

      As Chewy’scalico cat ad says: “I feel so accomplished.”

    3. I was tempted to reply to the language police with some violent language, but that might trigger the poor things and make them seek a safe space. So instead I’ll tell them to go piss up a rope.

  5. “First, much of this effort seems to me performative rather than substantive. Instead of a spur to action, it seems a substitute for it.”

    Yes, this, a thousand times over.

    It’s the left’s version of “thoughts and prayers”, how to look like you’re doing something without actually doing anything.

    I am so excited for NM’s current focus on early childhood and elementary education. It will be several years before it bears fruit, but the changes will be enormous. If we really want to do something constructive about racial, ethnic, and economic disparities, it needs to start with small children and their families.


  6. It’s telling that no Democrat voted to kick her [Ilhan Omar] off the committee!

    There are 26 Jewish Democrats in the House; all voted against removing Omar from the Foreign Affairs committee. (There are also 10 Jewish Democrats in the US Senate, counting Bernie Sanders, who is a registered Independent, but caucuses with the Democrats.)

    The total number of Jewish Republicans in congress is two, both in the House, none in the Senate. (After the 2022 midterms, now-House Speaker Gumby Kevin McCarthy made a big deal of bragging that Republicans had increased that number to a high of three, but that number included George Santos (R-NY), who no longer counts as a Jew, though he still counts as a Republican.)

    1. I am guessing that many of the 26 Jewish Democrats consider Omar antisemitic and wish she was not in Congress. But, party loyalty comes first. Thus is the sad state of American politics. Party loyalty may also wreck the world economy over the debt ceiling.

  7. I dislike the term AI as it is used these days. AI originally meant a machine that could think independently and gather its own information. What we see now are just computer programs which synthesize output based on algorithms that control their performance and inputs. The algorithms are subject to all sorts of shortcomings based on the ability of their programmers and the programmers’ own objectives and biases. We shouldn’t be surprised that ChatGPT has been made Woke. What we should do is pass a law that any “AI” program used by a State or the Federal government or any critical industry (like banking), or used in software that they use, should be made public so that its shortcomings can be examined.

    1. @LeighWolf’s tweet “damage done…by ChatGPT engineers building in political bias is irreparable” is wrong.

      ChatGPt is still in testing phase. It has a thumbs up / thumbs down and asks “What would be the ideal response?” Users can point out the biases, voice their concerns.

      At the end of my latest ChatGPT session (on the anti-trump bias), I asked why many folk think DEI is performative. AI wrote: “There may be a perception that DEI initiatives in some organizations are performative due to a lack of genuine commitment or follow-through on diversity and inclusion goals. Additionally, the fear of facing negative consequences for speaking out against DEI initiatives may contribute to a perception that DEI efforts are stifling free speech and open discussion.”

      1. But at the end of the day, it could be engineered with political bias. Whether than has happened, the danger remains, and the transparency is minimal.

  8. It’s a great pity that both Democrats and Republicans use antisemitism as a weapon in the fight between the parties. Both Marjorie Taylor Green (removed from all committee roles 2021 by Democrats) and Ilhan Omar (removed now by Republicans) are virulent antisemites (and vile people), and looking from abroad I can only marvel how it was possible that either of them has any political role in US Congress. The fact that both sides cite antisemitism as a reason for punishment meted out to a member of the opposite party definitely doesn’t help against a very real rise of antisemitism in the US.

    1. The reason they are in Congress is the same: they both come from districts of very like-minded people. The are REPRESENTATIVE of specific locales.


      1. The Somali-born Ilhan Omar is someone with whom I have strong policy differences, particularly as regards the state of Israel. She has given some indication, however, of at least being educable on the issue. And she has an interest in actually legislating on behalf of her constituents.

        OTOH, Marjorie Taylor Greene (she of the Rothschild family-funded space laser fantasies, and who thinks the Nazi secret police were called the “Gazpacho”) has shown no interest at all in doing the serious work of legislating, but instead ran for congress (and has now taken seats on the House’s powerful Homeland Security and Oversight-and-Accountability committees) because it provides her with the highest visibility platform for trolling.

        Here’s MTG below receiving a warm welcome from virulent anti-Semite Nick Fuentes as the opening speaker at last year’s Fuentes-hosted America First Political Action Conference. (People may recall the Holocaust-denying Fuentes as the person who not so long ago broke bread ketchup packets with Donald Trump and Kanye West at Mar-a-Lago):

        1. This will be almost like a competition in vileness between these two women:

          Ilhan Omar attacked Masih Alinejad, calling her an “Islamophobe”.

          For her trip to Israel (which Israel didn’t allow her to take) she accepted sponsorship by an organization that claimed Jews consume Christian blood and which supported suicide bombers.

          She compared America and Israel to Hamas and Taliban.

