Thursday: Hili dialogue

February 9, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Thursday, February 9, 2023, and National Pizza Day. Here’s one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had, though with unconventional ingredients: it’s Pepe’s famous white clam pizza, which you can get in New Haven, Connecticut. Them’s fresh clams atop, matey!

Here’s a shot video of the restaurant and its most famous dish:

It’s also Chocolate Day, Read in the Bathtub Day (not on a Kindle!), National Toothache Day, and, in Lebanon, St. Maroun’s Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 9 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*I still haven’t watched the State of the Union address, but my friends’ assessments are that he did well, and I’ll have to go see it just so I can watch him lock horns with Marjorie Taylor “666” Greene over Social Security. Apparently some infantile Republicans heckled the President, something that’s become de rigueur lately for opposition Senators and Congresspeople during what should be a solemn occasion. Can’t they grow up enough to just shut the hell up? After all, they do get a rebuttal afterwards. This didn’t happen when I was younger; it marks the increase in divisiveness as well as a decline in civility.

The NYT asked some of its columnists to assess the speech, and nearly all of them gave Biden high marks for his words (and his failure to babble like a man in his dotage), with some implying they’re almost ready to vote for him next year.

The most positive take came from Michelle Goldberg; here’s part of it:

This week I wrote that Biden shouldn’t run again because he often shows the toll of his 80 years. If he always sounded as he did on Tuesday night, I’d change my mind. That was a terrific and rousing speech — especially the beginning — and Biden seemed to be having a great time giving it. “Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of choices we made in the last several years,” he said, a winning summation of his first two years in office. The president spoke with energy, sincerity and specificity about the forces squeezing Americans economically, addressing the fears and frustrations of both the working class and the middle class.

The most negative was from Bret Stephens:

Biden’s second State of the Union speech presented America with the president’s two political faces: the affable Everyman ready to reach across the aisle to his Republican “friends” and the aggressive progressive promoting a big-government agenda — price caps, wealth taxes, protectionism, industrial policy — that might just as easily have emerged from an Elizabeth Warren administration. . .

The problem for the president is that the agenda seemed as dated as the man promoting it. Promising public school teachers higher salaries will play well with an important Democratic voting bloc, but it won’t endear him to the parents turned off by the way teachers’ unions helped keep so many schools needlessly closed during the pandemic.

The president’s delivery was characteristically uneven, and many viewers will remember his flubbed reference to Chuck Schumer as the “Senate minority leader.” Democrats who think the age issue shouldn’t matter, or won’t, are fooling themselves.

David French didn’t have an overall take, but faulted Biden for not spelling out more clearly the U.S.’s commitment to Ukraine:

Biden only got partway there. His key sentence, “We will stand with you as long as it takes,” was welcome but vague, and in a speech that got specific enough on domestic policy to discuss even resort fees at hotels, we needed more, including a clear commitment to provide the weapons and training that will enable Russian defeat. Putin received a strong message tonight, but it needed to be stronger, appear sooner and leave him no doubt about our intentions and capabilities.

*The Washington Post did “Fact checking President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address“, and while Joe got a few of his optimistic assertions correct, I was surprised at how many were wrong. Here’s one of his inapt comparisons:

“Pass my proposal for a billionaire minimum tax. … Because no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher or a firefighter.”

Biden is comparing apples and oranges. The “lower tax rate” refers to a 2021 White House study concluding that the 400 wealthiest taxpayers paid an effective tax rate of 8 percent. But that estimate included unrealized gains in the income calculation. That’s not how the tax laws work currently. People are taxed on capital gains when they sell their stocks or other assets. So this is only a figure for a hypothetical tax system.

According to IRS data on the top 0.001% — 1,475 taxpayers with at least $77 million in adjusted gross income in 2020 — the average tax rate was 23.7 percent. The top 1 percent of taxpayers (income of at least $548,000) paid nearly 26 percent.

As for less-wealthy Americans, few, such as schoolteachers or firefighters, pay even the lowest rate of 10 percent because of deductions, exemptions and the like. According to the Tax Policy Center, about 60 percent of all tax returns are filed by those with income under $50,000 — and about half of those pay no income tax at all; 22 percent paid an effective tax rate of less than 5 percent and another 22 percent paid less than 10 percent.

Among taxpayers with income between $50,000 and $100,000, about 60 percent paid an effective tax rate below 10 percent.

