Welcome to Cat shabbos: Saturday, February 18, 2023: It’s National “Drink Wine” Day, but why the scare quotes? Are we supposed to just pretend to drink wine?
It’s also Crab-stuffed Flounder Day, World Whale Day, Red Sock Day, World Pangolin Day, Wife’s Day (Konudagur) in Iceland, and “Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day“. This happened in 1930, and here’s the story:
On February 18, 1930, a Guernsey cow named Nellie Jay, who also was known as Elm Farm Ollie, flew from Bismarck, Missouri, on a Ford Trimotor plane, to the International Aviation Exhibition in St. Louis. Nellie Jay was chosen because she was a high milk producing cow, and because she had a calm nature. The trip was taken to show the ability of the aircraft, and to take scientific data about the cow’s behavior. Claude M. Sterling piloted the aircraft, while Elsworth W. Bunce of Wisconsin accompanied the cow, and was the first man to milk a cow in flight.
During the 72 mile flight, the milk that Nellie Jay gave was packaged in paper cartons. It was then parachuted to spectators who were watching the flight. Nellie Jay reportedly produced 24 quarts of milk during the flight, and it is even believed that Charles Lindbergh received one of the quarts at the Exhibition. Nellie Jay became known as the Sky Queen after the flight.
Below: Elm Farm Ollie and the plane (read more here):
And for the pangolins via Don Strong:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 18 Wikipedia page.
*Ho hum: another day, another mass shooting. This time six people were killed yesterday afternoon in Mississippi:
Authorities have not identified the victims, and the motive for the rampage remain unclear.
“That’s the million dollar question: Why? Why did this happen? What caused this to happen? We’re certainly working to get that,” Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance said. “We’ve never approached anything of this type of magnitude.”
The shootings occurred in Arkabutla, a rural community of about 300 in Tate County, about 45 miles south of Memphis.
This statement appeared in last night’s report, but is gone this morning:
“Please pray for the victims of this tragic violence and their families at this time,” Reeves continued.
This morning there is this one:
“We are 48 days into the year and our nation has already suffered at least 73 mass shootings,” Biden said in the statement. “Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.”
What a refreshing statement. What’s enough will be getting rid of the damn guns.
*Andrew Sullivan’s Weekly Dish piece, “The greatest scandal in gay rights history,” heaps praise on the NYT (see yesterday’s piece) for not caving into the “we’re harmed” mob who wrote a letter criticiizing the paper’s transgender coverage:
Readers know I’m often merciless about the NYT, but Joseph Kahn is a hero for the clarity of this. The writers under attack from their peers — Emily Bazelon, Ross Douthat, Katie Baker, and Azeen Ghorayshi — are among the best there are. Each of their pieces is fair, balanced, nuanced and deep. Defending them from these attacks on their integrity is the first and right thing for an editor to do. The next is to discipline those who’ve openly broken NYT policies in this latest tantrum. (The WaPo last year fired Felicia Sonmez for “misconduct that includes insubordination, maligning your co-workers online and violating The Post’s standards on workplace collegiality and inclusivity.”)
And Sully deems the GLAAD letter as without substance:
The point of the letter is not that the pieces had errors, but that they were published at all. They shouldn’t have run because opposition to affirmation-only transition for gender dysphoric children is entirely illegitimate, and the task of journalists who already know this is to suppress rather than describe the argument. As the sign at the protest outside the NYT blared: “The Science Is Settled,” as if science is ever “settled,” and as if journalism is about ignoring and censoring controversy, not reporting and airing it.
One more criticism of the letter. It uses the terrible history of the NYT on coverage of gay men and AIDS in the 20th century as equivalent to the reporting of Bazelon, Baker, et al, today. This is unhinged. Transgender people today are fully covered under the Civil Rights Act; in the 1980s, gays had nothing. In the 1980s and 1990s, the NYT opposed using the word “gay” because it legitimized homosexuality in some way; today the NYT prints “queer” or “trans” or LGBTQ+ in almost every other article.
. . . I no longer trust the medical establishment on this, let alone the trans activists. And neither should you. What you should want is the press to thoroughly report on this question, airing all sides, giving you all the data points they can. That’s what Emily Bazelon and Katie Baker did — with a skill perhaps only a fellow writer can appreciate. They should be given Pulitzers, not demonized by their peers.
