Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 23, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Thursday, March 23, 2023: National Chips and Dip Day.  Would you choose ruffled potato chips and onion dip, or tortilla chips and guacamole? It’s a hard choice:

I have had NO sleep in the last two nights despite being in bed, and four hours three nights ago. Given that, you’ll be lucky to get anything coherent today.

It’s also Chia Day, National Melba Toast Day, National Tamale Day, Cuddly Kitten Day, World Meteorological Day, the Ahmadiyya Muslim holiday of Promised Messiah Day, and the beginning of Ramadan, which will last a month.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 23 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*There will be no indictment of Trump on the day I write this (Wednesday afternoon), as the New York grand jury is not meeting today. For an indictment to come down, the grand jury has to vote for it. There must be indications that it will, because how else could the NYT say that the prosecution considers an indictment for the Stormy Daniels hush-money affair is “likely”.

Criminal charges against Mr. Trump have been hotly anticipated since at least Saturday, when the former president, with no direct knowledge, declared on his social media platform that he would be arrested on Tuesday. But the grand jury, which meets in the afternoons, heard from a witness on Monday until nearly 5 p.m., leaving little time for anything else.

The grand jury meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and may hear from at least one more witness before being asked to vote, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Because the proceeding is held in secret, it is unclear whether other witnesses could appear as well.

There was no indication as to why the grand jury was not meeting on Wednesday, but the panel is not required to convene all three days each week, and scheduling conflicts and other interruptions are not unusual.

. . . While an indictment of Mr. Trump is not a certainty, prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, have signaled that charges are likely. They have been scrutinizing Mr. Trump for the hush-money payment that was made by his former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Okay, how do they know that? A majority of the 23 members of the grand jury have to vote for an indictment to make one materialize. The link to the “charges are likely” bit above just says that an offer of a potential defendant to testify before the grand jury—an offer that was made to Trump—doesn’t usually happen unless “an indictment is close.” I suppose t0morrow (Friday) would be the earliest we’d get an indictment.

*Freudianism is back! Or so the NYT says in a news piece called  “Not your daddy’s Freud.” I’ve always thought, thanks largely to the work and writing of my friend Fred Crews, America’s foremost Freud critic (do read his book Freud: The Making of an Illusion), that Freud is a fraud and that there’s no “there” in either his theories or the therapeutic method based on them. Recently psychoanalysis has waned, largely because few can afford the time and $$ for psychoanalysis (a typical one is said to last 3-7 years, with several sessions per week), but now this pseudoscience is baaaaack!:

Around the country, on divans and in training institutes, on Instagram meme accounts and in small magazines, young (or at least young-ish) people are rediscovering the talking cure, along with the ideas of the Viennese doctor who developed it at the turn of the 20th century.

After several decades at the margins of American healthcare — and 100 years after he published his last major theoretical work — Sigmund Freud is enjoying something of a comeback.

Look and listen carefully these days, and you’ll find Herr Doktor. For instance, the Instagram account freud.intensifies has more than a million followers and posts memes like a portrait of Freud overlaid with the text “Every time you call your boyfriend ‘Daddy,’ Sigmund Freud’s ghost becomes a little stronger.” In an April 2022 TikTok, which has been watched nearly five million times, a young man extols Freud: “Fast forward a hundred years, and he ain’t miss yet!”

The magazine Parapraxis, which was started last year to “inquire into and uncover the psychosocial dimension of our lives,” has attracted a progressive “new psychoanalysis crowd.” The forthcoming film “Freud’s Last Session,” starring Anthony Hopkins, is currently filming in a reconstruction of Freud’s famous Hampstead study, complete with antiquities. The Showtime series “Couples Therapy” documents several patients who see Orna Guralnik, a New York psychoanalyst and psychologist. “Know Your Enemy,” an au courant lefty podcast, has devoted multiple episodes to discussions of Freud, who has become a frequent topic of conversation among the show’s hosts.

. . . several prominent training institutes say applications are on the rise. And the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) says the number of sessions performed by its in-house clinic has roughly doubled since 2017, a sign that more people are seeking analytic treatment.