The average Joe and Jill (oy! I made those up but it’s also the President and First Lady!) wouldn’t know squat about those rates, and neither do I.

*The Church of England is considering changing God’s pronouns. Although one would think that God’s sex could be seen in either Hebrew or Greek, which surely have different nouns for men and women, God may be Beyond Sex. Ergo, as the Guardian reports, a commission has been convened to decide the issue. (h/t Jez)

The Church of England is considering whether to stop referring to God as “he”, after priests asked to be allowed to use gender-neutral terms instead.

The church said it would launch a new commission on the matter in the spring. Any potential alterations, which would mark a departure from traditional teachings dating back millennia, would have to be approved by synod, the Church’s decision-making body.

The Rt Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield and vice-chair of the liturgical commission responsible for the matter, said the church had been “exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years”.

“After some dialogue between the two commissions in this area, a new joint project on gendered language will begin this spring,” he said. “In common with other potential changes to authorised liturgical provision, changing the wording and number of authorised forms of absolution would require a full synodical process for approval.”

This next sentence is hilarious:

The specifics of the project are as yet unclear.

I wonder what gender words they would use for God (“zhe”? “hir”?) And “God the father” would have to go.  Here’s the Church of England’s defense:

A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “This is nothing new. Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship.

“There has been greater interest in exploring new language since the introduction of our current forms of service in contemporary language more than 20 years ago.

“There are absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorised liturgies, and no such changes could be made without extensive legislation.”

Although of course I don’t believe in God, I could make a good case that God was a male. After all, Jesus was both God and his son, and only a male could have fathered any child, much less a son, which would have had to have the Y chromosome that God carried when He/She/It/Hir impregnated Mary. Therefore, God had a Y chromosome and that means he was male. I’m surprised the Anglicans aren’t even considering the genetic angle. Also, of course, Jesus was part man, part God, and according to scripture he was a male, at least in appearance.

*The NYT reports that fossils have been found of the heaviest penguin that ever lived, and it was a big ‘un! As you probably know, many birds evolved flightlessness in New Zealand (and on oceanic islands), as there were hardly any predators and thus little need to fly. The large flightless moas are now extinct, killed off by early Mãori, but the flightless parrots, the kakapo, remain sequested on a predator-free island. Now I don’t know if the flying ancestors of penguins lost their ability to fly in New Zealand, but I’m sure at least a few readers here know. From the article:

New Zealand has been a haven for earthbound birds for eons. The absence of terrestrial predators allowed flightless parrotskiwis and moas to thrive. Now researchers are adding two prehistoric penguins to this grounded aviary. One species is a beefy behemoth that waddled along the New Zealand coastline nearly 60 million years ago. At almost 350 pounds, it weighed as much as an adult gorilla and is the heaviest penguin known to science.

Alan Tennyson, a paleontologist at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, discovered the supersize seabird’s bones in 2017. They were deposited on a beach known for large, cannonball-shaped concretions called the Moeraki Boulders. The churn of the tide cracked open several of these 57-million-year-old boulders, revealing bits of fossilized bones inside.

Dr. Tennyson and his colleagues identified the fossilized remains of two large penguins. The humerus of one, at more than nine and a half inches long, was nearly twice the size of those found in emperor penguins, the largest living penguin. Other boulders yielded bones from a smaller, more complete penguin species that also appeared to be larger than a modern emperor penguin.

The researchers described the ancient birds Wednesday in the Journal of Paleontology. They named the larger penguin Kumimanu (a mash-up of the Maori words for “monster” and “bird”) fordycei and named the smaller penguin Petradyptes (“rock diver”) stonehousei.

. . . By creating 3-D models of Kumimanu’s humongous humerus and comparing its size and shape with the flipper bones of prehistoric and modern penguins, the researchers estimate that the “monster bird” weighed a whopping 340 pounds — 15 pounds heavier than Lane Johnson, the right tackle anchoring the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line in the Super Bowl.

Here’s the illustration of the two fossil penguins (left and center) compared to the biggest penguin alive, the Emperor (right). Caption from the NYT:

A skeletal sketch comparing, from left, Kumimanu, Petradyptes, the two new fossil penguins, and an emperor penguin.Credit: Simone Giovanardi

*The Wall Street Journal reports how Texas Tech University in Lubbock TX (birthplace of Buddy Holly) has used DEI statements as explicit criteria for faculty in biology. And thanks to the acquisition of hiring documents (presumably via the FOI Act), we can see how people are judged on their conversity about diversity. I urge you to look at the link below.