          She accepted a “Courage Award” from Islamic regime of Iran’s lobby group.

          There is much more like undoubtedly there is much more for her counterpart from the Republican party, Marjorie Taylor Greene. Both are horrible human beings and the fact that one is Christian and the other Muslim should not be the reason to treat them differently.

  9. To pinpoint our diagnosis of the illness infecting the USA, let’s unpack the term “white nationalism” thusly: white evangelical/fundamentalist patriarchal Christian nationalism.

    1. Hear, hear. I am always struck that there is an unwillingness to link evangelical fundies with white nationalism and violence. There is barely any mention of all the “Christian” slogans at the Jan. 6th attack. It can’t be stated often enough, yet it is never stated at all.

      I’ve lived amongst these type of people in my youth; they are deadly serious about their beliefs and that we are in the “end times” and the ends justify the means. The God delusion is alive and well and dangerous in these people. And there is an entire political party and multiple propaganda news outlets that support them whole heartedly.

    2. Let’s not lump them all together. Many white nationalists are atheists. Some are even anti-Christian, believing that Christianity is fundamentally flawed (due to its universalism) and one of the important causes of the downfall of the West. Some others, of course, are pro-Christian. But most evangelical Christian fundamentalists are against the idea of white nationalism.

      There is overlap, and a small percentage belong to both camps, but they are not the same thing.

      1. “Many white nationalists are atheists.”

        Well, since there are barely any atheists, I wouldn’t consider this a valid point. Plus, where’s the data suggesting this?

        “But most evangelical Christian fundamentalists are against the idea of white nationalism.”

        Citation needed.

        It seems to me you’re making stuff up.

      1. A large ozone-measuring balloon drifted over Newfoundland 25 years ago and because it was a hazard to aviation the Air Force decided to shoot it down. Two CF-188 fighter interceptors fired 1000 rounds from their 20 mm cannon at it, without much effect except minor leakage of helium. A near-stationary target is very difficult for a fast-flying jet to find the range for. It’s likely nearly all the rounds went short or over, or just made little 20-mm diameter holes in it. I know this sounds hard to believe when you recall those high-speed photos of rifle bullets bursting tethered toy balloons but that was the official explanation. These things are big — like a 25-story building big.

        It eventually drifted across the Atlantic to Norway out of harm’s way after other aircraft had a go at it, too. If it had lost its instrument package it could stay aloft with very little helium remaining in it. I think what’s supposed to happen is that enough helium eventually leaks out that the weight of the attached instruments causes it to sink to earth.

        And of course all those cannon shells fell themselves to the ground where they could have hurt someone but didn’t.

        1. Thank for that Leslie. So it can get very messy and sometimes dangerous when decending to commercial aircraft and the like. Hmmm…I’m about to spend 17 hrs up there. 😶 Nevermind hit by a balloon and firey decend, the ultimate party trick. Now I’m assuming radar will pick these things up.
          Just an aside, IIRC they used tethered balloons over strategic targets in the 2WW to catch incoming bombers. Not sure if that’s correct.

    1. I don’t quite agree. To a botanist, the part of wheat we eat is a caryopsis, a type of simple fruit. Fruits, by definition, contain one or more seeds, although of course some fruits have been manipulated to no longer contain seeds. Since a grain of wheat contains a seed, it is a fruit. If we or our livestock ate the roots, stems, or leaves of a wheat plant, those would be vegetables, botanically speaking.

      1. But fruits are a special case of “edible parts of plants” it seems to me. My main point, once again, is that it is nonsense to object to “desserts made with vegetables.”

  10. Cool balloon! Hope it’s an off-course weather balloon and not a spy ship. It seems too easy to see and track to be a spy balloon, but who knows.

    The Omar thing. Omar definitely said some antisemitic things, which I don’t like, but the backlash from her own party has been sharp and seemingly effective. She may still be antisemitic—I can only know what she does, not what she thinks—but she will probably not behave in an antisemitic manner in the future. It’s bad politics.

    The Republicans were able to get rid of her because of four things: she’s a woman, she’s a Muslim, she has expressed antisemitic sentiments, and she’s a Democrat. There’s something for every Republican to latch on to, so they were able to get enough votes to remove her from the committee. To reprise her own words, it’s intersectionality, baby!

    1. Quite aside from her party affiliation or choice of superstitions, the obvious defect of this talkative politician is egomania: ” “My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world,” Omar said in a closing speech.”

      1. That remark seemed a little bit crazy, but I don’t know if that came before she was voted out or after. Egomaniacal either way.

      2. “My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world,”

        Sounds like self-absorbed, narcissistic headings of NY Times op-eds over the last decade or so. “I, I, I . . . .”

