CaturSaturday, February 25, 2023, shabbos for all Jewish cats and also National Chocolate Covered Peanut Day. (Do M&Ms count?). Peanuts are drenched in creamy milk chocolate, then covered with a thin candy shell.
It’s also National Clam Chowder Day (not kosher), International Tongue Twisters Contest Day (again?), Let’s All Eat Right Day, and Quiet Day. If you do have clam chowdah, make sure it’s New England style.
You can find a huge list of international tongue twisters here; they are sorted by language. Here’s my entry—in Polish (a language that twists the tongues of all English speakers):
Z rozentuzjazmowanego tłumu wyindywidualizował się niezidentyfikowany prestidigitator, który wyimaginował sobie samounicestwienie.
Malgorzata’s translation: “From an enthusiastic crowd an unidentified prestidigitator individualized himself [MK: the Polish pretentious word means simply “emerged”, MK] who imagined his own self-annihilation.”
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 25 Wikipedia page.
*Yesterday was the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Zelensky proclaimed that if Ukraine’s Western allies remain united, and he gets enough weapons and ammo. Ukraine will beat Russia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine vowed on Friday that his country would defeat Russia, as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion prompted shows of solidarity from around the world and a mix of anxiety and resolve in Ukraine.
“We will be victorious,” Mr. Zelensky of Ukraine told reporters at a lengthy news conference in Kyiv. He said that Ukraine could win the war this year as long as its allies remain united “like a fist” and continue delivering weapons.
There will be no negotiations with Russia, Mr. Zelensky said, until Moscow stops bombing Ukrainian cities and killing Ukrainian people.
“Go ahead and stop doing all of that, and only after that we’ll tell you what form will be used to diplomatically put an end to it,” Mr. Zelensky told reporters, on a day when allies rallied around Ukraine with new pledges of weapons and shows of support.
Even as leaders in Ukraine and around the world commemorated the anniversary with ceremonies and speeches, the fighting continued much as it has for the past year.
The war has already done untold damage: Tens of thousands have been killed on both sides, millions of Ukrainians have been made homeless, and Ukraine has sustained tens of billions of dollars worth of damage that has left cities flattened and people around the country grappling with dark and cold.
But Ukrainians have also found strength in shared sacrifice, and hope in the setbacks their country’s forces have dealt Russia on the battlefield. Ukraine has largely stopped the offensives of its much larger and better-armed neighbor and has regained swaths of captured land, aided by the United States and its European allies, which have remained united, funneling billions of dollars of weapons to Kyiv.
I know Americans are tiring of the war, but I for one am willing to pay more taxes to buy more arms for Ukraine. Each has to make their own decision, but this is an unparalleled David and Goliath situation, and David just needs a better sling. Read Andrew Sullivan’s disturbing new piece about how the war is right and just but possibly imprudent—and could lead to catastrophe:
That’s why, I suppose, the chorus of support this past week in Washington — by almost the entire foreign policy Blob — had a slight air of desperation about it. Two Atlantic headlines blared the neocon message: a surreal piece arguing that “Biden Just Destroyed Putin’s Last Hope,” and “Biden Went to Kyiv Because There’s No Going Back.” Anne Applebaum says Biden’s trip is “putting everyone on notice, including the defense ministries and the defense industries, that the paradigm has shifted and the story has changed.” Europe is at war and there is no going back until Russia is defeated and has withdrawn from all of Ukraine. The off-ramps are being removed.
Which is a little bit concerning when the enemy has nukes. That’s why the US stood by when Soviet tanks went into Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War — a far greater incursion than a fifth of Ukraine. We held back not because it was right, but because the alternative could have been catastrophic. We can pray that nothing happens this time — but prayer is not that effective against a potentially desperate regime fighting for what it believes is its existential survival and for a leader who knows a loss would mean his possibly literal demise. In short: we’re objectively taking more of a risk now than we did for almost all of the Cold War, excepting October 1962, with far lower stakes. Has the nuclear equation changed that much since then?
. . . But the one thing I learned from all that, is that focusing on morality rather than prudence, and letting the former eclipse the latter entirely, can be a righteous and well-intentioned road to hell.
*Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary at The Free Press is called “TGIF: Dignity for Oompa Loompas“. Three items:
→ Georgia grand jury foreperson gone wild: The head juror for the special grand jury looking into Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results has gone rogue.She is Emily Kohrs, 30, a private citizen, a grand jury foreperson tasked with protecting elections, and as of this week a chatty new media darling.
To MSNBC: “I kind of wanted to subpoena the former president because I got to swear everybody in. And so I thought it’d be really cool to get 60 seconds with President Trump, of me looking at him and being like, ‘Do you solemnly swear?’ And me getting to swear him in.”