At Texas Tech University, a candidate for a faculty job in the department of biological sciences was flagged by the department’s search committee for not knowing the difference between “equality” and “equity.” Another was flagged for his repeated use of the pronoun “he” when referring to professors. Still another was praised for having made a “land acknowledgment” during the interview process. A land acknowledgment is a statement noting that Native Americans once lived in what is now the United States.

Amidst the explosion of university diversity, equity and inclusion policies, Texas Tech’s biology department adopted its own DEI motion promising to “require and strongly weight a diversity statement from all candidates.” These short, written declarations are meant to summarize an academic job seeker’s past and potential contributions to DEI efforts on campus.

The biology department’s motion mandates that every search committee issue a report on its diversity statement evaluations. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, I have acquired the evaluations of more than a dozen job candidates.

To my knowledge, these documents—published in redacted form by the National Association of Scholars—are the first evaluations of prospective faculty DEI contributions to be made publicly available. They confirm what critics of DEI statements have long argued: That they inevitably act as ideological litmus tests.

One Texas Tech search committee penalized a candidate for espousing race-neutrality in teaching. The candidate “mentioned that DEI is not an issue because he respects his students and treats them equally,” the evaluation notes. “This indicates a lack of understanding of equity and inclusion issues.”

Another search committee flagged a candidate for failing to properly understand “the difference between equity and equality, even on re-direct,” noting that this suggests a “rather superficial understanding of DEI more generally.” This distinction arises frequently in DEI training, always as a markedly ideological talking point. According to the schema, equality means equal opportunity, but, to use the words of Vice President Kamala Harris, “Equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.” Somehow, failing to explain that distinction reflects poorly on a biologist.

Texas Tech is a state school, and it’s illegal to force people to adhere to certain kinds of compelled speech to be hired. Getting rid of compulsory DEI statements as a way to vet candidates is ripe for a lawsuit. That will happen, but finding someone to sue who has “standing” (i.e., has been harmed by this procedure) will be difficult.

FLASH NEWS UPDATE: After the bad publicity, Texas Tech, according to a tweet by Christoper Rufo, has suspended this DEI policy. Hallelujah! Here’s there announcement:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili scared her nemesis Kulka off the windowsill:

Hili: I gave her a lesson.
A: How?
Hili: I hissed at her from the window and now she has escaped onto the roof of the verandah..
In Polish:
Hili: Dałam jej lekcję.
Ja: Jak?
Hili: Syczałam na nią zza szyby i teraz ucieka na dach werandy.

And four more pictures by Paulina of Kulka romping in the snow:


From Jesus of the Day:


From Malcolm: a Facebook meme:

From Science Humor, and yes, this is a real photo illustrating the Wikipedia article.  The cat doesn’t look too happy.

God has stopped speaking at Mastodon. I wonder if that’s a bad sign.

But. . . Titania has tweeted again! See above for more information:

Retweeted by Masih, and from the son of the late Shah who is now a leader of opposition to Iran’s theocracy:


From Malcolm: AI tells us that AI is not a threat!

From Barry, showing great camouflage of an owl:

From Simon, a tweet by the narcissistic Larry the Cat, whose in his 12th year as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. Sound up.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: A 46 year old Czech man died. He was Jewish, of course.

Tweets from Matthew, who says wait for the end on this first one:

Here’s a Fun Fact:

And even more fun facts!

68 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1895 – William G. Morgan creates a game called Mintonette, which soon comes to be referred to as volleyball.

    1942 – Year-round Daylight saving time (aka War Time) is reinstated in the United States as a wartime measure to help conserve energy resources.

    1945 – World War II: Battle of the Atlantic: HMS Venturer sinks U-864 off the coast of Fedje, Norway, in a rare instance of submarine-to-submarine combat.

    1964 – The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing before a record-setting audience of 73 million viewers across the United States.

    1986 – Halley’s Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System.

    1996 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army declares the end to its 18-month ceasefire and explodes a large bomb in London’s Canary Wharf, killing two people.

    1996 – Copernicium is discovered, by Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov et al.

    2021 – Second impeachment trial of Donald Trump began.

    1737 – Thomas Paine, English-American philosopher, author, and activist (d. 1809).

