Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 20, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings on Caturday (shabbos for Jewish felids), May 20, 2023, and National Quiche Lorraine Day. This tasty and deeply unhealthy dish was known outside the Lorraine region of NW France only after the 1950s:

It’s also Armed Forces Day, Flower Day, International Red Sneakers Day, National Rescue D*g Day, World Fiddle Day, World Whisky DayEmancipation DayJosephine Baker Day (declared by the NAACP for her civil rights activism), World Bee Day  and World Metrology Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 20 Wikipedia page.

Today’s Google Doodle is a “spot the axolotl” animation (these amphibians are critically endangered, living only in freshwater in the Valley of Mexico). Travel along the lake floor and, when you spot one, click. If you get enough photos right, you win!  Click to go to the game:

Da Nooz:

*There’s only a bit more than a week left until the U.S. hits its debt limit, and until yesterday things looked as if there would be a rapprochement between Biden and the Republicans that would stave off a default. Now things have hit a snag again.

Negotiations between top White House and Republican congressional officials over a deal to raise the debt limit hit a snag on Friday when a G.O.P. leader in the talks said it was time to “press pause,” complaining that President Biden’s team was being unreasonable and that no progress could be made.

It was a setback in the effort to avert a debt default before a June 1 deadline, though it was not clear whether the delay was a tactical retreat or a lasting blow to chances of getting an agreement.

The halt came one day after the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus declared that Republicans should cease negotiations with Mr. Biden and insist on their debt limit legislation, which demanded steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the federal borrowing cap and is a dead letter in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The abrupt announcement of a pause also came just a day after Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, told reporters that he believed negotiators could reach a deal in principle as early as the weekend. But on Friday Mr. McCarthy and his deputies sounded a starkly different tone, saying that White House officials were refusing to come their way on spending cuts.

. . .“We’ve got to get movement by the White House, and we don’t have any movement,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol not long afterward. “We’ve got to pause.”

He hinted that a major sticking point was over how to cap federal spending. House Republicans passed a debt limit bill last month that would raise the nation’s borrowing limit into next year in exchange for freezing spending at last year’s levels for a decade.

It’s getting down to the wire, and I’m hoping that, given the gravity of this situation, the desire to compromise outweighs a partisan fight for “victory.”

*Salman Rushdie made a surprise appearance, and a short speech, at Thursday’s PEN America Gala, and I’m very glad that he’s able to do this. He even had some booze!

Salman Rushdie walked onstage at PEN America’s annual gala on Thursday night, his first public appearance since he was stabbed and gravely wounded in an attack last August at a literary event in Western New York.

His appearance at the gala, which had not been announced, was a surprise. But no surprise, to those who know him, was that he began his speech with a joke.

“Well, hi everybody,” Rushdie said, as the crowd at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan greeted him with whoops and a standing ovation. “It’s nice to be back — as opposed to not being back, which was also an option. I’m pretty glad the dice rolled this way.”

His remarks, just a few minutes long, in accepting an award for courage may have been uncharacteristically terse. But Rushdie, who lost sight in one eye because of the attack, was his voluble self during the cocktail hour, for which he had slipped in through a side door before taking his place for a red-carpet photo op.

Flashbulbs popped. And as the crowd began to notice him, friends headed over for handshakes and hugs.

“I just thought if there’s a right thing to chose as a re-entry, it’s this,” he said in an interview. “It’s being part of the world of books, the fight against censorship and for human rights.”

Here’s a photo with the caption from the NYT:

Salman Rushdie, whose appearance at PEN America’s gala was not publicized beforehand, was greeted by the crowd with a standing ovation.Credit: Rebecca Smeyne for The New York Times.

What’s a bit ironic about this is that six PEN America members refused to show up at this gala in 2015 when Charlie Hebdo was getting a “courge” award. Their reason? Because the French magazine was making fun of Islam, held by “marginalized people”. Well, that’s why Rushdie was given a fatwa that was supported by many in the West.

