Good morning on Thursday, April 27, 2023, and National Prime Rib Day, a day for beefivores (I like it, but only when it’s rare). TRIGGER WARNING: MEAT!
It’s also Babe Ruth Day, the day in 1947 when the Bambino, dying of cancer, was honored at Yankee Stadium; Love Your Thighs Day; Marine Mammal Rescue Day; Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day; Freedom Day in South Africa (the day in 1964 when the first post-apartheid elections were held in South Africa); and World Tapir Day.
Once again I present an adult and juvenile tapir (this is the Malayan tapir T. indicus, one of four species in the genus Tapirus. You tell me why they’re colored this way! Note that both adults and calves are weirdly colored, with the young ones looking like watermelons:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 27 Wikipedia page.
*As the NYT argues, the visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the White House yesterday is portentous, for it’s a tacit admission that North Korea is now a nuclear power to be dealt with.
North Korea’s missile tests are so frequent that they prompt more shrugs than big headlines in Seoul.
So when President Biden welcomes President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea to the White House on Wednesday, only the second state visit of Mr. Biden’s presidency, there will be few pretenses that disarming North Korea remains a plausible goal.
Instead, American officials say, Mr. Biden’s most vivid commitment to Mr. Yoon will focus on what arms control experts call “extended deterrence,” renewing a vow that America’s nuclear arsenal will be used, if necessary, to dissuade or respond to a North Korean nuclear attack on the South.
The emphasis on deterrence is a striking admission that all other efforts over the past three decades to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear program, including diplomatic persuasion, crushing sanctions and episodic promises of development aid, have all failed. It is also intended to tamp down a growing call in South Korea for its own independent arsenal, on the very remote chance that North Korea would make the suicidal decision to use a nuclear weapon.
Now this is not rocket science. Any damn fool could figure out that NOTHING would prompt North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons, for the DPRK is by far the most paranoid nation on Earth about attacks from the U.S. and its allies. They see nukes as the only way to prevent those attacks, and eventually they’ll have nuclear weapons that can strike the U.S. Trying to slow that down is a fool’s errand. It’s also a fool’s errand to try it with Iran, who want to have missiles to attack, among other countries, Israel. We will not be able to stop Iran from getting the bomb, either, and those why try are deluded.
The only consolation vis-à-vis the DPRK is that they’re so small that they know that firing just one missile at the U.S., Japan, or South Korea will be suicide: the eradication of their entire country and its people (who are largely on the verge of death from disease and starvation in normal circumstances). But we have to worry more about Iran: a large and populous country who have their sights set on a small, easily-destroyed country.
*A civil trial against Trump that I’d forgotten about (there are so many!), proceeded yesterday with a woman accusing him of rape (remember, this is not a criminal trial), and asking damages for battery and defamation.
Other experts said that the new documents were interesting but did not radically change the narrative; it has long been clear that Dr. Franklin played a key role in the discovery. “What this does is add a little new evidence to a trail, which leads directly to Franklin’s being a major participant,” said David Oshinsky, a historian of medicine at New York University.
And regardless of what Dr. Franklin knew about who had access to her data, the new documents do not change the fact that she did not receive adequate recognition for her work, some historians said.
Well, this argument will never end, and you can decide for yourself. All I can say is that Watson and Crick probably were “ungallant”, but they didn’t steal anything so long as Franklin knew what was likely and didn’t object. The data show that she remained friends with both Watson and Crick after she left King’s College, and that both of them, especially Crick, took pains to give Franklin proper credit (see yesterday’s post). I wish only that Franklin had lived to receive the Nobel Prize, for it surely would have been hers. Not only did she have a lot of good science left in her (she died at only 37!), but getting a Nobel Prize would have finally laid to rest all complaints that her accomplishments were ignored.
*This looks bad for Ron DeSantis: he’s being sued by the Walt Disney company. Remember, DeSantis took away the special privileges he gave the company a while back when he thought they were been too harsh in opposing his “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Disney sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday over the Republican’s takeover of its theme park district, alleging the governor waged a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company opposed a law critics call “Don’t Say Gay.”
The lawsuit was filed in Tallahassee minutes after a Disney World oversight board appointed by DeSantis voted to void a deal that gave the company authority over design and construction decisions in its sprawling properties near Orlando.
“Disney regrets that it has come to this,” the case said. “But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.”
The legal filing is the latest salvo in a more than year-old feud between Disney and DeSantis that has engulfed the governor in criticism as he prepares to launch an expected presidential bid in the coming months.
What’s the law that Disney criticized? The AP reported on it a while back:
The law’s central language reads: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
*Over at CNN, Stuart Vyse, who happens to be the acting editor of the Center for Inquiry’s (CFI’s) Magazine Skeptical Inquirer, recounts the history of superstition among American Presidents.Remember that the CFI’s historical mission has been debuking pseudoscience and woo, including the superstition that seems to have afflicted quite a few Presidents. Vyse points out that Biden’s announcement that he’s running came exactly four years after his last one, and that Biden is “very superstitious“. So was Barack Obama.
Even the seemingly hyper-rational Barack “No Drama” Obama had a famous campaign superstition. As he told “60 Minutes,” Obama often arranged pick-up basketball games with his staff on the campaign trail. He played basketball on the day of the 2008 Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary, both of which he won. For whatever reason, he failed to organize a game before the early contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, which he lost to Hillary Clinton. So Obama decided he should always play basketball on Election Day. (Obama’s Election Day win in November 2012 came on a day the president’s basketball game included former Chicago Bulls stars Scottie Pippen and Randy Brown.)