Remember that not every “talking cure” is psychoanalysis, and some of them, like cognitive behavioral therapy, actually have been shown to work (psychoanalysis hasn’t been shown to work save to enrich the analysts). Fred, former chair of English at UC Berkeley, is quoted in the article, but I prevailed upon him to say a few extra words about the piece, and here they are:

When the Times’s journalist phoned me to get my reaction to the developments he would cover in this article, I said I’ve been mainly concerned with the empirical standing of Freud’s ideas. A resurgence of allegedly Freudian psychotherapy, I mentioned, can have no bearing on the truth or falsity of Freud’s misty doctrine, because:

    1. Cultural popularity doesn’t amount to validation.
    2. Virtually all invoked theories “work” in therapy, including patently false ones. [JAC: This is probably the placebo effect]
    3. Freud’s role in modern analysis is largely honorific, imposing no constraints.

But the Times’s article––a deft summation––proved to be suggestive on other grounds. If the quoted revivers are typical, we could infer the following points among others:

    1. Today’s Freudians don’t care about either scientific accuracy or mental illness.
    2. There is little or no interest in the historical Freud. It suffices that he can be enlisted as a counter-authority to SSRIs [serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors: a type of antidepressant] and CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy].
    3. To engage in psychoanalysis, ether as a patient or as a therapist, is now a “lifestyle” matter.

In Freud: The Making of an Illusion, I traced the founder’s gradual abandonment of empirical rationality. In doing so, I never doubted that empirical rationality itself is consensually valued. But is it? I’m not so sure anymore.

*Is Alice Walker a “teflon icon”? It would seem so, at least according to an article in Out magazine.  As I reported in 2018, the beloved author of The Color Purple and a black literary icon, has a darker side: she believes in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories  that even involve Illuminati and evil Jewish lizard people who control the world. Rarely has Walker been called out for this, and even now, as the Out article reports, her taking the side of J. K. Rowling (a much better position that accepting reptilian Jews) has not led to Walker being criticized, perhaps because she’s a person of color. Walker seemingly immune to all criticism.

The Color Purple author Alice Walker is taking the defensive when it comes to controversial Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Walker, once best known for her novel The Color Purple, has more recently been known for supporting anti-semetic  [sic] conspiracy theories and now, is joining in on TERF conspiracy theories, saying that J.K. Rowling is right, and trans people exist because we use the word “guy” in a gender-neutral way.

Walker did all of this in an essay on her website, where she chimed in on the new podcast The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling.

Early in the essay, she compares Rowling being criticized for her well-doucmented transphobia and anti-semitism to gay people being burned alive. “The women who were burned were sometimes bound atop a pile of ‘kindling’ that was also human: called ‘faggots.’ From which the slur ‘fag derives,” she writes, immediately before talking about Rowling as a modern victim of “witch hunts.”

She then writes that “there is no ‘right witch’ to burn” and that by attacking Rowling, we are falling victim to a “sinister” movement to “erase” the word woman from language.

Then, Walker goes full TERF, implying that gender-neutral language is responsible for “gender confusion” in children.

Now Rowling is depicted as part of an anti-Semitic group in the magazine article, which clearly is on the side of calling Rowling “transphobic,” but the point is Walker’s defense of Rowling, which would get any famous woman in deep trouble, has barely been mentioned in the media. She does seem like a Teflon icon. Who else could keep their reputation intact despite believing in evil Jewish lizard people AND the sentiments of J. K. Rowling about transgender people?

*This is way cool, a new study published in the journal Current Biology sequenced much of Beethoven’s genome in an attempt to understand his well-known maladies, which include gastrointestinal troubles, liver problems, and, of course, his well-known deafness, which began in his 20s. According to the paper and an article in the Washington Post, they got the DNA from five independent locks of Beethoven’s hair, which matched perfectly and had the profile of a European (in addition to the attestation that they came from Beethoven).  The background and upshot:

The central ailmentof Beethoven’s life was his hearing loss, which began in his mid-20s. He also suffered from debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms and attacks of jaundice. An autopsy revealed that he had cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis and a swollen spleen. Medical biographers have debated what killed him at the age of 56 and whether his liver disease was the result of excessive drinking or some other cause.

The scientists studying his DNA did not discover a clear explanation for Beethoven’s deafness. But they identified genetic risk factors for liver disease, andthey found signs he had a hepatitis B infection that could have contributed to his cirrhosis. They also found evidence that one of Beethoven’s relatively recent ancestors had a child with someone other than their spouse.