Third, he calls our attention to an upcoming book, Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children:
And this attempt to suppress reporting on the subject comes at a very strange time. Next week, a new book will be published about the Tavistock Centre, the place responsible for the medical and psychological treatment of children with gender dysphoria in Britain. It’s written by a liberal female journalist, Hannah Barnes, of a flagship British documentary show, Newsnight.
Her book exposes a huge medical scandal, in which countless children were put on puberty blockers with almost no psychological evaluation, and with rates of autism and domestic abuse that were already through the roof. It shows what happened when the new affirmation-only puberty-blocker experiment, only begun in the late 1990s, was left to run its course, with no opposition and no dissent allowed. Check out an extract here. Here’s where I sat up straight:
He then gives a quote about the horrors of the Tavistock Clinic, but you can read for yourself.
*In the name of equity (“all must have prizes”), secondary schools are jettisoning honors and advanced-placement faster than crap goes through a goose. As the WSJ reports, The story begins with a Culver City (CA) high school eliminating honors English classes. Some parents objected.
The parental pushback in Culver City mirrors resistance that has taken place in Wisconsin, Rhode Island and elsewhere in California over the last year in response to schools stripping away the honors designation on some high school classes.
School districts doing away with honors classes argue students who don’t take those classes from a young age start to see themselves in a different tier, and come to think they aren’t capable of enrolling in Advanced Placement classes that help with college admissions. Black and Latino students are underrepresented in AP enrollment in the majority of states, according to the Education Trust, a nonprofit that studies equity in education.
This is one of the arguments used against putting students on “tracks”, which creates a hierarchy which creates ranking which creates bigotry. Yet it’s possible, as was true in my high school, to take a mixture of honors and regular classes depending on your abilities and interest. The article continues:
Since the start of this school year, freshmen and sophomores in Culver City have only been able to select one level of English class, known as College Prep, rather than the previous system in which anyone could opt into the honors class. School officials say the goal is to teach everyone with an equal level of rigor, one that encourages them to enroll in advanced classes in their final years of high school.
Of course an “equal level of rigor” translates into “a lower general level of rigor than before”, because you can’t let underpeforming students fail.
“Parents say academic excellence should not be experimented with for the sake of social justice,” said Quoc Tran, the superintendent of 6,900-student Culver City Unified School District. But, he said, “it was very jarring when teachers looked at their AP enrollment and realized Black and brown kids were not there. They felt obligated to do something.”
Culver City English teachers presented data at a board meeting last year showing Latino students made up 13% of those in 12th-grade Advanced Placement English, compared with 37% of the student body. Asian students were 34% of the advanced class, compared with 10% of students. Black students represented 14% of AP English, versus 15% of the student body.
This is the classic debate between equal opportunity versus equal outcomes. I stand for the former, but that’s no surprise. What say ye?
*Here are three bits from Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary at The Free Press, this week called: “TGIF: World turned upside down“:
→ Also in Oakland: A man charged with murdering three people saw his case pled down to just 15 years in prison. It’s a sign of how new progressive district attorney Pamela Price plans to handle violent crime. The judge apparently did not get the memo that there’s a new sheriff in town, and he was shocked: “I haven’t seen any remorse. I’m gonna need to get here, OK?” he said. “Because I have never seen a case pled down like this before.”
→ Do not cure blindness, you monster: Popular YouTuber MrBeast decided to get some content out of helping people. He paid for cataract surgery for a thousand blind or nearly blind people, and he recorded (with their permission) the joyful moment their vision cleared. Now, I think it’s gauche—charity should be done quietly. But I did not think curing blindness itself is controversial. And yet, in fact it is. Have you ever considered that people might want to stay blinded by cataracts? That assuming someone wants to see is ableist?
One Washington Post reporter tweeted (then deleted): “What truly needs curing is society’s view of disabled people.” Here’s TechCrunch: “MrBeast’s blindness video puts systemic ableism on display.” (I disagree with the argument, but it’s actually a lovely piece of writing by someone born quite prematurely and who has impaired vision.) There’s even a BuzzFeed story, which describes the “huge problem.” The problem: “MrBeast’s video seems to regard disability as something that needs to be solved. He doesn’t say in the video or in any of his subsequent public statements whether he consulted with the video’s subjects about how they felt to have their disability treated as a problem.”
