Saturday: Hili dialogue

February 25, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to 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.

Da Nooz:

*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):

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.

→ 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.

In a new study released this week, a pair of seismologists at the Australian National University documented new evidence of a 400-mile thick solid metallic ball at the center of Earth’s inner core — like the smallest figurine of a massive, planetary Russian nesting doll set. The new layer consists of an iron-nickel alloy, like other parts of the core. But it has a different crystal structure that causes shock waves from earthquakes to reverberate through the layer at different speeds than the surrounding core, the study found.

“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.
In Polish:
Hili: Ignoruję ją.
Ja: Może słusznie, chociaż wolałbym, żebyś ją polubiła.



From Nicole:

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:

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:

From Gravelinspector, a very old duck mosaic:

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:

From both Matthew and Dom. Matthew says, “I bet the poor mantis felt better.” Oy!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 12-year-old Jewish boy gassed upon arrival.

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.

Why didn’t Mayor Pete figure this out?

50 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1836 – Samuel Colt is granted a United States patent for his revolver firearm.

    1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, is sworn into the United States Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in Congress.

    1932 – Hitler, having been stateless for seven years, obtains German citizenship when he is appointed a Brunswick state official by Dietrich Klagges, a fellow Nazi. As a result, Hitler is able to run for Reichspräsident in the 1932 election.

    1939 – As part of British air raid precautions, the first of 2 1⁄2 million Anderson shelters is constructed in a garden in Islington, north London.

    1956 – In his speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, denounces Stalin.

    1670 – Maria Margarethe Kirch, German astronomer and mathematician (d. 1720) [One of the first famous astronomers of her period due to her writing on the conjunction of the sun with Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter in 1709 and 1712 respectively.]

    1901 – Zeppo Marx, American comedian (the youngest of the Marx Brothers) and theatrical agent (d. 1979).

    1906 – Mary Coyle Chase, American journalist and playwright; author of Harvey (d. 1981).

    1917 – Anthony Burgess, English author, playwright, and critic (d. 1993).

    1941 – David Puttnam, English film producer and academic.

    1943 – George Harrison, English singer-songwriter, guitarist and film producer; lead guitarist of The Beatles (d. 2001).

    Slipped their moorings:
    1723 – Christopher Wren, English architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (b. 1632).

    1914 – John Tenniel, English illustrator (b. 1820). [ His illustration of the Jabberwock is still imprinted on my brain from childhood.]

    1970 – Mark Rothko, Latvian-American painter and academic (b. 1903).

    1983 – Tennessee Williams, American playwright, and poet (b. 1911).

    2001 – Don Bradman, Australian international cricketer; holder of world record batting average (b. 1908).

    2005 – Peter Benenson, English lawyer, founded Amnesty International (b. 1921).

    2022 – Shirley Hughes, English author and illustrator (b. 1927). [ “Bath water’s hot, Sea water’s cold. Ginger’s kittens are very young, Buster’s getting old…”]

  2. I see Penguin/Puffin has half-folded, and said the “Classic” version of Dahl’s books are to continue to be published alongside the neutered ones.

  3. Never used chat gtp…
    Never used an application on a telephone or had any financial information on one. Realize I am an outlier.

    Also, yet again I claim people are mistakenly identifying ducks tgat are in fact geese. Ssy rather anseriformes.

    Ok that looks a bit like a shelduck, but the other day I am sure they were geese.

  4. By Reporting from Ukraine’s video from yesterday, Ukraine has just gotten HIMARS and used them surgically to take out Russian ammo depots.

    Also, at the end of his daily video from either 2/22 or 23, he goes into detail on his information sourcing and how he screens what he presents to try to make it as factual as possible. I almost completely rely just on RfU for the fine detail and WaPO for broad coverage of Ukraine anymore.

  5. Ref to National Clam Chowder Day (not kosher):

    I have an old HS GF who lives in Mollusk VA (there really is such a place!). She is Jewish. I find this hilarious.

    And yes, if it’s not New England, it should not be called Chowder.

    1. Alas, both you and our host are Wrong.
      1. ‘New England’ chowder is a misnomer. That cream-and-flour-whitened goop is Boston style chowder. In fact, each part of NE has its own traditional style, e.g. Rhode Island clear, Connecticut semi-clear, Maine style (softshell clams, a little milk).
      2. Manhattan style is by far the most flavorful and complex–in short, the best–version. If you do not believe me, head down to the Freeport fishing pier on Long Island.