. . .Beethoven’s fame during his lifetime presented researchers with an opportunity: relatively easy access to many sources of putative DNA. Friends and admirers famously kept locks of his hair as mementos, many of which have been preserved over the years by private collectors and museums.

But first, they had to prove the hair came from Beethoven, a feat the composer himself made more challenging. The year before Beethoven died, the wife of a colleague earnestly wanted a lock of his hair, but shebecame the victim of a prank. Beethoven and his secretary instead sent a coarse snip of a goat’s beard, similar in texture and color to his own curls.

. . .Because the DNA in the strands of hair was degraded, the scientists were able to reconstruct only about two-thirds of Beethoven’s genome. When they scoured that DNA looking for purelyhereditary causes of illness, they did not find any. They then used “polygenic risk scores,” which examine the risk for diseases that may have a genetic contribution but can also have environmental causes.

They did not find any clear elevated risk signals for hearing loss or a number of gastrointestinal illnesses, but they did find that he had a higher propensity for liver disease. The team also found genetic material from the hepatitis B virus, though it’s unclear whether the disease was chronic or a recent infection.

They managed to cover 2/3 of Beethoven’s genome, and the match among samples makes it pretty sure, though not certain, that it was his hair. Now they should try to use the DNA to reconstruct what he looked like. They could also look at his GWAS scores for academic achievement!

*And I can’t pass up this article from the Wall Street Journal, which is a must-read based on its title alone: “MIT scientists twist apart more than 1,000 Oreos in search of the perfect method.” My first thought was, “Wait a minute. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TWIST OREOS APART!” I know there are some miscreants who like to separate Oreos and scrape off the “cream” filling with their teeth, but that’s just wrong. The proper way to eat Oreos is with a tall glass of cold milk, and you dunk the Oreos into the milk to soften half of one slightly. You eat the soggy half, then eat the undipped half while drinking the milk. Am I right?

But if you must separate and scrape (realizing that the filling contains sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, and palm and/or canola oil), here’s what SCIENCE says, as conveyed by Michelle Deignan, vice president of Oreo in the U.S.:

In a recent study, they glued Oreos of various flavors to the rheometer, then twisted them at different speeds. Materials with similar mechanical properties to Oreo creme—toothpaste, yogurt, ice cream—split down the middle when subjected to enough torsion, Ms. Owens said.

After putting more than 1,000 Oreos to the test, the researchers discovered that the fickle filling stuck to just one wafer about 80% of the time.

. . .And the speed of the twisting didn’t matter. Even at the rheometer’s slowest twisting speed, which took about five minutes to separate the halves, the creme stayed on one side. At the maximum speed—about 100 times faster than a person can twist—the creme flew off both halves, Ms. Owens said.

“We also tested the cookies by hand—twisting, peeling, pressing, sliding and doing other basic motions to get an Oreo apart,” she said. “There was no combination of anything that we could do by hand or in the rheometer that changed anything in our results.”

That suggests the creme is stronger than it is sticky, so is more likely to stay together than adhere to the wafer.

She and her colleagues published their findings last April in the peer-reviewed journal Physics of Fluids.

However, European Oreos were different, with the filling dividing between the wafers most of the time, perhaps due to a different manufacturing process.

The lesson: There’s not one, but the article does show two good new ways to eat Oreos. I like the straw method!


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is all over Andrzej at work (I took the photo!)

A: You are disturbing me a bit.
Hili: Think nothing about it.
(Picture: J.A.C.)
In Polish:
Ja: Trochę mi przeszkadzasz.
Hili: Nic nie szkodzi.
(Zdjęcie: J.A.C.)

And we have a photo of Baby Kulka with the caption, “Morning world news review.”  (In Polish: “Poranny przegląd wiadomości ze świata.”)


From Merilee:

From America’s Cultural Decline in to Idiocy:

From Nicole:

Lagniappe: A friend of mine was doing some lobbying in Congress this week, and took this photo from outside the office of GOP wacko Marjorie Taylor Greene (he was lobbying Ayanna Pressley, whose office is across the hall). Greene’s sign, of course, is not there to convey a biology lesson, but she gets it wrong anyway, because “male and “female” refer to the sexes, not to gender. “Trust the science”, indeed, but get the science right, Congresswoman Greene!