    1854 – Aletta Jacobs, Dutch physician and suffrage activist (d. 1929).

    1865 – Mrs. Patrick Campbell, English-French actress (d. 1940).

    1909 – Carmen Miranda, Portuguese-Brazilian actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1955).

    1922 – Jim Laker, English international cricketer and broadcaster; holder of world record for most wickets taken in a match (d. 1986).

    1940 – J. M. Coetzee, South African-Australian novelist, essayist, and linguist, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1942 – Carole King, American singer-songwriter and pianist.

    1955 – Jimmy Pursey, English singer-songwriter and producer.

    1963 – Brian Greene, American physicist.

    Stiff as a board:
    1881 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and philosopher (b. 1821).

    1981 – Bill Haley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1925).

    1984 – Yuri Andropov, Russian lawyer and politician (b. 1914).

    2007 – Ian Richardson, Scottish actor (b. 1934).

    2021 – Chick Corea, American jazz composer (b. 1941).

    1. “1996 – Copernicium is discovered, by Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov et al.”

      I appreciate these, and enjoy them BUT if I may nitpick:

      The evidence of the element now known as Copernicium was discovered / published. It was named at a later date, possibly, possibly in a publication.

    2. Thanks Jez. Regarding 1986 Halley’s Comet: i wonder how they determine the day of last appearance in inner solar system as different size telescopes and dark sky conditions give different viewing results. I was very interested in science and astronomy as a child and in the 1950’s first saw pictures ofHalley’s 1910 appearance. I could hardly wait until 1986 for its predicted next appearance. So the night that I first saw it as a smudge in my little 4inch rich field reflector, i was bubbling with excitement. Which lasted about 30 minutes until an incredibly bright bolide exploded overhead with sparks of yellow, green, red, and blue just as I was packing up the telescope to head back to the house. After thirty years of anticipation, seeing Halley was the second most exciting thing to happen that night!

        1. Ah perihelion….yes, that is an objective (pardon my modern epistemology) unique point in space. Thanks Coel.

      1. i wonder how they determine the day of last appearance in inner solar system as different size telescopes and dark sky conditions give different viewing results.

        It also depends pretty strongly on what you define as the “Inner” or “Outer Solar system. You could make perfectly good arguments for a dividing line at Jupiter’s orbit (most massive planet), but that would have bad implications for other stellar systems, particularly those with “Hot Jupiters”. Or for the “line in the sand” to be at the asteroid belt (but that is upwards of 1AU in range, over a third of the value ; pick a number). Or maybe at Mars – but if Mars, why not Earth? You could pick the “water line” where the temperature of a small body’s surface would melt water from ice (though in practicality, it would sublime on negligible time scales unless you have some other source of confining pressure) … which would put Earth in the “Outer Solar system”.
        It’s an arbitrary number.

    3. Interestingly, Yuri’s brother Pikup started the world’s first taxi cab service in Russia.

      It is said that the English Earl Lee named Pikup his personal chauffeur when on visits in the very tiny neighborhood of Layt, just outside Moscow.

      That was the case until a fellow known as Big Tip came to town and just took over the whole operation. Hasn’t been the same since.

  2. It occurred to me on reflection, that while it seems weird, perhaps the three headed god of christianity should be referred to as “they” rather than “he”, since there are the three of them. Might get us past the fantasy of christianity as a monotheistic religion.

    1. An easier way to solve the God (he, she, it) problem is for the
      theologians to declare (him, her, it) as having undergone treatment
      and is now.trans-gendered.

  3. A land acknowledgment is a statement noting that Native Americans once lived in what is now the United States.

    Lovely piece of snark, but I would be more specific. A land acknowledgement is a statement noting that native Americans once lived on a plot of land that the current owner has no intention of giving back.

    1. Exactly. I’m far too much of a coward, but I’ve wanted to say to people who makes such acknowledgements “so, when exactly are you giving back your property to the former inhabitants and fucking off back to Europe then?”

      1. Don’t worry. That’s the ultimate goal of decolonization. The colonizer packs up and sails home. If you are not on board with your institution’s decolonization commitment you are a racist guilty of wrongthink and will be cancelled. You can be opposed on principle to affirmative action and slavery reparations, even from the sincere belief that they don’t/won’t make black people better off. But you cannot speak against decolonization if you are dependent on someone for a paycheque who thinks otherwise.