        1. Right on. I don’t care for Manhattan style at all. Give me a good Boston style (“New England” to almost everyone on the planet) — with a bottle of Tabasco Sauce alongside.

          1. “… with a bottle of Tabasco Sauce alongside.”

            [ a slow dawning upon self ]

            … that is an idea, indeed – or other such sauces – clever!

  6. I don’t get it. Not ALL of her ancestors (from that generation) were on the Mayflower. And even if they were, big deal. But that was more than three hundred years before she was born, say at least 10 generations, so maybe 1/1000 or less “ancestry on the Mayflower”. Reacting to it at all means that one believes in some sort of hereditary culture passed through genes.

    1. I don’t get it either. I think it just shows how ignorant these people really are, We don’t get it because we aren’t ignorant of how it works and we therefore don’t buy the idea that culture (and grievance specifically) is transmitted through “blood” a superstition that has informed her whole life. (Supporting BDS is not down to ignorance, though. That’s something else.)

      But I try to parse it. First, why would Ms. Davis be flabbergasted that she had an ancestor on the Mayflower. Not all black people came to the colonies as slaves. I don’t know if any black Pilgrims came on Mayflower . I’m not sure that is even discoverable. Not being slaves, they might not have been registered on the ship’s manifest as Negroes. Not every society pigeonholed free people by race as America does today. There were of course black people in the northern colonies who had never been slaves and who weren’t covered under the later “three-fifths” compromise just because they were black.

      But even if no black people disembarked in Plymouth, a descendant of a white Pilgrim could eventually have fathered a child with a slave who arrived in the Trade to Jamestown and whose eventual descendants included baby Angela.

      Does Angela actually have any genes from that white ancestor? Probably not. She has many ancestors—1000 as you suggest—and the probability that a gene from any one named ancestor made its way intact through all those episodes of recombination during meiosis gets small the further back you go. If you have 100 apples that must be distributed intact among 200 people, some people get no apples at all. And none of their children can inherit an apple from them. The gene is gone from the rest of that lineage even if the genealogy is documented. So even if that Plymouth ancestor had the imaginary white supremacy gene, Angela can relax that she probably doesn’t have it.

      Many black people in America have at least one white ancestor, and many others are descended from blacks who were never slaves in America, e.g.,Barack Obama. This will become important if the push for Reparations gains traction. Many advocates argue that only those “Generational Blacks” who are purely descended from slaves should get compensated. This shrinks the pool of claimants and maximizes the individual payouts (while creating great resentment in the passed over.). It would be a truly delicious irony if Angela Davis of all people would be excluded from Reparations because she’s not black enough. This no doubt explained her consternation.

      1. I did some rethinking about this. The Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago. If the generation time of human beings is 20 years. that’s 20 generations, not 10. So Ms. Davis’s ancestors going back to Mayflower number over a million, assuming no inbreeding which probably did actually happen given the small breeding pool available until large numbers of colonists and slaves began to arrive later.

      2. I watched the show and it turns out that not only did her mother have a white father, but so did her father. At the end Gates showed the results of her DNA test and she was 48.5 percent European. The other guest, Jeh Johnson tested 52% European. He too had a surprising backstory and didn’t know what to make of it involving his white ancestors.

      3. I don’t know if any black Pilgrims came on Mayflower . I’m not sure that is even discoverable.

        It’s extremely unlikely. They came from England in the early 17th century. There weren’t many black people here at that time. It’s marginally more likely that there were black people amongst the crew but only very slightly.

    2. It probably has to do with her personal history. If you are not familiar with her, she is someone who is not terribly keen on White folks, America, the Jews, and anyone else who stands in the way of the march of international socialism.
      That she qualifies for membership in the DAR and the Mayflower Society is sort of funny, as she despises such people.
      Additionally, if the reparations people got serious about tracing the descendants of slave holders, she gets to be on that list as well.

      1. That’s the beauty of science. It makes myth and superstition not only ridiculous but self-contradictory.

      1. Thanks, Mike. That was a nice post and the comments were fun. David Reich uses this treatment in Who We Are and How We Got Here. His calculations assume no inbreeding, as do Coop’s. I think most people in North America are highly outbred. Even if some of our ancestors came from inbred communities that were initially isolated, these “founder effects” persist only in those communities that remain genetically isolated here and now. Number of descendants has risen more rapidly than the number of ancestors (until fertility fell in rich and middle-income countries in the last few decades.). Our ancestors have had 8 billion descendants. I would enjoy being proved mathematically wrong but I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that I (or Angela Davis) have one million genetically unrelated ancestors drawn from across the globe going back 400 years. They just didn’t all come over in one ship.