From Masih. Read the whole text: these women got four years in prison for doffing their hijabs and handing out flowers in the subway in Tehran. Sound up.

From Malcolm. I’m surprised this woman is so outspoken on Russian television, but, after all, she’s 92. Sound up.

From Merilee: Cat makes biscuits on sheep, finds wooly couch to its liking:

From Barry, we get what’s known as a “groaner”.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, another child gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from the estimable professor Cobb. First, interspecies love (one of Grania’s favorite topics):

You can read about this butterfly here; it’s from New World tropical forests:

I’m sure I posted this before but there’s no harm in seeing it again. By the way, two mallards, a drake and a hen, were wandering around Botany Pond today. It was very sad.

90 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1857 – Elisha Otis’s first elevator is installed at 488 Broadway New York City.

    1868 – The University of California is founded in Oakland, California when the Organic Act is signed into law.

    1888 – In England, The Football League, the world’s oldest professional association football league, meets for the first time.

    1919 – In Milan, Italy, Benito Mussolini founds his Fascist political movement.

    1933 – The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act of 1933, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany.

    1956 – Pakistan becomes the first Islamic republic in the world. This date is now celebrated as Republic Day in Pakistan.

    1965 – NASA launches Gemini 3, the United States’ first two-man space flight (crew: Gus Grissom and John Young).

    1977 – The first of The Nixon Interviews (12 will be recorded over four weeks) is videotaped with British journalist David Frost interviewing former United States President Richard Nixon about the Watergate scandal and the Nixon tapes.

    1983 – Strategic Defense Initiative: President Ronald Reagan makes his initial proposal to develop technology to intercept enemy missiles.

    2001 – The Russian Mir space station is disposed of, breaking up in the atmosphere before falling into the southern Pacific Ocean near Fiji.

    2010 – The Affordable Care Act becomes law in the United States.

    2020 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the United Kingdom into its first national lockdown in response to COVID-19.

    2021 – A container ship runs aground and obstructs the Suez Canal for six days.

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

    1882 – Emmy Noether, Jewish German-American mathematician, physicist and academic (d. 1935).

    1904 – Joan Crawford, American film actress (d. 1977).

    1912 – Wernher von Braun, German-American physicist and engineer (d. 1977).

    1921 – Donald Campbell, English race car driver (d. 1967). [Broke eight absolute world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964). He died during a water speed record attempt at Coniston Water in the Lake District, England.]

    1924 – Bette Nesmith Graham, American inventor, invented Liquid Paper (d. 1980). [She was also the mother of Monkees guitarist Mike Nesmith.]

    1929 – Roger Bannister, English runner, neurologist and academic (d. 2018).

    1935 – Barry Cryer, English comedian, actor and screenwriter (d. 2022). [ “Quick – the noise made by a dyslexic duck”.]

    1944 – Tony McPhee, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1944 – Michael Nyman, English composer of minimalist music and pianist.

    1944 – Ric Ocasek, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer (d. 2019).

    1946 – Alan Bleasdale, English screenwriter and producer.

    1952 – Kim Stanley Robinson, American author. [I’ve only read his The Ministry for the Future.]

    1953 – Chaka Khan, American singer-songwriter.

    Beware of the Duck of Death Cause I’m Sure They’re Going to Get You Yeah: [A dodgy reference to the song “Beware of the Flowers Cause I’m Sure They’re Going to Get You Yeah” by eccentric English singer-songwriter John Otway. In a BBC poll it was voted the seventh greatest lyric of all time, just behind Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”. (An early exploitation of the “Boaty McBoatface” flaw in online votes.) His autobiographical film Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure: Otway the Movie is available to watch for free by clicking on the link.]

    [PS: A bad day to be famous French dude with just one name…]

    1842 – Stendhal, French novelist (b. 1783).

    1910 – Nadar, French photographer, journalist, and author (b. 1820).

    1964 – Peter Lorre, American actor (b. 1904).

    1992 – Friedrich Hayek, Austrian-German economist, philosopher, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1899).

    2003 – Fritz Spiegl, Austrian-English flute player and journalist (b. 1926). [His works include compiling the Radio 4 UK Theme in 1978.]