        1. I suppose I’d have to be parted out, chunks of me sent to Scotland and England, a bit to Wales, a little morsel to Germany, France, Ireland, maybe a pinkie finger to Sweden, the other to Denmark, maybe a joint of ring finger to Norway, a bit of toe to Togo and Benin, and what’s left can stay in the areas formerly inhabited by the Cherokee.when all your ancestors, sorry, vile colonizers have been in North America as early as the 1620’s but no later than 1806, things get a bit muddled up. But then I’ve long thought that that best way to defeat racism is wild sex with everyone that comes along. Worked for my family.

  4. CofE degendering G*d is going to play hob with many, many things. I have no stake in this game (raised in it, but left as soon as my mother could no longer drag me) but I do wonder what will happen to the many references that are gendered. Is the Lord’s Prayer to become: “Our parental unit in heaven, hallowed be your”….?

    1. Yeah. I finally just turned auto correct off last week after it just made too many of my emails unintelligible…what with my mistakes due to arthritic fingers, use of acronyms, and general hurried typing on flat panel ipad or tiny iphone keyboards. Now, as in the olden days, I just proof read what i have typed and then correct (most of) my mistakes.

      1. When I first got a tablet, I used a wrap-around after-market case for it which incorporated a USB-connected keyboard with it’s own intrinsic battery. Which worked reasonably well, until it died. Cheap, low build quality. I didn’t replace it (because I found the tablet so limiting compared to a laptop, into which I could plug a copy of my main data storage), but I’m sure there are better built ones out there. If I went back to using a tablet, I’d certainly look back into the cost of such accessories.

  5. On the AI thing, maybe don’t listen to random people you’ve never heard of in videos on twitter. On the other hand, keep an eye out for the AI video “To Serve Man.”

    1. The full sentence is actually fun, so I repeat it verbatim:

      “I’m surprised the Anglicans aren’t even considering the genetic angle.”

      The Anglican angle! It’s obtuse, I believe.

    2. I’m a little surprised that anyone up for a faculty job couldn’t do a better job of faking it. I know the difference between equity and equality, even if I find the former concept vile. And I would know better than to say that DEI is not an issue for me because I treat my students equally, even if it’s true.

  6. I have a possible solution as to how to stop colleges from using DEI as a component of the hiring of faculty in the STEM fields. This solution may be off the wall, but I think it should be considered. Namely, I think a student could sue the school for committing fraud. Here’s why I think this.

    When students sign up for a course they are entering into an implicit contract with the school. For a fee (tuition) the school agrees to provide the student with an education in the course subject matter. I think also implicit in the contract is that the school agrees to provide students with the highest quality education possible. If it can be shown that a faculty member is hired and assigned to teach certain classes and that person was hired with qualifications inferior to someone else then the school is committing fraud. The school would be purposely denying students the best education possible. As opposed to the social sciences and humanities, I think it would be difficult for a school to make the argument that a faculty member hired because of DEI inherently brings some advantage to teaching a STEM course as opposed to another otherwise highly qualified person that has no background in promoting DEI. In the words, the DEI debate has focused on what is best for the school (diversity) as opposed to what is best for the students that are financing to a large extent the functioning of the school.

    Again, I am not a lawyer, but I wonder if my argument has any substance. What do you think, Ken K.?

  7. Prediction: Chris Rufo, supposed defender of free speech (and who I happen to agree with on the Texas Tech stuff), will use his new position at the New University in Florida to try to override faculty in hiring choices, priorities, etc. He used to work for the “Discovery” Institute, by the way…he probably wouldn’t mind a creationist in the bio department. I hope I’m wrong.



    1. Here’s the longest sentence I can think of using only my left hand (sans punctuation).

      Abracadabra a great garage cat eats fat rats

  8. Good news at Texas Tech. Keep pushing back against the DEI apparatchiks. Forcing speech conformity through intimidation is not a good look for colleges and universities.

  9. God should always have been considered an “It,” since male and female are reproductive categories and it makes no sense to apply “He” or “She” to something that doesn’t sexually reproduce. It should be obvious. It doesn’t even have a body, let alone gametes or reproductive organs.

    However, removing God from the concept of manhood or womanhood is only reasonable if we couple the concepts of man and woman to sex. Religious thinking couples them to gender —an irreducible essence of being a man or being a woman which is unconnected to the fleshly body. Back in the days I frequented religious debate chat rooms, I used to argue this point with Christians.