        It has been said that the invention of the safety bicycle in the 1890s, which women could ride equally with men once bloomers were co-invented, at one stroke expanded the gene pool of English villages because for the first time in history it allowed men who couldn’t afford horses to court women who lived beyond walking distance in the next village. (Fit young men could ride 100 miles in a day, as now, once pneumatic tires and macadam roads appeared.). And on a bicycle, a woman could shake herself loose from her chaperone. Scandal!

        1. Hi Leslie! Yes that probability of inheriting zero blocks of chromosomes from one specific ancestor is lower if the effective population size is smaller. IDK what Ne might have been for the Mayflower founder population and its descendants, but yes Ne was much higher after the founding event (and that’s true from the pov of the Europeans, the indigenous Americans, or the Africans). That increase started a few generations after the Mayflower colonization event, so I think that means Angela is still unlikely to have much Mayflower DNA if she really has only that one specific Mayflower ancestor. But IDK how to calculate that likelihood.

  7. I told a joke to ChatGPT and it scolded me for being demeaning to corrections officers. So I asked it to come up with a joke that is respectful and inclusive. After three failed attempts it finally produced this one: “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side, but also to explore new horizons and gain new experiences outside of its comfort zone, while respecting the boundaries and experiences of other individuals and communities it may encounter along the way”.

      1. I saw a bus labelled “Illinois Department of Corrections”. Do you think it held whiteout and erasers?

        Sure, it’s not comedy gold, but “demeaning to corrections officers”?

  8. “Why does the middle not melt?”
    The melting point of most substances increases with increased pressure, ice is a rare exception to this rule, where increased pressure lowers the melting point, making ice skating work well. In addition, a different arrangement of atoms in the core (pressure dependent) may, of course, contribute to a higher melting point.

    1. The melting point of most substances increases with increased pressure as most liquids are less dense than the corresponding solids; ice is a rare exception to this rule, as due to the hydrogen bonding network, ice is less dense than water and thereby floats, making our life on earth possible. In addition, the explanation that skate blades melt the surface of ice is very reasonable sounding and popular in my youth but unfortunately has been considered incorrect for some time.

  9. NPR: I accidentally posted my comment on the Rushdie posting.

    NPR: I was a decades-long contributor to whichever was my local NPR station. Then, in 2020/21 they did the about face you mention and become National Woke Radio. I used to joke: They can’t give me the weather without scolding us with, “and *we know* that weather disproportionately affects BIPOC.”

    That change brought the end of my contributions.

    1. I like “here girl”…
      I noticed it when I was calling a dog I once had. After repeating it a few times, I realized it was a tongue twister.

      I didn’t have too hard a time with World Cup Soccer.

  10. I think people are right to be deeply worried that the war in Ukraine may lead to a direct confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, and this may lead to disaster. The war is also pushing Russia and China closer together, which is clearly not good for us.

    I also think people have a right to know how decisions are made in the White House. I’m afraid I am not buying the idea that Uncle Joe is actually in charge. Who is really running the show? You would think this is something the press would be curious about, but you would be wrong.

  11. NPR. Holy cow, I’m listening to today’s edition of On the Media on NPR.

    The entire program is dedicated to stating how terrible Capitalism is and singing paeans to the Communist Manifesto and Marx.

    Nice to at least know that the mask is off now!

    The bait and switch, No True Scotsman fallacy, strawmanning (to an amazing degree) and apples vs. oranges arguments are thick in this program.

    “You have nothing to lose but your chains!” Yep, he’s trotting out that chestnut.

    I don’t like the right wing (neither do I): Therefore, “the stakes for moving beyond Capitalism are higher than ever.”

    “Capitalism is in a doddering and dangerous phase.” Doddering compared to … Cuba? Venezuela? North Korea?

    “Overthrow this system of iniquity. People say they are against violence. But if like me, it’s a world built on homophobia, sexism, (etc.), then the mass of people will use violence to overthrow the system.”

    On and on, the same …

    Hey, Brooke Gladstone: I suggest you bring on a diversity of views on such subjects! And, maybe ask some hard questions. This just isn’t very hard.

    1. I started calling it Angst Radio before the pandemic. But there is one bright spot. Washington DC’s station, WAMU, had had a great program, Hot Jazz Saturday Night with Rob Bamberger for decades. It was apparently cancelled around 2017, presumably to air more angst, but when I got an Alexa and went to pull it in, I found that it had just been reinstated. I think that was 2019 or so, so there must’ve been an outcry from donors.