    2007 – Paul Cohen, American mathematician and theorist (b. 1934. [Best known for his proofs that the continuum hypothesis and the axiom of choice are independent from Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory, for which he was awarded a Fields Medal.]

    2011 – Elizabeth Taylor, American-British actress, socialite and humanitarian (b. 1932).

    2021 – George Segal, American actor (b. 1934).

    2022 – Madeleine Albright, Czechoslovakian-born American diplomat, 64th United States Secretary of State (b. 1937).

      1. More data for my Theory of Beatles Covers which is mine.

        Nobody can cover a Beatles song and do a better job than the Beatles. In fact almost all covers ruin the song.

      1. Wonderful, thanks for sorting out the link!

        I first saw Otway at the Reading Festival in ’78 – his antics drove the poor stage crew nuts, not least when he sang dangling upside down from the lighting rig.

  2. This is the first I’ve heard of Rowling being “anti-Semitic” (nor is she ACTUALLY transphobic based on anything I’ve seen). It’s so irritating that people write articles with expressions like “well-documented transphobia and anti-Semitism” without actually producing such documentation, not even giving references. It’s like a magic incantation, where people say the words to conjure their reality.

    If that worked, I’d be willing to spend the rest of my life writing, “It’s well known that all people everywhere are growing more rational, more kind, more intelligent, and less tribal with each passing day, and that civilization is rapidly entering a permanent golden age.”

    On a lighter note, can’t we just have wavy chips with onion dip AND tortilla chips (I’ll leave the guacamole for you, but that salsa looks quite nice)? I don’t honestly think I could decide which I like more.

    1. I believe the charge of anti-Semitism comes from Rowling’s portrayal of the goblin bankers in the Harry Potter universe, which are described as possessing traits often used to describe the “evil Jews” by anti-semites.

      I doubt she’s anti-semitic herself, but I have little doubt that her characterization was influenced by cultural stereotypes of money-obsessed bankers, consciously or not.

      1. I think it’s the characterisation in the movies that are deemed anti-Semitic. I’m not sure how much input she had into that aspect of the production process, but it seems like a bit of a stretch given that goblins have been depicted with a similar appearance for a very long time.

  3. “Every time you call your boyfriend ‘Daddy,’ Sigmund Freud’s ghost becomes a little stronger.”

    During a lovemaking session, I once gave a girlfriend a playful slap on the butt and asked, “Who’s your daddy?” She looked over her shoulder, fixed me with a firm stare in the eyes, and told me her father’s name — first initial, middle name, last name, all the way through to the terminal Roman numerals. Talk about a concupiscence killer! It cured of the desire ever to try that again. 🙂

    1. Not being entirely in with the culture, I have to ask: What kind of answer did you expect? I have a guess, but I’m not sure. Was it something along the lines of ‘You are. You are my daddy’?

  4. The only wrong way to eat an Oreo is to eat an Oreo.

    RE Freud I don’t know much of psychoanalysis, but I recently read the book “A Hidden Spring” that argues Freud had many theories that were not testable with the technology of his day but that are bearing fruit now. Here’s an article about it:

  5. TMI, Ken!
    I think Freud deserves a place, if only in the history of psychiatry. His work on dreams is still reasonable, his comments on culture and religion are still relevant, and his description of the stages of child growth, well, a little bit right. The adult therapeutic stuff, outside the mechanism of conversion disorders, was nonsense.
    But look at him this way: he was thinking about something no one had really tried before. He was like an alchemist, trying to understand the physical and chemical nature of the world, but not really knowing how to do it. But alchemists inspired chemists, who did a better job. In the same way, Freud inspired generations of psychiatrists and psychologists to look deeper and harder. Sadly, the brain is so complex that whilst we know a lot, we are not as far ahead as chemists are.
    So read him out of interest, glean the pearls, admire his independent ground-breaking mind, but don’t spend your money and time on analysis.

  6. I too thought the Crews Freud/Fraud book was excellent, but nevertheless have to admit that sometimes Sigmund was dead right:

    “When a man has once brought himself to accept uncritically all the absurdities that religious doctrines put before him and even to overlook the contradictions between them, we need not be greatly surprised at the weakness of his intellect.”

    Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion (1927)

  7. Choosing between onion dip and guacamole? No more difficult than choosing between a Timothy Taylor Landlord and any Hazy IPA.