    What makes God a “He?” I’d ask, pointing out Its lack of reproductive pathways. Answer: it was the way God thought and acted, the leadership role of authority and competence in so many areas. You know — gender, not sex. Being a man isn’t really a reproductive category. It’s mental, embodying fundamental masculine manly virtues like creativity, courage, and dominance. In contrast to the feminine gender of woman, which is submissive.

    I look back on those conversations today and marvel at them. I asked people to describe what the “male gender” was like …and they did. Gender may be one of the few areas where the religious are more clear and open than their secular counterparts.

    1. “God should should have always been considered an It…”

      Yes, a terrible, violent, bloodthirsty clown that gleefully murders children. The gospel according to Stephen: God is Pennywise.

      1. I guess the test, (for God, not you Jerry and Sastra), would be if God has a body design that allows God to make large gametes, small gametes, or no gametes. Note that for God to be an “it”, “it” could not be merely a damaged or malformed individual (like animals born without functioning sex organs) but the normal “type” form, say like an amoeba that never gametophizes. (Note that malaria parasites — amoebas all — do make gametes! Sex gets in everywhere.) But since a monotheistic God is unique, we immediately run into a contradiction.

        If gametic analysis cannot disclose the sex, then we go with phenotypic appearance to determine what sex role fits best. Since God is always depicted with a beard — no razors in heaven?, like “no bras in space” for Princess Leia — then I suppose God can identify as male without cavil. The propensity to smite suggests testosterone and upper-body strength in there, too.

        Given that until the human ovum was first seen and the connection made with what’s in the ovaries and the microscopic events that happen when it and semen get together, the details of how anyone was impregnated were, “well, lacking.” It seemed obvious that semen had the most to do with it*, the woman being merely the nurturing ploughed field in which the seed was deposited, which must have made Mary’s semenless appearance “with child” all the more astounding than it would be today where seemingly anything can happen.

        Jerry, as an aside, I’ve just finished reading Reich’s Who We Are and How We Got Here at the suggestion of one of your readers. Would I be correct in saying that the construct validity of the “large gametes = female” rule comes from mitochondrial DNA transmitted exclusively down the large-gamete line, along with possibly other cytoplasmic elements that the small gamete cannot bring to the table?
        * Yet this didn’t let women escape the blame for consistent failures to produce male heirs, viz., H. Tudor VIII v. His Holiness the Pope Clement, 1534 and Tudor v. Boleyn, 1536

      2. You are a member of a species that reproduces sexually and thus have a sex, regardless of whether you’ve reproduced.

        God didn’t evolve, has no complementary opposite sex, is without body, and apparently creates through a form of Psychokinesis driven by the Power of His Will.

        Details are lacking because … well … it’s a POWER of the WILL. It just is. Components are for natural things.

  10. I still haven’t watched the State of the Union address …

    If you do get around to watching the SOTU address, be sure to catch the response offered on behalf of Christian Nationalism the Republican Party by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    Having the official Republican response delivered by the Trump administration’s longest-serving press secretary and chief apologist doesn’t really bespeak a desire by the GOP to tell the Donald, “We’re just not that into you anymore.”

    1. People are being forced to kneel before the flag of Wokeness! (Is she referring to the rainbow flag?) And who are these false idols the Woke are making people bow to? Kendi? Biden? Pelosi? Transgender folk? Ever since Trump, the GOP has been wallowing in “American carnage” tropes. And I love the irony of SHS saying that the GOP is normal, and the Dems are crazy; this after (presumably) witnessing Marjorie Q and friends’ unhinged outbursts at the SOTU. And Trump, the head of her party, is exhibit A when it comes to living in crazy-land. And is congressmen Santos an example of “normal” in the GOP?

      It can’t be stated enough. The new GOP is not interested in governing or helping the average person; they are only interested in making the rich richer, creating division through Culture Wars and keeping their base frothing at the mouth.

    2. Ok, that’s a simple synopsis. What I can say for sure is that her message – choice between ‘normal and crazy’… daughter confused by ‘pronoun designations’ that don’t even make sense to adults… deterioration of American values to culturally woke… political correctness that has seeped into our nation’s most established institution… radical leftist ideology serves only to divide our citizen… decimate the value of families, brainwash our children – should be examined, and not swiped away. And I’m intrigued by her bold education plan too. Is it perfectly righteous? Doubtful. But child education is a big clusterxxx now, so why not go bold?