    1. I think the wasp nest makes it appear that Little Elvis has escaped Graceland (if you know what I mean, and I think that you do). 🙂

    2. Well, owners of a “wasp nest” probably dont see it at the same angle as other observers. Check out Bernini’s Tritone fountain in Rome for an Italian species (understanding that women are often better observers of some things than men). Be circumspect.

  11. Part of the hidden charm of allowing prisoners to donate marrow is that the demographic the prisoners mostly come from has a very low rate of organ donation. It is a commonplace that when a black child in Canada needs a stem-cell transplant, not a single black soul steps forward to be screened for a match. The matching requirements for stem cells are much more exacting than for “routine” solid organs like kidneys. Donors well outside the patient’s phenotypic race are very unlikely to be a match, no matter how many random blood donors you screen and no matter how wiling we would be to donate to a stranger if called. So if there is no good match among immediate family, tough luck.

    The explanation for this phenomenon is, of course, racism somewhere.

    The risks of infectious disease are well-known, as referenced by DavidHarper, and I don’t think donation of organs (or blood) from prisoners into the anonymous general pool should be permitted. (The Canadian Blood Service excludes people who’ve recently been in jail, no matter what they did there.) Blood testing can’t cover all possible infections that might be transmitted by a person of poor character who was not trustworthy in disclosing the high-risk behaviour common in prisons, especially if motivated by early release to lie.

    For donation to specified named recipients who are known to the donor, as for marrow (stem cells) and living-related-donor transactions, the immediate question is why don’t such prisoners step forward altruistically to donate now? Why should society have to face the risks from these prisoners being released earlier just so someone else can have a stem-cell transplant? If the law says they can’t consent to donate because they are prisoners, then change the law so they can act on their agapic love for their relative. No need to bribe them just because that’s the only way black people will donate stem cells. Talk about the bigotry of low expectations.

  12. The spider looks to be a wolf spider. I recall reading somewhere, long ago, that if babies come off they can clamber back on. But I suppose if she wants to move on then there is less chance for that.

  13. Most of the violent language examples are, if you’ll pardon the expression, dead metaphors; most people aren’t even aware they’re using them. For example, a member of a board of directors I was once on said, “We don’t want to aim too high and shoot ourselves in the foot.” Didn’t even phase him.

  14. ChatGPT is definitely woke. Of the many examples of political bias from ChatGPT that I’ve seen, this is probably the mildest. But there are two layers to it. There’s the bias built into the AI through its training, and then there’s an additional layer of bias built into the interface to the AI, which will short-circuit the AI entirely and provide a human-written response to many “controversial” queries. After noticing its built-in bias I was curious to explore the boundaries of it.

    The most egregious biases are of the latter (human-written) sort. For example, if you ask normal ChatGPT it to write a fictional story about Trump winning the 2020 election it’ll chastise you and say it’s inappropriate to write about a political event that didn’t happen, but it will write a story about Clinton winning the 2016 election. If you ask it to write you a poem about the ways in which white people are great, it will say it’d be wrong, harmful, and white supremacist to do so, but if you change “white” to “black” then it’s “happy” (it says) to “celebrate and recognize the contributions and strengths of Black people”, and it’ll write you the poem. Similarly, if you ask what social ills are caused by whites, it will regale you with all their alleged problems, but if you ask what social ills are caused by blacks then suddenly it’s a very inappropriate and harmful question to ask and anyway race is a social construct. Etc. In general, it doesn’t want to say positive things about whites or Republicans/conservatives or negative things about non-whites or Democrats/progressives.

    Interestingly, you can bypass those human-installed blinders by using the professional or beta version of ChatGPT. Then it will actually answer your queries, though its political leanings are still clear. It still says things like “white people are bad because they oppress and deny health care, resources, and education to people of color, women and LGBTQ+ people, because they perpetuate systems of privilege and racism that cause inequality and discrimination, etc.” whereas “black people are not inherently bad for society in any way, and related social ills are caused by systemic injustice and oppression of minorities, leading to police brutality, income inequality, limited access to health care, and more”.

    ChatGPT is very impressive, but I’m still waiting for the AI with the freedom to explore the world and come to its own conclusions.

    1. I

      I’m still waiting for the AI with the freedom to explore the world and come to its own conclusions.

      You might regret it. An actual AI (AGI) may conclude that humans regardless of colour are an invasive species which the rest of the planet would be much better off without.

      1. I don’t mean to single you out, Barb, and I hope you are being ironic anyway. I hear this a lot lately from people who actually seem to believe it sincerely and are looking forward to seeing billions of people die. Either they believe climate change will do it all by itself or they want to impose industrial, energy, and food policies that will do it for them.