    1. Neither on the dips – much prefer a good fresh salsa (although not a commercially prepared one). And either on the beers – although if I’m in a place where landlord is on offer I’d take that, I can get a hazy IPA without traveling.

  8. A very good work providing a philosophical analysis and critique of Freud’s psychoanalytic work is A. Grunbaum’s Foundations of Psychoanalysis.

  9. My favorite way to eat Oreos? Open package, invert over garbage can and shake until empty, drop packaging.

  10. Hi everyone — WordPress developer here testing out and troubleshooting issues with comment moderation and notifications of follow-up comments via email. Feel free to comment if you’re also having issues.

    1. Hello. I am a long time commenter. The issue started a couple weeks ago when my comments were all going to moderation. Nothing has changed on my end that I am aware of. I do not know the language of networks, but what I’ve been told that maybe my computer is changing its IP address. I have some instructions for managing that , but I wanted to see if that is a shared problem. Here is what I see in my settings. I have no idea what these mean, btw.
      “Configure ipv4” is set to “Using DHCP.” This seems to be as it should be.
      “Configure ipv6” is set to “Automatically”. This seems to be as it should be.
      There is also this line for “DHCP Lease”, where I can “Renew DHCP Lease”. I wonder about that one.

      Thank you !

      1. Hi Mark, thanks for the feedback. And you’re not using a VPN network that would change your IP address, correct?

          1. If you used a VPN you’d know and would have had to set it up. Seeing so many issues across the board with moderation it’s safe to rule that out as a cause. Thanks.

      2. Tom, this exact thing has happened to many of us at the same time, as Jerry and many others had noted.. The idea that it has something to do with OUR end of things is one that you should have discarded by now.

        And I see that this very comment is now in moderation!

    2. Recently my comments all go to moderation (previously they didn’t, though of course the change could have been deliberate!). Other than that things are working fine for me.

    3. How does a user subscribe not to the website, but to specific posts?

      There was a radio button (or a check button, not sure of the exact term for it) but it seemed to disappear a while ago.

      For example, I want to get all the comments from this post. There is and always was a “Notify me of new posts by email” button. There are no other buttons. I will of course try checking that box now again, but I don’t think it did what I expected it to every other time I tried it before.

      The subscription confirmation emails are not showing up in my spam or junk email folders either but perhaps I need to update my email or something.

      Thank you.

      1. Unfortunately I think WordPress phased out the functionality to subscribe to specific posts but I’m digging in further to confirm, and it appears email notifications may have changed as well. Hoping to get to the bottom of this soon.

    4. I’m still having issues. (I think Jerry forwarded my email about this to you last week). The old check box requesting comment emails has gone missing.

    5. Hi there. Thanks for looking into this. My issue is that all my posts now require moderation. That was not the case earlier.

    6. Yup – as with others here my comments are (usually) going to moderation. Using safari, with tracking on, so it links to my WordPress account and knows who I am. (FWIW It says below this box “you are commenting using your WordPress account”) Same from work and home, no VPN in use as a default.

    7. All comments are going to what I presume are moderation rather than posting immediately. (Prior to the last couple of weeks my comments would post immediately most of the time—with or without an edit option—but they would occasionally go to moderation.) I use a VPN but have long done so without problem; I have made no recent changes to my VPN settings. I do have Windows set to use random hardware addresses. I am using Firefox in private browsing mode, popups blocked, and tracking protection set to “standard”. Hope this helps.

    8. Same as most everyone else; all my comments go to moderation. I’ve been here about 10 years. Chrome on a Mac; no VPN.

      By the way, though, I do get the checkbox for “Notify me of new posts via email.”

        1. Hi Tom:

          I rarely subscribe, as I check this website every day. I don’t remember how I receive notification–probably via e-mail– as it’s been quite a while since I checked the box.

    9. I have to fill in my email and other info every time even though I select “save my name etc” every time. That has never worked, since I started following about a year +/-.

      Sometimes my comments are not posted.

      Usually my comments are posted, but when I select “notify me of new comments” it does not work. It previously worked, but not for a couple of months or so.

      1. If you go to WordPress and set up an account for yourself, I believe that what happens then is that in the comment field you will see the “W” (wordpress) icon, along with other icons that may have already been there. I see the W but also the icons for Twitter and for Facebook. Clicking on the W should auto-fill your WordPress credentials. If not, then you may need to log into WP on a separate tab, then try again. Or comment straight in the WP site. A nice perk is that with WP you get to specify your avatar.

