Welcome to the tail end of the work week: Friday, March 3, 2023, and National Moscow Mule Day, a drink I like a lot but rarely have. It’s best served in a copper tankard, like below. The recipe is simple (here), involving lime juice, good ginger beer, and vodka. Try one!
It’s also Canadian Bacon Day (cultural appropriation!), 33 Flavors Day (Baskin-Robbins, of course), National Cold Cuts Day, National Mulled Wine Day, World Hearing Day, World Wildlife Day, Hinamatsuri or “Girl’s Day” in Japan, and What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day. And with that, I can resist this post, one of the best cat commercials ever (we don’t have to worry about d*gs with opposable thumbs, as they’d just be the same):
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 3 Wikipedia page.
*Top o’ the Nooz: The jurors in the Alex Murdaugh case didn’t have to deliberate long before they found him guilty of murdering his wife and youngest son: they jawed just three hours before finding him guilty. He now faces 30 years to life for each conviction, and still awaits trial for financial fraud. He’ll leave jail only in a box. Here’s a screenshot from a NYT video showing him at the moment he was pronounced guilty:
The paper also has an op-ed by Farhad Manjoo: “Why Alex Murdaugh’s quick conviction worries me.” The main issue is that despite the complexities of this six week case, with dozens of witnesses, the jury breezed through the evidence so quickly. Were they just giving a gut reaction?
*Here’s one potential global war among the several looming now: inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, during an inspection of one of Iran’s nuclear production sites, found uranium particles enriched to 83.7%. Enrichment of 90% is what’s needed to make a weapon, so Iran’s nearly there. I told you so, but that’s not rocket science: everyone knew that they’d get there someday, but various U.S. administrations, including Biden’s, have thought they could bargain Iran out of making nuclear warheads. What a joke! Iran will have its weapons, just as Korea will.
Until the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Iran was known to produce only low-enriched uranium of the kind used in nuclear power plants or for medical purposes. In recent years, however, Tehran has blown past many of the accord’s restrictions, stockpiling uranium enriched to up to 60 percent.
The new report “places Iran on the cusp of weapons-grade fissile material,” said Robert Litwak, a nonproliferation expert and director of international security studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Iran has long denied seeking nuclear weapons, but many experts believe the regime wants to assemble the key ingredients for a nuclear bomb so it can build one quickly if it decides to do so, a window known as “breakout time. ”
This is a test for Biden:
Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl offered that breakout time in House testimony Tuesday. Asked by Republican lawmakers why the Biden administration had tried to revive the 2015 agreement, Kahl said, “Because Iran’s nuclear progress … has been remarkable” since the U.S. withdrawal from the deal. Before, “it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one bomb’s worth of fissile material. Now it would take about 12 days,” he said, shortening the “few weeks” assessment used by the administration over the past year.
President Biden has said repeatedly that he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and that “all options” remain on the table to prevent it. Talks his administration began on reviving the nuclear deal are currently off the table as both sides held to hard lines. But the administration still maintains that the best way to resolve the conflict with Iran is through diplomacy.
I don’t believe Biden here but I do believe Israel will do everything it can to prevent Iran from getting a bomb, for what they’d do with it would be obvious. Iran could wipe out their whole country with just a couple of bombs. If this new report is true, it’s entirely possible that Israel will strike Iran to stop the bomb-making, just as they have before. And then all hell will break loose.
*I would never vote for Nikki Haley for President, but I thought she was a damn sight better Republican candidate than Trump; and if the GOP takes the presidency next year, I would at least want a candidate who isn’t mentally ill. In Pamela Paul’s latest NYT editorial, “The serene hypocrisy of Nikki Haley“, however, doesn’t paint Hailey as that different from Trump (remember, she started out as a pro-Trumper and then backed away from him later, which is worrisome).
Astonishingly, some people still see Nikki Haley as one of the “good” Trump cabinet members, the future of a more tolerant and accepting Republican Party. [JAC: I guess she’s referring to me.] Like those anti-Trumpers who willfully interpreted each casual flick of Melania’s wrist as a prospect of rebellion, Haley hopefuls want to believe that a conscience might yet emerge from Trump’s Team of Liars, that the G.O.P’s latest showcasing of a Can-Do Immigrant Success Story can somehow undo years of xenophobia.
This requires listening to only half of what Haley says.
But if you listen to the full spectrum of her rhetoric, Haley clearly wants to capture the base that yearns for Trumpism — and to occupy the moral high ground of the post-Trump era. She wants to tout the credential of having served in a presidential cabinet (she was Trump’s U.N. ambassador) — and bask in recognition for having left of her own accord. She wants to criticize Americans’ obsession with identity politics — and highlight her own identity as a significant qualification.
There are plenty of reasons to approach Haley with wariness: her middle-school-cafeteria style of meting out revenge, her robotic “I have seen evil” presidential campaign announcement video, the P.T.A. briskness with which she dismisses a bothersome fact. But most alarming is her untroubled insistence on having her cake and eating it too. Even in short-term-memory Washington, rife as it is with wafflers and flip-floppers, the serene hypocrisy of Nikki Haley stands out. She wants it both ways — and she wants it her way most of all.
Paul then recounts Haley’s hyprocrisy, like first defending the display of the Confederate flag over South Carolina’s Capitol building, and then ordering it removed—but only after a white supremacist Dylann Roof killed 9 people in South Carolna. I’m not worried, though: I have no say in who the Republicans choose as a candidate, and Paul thinks Haley will wind up in the Vice-Presidential pool. Right now–and it’s early days–DeSantis looks like the GOP front-runner if Trump decides not to run.
*Speaking of potential women Presidents, though, I’m not that keen on Kamala Harris, either, who seems to have kept out of sight most of Biden’s term, despite having been named the person in charge of fixing the situation at our southern border. Yes, I know Vice-Presidents are supposed to sit around with their thumbs up their butt and support the President, but she doesn’t seem to have done much of anything, and I’d still rather see Mayor Pete as President (he may have blown that chance, though after his lassitude in getting to East Palestine).
But Donna Brazile, journalist, teacher, political strategist, and twice head of the Democratic National Committee, has an op-ed in the NYT with the title “The excellence of Kamala Harris is hiding in plain sight.” What? Here’s Brazile’s take: Harris held up under racial scrutiny as a black woman, she traveled the country meeting Americans, has met with foreign leaders, and has done these things:
Ms. Harris has pushed for federal legislation to secure voting rights, worked to expand access to the child tax and earned-income tax credits, is co-leader of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, was an integral part of the White House’s push to get Americans vaccinated against Covid, and is the chair of the National Space Council.
But too much of Brazile’s approbation comes from Harris performing decently given that she is black, but how much racism has she really faced? I can’t think of any, although surely there are some dark whispers among Republicans. All in all, though, I thought Harris would do more, and I’m not enthusiastic about her being a replacement for Biden. Given that he will probably run anyway, we’d have another four years to see her mettle.
*We have two cases of lowered standards in the interest of “equity”, one of them worrisome. That’s the lowering of the bar for passing the bar in Delaware, just mandated by the state Supreme Court.
The Delaware Supreme Court lowered the passing score on the state’s bar exam amid other changes reportedly intended to increase racial diversity among the state’s lawyers.
The 200-question multiple-choice exam will be offered twice instead of once a year beginning in 2024 – and its passing score will be lowered from 145 to 143, according to local outlet WHYY.
The number of essays on the exam will be decreased from eight to four, and the number of essay topics will be reduced from 14 to 10.
The clerkship requirement is also being lowered from 21 weeks to 12 weeks, and the mandatory list of 25 legal proceedings that potential lawyers must attend has been shortened to 18 out of 30 possible items.
That’s a pretty severe relaxation of standards! But, in a masterpiece of dissimulation the court’s Chief Justice asserted that this was not a lowering of standards but “a ‘modernization’ of the admission process aimed at aligning with the standards in other states.” As John McWhorter would say, that is simply a lie.
The other bar-lowering was at Columbia University, where McWhorter teaches (he’ll have something to say about this):
Columbia University will no longer require SAT or ACT scores in undergraduate admissions, making it the first Ivy League college to implement the pandemic emergency measure as its official policy.
The Morningside Heights institution first dropped its test score requirement at the beginning of the pandemic when testing sites shuttered, and the measure had been extended through next school year’s admissions cycle, the college newspaper Columbia Spectator reported.
The decision was “rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multi-faceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor,” read the university website.
“Our review is purposeful and nuanced — respecting varied backgrounds, voices and experiences — in order to best determine an applicant’s suitability for admission and ability to thrive in our curriculum and our community, and to advance access to our educational opportunities.”
It’s interesting that they realized that “holistic” admissions were better than standardized tests just when the country was going whole hog on diversity. What criteria will they use now? Spunk? Personality? (Both of those have been touted as “alternative ways of admitting.”) (h/t Luana).
*Bad idea of the decade department.This is just plain weird. During the pandemic, the UK government was contemplating exterminating every cat on the isle(s). (h/t: Jez)
The UK government considered whether it might have to ask people to exterminate all pet cats during the early days of the Covid pandemic, a former health minister said.
It was unclear whether domestic cats could transmit coronavirus, James Bethell said.
He told Channel 4 News: “What we shouldn’t forget is how little we understood about this disease. There was a moment we were very unclear about whether domestic pets could transmit the disease.
“In fact, there was an idea at one moment that we might have to ask the public to exterminate all the cats in Britain. Can you imagine what would have happened if we had wanted to do that?”
In July 2020, at the height of the Covid crisis, cat owners were warned not to kiss their pets after a female Siamese became the first known animal in the UK to catch the disease.
Wait a tick! Why not d*gs? Why did they single out cats? Are they considered the Jews of pets? Can you imagine the outcry if they had tried this, given that the UK loves its cats? PLUS there is no cat registry in the UK, so how would they have ensured that all the cats were slaughtered? Everyone would have immediately sequestered their pets, and the stalwart would have rounded up and protected strays. But I want to know why they left out d*gs? Was it because one cat was known to have transmitted the virus?
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron like Laundry Day:
A: This is a freshly washed blanket.Hili: That’s why it tempted us.
Ja: To jest świeżo wyprany koc.Hili: I dlatego nas skusił.
From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:
From Facebook, a John McPherson cartoon:
God toots on Mastodon. What, no heaven? Is he up there all alone?
Richard’s tweet about his Spectator piece and Elon Musk’s response:
This is insane
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2023
From Masih. French translation:
The mother of an intoxicated student violently arrested for protesting. This is how a plainclothes agent (the famous “lebass shakhsi”) treats the mother of a poisoned student this Wednesday, March 1 in the 13 Aban girls’ school in Tehran, before arresting her.
la mère d'une étudiante intoxiquée violemment arrêtée pour avoir manifeste.
Voilà comment un agent en civil (les fameux « lebass shakhsi ») traite la mère d’une élève empoisonnée ce mercredi 1er mars dans l’école pour filles du 13 Aban à pic.twitter.com/8dtfL427qD… https://t.co/ZRcg98JUKF
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) March 2, 2023
From Malcolm, some lovely “dirt art” on a car. Much better than writing “wash me”!
Dirty art.. 👌 pic.twitter.com/bYwR7aXyve
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) February 26, 2023
From Barry, “a new kind of rock music” (sound up, of course):
The surreal sound of rock music from an actual rock
This phonograph that can 'read’ the surface of a rock pic.twitter.com/dBvQCJ24mj
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) March 1, 2023
From the Auschwitz Museum: an Orthodox Jew gassed upon arrival:
3 March 1884 | A Polish Jew, Szmul Broner, was born in Warsaw. He lived in Antwerp and was a shoychet (ritual slaughterer).
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 3, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb: The first one is of one of my grad students (now a prof and dean at Duke), lecturing on a Star Trek cruise. (Mohamed Noor is a big trekkie!):
— Trek Profiles Podcast (@TrekProfiles) March 2, 2023
A sleepy call duck:
so eepy pic.twitter.com/rR5ZQVDt1R
— why you should have a duck 🦆 (@shouldhaveaduck) March 2, 2023
Matthew’s own tweet, and I agree. Blessed be those who don’t enforce copyrights on stuff that needs to be widespread!
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) March 2, 2023