To CNN: “There may be some names on that list that you wouldn’t expect. But the big name that everyone keeps asking me about—I don’t think you will be shocked.”
Emily’s having fun! (And of course she’s into witchcraft.) Honestly, the grand jury foreperson’s main bias seems to be toward drama and chaos, and in that we salute her.
I don’t salute her, and neither do these CNN discussants (Nellie added the tweet):
“This was a horrible idea and I I guarantee you prosecutors are wincing”
Thank you, Emily Kohrs 😂
— Clayton Keirns (@CKeirns) February 22, 2023
Remember Angela Davis? I sure do—she was a big-time militant black radical during my own radical youth. So this is quite ironic:
→ Ancestry is complex: One-time Black Panther Angela Davis went onto the PBS show Finding Your Roots, where Henry Louis Gates Jr. does a deep dive into your ancestry. But then something strange happened: It turns out her ancestors arrived on the Mayflower. Now the gotcha here from the right is something like “Oh she’s a descendant of the Mayflower! Not so victimized, eh?” But actually it’s sort of a vindication of the 1619-mindset, in that the history of America and slavery is entwined from the start. It’s worth watching the clip just to see Davis’s face and the gravity of being tied genetically back to that ship. “No, my ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower. No, no no. That’s a little bit too much to deal with right now.”
Here’s the clip from Gates’s ancestry show. You can almost see Davis choking down what she really wants to say.
“Do you know what you’re looking at? That is a list of the passengers on the Mayflower.”
— Henry Louis Gates Jr (@HenryLouisGates) February 22, 2023
→ NPR cutting 10 percent of its staff: The public radio station—that is, in part, taxpayer funded—is losing money and needs to cut staff. I can’t point to an institution that has more fully failed its mission than NPR, which went from fulfilling a genuine public service with news and great stories (I’m thinking of early This American Life) to just another hyper-partisan maker of mush. Tote bags and mush.
*Up to now there have traditionally been four layers of Earth from the core to the crust. Not any more—they’ve discovered a fifth layer.
Back in my day, there were only four layers of Earth: the crust, mantle, liquid outer core and solid inner core. Now, scientists have revealed a new, distinct layer within our planet’s inner core, which could help inform the evolution of Earth’s magnetic field.
“Clearly, the innermost inner core has something different from the outer layer,” said Thanh-Son Pham, lead author of the study. “We think that the way the atoms are [packed] in these two regions are a slightly different.”
Researchers study the inner core to better understand Earth’s magnetic field, which protects us from harmful radiation in space and helps make life possible on our home planet. Geophysicists surmise the inner core could have formed less than a billion years ago, which is relatively young on a geologic time scale. The study authors explain the inner core grows outward by solidifying materials from the liquid outer core, releasing heat and creating convection currents. This convection generates Earth’s magnetic field.
So the core is a solid iron-and-nickel ball, but all around it is a coating of molten metal (mostly iron) at a very high temperature. Why does the middle not melt? I’m sure that’s a dumb question, and may have to do with the distribution of radioactivity, but some geologist please clear this up.
*Here’s a nefarious trick, and one that tells you NEVER LET OTHER PEOPLE WATCH YOU TAP YOUR PASSCODE INTO YOUR iPHONE!
. . . stories are piling up in police stations around the country. Using a remarkably low-tech trick, thieves watch iPhone owners tap their passcodes, then steal their targets’ phones—and their digital lives.
The thieves are exploiting a simple vulnerability in the software design of over one billion iPhones active globally. It centers on the passcode, the short string of numbers that grants access to a device; and passwords, generally longer alphanumeric combinations that serve as the logins for different accounts.
With only the iPhone and its passcode, an interloper can within seconds change the password associated with the iPhone owner’s Apple ID. This would lock the victim out of their account, which includes anything stored in iCloud. The thief can also often loot the phone’s financial apps since the passcode can unlock access to all the device’s stored passwords.
“Once you get into the phone, it’s like a treasure box,” said Alex Argiro, who investigated a high-profile theft ring as a New York Police Department detective before retiring last fall.
He said there have been hundreds of these sorts of crimes in the city in the past two years. “This is growing,” he said. “It is such an opportunistic crime. Everyone has financial apps.”
Yes, your passwords are in there, too. Now there are two ways to get your passcode: watch you enter it, which isn’t hard (I’ve seen people do it many times, but avert my eyes), or a thief can force you to hand over your passcode under threat. You can’t do much about the latter, but you can about the former. I rarely use my passcode because I’ve enabled image recognition on my iPhone 13, and it works really well. I use my passcode only when I have a mask on (the phone won’t recognize you) or you shut off and restart the phone, which requires the passcode. Never enter that code where somebody else can see it.