    10. Hi, I’ve been having trouble for some time since this sites commenting system went SNFU as well, thank you for offering to help!

    11. I have what may be a terrible idea, which is to maybe turn off all moderation so no comments are moderated. But then maybe turn it back on again and let Jerry respecify who is not moderated. Start fresh.

    12. I’ve commented here for years, and also on several other blogs, many on WordPress. There is a problem which is ONLY on this blog: The email, name, and website fields are not saved; I have to fill them in again with every single comment. Doesn’t matter if the “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment” is checked or not, not does it depend on the browser or operating system. Definitely very unusual, since that information is saved on every other WordPress blog I comment on.

    13. Most of my comments seem to go into limbo and not appear for several minutes after I submit them. This doesn’t always happen but I can’t discern a pattern.

      I post logged in with WordPress and I’m using Safari on an Apple M1 laptop.

    14. Not the “comment moderation” issue, for variety.

      When commenting using Firefox (current version, but it has been happening for dozens of versions) and the “HTML Edit” add-on (, I get an error reported by “Edit” for most operations, though the add-on does seem to insert most tag-pairs as desired. It’s an annoyance, but not a problem.
      More valuable for time-use would be if some HTML “list” or “table” functionality could be allowed. I don’t know if that’s a general WordPress issue, or one specific to how this site is configured at the server end.

        1. Thanks, I noticed they did not populate right away as well. In that case I was logged out and entered my name and email, so I’m testing out different scenarios.

  11. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s sign is perfectly correct. “Gender” has been for some decades merely a euphemism for sex—the trait, not the act. A committee that is “gender-balanced” simply means it has the same number of men as women. The chair was merely too squeamish to say, “sex-balanced” (perhaps because he has a few sexual skeletons in his own closet and saying “sex” with a revealing hitch in his voice might set the reporters to talking to old girlfriends. Since there are only two sexes, there can be only two genders. “Male” and “female” describe exhaustively and exclusively the two sexes. They do the same for the two euphemistic genders.

    The position that there are many genders and that an individual can flit amongst them or that the assigned sex at birth is somehow incorrect is a political-ideological statement that MTG need not subscribe to, and clearly doesn’t.

    The jointly exclusive and exhaustive terms masculine, feminine, and neuter apply to nouns, adjectives and particles in gendered languages which English is not, except vestigially. We can use the first two in humans to describe attributes more characteristic of one sex orvthe other and there is no need to bring the grammatical or euphemistic conceptbof gender into it at all. A woman with hair on her face due to a tumour that secretes masculinizing hormones has not changed her gender. Nor has a woman who takes testosterone to grow a beard.

    So MTG’s sign is just fine by me. I think she is mocking the use of gender as a euphemism for sex just to push people ‘s buttons. What she really means is there are only two sexes. We can all agree on that, surely.

    1. Leslie, do you recall when it was you first started seeing “gender” in the clinic? I have over the last few years seen questionnaires in physicians’ offices that ask for my “gender” when they clearly mean “sex”.

      Looking at my 1989 hardcopy of the Oxford English Dictionary, I find the first definition of gender to be the obsolete “kind, sort, class; also, genus as opposed to species”. (Interestingly, the “nervous gender” did not refer to either men or women but to the nervous system.) The second definition is the grammatical kind. It is not until the tertiary definition that we arrive at “Sex. Now only jocular.” It expands by saying “In mod. (esp. feminist) use, a euphemism for the sex of a human being, often intended to emphasize the social and cultural, as opposed to biological distinctions between the sexes.”

      This strikes me as correct as a usage note. Even as a euphemism its roots are largely in feminist ideology, and it was not widely used outside of the academy in the 1980s. (It was, however, in the initial stage of its meteoric rise. If Google NGram Viewer is to be trusted, it was close as of 2019 to surpassing the frequency with which “sex” appears in written English. It would not surprise me if it were more common now.) I suspect it was widely embraced outside of the academy owing to a certain squeamishness that you mention, perhaps a residual Victorian prudishness that left some people uncomfortable using “sex” as a noun. Vulgarization of the term may obliterate any link to its feminist roots and it may become just a synonym for “sex” (while allowing much legal and regulatory mischief as activists and the public operate with different understandings of the term). Still, it is beyond me why anyone would use the euphemism in a clinical setting.