*Here are three items from Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary at The Free Press, called this week “TGIF: The suburbs are back.” Speaking of PEN:

→ Masha Gessen resigns from PEN Board: Prestigious literary group PEN America was hosting their annual World Voices Festival of International Literature and decided that Russian dissident writers were still too Russian to attend. So they canceled the Russian writers panel. The writer Masha Gessen, one of those Russian dissidents, resigned as vice president of the PEN board over it. Anyway, it’s a typical mess. Amid bad publicity PEN apologized, calling it a big misunderstanding. I’m all for helping the Ukrainians and am pro–Team America World Police, but liberal America’s intensity on this war has gotten to the point where we’re going to have to watch out for suburban dads terrorizing local pierogi joints.

I disagree with PEN, which is woke, but I also disagree with Bowles’s ire towards “liberal America’s intensity” about the war.

→ Because the culture war was getting boring: The LGBTQ advisory group of Massachusetts is recommending that the commonwealth expand child abuse laws to include “the withholding of gender-affirming care for LGBTQ youth.” (H/t Wesley Yang for finding that.) Tasking child protective services with taking children away if they’re not immediately put on hormone therapy will surely calm the conversation around this.

Meanwhile, Texas Children’s Hospital said they would stop performing hormonal and surgical interventions on gender nonconforming children but has not stopped, according to a City Journal investigation. And The New York Times, in attempting a takedown of pediatric patients who detransitioned, accidentally confirmed that 15-year-old girls are getting mastectomies.

→ MeToo is out: There were a few years when the focus of modern society was on women and the slogan was #BelieveWomen and make them feel safe and comfortable. Now, #MeToo is #done.

Case #1: The group of sorority sisters in Wyoming who are suing their sorority for allowing a biological male who occasionally IDs as a woman to join, alleging that the new member had a boner while they changed clothes. The villain in the modern telling? Those girls! (Also I will say, the “transwoman” here doesn’t seem totally legit, as it were, in that they haven’t changed the sex on their driver’s license, haven’t had surgery, and apparently rarely even wear women’s clothes. I’m gonna need to see a little more effort before you can go full Kappa Kappa pillow party.)

Case #2: In Seattle, a city official who is a rape survivor didn’t want a convicted repeat sex offender to serve on the homelessness council but was overruled this week. The new line: believe none of these crazy ladies! They’re being a little touchy, don’t you think? A little. . . hysterical?

*In his Weekly Dish column, “The Queers versus the homosexuals,” Andrew Sullivan takes a look at what the “queer movement,” including transgender activists, has done to the gay and lesbian movements, and he doesn’t like it. First, he argues that “queers now run the gay rights movement, and adds:

The core belief of critical queer theorists is that homosexuality is not a part of human nature because there is no such thing as human nature; and that everything is socially constructed, even the body. . . .

To be homosexual, in contrast, is merely to be attracted to the same sex, and gays and lesbians run the gamut of tastes, politics, backgrounds and religions. Some are conservative, some radical, some indifferent. Some gays are queers. But most aren’t. And queers now run what was once the gay rights movement. (For a longer, piercing reflection on the takeover, read historian Jamie Kirchick’s new essay in Liberties. For a discussion of the homophobia of the new queer activism, see Ben Appel’s excellent essay in Spiked.). . .

Gay hook-up apps now include biological women seeking gay men and straight men looking for chicks with dicks. “NO MEN” some profiles now say — on what was once a gay man’s app. There are fewer and fewerexclusively gay male spaces left. Lesbian bars? Almost gone entirely. Lesbians themselves? On their way out. Dylan Mulvaney is exemplary of the new queer order: a femme gay man who had to take female hormones to stay relevant. (Compare and contrast with disco icon Sylvester’s view of gay liberation: “I could be the queen that I really was without having a sex change or being on hormones.” We are going backward, not forward.)

Then the queers upped the ante and did something we gays never did: they targeted children. If they could get into kids’ minds, bodies and souls from the very beginning of their lives, they could abolish the sex binary from the ground up. And so they got a pliant, woke educational establishment to re-program children from the very start, telling toddlers that any single one of them could be living in the wrong body, before they could even spell.

. . . The queers regarded any therapy exploring other possible reasons for a child’s transgender identity — autism, family breakdown, abuse, bullying — as “conversion therapy,” and have made it illegal in some states. But the original Dutch study on which this entire medical regime stands specifically excluded any child with any other mental health challenges. It’s not as if the queers ignored the original safeguards, or didn’t know about them; they just consciously threw them away.

. . .You might imagine that, given this record, the queers would go out of their way to reassure us, to show how tight the safeguarding is, how they screen thoroughly to ensure that gay kids are not swept up in this. But they regard the very question of whether gay kids are at risk as out of bounds. Children are regarded as the ultimate authority on their own treatment: not the doctor or the parents, but the child.

Here’s a queer activist writer, Masha Gessen, saying that one thing “should be off limits” in this debate:

[In the NYT] there’s a [paraphrased] quote from Andrew Sullivan, the conservative gay journalist, who says, Well, maybe these people would’ve been gay—implying they’re really gay and not really transgender. That really clearly veers into the territory of saying ‘These people don’t exist. They’re not who they say they are.’ So that’s why it’s so painful.

No it doesn’t. It’s perfectly possible to believe that transgender people exist, but that children may not know who or what they are before they’ve even gone through puberty.

. . . But we have to be insistent that the gay experience is distinct and different and not intrinsically connected to either queer ideology or the trans experience. We have to demand that children’s bodies — gay, straight, trans, gender-conforming and gender-nonconforming — be left alone. And we must do all we can to make sure that the trans-queer revolution does not result in what it seems to be moving toward: the eradication of homosexuality from public life.

He goes on to claim that this kind of activism is driving gay men and women away from liberal politics. I’m in no position to evaluate that, but Sullivan does make some credible claims.

Oh, and a bit of self-aggrandizement: from the “Money quotes” for the week section:

“White-throated sparrows have four chromosomally distinct sexes that pair up in fascinating ways. P.S. Nature is amazing. P.P.S. Sex is not binary,” – Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief of Scientific American. The sparrows have just two sexes, as Community Notes corrected. Jerry Coyne has a beaut of a piece on this.

*If you’re into good but inexpensive red wines, and who’s not, then have a look at the WSJ’s article “Italy’s Best Bargain in Red Wines Now“.

What’s your favorite bargain red? That’s a question I’ve fielded many times, and after a recent tasting I have a new reply: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Produced in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, a good Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can cost as little as $9, though many cost more and tend to be, correspondingly, more complex. I hadn’t tasted much Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in recent years, but the 15 bottles I bought, priced between $9 and $28, were, with a few exceptions, so good that I will definitely be buying more.

. . .I’ve never been to Abruzzo, but I’ve heard it described in such captivating terms that I’m determined to rectify that fact. San Francisco-based restaurateur and wine director Shelley Lindgren is a big fan who’s visited Abruzzo seven times and described it as “hauntingly beautiful.” Although the region has long been undersung and overlooked, Lindgren thinks that thanks to the heightened quality of Abruzzo wines and the beauty of the region, it’s “having a moment and deservedly so.”

Lindgren said that Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines are always among the bestselling by-the-glass offerings at both of her A16 restaurants, in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.

Author Lettie Teague recommends five wines between $9 and $26, and here’s one that intrigues me:

And how can the lush, aromatic 2021 DeAngelis Montepulciano d’Abruzzo cost a mere $12 a bottle? It seems the DeAngelis family, whose winery is located in Marche, just across the border from Abruzzo, maintains a long-term contract to buy organic Montepulciano grapes from a great Abruzzo source.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are philosophically sardonic:

Hili: even narcissuses wither with time.
A: But they do not stop thinking highly about themselves.
In Polish:
Hili: Nawet narcyzy z czasem więdną.
Ja: Ale nie przestają o sobie dobrze myśleć.
And a lovely picture of Baby Kulka with a caption:  “In case anybody has any doubts, this picture was, of course, taken by Paulina.” (In Polish: “Gdyby ktoś miał wątpliwości, to zdjęcie jest oczywiście zrobione przez Paulinę.”)


From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

From Now That’s Wild!:

From Beth:

From Masih, more punishment for protesting:

From Barry. Cat: “I was just checking the wall.”

From Malcom. INCOMING!

From Ricky Gervais, the world’s most disgusting selfie:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, mother and child gassed upon arrival:

From Dr. Cobb, who’s on his way home from the USA. A medieval hybrid:

Digging through Francis Crick’s papers in La Jolla, Matthew found a reference to his own Ph.D. advisor:

Ah, Vonnegut:

39 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.

    1570 – Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas.

    1609 – Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.

    1631 – The city of Magdeburg in Germany is seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire and most of its inhabitants massacred, in one of the bloodiest incidents of the Thirty Years’ War.

    1645 – Yangzhou massacre: The ten day massacre of 800,000 residents of the city of Yangzhou, part of the Transition from Ming to Qing.

    1862 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law, opening eighty-four million acres (340,000 km2) of public land to settlers.

    1873 – Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.

    1875 – Signing of the Metre Convention by 17 nations leading to the establishment of the International System of Units.

    1883 – Krakatoa begins to erupt; the volcano explodes three months later, killing more than 36,000 people.

    1891 – History of cinema: The first public display of Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope.

    1902 – Cuba gains independence from the United States. Tomás Estrada Palma becomes the country’s first President.

    1927 – Charles Lindbergh takes off for Paris from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, N.Y., aboard the Spirit of St. Louis on the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landing thirty-three and a half hours later.

    1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.

    1940 – The Holocaust: The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.

    1948 – Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek wins the 1948 Republic of China presidential election and is sworn in as the first President of the Republic of China at Nanjing.

    1956 – In Operation Redwing, the first United States airborne hydrogen bomb is dropped over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

    1964 – Discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation by Robert Woodrow Wilson and Arno Penzias.

    1980 – In a referendum in Quebec, the population rejects, by 60% of the vote, a government proposal to move towards independence from Canada.

    1983 – First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by a team of French scientists including Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Jean-Claude Chermann, and Luc Montagnier.

    1989 – The Chinese authorities declare martial law in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations, setting the scene for the Tiananmen Square massacre.

    2019 – The International System of Units (SI): The base units are redefined, making the international prototype of the kilogram obsolete.

    2022 – Russo-Ukrainian War: Russia claims full control of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol after a nearly three-month siege.

    1799 – Honoré de Balzac, French novelist and playwright (d. 1850).

    1806 – John Stuart Mill, English economist, civil servant, and philosopher (d. 1873).

    1860 – Eduard Buchner, German chemist, zymologist, and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1917).

    1895 – R. J. Mitchell, English engineer, designed the Supermarine Spitfire and Supermarine S.6B (d. 1937).

    1908 – James Stewart, American actor (d. 1997).

    1913 – William Redington Hewlett, American engineer, co-founded Hewlett-Packard (d. 2001).

    1925 – Alexei Tupolev, Russian engineer, designed the Tupolev Tu-144 (d. 2001).

    1944 – Joe Cocker, English singer-songwriter (d. 2014).

    1946 – Cher, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress.

    1950 – Andy Johns, English-American engineer and producer (d. 2013). [Worked on several Led Zeppelin albums, the Stones’ Exile on Main St., and many more. He married one of Pattie Boyd’s sisters and his older brother Glyn worked with the Stones, Beatles, and Clapton – who played in the band at Glyn’s second wedding…]

    1970 – Louis Theroux, Singaporean-English journalist and producer.

    But thousands die without or this or that, / Die, and endow a college or a cat:
    1506 – Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer, early European explorer of the Americas (b. 1451).

    1864 – John Clare, English poet (b. 1793).

    1896 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (b. 1819).

    1996 – Jon Pertwee, English actor, portrayed the Third Doctor (b. 1919).

    2002 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, biologist, and academic (b. 1941).

    2013 – Ray Manzarek, American singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer (b. 1939).

    2019 – Niki Lauda, Austrian race car driver (b. 1949).

  2. In Florida, DeSantis has gotten the state’s legislature to pass a series of laws that’s underlying premise seems to be that through state action “gayness” can be extirpated from the state. It is state mandated conversion therapy for hundreds of thousands of people. Politico provides the details of everything he has done. He seems to think that the adoption of the platform of right-wing religion is the road to political success. He’ll find out shortly if that is case.

    What particularly interests and concerns me is the passage of one law that bans gender affirming care for children under the age of 18. Even if the child’s parents and the doctor decide that such treatment is appropriate, it cannot happen in Florida. This law reflects the tension within American conservatism. Conservatives have tried to argue that the two main tenets of their belief system are traditional values and limited government. They have tried to convince others and perhaps themselves that these two pillars of their philosophy go hand-in-hand. In this case and others (such as abortion), the two beliefs are in conflict with each other – one has to be jettisoned. And they have decided that limited government has to go. DeSantis and his Republicans in the legislature have passed laws that are totally intrusive in the private lives of citizens. Previously, DeSantis boasted that he was in favor of parental rights, such as having books banned in school libraries. Now, it is clear that for DeSantis type conservatives the belief in limited government is a fraud. Parents have no say in the upbringing of their children, even if such upbringing is approved by most medical societies, if the government of Florida doesn’t approve. True conservatives should be horrified.

    I would note that those that want to deny gender affirming care to minors have pointed to incidents where the children later regretted the decision to transition. This is undoubtedly true, but so what? It is very common that medical procedures of whatever kind are later regretted by patients. For example, how many men later regretted getting vasectomies? Medical procedures are imprecise. So, to say that the decision for a minor to have gender affirming care (with the approval of parents and a qualified doctor) should be banned because for some it turns out to be a mistake is absurd. There is risk in just about anything one does in life and medical care is not an exception.

    1. Neither Politico article mentions conversion therapy; these seem to be about gender affirming care. Also realize that “gender affirming care,” which is taken to mean not only therapeutic affirmation of a child’s desire to transition rather than explore their feelings, and often leads to near instantaneous prescription of hormone blockers, has been banned in several European countries. And THAT is not absurd.

    2. It’s because children are too young to make such a big and irreversible decision. An adult (old enough) having a vasectomy (not such a big thing, and reversible) is not a good counter example.

      1. You seem to have not noticed that I stated such a procedure should only take place with parental approval and appropriate medical concurrence. The minor would not be making the decision alone. It is also possible that denying the care to a minor could result in permanent psychological damage. Each case is different and must be recognized as such. This is why I disapprove of a blanket ban.

          1. You have changed your name from Historian to “Historan”, now twice in a row.

            I’ve done similarly on several occasions, when switching between my “main machine” and a subsidiary machine, or re-booting into an alternative operating system, or after a major update to one or other of the browsers that I regularly lose. Until I’ve remembered the username and password combination properly, and remembered to click the “remember me on this browser” (my emphasis), I too am prone to minor variations of speelung, capitalisation and hyphenation.
            There are innocent explanations.

    3. The problem, Historian, is that some medical practitioners are notorious for their approach to “gender-affirming care”. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the foremost of these, the self-proclaimed “tit wizard” Sidhbh Gallagher, is based in Florida. She recruits patients via TikTok using phrases like “delete the teets” and “teetus deletus” referring to double mastectomies and has carried these out on girls as young as 13. If Florida’s policy is extreme it’s because there is extremism on the pro-surgery side, too, that is damaging children’s healthy bodies to address a problem that is essentially psychological:

        1. If you like that joke, you may also be amused to hear that her Gælic name may be a reference to “an-t sidhthian” (speelung very variable, as normal for Gælic), meaning “the fairies”. As in “away with the fairies”. The term appears in multiple mountain place names such as “Glumagnan na Sithichean”, the “Fairy Pools” on Skye. Which are as delightfully tempting as their name suggests. But I think they were better with 10-20 visitors/ day than the 100-vehicle car park and £5/hour charge that they attract now.