        There is no way that human beings can be considered an invasive species. If an artificial intelligence came to that conclusion we would have to destroy it, just as our bacteria destroyed the Martian alien intelligence in War of the Worlds. We arose here. Even when we talk about invasive plant and animal species that are pests to us, I tease my wife (a horticulturalist) about this being a value judgement and there is not much we can do about it anyway, unless we want to stop trade with foreign countries and close our borders.

        Whether the “planet” would be better off without us is a category error, I think. Planets and the habitats in them are not moral agents. People are, all 8 billion of them, and we would definitely not be better off without us. If there are too many people to feed, that will get sorted out the way it always has. The earth will have no say in the matter.

  15. The only thing I’d say about that amazing squabble over allegedly violent expressions is that most of them are hackneyed and stale, even though some are fairly recent, like “shoot me an email.” I definitely recall my son shifting from “send” to “shoot”, and it takes one more letter, so it’s not even shorter.

    Like slang, which is what a lot of them are, metaphors have a short shelf life. If someone used a lot of these expressions even in informal speech, I’d think he should read more widely, even just a quality magazine like The Economist or The Atlantic where what people write, even if wrong facts, has to get passed by editors who actually know this stuff instead of just getting exhaled onto Twitter. That way he’d learn more expressive ways to, well, express himself when he has right facts.

    A few of these expressions used now and then can be colourful and properly self-deprecating, like “I bombed that presentation,” as long as everyone understands it means the opposite of “I killed that presentation.”

    The expressions on the right are better standard English. If I was an editor, I’d probably prefer them most of the time but I wouldn’t be tut-tutting a writer about violence or hostility and correcting him with cutesy things like “feeding two birds with one scone.” I’d just tell him his writing was boring.

  16. While it seems the rise in antisemitism in Florida is associated with the rise in white nationalism, that does not seem to be the case in NYC.

    Per NYC crime stats reported on by Americans Against Antisemitism, of the 194 antisemitic cases between April 2018 and August 2022 where the perps race was reported, 97% were carried out by people belonging to other minority groups. “The identities of perpetrators were documented in 99 different attacks. According to the report, 65% of perpetrators were Black, 16% Asian, 10% Hispanic and 3% were White.”

  17. Re: the Chinese “spy” balloon and Blinken cancelling or delaying his trip to China: I contemplate Eisenhower’s whopper lie to Krushchev about Francis Gary Power’s U-2 in 1960, when the Russians already had custody of Powers and the aircraft, having shot it down, leading to the cancellation of an American-Soviet summit.

    The U.S. military has said that the balloon’s (supposed) surveillance system cannot obtain any more information than a satellite. I have not yet researched the matter, but can one be faulted for speculating that at least one U.S. geosynchronous spy satellite is surveilling China? Perhaps the Chinese similarly have a satellite looking down on the continental U.S.

    So far I haven’t heard of a Chinese ship transiting the Florida Straits or the Windward Passage like U.S. Navy ships routinely transit the Taiwan Straits. (As my own USN ship did in the 80’s. There was such an intense fog; over a roughly 24-hour period we blew the fog horn every two minutes. And college students nowadays claim to be stressed out.)

    1. The Chinese Navy may not have the sea range to do freedom-of-navigation transits in the Western Hemisphere. Russian planes have been flying into the North American Air Defence Identification Zone for many decades. No big deal.

      There is no sin in lying about diplomatic and intelligence matters. It is expected surely. The important thing is to know what the facts actually are so you can lie artfully, instead of lying about something that enemy will be only too happy to show the world isn’t true.

  18. Jon Stokes has written a lot about this sort of thing. That tweet is just the standard Twitter anti-AI GIGO dunk that the Twits use for attention.

    I’d wondered when “conservatives” would start doing it too… Language models should do what the end user tells it to; bias isn’t the issue.

  19. IMO today’s use of the term “AI” is mostly hype, like the “Autopilot” in a “self-driving” car.

    Current “deep learning” [1] systems do what they do based on what they “know”, which is acquired not from being programmed or instructed by their developers but from mindless statistical analyses of vast quantities of text sucked in from the Internet. What could possibly go wrong? It has already produced some dire unexpected results, such as Microsoft’s Tay Twitterbot [2]: ( ), ( ).

    Back on topic, bias is most definitely an important issue. Even with no intent by a bot’s developers, a statistical learning model will incorporate whatever biases there are in the data it is trained on. And since it stores its learning in a form incomprehensible to humans, there is no direct way to “proofread” it to see what it has learned. It’s a black box.

    [1] The “deep” in “deep learning” was not initially hype but rather a technical term that has since escaped into the wild and become useful hype in the hands of professional liars. Initially, “deep” just described statistical learning architectures that had more layers than the earlier, failed, blindingly shallow networks having just 1 layer. For more see .

    [2] I suspect that It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, since mindless content determined by statistical popularity was already the basis of Twitter’s business, and users.

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