      1. Doug, that’s a good question. I don’t spend much time in doctors’ offices and our machine-readable Health Cards from the provincial single payer have our sex of registration embedded, so there is no intake form for each visit on which to answer the question. I don’t know what the screen shows that the staff see. No one ever asks except recently the Canadian Blood Service has started asking donors to confirm their gender, even though the system already knows what sex we are. Sex is very important but gender identity is irrelevant for blood donation except insofar as the clinic doesn’t want to have would-be donors screaming at them for misgendering them. This would cause all the staff to quit, and then where would we be?

        Organized medicine has been whining about gender inequity in physician incomes for a long time but when it comes to actual medical biology, we have always talked about male-female differences in, say, hemoglobin levels or risk of heart attack. The woke medical journals call these things “gender-based difference” because they want us to play along that men can get pregnant, but actual doctors talking amongst themselves don’t talk that way. We just identify the individual patient as a man or woman in our notes and then tell that patient’s story from there, using conventional sex-based pronouns.

        So I would say the term “gender” was never used in a clinical setting as a euphemism for sex while I was working. It would induce eye-rolls, from nurses especially, which is never a good thing to elicit. If the nurse thinks you are a phoney, you’re dead.

        If an individual patient did turn up who wanted us to use idiosyncratic pronouns while she pretended her gender didn’t match her sex, the provincial self-regulator has told us it expects us to comply. But the medical record has to capture the true sex, no matter what we have to call the person. You can’t be working up a woman for prostate cancer.

  12. I have to fill in my email and name EVERY SINGLE TIME, even though I’ve been following this site for maybe 10 years. This started happening maybe 6 months ago. I also never get comments sent to my email anymore, What’s going on??

    1. Not entirely sure yet but looking into it! If your browser is blocking cookies, that could be one cause. A solution to that could be to log in via a account when posting a comment (or through Twitter or Facebook), and that should save your info. Comments not being sent to email is another issue I’m looking into.

    2. Me too and I agree it’s very annoying but if thats the worst thing that happens to me then I think I am very lucky 🍀

  13. SPF, dkim and dmarc look good and fresh… I’m a light poster to say the least but I haven’t been marked to moderation for some time…

  14. Not sure if this is where it should be said, but the profusion of ads is discomfiting and much overmuch. JAC is, however, the best and is worth putting up with most of it.

        1. Agreed, here almost from the start.

          Below this box I’m writing in, it says,

          “Colin McLachlan: You are commenting using your account. ( Log Out / Change )”

          It also has checkboxes for new posts via email, and new posts on web and Jetpack App via notifications. I never use these, as I visit this site every day as a matter of course.

  15. The correct way to eat Oreos is not to buy them. They contain palm oil, (one of) the great scourge(s) of the tropical rain forests.

  16. Alice Walker’s claims about the etymology of “faggot” are an example of really bad scholarship that seems on the rise currently. It seems like they make no effort at all to research actual history, instead they just make something up that fits their preconceived views, and seems sort of plausible.
    OED puts the derogatory current usage of the word as having 20th century North American origins.
    The word itself is ancient.

    1. Indeed. They etymology is unclear, but her version is almost certainly false.

      With regard to being Black, perhaps that has hurt her a bit, but it’s probably not sufficient, as other Black people with cracy opinions have been called out.

    2. Alice Walker’s claims about the etymology of “faggot” are an example of really bad scholarship that seems on the rise currently.

      It wasn’t a joke? I’m used to not getting foreign jokes, so I just passed over it.Really, we do live in the End Times.

      OED puts the derogatory current usage of the word as having 20th century North American origins.

      I’ve got a packet of Mr Brain’s finest pork products in the freezer, for a treat.

  17. This is a minor problem: Whenever I used to comment, it would fill in my email address and name automatically but hasn’t done that for months (even when I click “Save my name…”).

  18. I’ve just spent a week in Stornaway, Lewis. The local chip shop was advertising deep fried Oreo’s.

    1. The idea of a deep-fried faggot – possibly after being battered – sounds quite appealing. If I had a deep-frier, I might try it.

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