Here’s one way thieves do it:
Groups of two or three thieves would go to a bar and befriend victims, often asking them to open up Snapchat or some other social-media platform, said Sgt. Robert Illetschko, the lead investigator on the case. During that interaction they would try to observe the victim unlocking the iPhone with the passcode, he said. If they didn’t catch the passcode at first, they might have tried to get the victim to hand them the phone for a photo and then subtly turn it off before handing it back, he added. After an iPhone is restarted, a passcode is required to unlock it.
*Speaking of numbers, I wrote yesterday about the political wokeness of ChatGPT. But I have to retract my “J’Accuse” a bit, because I asked it a question about the number of sexes in humans, and, lo and behold, it said that there are ONLY TWO. SEX IS BINARY, it said! This is a viewpoint rejected and despised by progressives (even though it’s true), so now I get the frisson of saying that “Even a bot recognizes that humans have two sexes.”
Note, however, that the bot erred in noting that the diagnostic difference between the sexes are based on one trait: gamete size (which is, to be sure, nearly always correlated with reproductive anatomy and genetics). It also weasels when it says there are “typically” two sexes. “Typically”? But the last sentence implicitly notes that sex in humans, unlike gender, is binary.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili and Kulka are at odds again. I will see them soon—Szaron, too!
Hili: I’m ignoring her.A: Maybe rightly so, though I would prefer if you liked her.
Hili: Ignoruję ją.Ja: Może słusznie, chociaż wolałbym, żebyś ją polubiła.
From Now That’s Wild: capybara at the spa
From Jesus of the Day:
From Masih. Now here’s something intriguing. I wonder if they’re using a gas, or if this isn’t even an attack (I suspect it is). Be sure to expand the text:
For about three months, schoolgirls in different cities of Iran, especially in the city of Qom, have been facing symptoms of poisoning after inhaling a smell similar to the smell of fruit. Many of them were taken to the hospital.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 24, 2023
From Richard Dawkins, now in New Zealand for a couple of days. Given his issues with teaching Mataurangi Maori as science, there’s going to be big trouble:
Landed in Auckland. Looking forward to my conversation with Michael Goldwater (@mjgoldwater) at Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre tomorrow, 25 Feb, 7.30pm. I expect we will cover the controversy over science education in NZ.
Tickets here: https://t.co/MZlxGH6w5J
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) February 24, 2023
From Gravelinspector, a very old duck mosaic:
Ancient Greek word of the day:
νηττα, -ης f. (netta) = duck 🦆
Byzantine Mosaic of a Duck, c. 530 AD, from Taucheira Palace Church.
— Digital Maps of the Ancient World (@DigitalMapsAW) February 13, 2023
From Simon, who adds, “Will Dems go harder on crime before the next presidential election? I note that it’s a big issue in the Chicago mayoral race. Things like this might also provide a shove.” Craig votes as a Democrat, and represents Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional district:
“I got attacked by someone who the District of Columbia has not prosecuted fully over the course of almost a decade, over the course of 12 assaults before mine that morning”: @RepAngieCraig is calling for changes to prevent known criminals from targeting new victims. pic.twitter.com/Q391z6UBtA
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) February 14, 2023
From both Matthew and Dom. Matthew says, “I bet the poor mantis felt better.” Oy!
Hi so this is the horsehair worm, a host specific parasite for the praying mantis.
If this isn’t disgusting enough y’all should know that these worms affect their perception of horizontal light (think the light that’s reflected off water) which causes them to jump in and drown https://t.co/ji2Sy6lTjg
— brand new whipworm, just hopped in (@microsama_) February 24, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 12-year-old Jewish boy gassed upon arrival.
25 February 1931 | A German Jewish boy, Gert Wolfgang Schönfeld, was born in Berlin.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) February 25, 2023
Two more tweets from Matthew:
Look at this spider (identified in tweet). There are two pairs of eyes on its head horn, and its palps (the two in front) are very complex. Read more about it here.
Occasionally, a creature emerges from the leaf-litter that is so weird, if it were a reconstruction or a drawing, you'd think it was fabricated.
A male🕷️collected from a Charnwood woodland, Leicestershire: Walckenaeria acuminata. Check out his👀👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/41kd8Vg4n7
— Richard Wilson (@ecology_digest) February 6, 2023
Why didn’t Mayor Pete figure this out?
Norfolk-Southern releases never-before-seen footage of derailment probable cause… pic.twitter.com/IsSOzsRAus
— Can’t We All Get Along? (@Cats4Pete) February 23, 2023