People employ superstitions when there’s a lot at stake and the outcome is uncertain. . .
Is there any harm in that? Vyse says “sometimes, but not all the time”:
No one is born superstitious. You need to learn this kind of magical thinking, and that usually comes from being around other superstitious people, as I’ve written elsewhere. Once you acquire a superstition, it provides psychological comfort at the moment it is invoked. Those who are superstitious can experience a psychological benefit from the feeling that they have done one more thing to help achieve a desired outcome, something psychologists call the illusion of control. Even if they know on a rational level that their superstitions can’t work, people often say they feel better doing them than not: “I don’t want to take a chance.”
. . . But clearly all these superstitions are contradicted by science and reason. Should voters be concerned about presidents who buy into them? It depends. A 2014 poll found that 24% of Americans describe themselves as superstitious and 22% said they were “not too superstitious,” so we’re talking about a common set of beliefs that don’t signal psychopathology. However, normal people often do things that aren’t good for them. What about superstition?
. . . Psychologists separate superstitions into positive and negative — good luck encouraging and bad luck discouraging. Of the two, the negative or taboo superstitions are the more concerning.
Presidents have shown both forms:
It is completely understandable and natural to be plagued by such fears. Unlucky 13 is arguably the most well-known superstition in the world, and both Ronald and Nancy Reagan came from the traditionally superstitious world of the stage. In addition, the president had survived an attempt on his life that made the first lady concerned about his safety. But understandable or not, these negative superstitions created needless anxiety and led to bad decisions.
. . . Similarly, Biden and Obama’s election superstitions — and to a lesser degree, Truman’s horseshoe over the Oval Office door — are expressions of a shared hope. The immediate psychological benefits of those actions are undoubtedly positive, and many Americans probably recognize this behavior as something they might do.
Okay, I can live with this kind of magical thinking, but what I can’t live with is a President who doesn’t accept evolution. NOBODY asked any of the candidates that in 2020, and I hope some savvy reporter brings it up next year. For any candidate who doesn’t accept evolution is a candidate who won’t admit plain facts, and I won’t vote for them.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is doing some deep philosophizing with Andrzej. She and Andrzej are wise old mammals:
Hili: Everything already was.A: Yes, but with different actors.
Hili: Wszystko już było.Ja: Tak, ale z innymi aktorami.
Another misspelling from reader David. This is a particularly bad one:
From Bizarre and Wonderful World, captioned “sky camping”. These guys are all gonna sleep on that ledge, too, secured to the rock face. I couldn’t do it:
From Jesus of the Day. What would YOU do?
From Masih. Sound up, and look at the hijabi’s arguments (there are subtitles):
See the argument of two Iranian girls with a pro-regime woman. This is the norm these days in Iran, when the supporters of the government attack girls without hijab. The younger generation must defend themselves in this way because they do not want to follow the Shari law.… pic.twitter.com/SXjPzkxjXr
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) April 26, 2023
There are still people who know nothing about satire who take Titania McGrath seriously:
There have been lots of angry responses to my tweet. I deeply regret any offence caused.
So to be clear: I agree that the Holocaust was quite bad. But removing blue checks from left-wing accounts is arguably worse because so many of us rely on them for guidance.
Is that better? https://t.co/5FGMswvFp9
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 25, 2023
From Malcolm, who says “This shows how disgusting British hunts can be.” The fox was caught and bagged, later to be released to be chased by dogs. The practice is illegal, and this particular vixen probably had cubs. Why are fox hunts still legal in the UK?
This is the moment a fox is rescued after being trapped in a bag and buried alive.
After the release of this exclusive footage, filmed by a hunt saboteur, the British fox hunting governing body suspended The Cotswold Hunt.
Gloucestershire police are investigating the incident. pic.twitter.com/c0g4gkNC7m
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 28, 2023
From Barry, a smart crow (is that an oxymoron?):
Forget Artificial Intelligence. It's this fucker you should be scared of. 😱 pic.twitter.com/q84QWV7FnC
— ᵁⁿᵏⁱᵉᴹᵒⁿᵏⁱᵉ (@UnkieMonkie) April 22, 2023
From Dom, a great photo:
— Dr. Jessie Christiansen (@aussiastronomer) April 6, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Frenchman, and not a Jewish one, lived about a month after arrival. The color of the upside-down triangle on his uniform would tell us his “crime”.
27 April 1905 | A Frenchman. Francis Gauthier. was born in Thenay.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) April 27, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. The paper discussed first suggests that blinking, because it keeps the eyes wet (and they must be kept wet) was an adaptation to life on land.
Pleased to share our new paper, which analyzes origin of blinking and its relation to the evolution of life on land https://t.co/0h8itJ9mv8
— Thomas Stewart (@TomDoesScience) April 24, 2023
In photos taken from space, we see the shadow of the Moon on Earth (and no, the second tweet isn’t “sensitive):
There is a similar picture pic.twitter.com/Z822ItrKr8
— 阿卡林 (@hentailamb) April 25, 2023
Lots of good answers in this thread. I’ll give one:
if insects were large enough to ride (and they wouldn’t kill you) which one would be your mount??
— Vinny Thomas (@vinn_ayy) April 5, 2023
for me, a Saharan silver ant for errands (I want my neighbors to know i have money) and a stag beetle for WAR pic.twitter.com/M62RWAYpIS
— Vinny Thomas (@vinn_ayy) April 5, 2023