    1. Applebaum was on Christopjher Lydon’s “Open Source” podcast a year or so ago. When Lydon mentioned George Kennan’s warning to-the-effect that NATO’s eastward expansion was ill-advised, she responded that Kennan “was wrong” about that, that “he was wrong about many things.” Well, if someone says that Kennan was wrong, it must be true, especially if Applebaum says it.

  12. I know this sounds cruel and politically incorrect but the “gas attacks” in Qom sound very much like mass hysteria. If the girls show no ill effects after observation in ER with reassurance, this is almost certainly the case. The authorities are correct not to feed the hysteria by hyping it with declaration of a mass-casualty emergency. There was a similar event among adolescent Palestinian schoolgirls in what were referred to in the report as the Occupied Territories. There were analogous political ramifications — the Israelis were accused there of using gas also—although the event was not instigated as a deliberate political act. There have been many episodes reported over the years, usually in somewhat cloistered environments like boarding schools and summer camps.

    I do sincerely hope that I am right and the girls are OK.

    1. I remember, when I was doing some literature research on the effect of low levels of hydrogen sulphide, coming across several reported incidents of “mass hysterical poisoning”. It’s not that uncommon a phenomenon. At least one of those cases was in a girls school too. (Low level effects : the HSE’s limit for H2S exposure, over an 8 hr working day is 5ppm ; subsequent to “enhanced oil recovery” operations, several platforms were reporting H2S levels of 1~2ppm 24*7*365, and the question was “does this affect people living there 24*7*2weeks on, 2 weeks off?”)
      I was just wondering where Qom is, compared to the fighting areas of the Iran-Iraq wars, where quite a lot of poison gas was used in a number of attacks. Not particularly close. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t (might not be) relict war munitions – for example, buried in a schools foundations. It has been a while since I heard of a WW1 UK chemical weapons dump being found “by accident”, but small munitions depots from WW2 turn up all the time, so it’s something that lurks in the consideration of builders, fire brigade staff, trawler workers and the like. There are some areas of the UK seabed which are still considered “no go” areas due to the thousands of tonnes of phosgene, mustard etc munitions dumped there in the 20s.

      1. I stand by my hypothesis until a specific agent is identified or clear evidence of gas injury is produced….e.g., blisters, lung injury, abnormal blood tests, paralysis, depressed consciousness, need for specific antidotes to restore vital signs, and the like.

        From this AP story it appears that the authorities, and some people not allied with the regime, suspect that these may be attacks by rogue opposition elements at play in Iran as the central order has been shaken in recent months. (This would provide an excuse for a crackdown against the usual suspects.) It doesn’t appear that the authorities are taking credit themselves for the incidents. The story reads as if the author has not considered the possibility of mass hysteria. Even if he has, it would be irresponsible to be speculating about that in print at such an early stage, particularly if it caused doctors treating these girls to be less vigilant for serious injury.

        Jamileh Kadivar, a prominent former reformist lawmaker and journalist, wrote in Tehran’s Ettelaat newspaper that as many as 400 students have fallen ill in the poisonings.

        She warned “subversive opposition” groups could be behind the attacks. However, she also raised the possibility of “domestic extremists” who “aim to replace the Islamic Republic with a caliphate or a Taliban-type Islamic emirate.” [which would, in this scenario, be trying to prevent girls from attending school.]

  13. You can almost see Davis choking down what she really wants to say.

    What is she wanting to say? “Some of my ancestors were raped by descendents of the Mayflower people? Shocked! I’m shocked, I tell you!”
    Having been born in Western Europe, it is practically certain that I’m descended from Edward Longshanks, Malleus Scotam. As is essentially every other person who can trace an ancestor to the first national census.

  14. 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.

    For certain values of “back in my day”, I guess so. The presence of an inner core was deduced by seismologist Lehmann in 1936 (and backed up by Richter of the infamous scale and Gutenberg of the discontinuity in 1938). And since then the number of significantly different (thus, detectable) layers in the Earth has just increased. Off the top of my head, I come up with 8 or 9 before getting into the region of (as my Mantle Petrography lecturer used to put it) “crustal ephemera”. “If,” he would opine, “it hasn’t been to 100km for a hundred million years, it is clearly nowhere near equilibrium and may be safely ignored.” But oil companies – the quintessence of “crustal ephemera” – were the ones who provided the Department with the microprobe he used.
    I’ve chopped out the “layers listing” as being a bit too geological. It’s here for those interested.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *