Sunday: Hili dialogue

March 5, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Sunday, March 5, 2023, and National Cheese Doodle Day, an odious snack that tastes like styrofoam puffed up with air and covered with petroleum byproduct. Some people actually like the stuff!

It’s also National Poutine Day, a fine if unhealthy comestible from Canada, National Absinthe Day (legal again), Multiple Personality Day, Cinco de Marcho (a day to drink), and, in Cornwall, St Piran’s Day, celebrated with parades and processions.

Here’s a steaming plate of poutine with all the works that I had in Montreal on March 1, 2016. The site: the famous La Banquise, a mecca for poutine lovers. Look at all the kinds you can get! (h/t: Claude and Anne-Marie). Don’t bother to tell me how unhealthy it is: food is not medicine!

Guacamole poutines waiting to be served:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 5 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*I just discovered this on Lawrence Krauss’s Substack site but found only one confirmation in the news: the Spanish paper El Mundo:  Evolutionary geneticist Francisco Ayala has died at 88: one week before his 89th birthay. Krauss gives a personal take, while El Mundo and Wikipedia (which needs to have his date of death added) the facts of his life. Ayala loomed large in the field when I was younger, and was at UC Davis when I was doing my postdoc (he later moved to UC Irvine). John Avise, whose pictures will appear shortly, was his student.  More later as I’m writing this in a rush. I’ll just note that both my advisor Dick Lewontin and Francisco were students of Theodosius Dobzhansky, but there was no love lost between them.  Oh, and when I first met Ayala at Rockefeller University (in Dobzhansky’s lab), he was dressed in priestly garb, for he was a Dominican priest before he took off his collar to become a geneticist.

*Russia is trying to achieve its first big victory in Ukraine by capturing the city of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian forces repelled multiple Russian attacks on Saturday in fighting around the partly encircled city of Bakhmut, which has come down to a yard-by-yard battle for vital roads that supply the city’s defenders.

But the Ukrainian military acknowledged that soldiers inside the city were now encircled on three sides by a combined force of the Russian Army and the Wagner private military company, which includes fighters recruited from prisons.

On Friday, the company’s owner, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, taunted President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in a video, saying that only one road remained open to the west of Bakhmut, a city in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian commanders say that a counterattack this past week pushed Russian forces away from at least one of the embattled roads into the city, for the moment easing resupply for troops inside.

In any case, the seven-month battle for Bakhmut — Russia’s longest-running sustained assault since the invasion last year — is now being decided by seesaw fighting around the rural roads, which cut through rolling, grassy hills and small villages to the west of the city.

The AP reports that civilians are fleeing like rats leaving a sinking ship:

Pressure from Russian forces mounted Saturday on Ukrainians hunkered down in Bakhmut, as residents attempted to flee with help from troops who Western analysts say may be preparing to withdraw from the key eastern stronghold.

A woman was killed and two men were badly wounded by shelling while trying to cross a makeshift bridge out of the city in Donetsk province, according to Ukrainian troops who were assisting them.

A Ukrainian army representative who asked not to be named for operational reasons told The Associated Press that it was now too dangerous for civilians to leave Bakhmut by vehicle and that people had to flee on foot instead.

Ceiling Cat, pray press down your heavenly paw and crush the Russian forces!

*Now that we’re out of Afghanistan, the Taliban (as predicted), is up to its old tricks. Not only have they reneged on their promise to allow full schooling for girls, but now they’re voiding thousands of legal divorces granted by the previous government, effectively turning remarried divorcées into adulterers who could face prison or husbands they divorced on the grounds of abuse:

Former judges and lawyers estimate that thousands of Afghan women who earlier secured divorces without a husband’s consent are now in danger under Taliban rule, facing potential imprisonment and violent reprisals.

The “one-sided” divorces under the previous government were largely granted to women trying to escape abusive or drug-addicted husbands, according to the former judges and lawyers. Since that government’s collapse in 2021, power has shifted in the favor of the divorced husbands, especially those with Taliban ties.

Changes to the country’s marriage laws are another wrenching example of how the Taliban has stripped women of their rights. Taliban rule also has severely restricted their access to education and employment, banned them from public parks and mandated ultraconservative female dress.

*There’s a new anti-free-speech bill pending in the Florida legislature under the aegis of Governor DeSantis. According to the NYT, which in an editorial argues that “Florida is trying to take away the American right to speak freely,” the bill severely weakens the protection journalists (and citizens) have against defamation claims (defamation not protected by the First Amendment has been outlined by the courts).  Here is some of the gutting of the standing law Florida is trying to promulgate:

The bill represents a dangerous threat to free expression in the United States, not only for the news media, but for all Americans, whatever their political beliefs. There’s still time for Florida lawmakers to reject this crude pandering and ensure that their constituents retain the right to free speech.

“This isn’t just a press issue,” said Bobby Block, executive director of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation. “This is a death-to-public-discourse bill. Everyone, even conservatives, would have to second-guess themselves whenever they open their mouths to speak or sit in front of a keyboard.”

The bill is an explicit effort to eviscerate a 1964 Supreme Court decision, The New York Times Company v. Sullivan. This bulwark of First Amendment law requires public figures to prove a news organization engaged in what the court called “actual malice” to win a defamation case. By preventing lawsuits based on unintentional mistakes, the decision freed news organizations to pursue vigorous reporting about public officials without fear of paying damages. The decision has even been applied by lower courts to bloggers and other speakers who make allegations about public figures.

Get a load of this (emphasis is mine):

It would change the definition of actual malice to include any allegation that is “inherently improbable” — an impossibly vague standard — or that is based on what it calls an “unverified” statement by an anonymous source. In fact, it says that all anonymous statements, a crucial tool for investigative reporting, are “presumptively false” for the purposes of a defamation case. Anonymous sources were the basis for much of The Washington Post’s coverage of Watergate and The Times’s exposure of the Bush administration’s domestic eavesdropping program in 2005, among many other examples of journalism with significant impact.

Under the bill, a public figure would no longer need to show actual malice to win a defamation case if the allegation against the figure wasn’t related to the reason for the person’s public status. So if a person is publicly known for being elected president or governor, and a news organization publishes an investigation about that person’s private or business life unrelated to elected office, that report would not get the special liability protection provided by the Sullivan decision.

The bill goes much further than this attempt to hobble the press. It makes it clear that the new defamation rules would also apply to any single “utterance on the internet,” which could mean a tweet or a Facebook post written by anyone, or “any one presentation to an audience,” which could include statements made at school board hearings and other public meetings.

In a direct attack on a key aspect of free expression, it says that whenever someone is accused of discriminating against others on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation, that accusation is automatically considered enough to sue for defamation. Any person accused of bigotry based on sexual orientation or gender identity could file a defamation lawsuit and be virtually guaranteed of winning by saying the discrimination was based on personal religious or scientific beliefs. The penalty for calling someone a bigot would be a minimum of $35,000.

The bill will almost surely pass the Florida House and perhaps the Florida Senate, and DeSantis will sign it. The aim is to have someone appeal that law, so that ultimately the Supreme Court will overturn the Sullivan protections. His opposition to free speech is yet another good reason why DeSantis shouldn’t be President.

*Speaking of the decline of America caused by Republicans, the Utah legislature has passed a law banning abortion clinics in the state, allowing abortions only in hospitals. The governor (a Republican too, of course) says he’ll sign the bill.

After passing through the state Senate on Thursday with minor amendments, it returned to the Utah House of Representatives Friday morning, where it was approved and then sent to the governor for final approval. The move comes less than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, returning the power to regulate abortions to states.

Cox told reporters that he will sign the legislation, which also clarifies the definition of abortion to address legal liability concerns providers voiced about the way exceptions are worded in state law — a provision that he and Republican lawmakers called a compromise.

. . . The measure is one of several that members of Utah’s Republican-supermajority statehouse has passed this year while abortion restrictions approved in years past are on hold because of a state court injunction. It has faced fierce opposition from business, civil liberties and abortion rights groups, including Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, which operates three of the four abortion clinics in the state.

. . .Republican lawmakers’ push to shutter abortion clinics comes as red states throughout the country work to implement restrictions after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that enshrined a constitutional right to abortion for nearly 50 years.

In Utah, the ruling triggered two previously passed laws — a 2019 ban on abortion after 18 weeks and a 2020 ban on abortions regardless of trimester, with several exceptions including for instances of risk to maternal health as well as rape or incest reported to the police. The state Planned Parenthood affiliate sued over the 2020 ban, and in July, a state court delayed implementing it until legal challenges could be resolved. The 18-week ban has since been de facto law.

The new law will refuse to license new abortion clinics after May and not renew the licenses of existing clinics after they expire. Last year, 61% of all abortions took place in clinics. If the 2020 ban goes into effect, there will be almost no abortions.

*In a rare hate-crime conviction when a white person is the object of hate, two native Hawaiians have each been sentenced to 50 and 78 months in prison, respectively, for beating up a white man—because he was white.

A jury on Thursday found two Native Hawaiian men guilty of a hate crime for the 2014 beating of a white man who was fixing up a house he purchased in their remote Maui neighborhood.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright ordered Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. detained pending sentencing scheduled for March 2, and marshals moved to handcuff the two men after the verdict was announced in the afternoon.

The long sentence for assault is largely due to the classification of this as a “hate crime” (the first conviction of Native Hawaiians for such a crime on whites) and the fact that this was a federal rather than a state charge.

 *Finally, Jack the Cat has moved to a new place in Jamaica Plain, and continues to heal nicely. He’s in great shape!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are having a chinwag on the front porch, and Szaron’s being a downer:

Szaron: Buds have appeared on the lilac bushes.
Hili: It’s high time.
Szaron: They say frost is coming.
In Polish:
Szaron: Na gałązkach bzu pojawiły się pąki.
Hili: Najwyższy czas.
Szaron: Podobno mają przyjść mrozy.


From Frits, the European distribution of belief in the multiple lives of cats (they’re never an even number). I wonder how those numbers came to be.

From reader Pliny the in Between at the Far Corner Cafe:

From Bad Cat Clothing:

I haven’t heard for sure who’s poisoning the Iranian schoolgirls, but Masih assumes it’s the regime. But somebody who worships Allah doesn’t want girls to learn, and their parents go with Maish’s theory about the culprits:

Ricky Gervais and his wife are in Prague:

From Malcolm. What is this cat doing? (Sound up.)

From Gravelinspector. Remember the UK government contemplating to exterminate all the nation’s cats at the start of the pandemic? Here’s who nipped that in the bud.

From Simon: the Health Minister describes The Worst Idea Ever:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but ten days after arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a hen and a drake headed for a good time out:

You may have seen this one before:

I’m not sure where this bridge is in Chicago, but we have plenty like it:

39 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

    1. That Poutine looks much more appetising than other pictures I’ve seen on this very website. Must be Russian propaganda.

  1. On this day:
    1616 – Nicolaus Copernicus’s book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres is added to the Index of Forbidden Books 73 years after it was first published.

    1912 – Italo-Turkish War: Italian forces are the first to use airships for military purposes, employing them for reconnaissance behind Turkish lines.

    1933 – Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party receives 43.9% at the Reichstag elections, which allows the Nazis to later pass the Enabling Act and establish a dictatorship.

    1936 – First flight of K5054, the first prototype Supermarine Spitfire advanced monoplane fighter aircraft in the United Kingdom.

    1940 – Six high-ranking members of the Soviet politburo, including Joseph Stalin, sign an order for the execution of 25,700 Polish intelligentsia, including 14,700 Polish POWs, in what will become known as the Katyn massacre.

    1946 – Cold War: Winston Churchill coins the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.

    1953 – Joseph Stalin, the longest serving leader of the Soviet Union, dies at his Volynskoe dacha in Moscow after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage four days earlier.

    1970 – The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect after ratification by 43 nations.

    1779 – Benjamin Gompertz, English mathematician and statistician (d. 1865).

    1871 – Rosa Luxemburg, Polish-Russian economist and philosopher (d. 1919).

    1879 – William Beveridge, English economist and academic (d. 1963). [His 1942 report Social Insurance and Allied Services (known as the Beveridge Report) served as the basis for the welfare state put in place by the Labour government elected in 1945.]

    1887 – Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazilian guitarist and composer (d. 1959).

    1898 – Zhou Enlai, Chinese politician, 1st Premier of the People’s Republic of China (d. 1976).

    1934 – Daniel Kahneman, Israeli-American economist and psychologist, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1938 – Lynn Margulis, American biologist and academic (d. 2011).

    1948 – Eddy Grant, Guyanese-British singer-songwriter and musician.

    1970 – John Frusciante, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1993 – Joshua Coyne, American violinist and composer. [Included as per our host’s old habit with respect to his namesakes.]

    1778 – Thomas Arne, English composer and educator (b. 1710).[Best known for his patriotic song “Rule, Britannia!” and the song “A-Hunting We Will Go”, the latter composed for a 1777 production of The Beggar’s Opera, and which has since become popular as a folk song and a nursery rhyme.]

    1815 – Franz Mesmer, German physician and astrologist (b. 1734).

    1827 – Pierre-Simon Laplace, French mathematician and astronomer (b. 1749).

    1827 – Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist and academic (b. 1745).

    1953 – Sergei Prokofiev, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1891).

    1963 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter (b. 1932). [Killed in a plane crash along with Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and their pilot Randy Hughes.]

    1966 – Anna Akhmatova, Ukrainian-Russian poet, author, and translator (b. 1889).

    1981 – Yip Harburg, American songwriter and composer (b. 1896). [Wrote the lyrics to the standards “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (with Jay Gorney), “April in Paris”, and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, as well as all of the songs for the film The Wizard of Oz, including “Over the Rainbow”. Known for the social commentary of his lyrics, as well as his leftist leanings, he championed racial and gender equality and union politics. He also was an ardent critic of religion.]

    1982 – John Belushi, American actor (b. 1949).

    2013 – Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan colonel and politician, President of Venezuela (b. 1954).

    1. Yip Harburg also co-wrote the wonderful and immortal “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” sung by Groucho Marx in the Marx brothers film “At the Circus” (1939):

  2. By attempting to quash free speech and a free press, the ultimate aim of DeSantis and the Republican Party is to establish a fascist state, endorsed by the Supreme Court, undergirded by Christian nationalism. I think it is unlikely that they will attempt another coup, such as the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Rather, fascism will creep in, slowly, but inexorably. And, before you know it, democracy will be gone. The frog in the water slowly reaching boiling analogy that applies here.

    There are those that argue that the Republicans have no agenda other than to gain power and legislate more tax cuts for the rich, the culture wars being the vehicle to achieve this. I disagree. I believe that most Republican politicians, whether on the federal, state, or local level, actually believe in what they advocate. They view themselves as the plug in the dike that is on the verge of breaking open, spilling secularism and liberal values that they abhor. It is not uncommon in history for a minority to gain political power and to impose their values on the majority. Due to the nature of the American political system that can happen here.

    1. Interesting scenario, but unlikely. USians are too fat and happy to allow radical change. We like social security and all the other benefits from the quasi-liberal state. If we are frogs in a pot, we have a thermometer/wrist band to keep us safe from chef DeSantis.

      1. I hope you’re right, but have you heard what the Republicans are doing in Tennessee? It is rapidly turning into the fascist state Historian describes: no abortion, no exceptions, outlawing drag shows or people in drag being seen by children (so no drag in gay pride parades and be careful around schools when driving or walking around in drag). They also rejected millions of dollars in federal HIV/AIDS prevention funds. Tennessee is the tip of the spear in the fascist leaning culture wars. Watch as other red states with Republican super-majorities follow suit.

        1. And, yet, Nashville is being flooded with transplants from New York and California who have helped drive the price of housing sky high and brought with them their aggressive manners on the highway.

          I must say, I have become used to the stretching of the term “fascist” to apply to “anything I don’t agree with”, but including “no drag shows for kids” may be a new level of linguistic creativity.

          Historian correctly noted that many on the right view themselves as “the plug in the dike”. But the “liberal values” he claims that they abhor is too elastic a term. Is it part of liberal values to teach that whites are all racist by virtue of skin color? Is it a liberal value to teach little children that a child with a penis may be a girl? Is it a liberal value to rewrite books (always in a “progressive” direction) because some imaginary reader might be offended? Is it a liberal value to “believe women” and eliminate due process for young men accused of assault or harassment? Is it a liberal value to discriminate in hiring against those who don’t bow to DEI dogmas?

          I am quite open to the idea that left-wing illiberalism and cultural excesses can prompt a destructive right-wing backlash. (And, yes, I view all the above as illiberal. Nor can I understand the vogue for bringing children to drag strip shows; the thought that drag is all campy fun is a bit behind the times.) I share your concerns of overreach, but I look both right and left from my position in the center. I have a fear that as the more moderate of each party stand in silence or wring their hands in mild protest or just write another op-ed or refuse to work across the aisle, that the political battles that matter will increasingly be waged by the extremes. I don’t want to overdraw the analogy, but a similar dynamic of fractured opposition and unwillingness to be seen as being even in-the-least supportive of the “other side” characterized the climate in tsarist Russia long before the Bolsheviks finally gained power. I have no idea which extreme would win such a struggle in America. But if I fear only one, then I am probably part of the problem.

          1. I can confirm from personal experience that the act of questioning the current progressive dogma (on any subject you’d like to name) will instantly get you labeled racist, trans-phobe, etc. in online discussions.

            I recall well suggesting that people listen to something the J.K. Rowling had written about something. The instant comeback was, “why would do that? She’s a famous transphobe!” Leaving aside the ad hominem fallacy, I linked them to her essay on the subject of trans rights and women’s rights.

            They actually did go and read it (my comment had been: I suggest you read what she actually wrote on the subject). And they came with, oh, well, yeah, maybe she’s not so bad.

            But the tendency is to reflexively take up the progressive talking point (or the right-wing talking point!) and never delve into the issue. Dogma is so much easier than thought and research.

    2. I would add that DeSantis and the right wing have carefully studied Viktor Orban’s tactics in Hungary. They already have a playbook in how to pervert democracy into illberal rule-by-strongman. And there are plenty of Americans who would be just fine with that, as long as the strongman was on their side. “Rights for me but not for thee” they will say under their breath as freedom of speech is gutted. We got lucky that Trump was a lazy baffoon with no grasp of policy who alienated many of his fellow right-wingers. DeSantis is far more intelligent and dangerous.

  3. Jerry an error: Your link to National Cheese Doodle Day actually links to De facto blasphemy laws in Great Britain.

  4. That bridge’s pillar doesn’t exactly look good. The US is blessed with a president that could finally pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill, no mean achievement, all four or five of his predecessors couldn’t. Appears pretty needed.
    I was highly sceptical of Biden in the beginning, I guess I fell for the Republican smear he was close to senile, but I think he turned out to be a very good, nearly (if it were not for Afghanistan- he has to take some of the blame there, albeit not most- and the title IX madness, he actually would be) a great, POTUS.
    But that is just an outsider’s view, of course.

  5. Cats have 9 lives not 7. Let’s invade those heretic countries who contend it’s only 7, that will teach them!
    Seriously, I wasn’t even aware, thanks for that map! Intriguing.
    Of course, sadly, they have only one life. Like all of us mortals.

  6. Another Yip Harburg song: the Groucho Marx classic “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” He sounds like an interesting guy.

  7. I just learned last night that Stanford biochemist, Nobel Laureate, and organizer of the Asilomar Conference on recombinant DNA died late last month, which I don’t believe was mentioned here.

    But he will be equally well-remembered for his role in the “Protein Synthesis at the Cellular Level,” a short film “in the dance idiom” that most every biochemist / molecular biologist knows well.

    Further, the history of the making of that 1971 film has finally been tracked down and revealed. I always assumed that it had been Berg’s idea, but no! It was initiated by some students – he was merely recruited – almost pressed – into it. The video is embedded in the history link.

    1. I had Berg (and Lederberg and Kornberg) as lecturers in a Biochem class at Stanford in ‘73 or ‘74. Wonderfully interesting all three.

  8. “From Frits, the European distribution of belief in the multiple lives of cats (they’re never an even number). ”

    And they messed up the Hungarian part by presumably putting the wrong English sentence into the translator. The red coloration is correct, we indeed talk about nine lives of cats here, but the sentence written into the map (A macskának hét élete van.) means cats have seven lives (hét = seven).

    1. Hooray, we won’t invade you since you know cats have nine lives. (see above).
      However, what is this thing with Victor Orban? Is he a Prime Minister for life? A dictator? What is his chip with Sweden or Finland? Is he a Trump-like Putin stooge? Or what?

      1. I think it is very likely that he remains the leader of Hungary as long as he is alive. He is a de facto dictator, but he keeps up the pretense of democracy, partly to avoid outright confrontation with the “West” and partly because for now softer methods are sufficient. But by now he and his maffia network pretty much own Hungary (by the combination of channeling stolen public money into takeovers and abusing authority to make “offers they can’t refuse” in Godfather style), own the press (there is an insane level of propaganda pressure on the population for a decade by now), own law enforcement (so investigations are impossible against them, but routinely abused against opposition supporters). They also very efficiently sabotage the opposition (although some of them are just naturally idiots), so they are weak (even beside the fact that the fascist party have a 1000 : 1 resource superiority over them).

        He does not have much of a chip with Sweden and Finland, he simply stalling for time to help Putin. He despises the LBGTQ movement and it might be partly personal, because of his son (or the rumor say so). Recently there is an increasingly aggressive propaganda campaign to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. It is actually possible that he has a problem with Sweden because of this. But it is far more important that as a dictator and a head of a crime syndicate he sees Putin as his natural ally.

        BTW Orbán is smarter and less of a clown than Trump. As for his immorality, I am afraid we yet to see if there are lines he won’t cross…

        1. And the GQP loves Orban’s Hungary, and wants America to follow his lead; they love the dictatorship by strong man that you describe. CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) held a conference in Budapest last year where Orban spoke. He also spoke at a CPAC held in Dallas last year where he infamously disparaged “mixing races”- and the crowd loved his beautiful message.

  9. Also, those pictured are not cheese doodles. Doodles are of a uniform diameter, like biodegradable packing material, and are indeed disgusting. Those in the pic are Cheetos, which are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    Pro tip: Pajeda’s, from Aldi, and apparently made in Illinois, are virtually identical and much cheaper.

    1. I think my kids called them Cheezies. Once we were on a roller coaster that unexpectedly went through some water and I shouted out Jesus! and my maybe 8-yr.-old son said Mom, why did you say Cheezies?🤓

    2. My favorite, by far, are Dot’s Baked Cheese Curls. They also make killer pretzels. Though they ain’t cheap.

  10. An organised withdrawal is one of the most difficult military manoevres, it easily deteriorates in a retreat or even a rout (we saw the latter in Kyiv and Kharkiv). I’m very much impressed by the UAF for holding out to the last, but withdrawing just in time. The fall of Bakhmut is of course a propaganda victory for Russia, but militarily I think it is a Pyrrhic one. 8 months and 50.000 Russians KIA (if not much more than that: 50,000 is a quite conservative estimate), for what is now a pile of rubble.

  11. I had a similar relationship with Dr. Ayala – my Ph. D. mentor (Rollin Richmond) was also a student of Dobzhansky and worked with him at the Rockefeller. I crossed paths with him a few times at meetings, the last time being in the early 90’s at a conference in Irvine. At that meeting, he came up to me as though I was a long lost friend, even though I hadn’t interacted with him in years.

    One thing not mentioned, either here or in Krauss’ piece, was his fall from grace late in life resulting from very credible accusations of sexual harassment. I was truly sad to see that happen, but I understood why. Despite that, his contributions to evolutionary biology speak for themselves.

    1. Long ago, Ayala and Kiger was one of the best elementary Genetics textbooks. My impression is that Dr. Ayala’s fall from grace was somewhat like that of Al Franken in the Senate—due to behaviors that were considered boisterous, jocular, or playful one or two generations ago, but were redefined in this century as sexual harassment. And when U.C. Irvine cancelled Ayala’s name at the School of Biology, library, and endowed chairs, I wonder if they returned to him several million dollars he had donated to the university.