I’ll make it fast: there is a movement that makes the word disabled into a broader cultural and social identity, one that includes people who would not have previously been considered disabled at all. And this group is against efforts to cure. So to be in the cool crowd: next time you meet a doctor who talks about curing blindness, throw your wine right at him. That monster.
→ The FBI infiltrated BLM to stir things up: The FBI reportedly got involved in Denver’s Black Lives Matter movement and worked to encourage naive young activists to get more violent, the better to score some arrests. From an Intercept story exposing this: the informant would meet with young BLM recruits in his apartment, where there’d be a table full of guns, and he’d push for escalation.
Lately, the FBI has been coded as progressive, part of the #resistance, its various square-jawed figureheads frequently appearing on MSNBC as the good guys to talk about how bad January 6 was, etc. So hopefully this is a nice reminder: the FBI is not your friend. The agency infiltrates any inconvenient American political movement, left or right, homes in on the dumbest, most malleable members, and encourages them to escalate just a tiny bit, just enough to get into criminal territory.
If you’re someone who is organizing a protest for some cause or another (honestly, nothing is too small for the FBI, so even if it’s to keep your local bookstore open, be aware), and a guy shows up with lots of time on his hands, a cool truck, cargo shorts, and a pile of guns—that, my friends, is a trap.
*The NYT discusses the controversy over standardized tests for law school admission, most often the LSAT but sometimes the GRE. The American Bar Association is arguing about the requirement for an LSAT, but both sides argue that their proposal will increase racial diversity:
A long and lawyerly debate is underway at the American Bar Association over a question that could have lasting consequences for diversity in legal education: Should taking the LSAT be mandatory for people applying to law school?
Today, law schools accredited by the bar association must require applicants to take a “valid and reliable” admission test — in most cases, students take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. The association is considering dropping that requirement, and letting each law school decide for itself whether tests are necessary.
Opponents and supporters of the change both make arguments on behalf of diversity — a sensitive subject in the field of law, which is disproportionately white. The arguments echo other debates over standardized testing at all levels of higher education, a practice that some see as an equalizer and others see as a barrier.
The anti-test faction sees the lower scores of black applicants as bar to diversity of lawyers (only 5% are black)
Proponents want to give law schools more flexibility in how they recruit and admit students, in the hope that doing so may make a dent in the profession’s relative lack of diversity.
Research by Aaron N. Taylor, the executive director of the Center for Legal Education Excellence at AccessLex, a nonprofit organization, suggests that use of the LSAT in admissions is one of the reasons that Black aspiring lawyers are accepted to law schools at lower rates than their white counterparts.
The pro-test faction not only wants a standardized measure to give a semi-objective way to rank applicants, but worries that the subjectivity of “holistic admissions” may itself count against minority applicants, as it has against Asian-Americans at Harvard:
Many opponents say they are open to change, but don’t want to rush. Without a standardized test, they say, law school student bodies could become even less diverse, because other criteria for deciding who to admit could turn out to be even more biased against applicants of color, as well as people from low-income families and first-generation college students.
Paulette Brown, a delegate and former member of the bar association’s council, who was also the first Black woman to serve as the association’s president, said she was undecided on the LSAT question until last week. At the Feb. 6 delegates’ meeting, she made a last-minute decision to speak against dropping the requirement.
“Every time I hear the word ‘flexibility,’ the hair goes up on my neck,” Ms. Brown said to the delegates. “Because when you talk about flexibility, that means subjectivity. And when you introduce subjectivity into any process, it provides too much opportunity for mischief.”
In other words, she said, unconscious bias could creep in. Like other opponents of the change, Ms. Brown argued that the association should wait and collect more data.
It seems to me that some standardized measure needs to be used so that there’s one factor that can’t be “subjective”, but what do I know—I’m no lawyer .
*The Oscar ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 12, beginning at 8 pm EST. Jimmy Kimmel will be the host: no danger that he’ll speak the truth like Ricky Gervais. The AP gives a list of channels where you can watch it, but it will be broadcast live on ABC, which is still free. Here are their hot tips:
WHAT’S NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE AT THE 2023 OSCARS?