      1. You think Trump’s main spokes liar, the daughter of a preacher-cum-politician, and graduate of Ouachita Baptist U in Arkadelphia, AR is a wise choice to set policy regarding the education of America’s youth, Bubba? 🙂

        Were she to have her way, there’d be prayer back in public-school classrooms and creationism taught as an alternative to evolution. I’m sure she’d get down to some serious book-banning that would make even Ron DeSantis blush.

  11. The BBC is reporting 19,300 dead so far in Turkey and Syria. Looking at the before and after photos, it’s almost beyond belief that anyone survived. Just looking at the LastQuake app on my phone, there’s been over 400 quakes and aftershocks 3.0 and higher in the last four days. Obviously, those in the 3.0-4.0 and thereabouts aren’t terribly dangerous under normal circumstances, but with seriously destabilized structures, and not to mention the fear and panic that each jolt must cause…seems unreal.

  12. Michelle Goldberg writes, “This week I wrote that Biden shouldn’t run again because he often shows the toll of his 80 years. If he always sounded as he did on Tuesday night, I’d change my mind.”

    Since when does the ability to read from a teleprompter qualify a person for the presidency? Let’s see how he does without a script or with an interviewer that isn’t of his own party.

  13. “Because no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher or a firefighter.”

    Biden, Politico, ProPublica and others believe that if they say it often enough it must be true…

    Here are some real facts about taxes from the Tax Foundation…

    The top 1% of all taxpayers share of federal individual income taxes paid is 40%

    The top 5% share of federal individual income taxes paid is 60%.

    The bottom 50% share of federal individual income taxes paid is 3.5%.

    The top 50% of all taxpayers paid 97% of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50% paid the remaining 3%.

    The top 1% paid a greater share of individual income taxes (39%) than the bottom 90% combined (29%).

    The top 1% of taxpayers paid a 26% average individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50% (3.5%).

    1. I’d add that much of the tax taken from those high-income earners goes to provide benefits, cash and in-kind, to the lowest quintile and, to a lesser extent, the next quintile up. (By “in-kind” I don’t mean public goods like roads and national defence that everyone uses collectively, I mean services provided for individual consumption free or with large subsidy, like free lunches and health care the providers of which expect to be paid. Energy may well slip into a subsidy mode because wind and solar are uneconomic when the cost of intermittency is factored in unless heavily subsidized though taxes (or debt for which the interest will be paid by high-income taxpayers.) Watch this coming through the Green New De… er, Inflation Reduction Act, as it already has in the UK.

      Anyone who professes an opinion or a claim to vote about the tax code in any country needs to know this stuff cold. But of course they don’t, mostly. If all one’s income comes from a salary or a defined-benefit pension plan that someone else has to take responsibility for, I can see the incentive to just throw up one’s hands and say you don’t understand the numbers but the rich must still be getting a free ride. But people who invest money and sweat equity or who worry about capital flight make it their business to know this stuff. The dishonesty of saying that unrealized capital gains represent income that ought to be taxed is breathtaking.

      As a foreigner, I am impressed at how much America is indeed able to do with the taxes you do collect at such modest tax rates and a highly progressive tax system that gives most of the population a free ride. (I realize that some states collect their own income taxes. All Canadian provinces do, and they add about half to two-thirds the federal rate on top at each bracket.) I guess it helps to have some staggeringly awesomely rich people and a tax code that requires U.S. citizens to pay tax to Uncle Sam on world income even if they live abroad. And being the world’s reserve currency insulates you from the worst consequences of sovereign debt. Until it doesn’t.

    2. ???
      Are you perhaps confusing “rate” with “absolute amount”?
      Your numbers merely show the extent of wealth disparity and why we should implement a wealth tax to supplant some sales and income taxes.

      1. I have a theory, which is mine, that allowing billionaires to exist in a society is a corrosive force in said society. When America’s middle-class was the healthiest, there were no billionaires as the tax rate wouldn’t allow it. That was smart fiscal policy.

        1. That is an empirically testable proposition that high tax rates made it impossible to amass wealth. The counterfactual is: No one who is seriously ambitious to become rich allows a minor detail like the marginal tax rate on last dollar of taxable income to stand in his way. And did not do so at any point in America’s history.