      1. Although I have nice memories of Ayala’s innocent-seeming friendliness to me when I was a grad student 4 decades ago, his behavior toward women at UC Irvine was truly awful. Habitually giving the women in your workplace physical greetings (pats, hugs, cheek kisses) and making frequent comments on their personal appearance is bad enough, but continuing this after repeatedly being told to stop — beginning many years ago now — bespeaks someone too arrogant and out-of-touch to believe he could be told no. It’s a sad end to a high profile career, but Ayala brought it entirely on himself.

        It’s execrable that El Mundo’s article on Ayala falsely states that his highest-profile accuser (Kathleen Treseder, who as both harassment victim and department chair, bravely took him on) was forced to resign after making false accusations of sexual harassment against another colleague, Richard Szymanski. In reality, she stepped down as dept chair because she felt Szymanski was threatening her in retaliation for her accusations toward Ayala, and that not enough was being done to protect her and her family’s personal safety.

    1. This was meant as a reply to Historian but is likely of interest to other friends in this forum.🙂

    2. As French has pointed out in his article, there is no practical way for an amicable national “divorce”. Moreover, the current situation is not in all comparable to 1860 and 1861 for many reasons. Yet, radical right-wing legislatures such as that in Texas may someday try secession. I have no doubt that many Republicans in Texas and elsewhere yearn for secession. The result of this would be utter chaos and the end of American government as we at one time knew it. However, I think any secession attempt will be staved off as long as the Republicans believe that a fascist takeover of the entire country is possible. If, a few years down the road, they believe these efforts have failed, they may attempt the ultimate radical effort. How that would end up is anyone’s guess. So, although it is highly unlikely that we will see massed armies confronting each other, the united in the United States of America is in grave jeopardy.

      1. I wish we, as a country, would be less inclined to use the term “fascism” quite so often.
        It seems like the term is used, as Orwell wrote, to describe “something not desirable”. Probably more so than in his time. Theses days, it seems more specifically to be a term used to describe people or actions that interfere with the woke march through the institutions.
        Mussolini helpfully supplied us with an essay defining fascism in detail-

  12. the Ukrainian military acknowledged that soldiers inside the city were now encircled on three sides

    If you are only encircled on three sides, you are not encircled. It’s possible that you are entriangled though.

  13. Amid all the indefensibly illiberal items of the proposed Florida bill I found what I’d like to construe as a redeeming point, however subtle and unintended: the inclusion of scientific beliefs. Thanks to this, personal religious beliefs would not have the absurd preeminence they hold everywhere else today in the American legal system. It’s good to see a law in which beliefs based on superstition and irrationality are not the only ones deemed worthy of respect and consideration.

  14. That defamation bill isn;t the only anti-journalistic law working its way through Florida’s government.

    Florida SB 1316, requires paid bloggers to register with the State of Florida – as if they were lobbyists – but exempts newspapers and unpaid writers. It applies to any paid internet writer who mentions DeSantis, the lieutenant governor, any member of the cabinet or any member of the state senate or assembly. Registation must occur within five days of publication, and monthly reports are also required by the 10th of each month, unless “the 10th day following the end of a calendar month occurs on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or the report must be filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.”

    The reports require an itemized list of each mention published with a statement of how much the writer was paid for each statement. These must be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics (if a member of the executive branch is the subject) or the Florida Office of Legislative Services (for mentions of legislators). The writer will be fined $25.00 per day for missing the filing deadline, with a maximum of $25.00.

    There is no mention as to whether this applies only to bloggers who live in Florida, anywhere in the United States, or, for that matter, anywhere on Earth and beyond. There is also no mention of whether anyone who quotes or reposts any such mentions must also register, or if the hosting service (e.g., WordPress or Blogger) is subject to this requirement.

    This is one of those things that is constitutionally questionable but designed to become a case for appeal and venue-shopping for a sympathetic judge to rule in favor if its enacting.

  15. “an odious snack that tastes like styrofoam puffed up with air and covered with petroleum byproduct. “

    You say that like it’s a bad thing 🙂

    “Some people actually like the stuff!”

    *raises hand.

    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are good as crack.

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