The 10 movies competing for best picture are: “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Women Talking.” Here’s a guide to how you can watch them.
If there’s any justice in this world “Tár” will win (along with Cate Blanchett for best Actress), but I haven’t seen all of the movies. (I’ve seen most of them.) If injustice prevails, “Top Gun: Maverick,” or, god forbid, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” will win.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE SHOW?
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is yet to announce presenters. But it has said that winners to all categories will be announced live on the show. (Last year, some categories were taped in a pre-show, something that caused an uproar among academy members.) Nominees for best song are often performed, though nothing is confirmed yet. This year’s nominees include Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand,” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” and Kala Bhairava’s “Naatu Naatu,” from “RRR.”
WHO ARE THE FAVORITES?
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s indie sci-fi hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once” comes in with a leading 11 nominations.
That is totally ridiculous. It’s the one film I saw this year that I couldn’t watch to the end. (As always, judgments are subjective.)
Close on its heels, though, is the Irish friends-falling-out dark comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin,” with nine nods, a total matched by Netflix’s WWI film “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) may have a slight edge on Cate Blanchett (“Tár”) for best actress. Best actor is harder to call, with Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”), Colin Farrell (“Banshees”) and Austin Butler (“Elvis”) in the mix. In the supporting categories, Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) and Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) are the frontrunners. Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”) may win his third best director Oscar, though the Daniels could also pull off the upset.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has been reading. . .
Hili: to hide in the wardrobe or to face the adversities of fate?A: Ask Hamlet.
Hili: Schować się w szafie, czy stawić czoła przeciwieństwom losu?Ja: Zapytaj Hamleta.
From Ducks in Public:
From Stash Krod:
From Masih, yet one more courageous Iranian woman:
This is what bravery look like.
Iran I woman removed from the #IRI National Council For Engineering for not wearing hijab properly just removed her headscarf on stage.
She got applause for her act of civil disobedience. #IranRevoIution#MahsaAmini
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 17, 2023
This tweet by Andrew Sullivan in his weekly article: an emission by the odious Chase Strangio, an ACLU LAWYER in charge of LGBT+ affairs. Look how this man, full of hate, brands Rowling as an enabler of fascism! (Of course he can’t forget that’s she’s also white.) The fact that Strangio still has a job speaks very poorly for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Is this a photo of JRK or PP? White woman looking off into the distance while facilitating the rise of global fascism is so on brand. pic.twitter.com/ICr2gbH5Xr
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) February 16, 2023
From Malcolm. Is that a d*g I spy?
From Luana. Would you go to this doctor?
I will not stop repeating this:
Professionalism is a Trojan horse.
It is a vehicle used to deliver a sexist/homophobic/transphobic/racist/misogynistic/xenophobic etc. message.
— Blair Peters, MD (he/they) (@queersurgeon) January 16, 2023
A heartwarmer from Simon:
A cat was saved from under the rubble in Turkey. It now refuses to leave its rescuer's side. pic.twitter.com/Nveaxu3QrG
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 16, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial: dead at 42.
18 February 1902 | A Hungarian Jewish woman, Margita Hahn, was born in Budapest. From 1937 she lived in Prague.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 18, 2023
Tweets from Matthew Cobb. The first is a secret message from Putin:
Putin's feet during his meeting with Lukashenko.
Is this Morse code? pic.twitter.com/eRmvSBDQOn
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 17, 2023
This is hilarious:
In 2016, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly smuggled a full gorilla suit onboard the International Space Station but didn't tell anyone about it. Until one day, he decided to creep up on his fellow crew member pic.twitter.com/uop15g6bHW
— WTF Facts (@mrwtffacts) February 17, 2023
And a beautiful bug (yes, it’s a true bug, in the order Hemiptera):
Shield-backed Jewel #Bug (Poecilocoris rufigenis, Scutelleridae), intermediate colour formhttps://t.co/A9dJ4ncM0V#insect #China #Yunnan #Hemiptera #entomology #itchydogimages pic.twitter.com/KfgLm9lmUh
— John Horstman (@sinobug) February 17, 2023