          The much ballyhooed 91% top marginal tax rate of yesteryear applied, like the rest of the tax brackets, to ordinary wage and salary income only. Anyone earning enough to hit over 50%, never mind 91%, would be earning profits, dividends, and capital gains which were not taxed at anything close to 91%. I looked it up when this last came up in these pages but I’m recalling something like 0-10% flat rate. There are many other ways for business owners to defer tax on earnings which they pay personal tax on only when they take the money out. A tax deferred is a tax saved.

          My theory is that this brief (by historical standards) period where unskilled men could earn a middle-class income complete with health insurance from putting nuts on bolts was due to rents extracted by organized labour unions in manufacturing and transport industries. The consequently more expensive products could be sold to Americans behind tariff and regulatory walls. A high dollar made imported oil cheap -> big V-8 sedans. (The domestic market was so big there was no need to sell abroad, still isn’t.) Exposure to cheaper imports of better quality kicked the legs out from under organized private-sector labour, but at least service workers in the non-union jobs that replaced them could afford smart phones and cheap flights to the Caribbean. Factory workers in the 1960s struggled to afford a colour TV and a family camping trip to Yellowstone. So there is that.

          Income inequality may or may not be a good thing. I don’t know. One downside of reducing it is if the top quintile earns less money, the tax bite will have to come farther down the pyramid into the second quintile, as it does in egalitarian Canada. The have-nots don’t care who pays the taxes as long as they get their free stuff, so you have to redistribute the same amount of money as before to buy social peace. You can’t have an egalitarian income distribution and a highly progressive tax system in the same economy. There aren’t then enough billionaires for that to work. And that’s assuming that the economy generates as much money over-all under an egalitarian system as it did under a winner-take-all system for you to tax it in the first place.

          1. “Income inequality may or may not be a good thing.”
            Really? In what society in the history of the world has it ever been proven to be a good thing? Unless we consider revolution as being a good thing. I don’t.

            And what in my 3 sentence “theory” made you think that high tax rates made it impossible to amass wealth in this country?

            I guess what you’re really saying is humans are corrupt, self-serving, dishonest miscreants and there’s really nothing we can do about it, so let the “Have’s” do what they will. So sorry about the “have-nots” as they aren’t ambitious or conniving enough to get ahead. Seems a bit Hobbesian to me. Nothing wrong with that, I’m just not a fan.

            1. And what in my 3 sentence “theory” made you think that high tax rates made it impossible to amass wealth in this country?

              “there were no billionaires as the tax rate wouldn’t allow it.”

              What I’m saying is what Adam Smith says. We count on the baker to bake our bread and the butcher to prepare our meat not out of the goodness of his heart or that he owes us the obligation but because through attending to his self-interest he looks after ours.

              I’m sorry that you think successful people are corrupt and dishonest. That is a dystopian un-American view. Hobbes saw the creation of the state as a way of avoiding the all against all that you fear. The state should have a monopoly on the lawful use of violence.

              The have-nots will not revolt just because incomes are unequal They will revolt only if you starve them. You are absolutely not doing that. And you shouldn’t. A large underclass of unemployable young men is trouble everywhere in the world. You do have to buy their docility, either directly with cash or by letting them prey on their fellows. And to do that you need lots of tax money. If not from the rich, then from you.

              But I am not the first foreigner to observe that by filling their heads with race you deflect them from the class struggle. Smart move.

      2. JA, I’m unsure if your comment is related to my post or Leslie’s but I’ll respond.

        My post does not confuse rates with absolute amounts. It intentionally focuses on rates partly because it responds to people who say the wealthy do not pay their fair share. Well, currently the top 5% pay 60% of federal taxes. If 60% is not fair, what percentage do you propose? 95%? If not 95%, why not?

        Regarding absolute amounts, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $723 billion in income taxes while the bottom 90 percent paid $450 billion.

        WRT a wealth tax, over a dozen European countries have tried it and nearly all have abandoned it. The exceedingly high administrative costs could not justify the revenue it generated after a combination of clever asset management, flight abroad and intense lobbying for exemptions.

    1. How can god be “it” when nobody has been able to see him, much less tag him?! He’s even better than Bigfoot at playing hide-and-seek.

  14. I’m a little surprised that anyone up for a faculty job couldn’t do a better job of faking it. I know the difference between equity and equality, even if I find the former concept vile. And I would know better than to say that DEI is not an issue for me because I treat my students equally, even if it’s true.

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