      1. If this comment is allowed to post, it will be my last on this thread so as not to dominate it. You give the example of a rogue doctor. Rogue doctors are not unheard of in all fields of medicine. For example, there are doctors that prescribe opioids willy-nilly. In these cases, it is the job of state authorities to sanction such doctors and possibly revoke their medical licenses. It doesn’t mean that ethical doctors should be banned from prescribing opioids when deemed medically appropriate. Likewise, the doctor you discuss should not be the cause of banning ethical doctors from doing the jobs in the field of gender transition.

        1. “For example, there are doctors that prescribe opioids willy-nilly.”

          And other drugs. And sometimes these doctors can be in very high places like “Candy Man” Ronny Jackson who was the White House physician for W., Obama and Trump. Trump tried to appoint him to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but his notoriety caught up with him once under this spotlight and he had to resign. Didn’t stop him from running and winning in Texas’ 13th district, though. The GOP electorate can really pick ’em, can’t they- esp. in the South.

        2. Well, actually, the self-regulation of medical practice does require the regulating body or even the government to step in to restrict prescription of therapy that the individual doctor deems medically appropriate. Doctors unfortunately are as subject to herd mentality and pressure from patients as anyone else—indeed this is how the standard of care is established: it’s what everyone else is doing, even if it later turns out to be wrong. The reason is that decisions have to be made for the patient in front of you even if there is no good scientific evidence of what’s best. If most other competent surgeons would operate and remove the appendix in such-and-such a situation, the new surgeon in town probably should, too. (As it turns out, there is now scientific evidence that operation is not always necessary for appendicitis; thus the standard of care changes. Slowly.)

          Because the state allows the learned professions the privilege of self-regulation in the public interest, the state reserves the right to wade into medical decision-making if it seems the standard of care has gone off the rails and needs corrective rerailment through legislation or state (non-peer) regulation. The lay members of government recognize they usually lack the technical expertise and so defer to the professions. But they ought not to hesitate when the situation requires it.

          Coel below refers to female genital mutilation, an excellent example. In Ontario, self-regulation has made it professional misconduct, by explicit policy, to do it. A physician would be disciplined with licence suspension or revocation.. However, if the regulatory College had not imposed this policy, because of pushback from Muslim African doctors or lay members of the regulatory College, say, the Minister of Health could have introduced legislation banning it. But why would the Minister not be deterred by the same indulgence of African sensibilities that deterred the College? Well, just possibly the provincial Cabinet contains more white-supremist Christian fundamentalist politicians keen to put the boots to African Muslims that the more “diverse” regulatory College shied from. (This isn’t in fact the case—I’m just making a point about how politics works.)

          In states that have legislated bans, it would be interesting to know the views of the self-regulators. Are they alarmed and appalled that the state’s heavy hand is interfering with medical judgment? Or are they relieved that the state, even for naked political reasons, has taken an issue away from them that they were in over their heads on? Many practising doctors are silently troubled that WPATH guidelines for affirmative care are way too aggressive and based on too little evidence. These guidelines are used by self-regulators to decide if it was misconduct to refuse to prescribe puberty blockers to a child whose parents demanded it. There might be a big sigh of relief that the state had put its foot down. “Sorry, my hands are tied by the law.”

    4. If parents found a doctor who would go along with FGM (as they surely could, if they asked in relevant communities), would it be ok to impose FGM on a girl?

      As for “gender affirming care” (more properly called medical/surgical sex-change procedures), the problem is not that some patients regret it, it’s that we have pretty much zero idea what fraction of adolescents who opt for it will later regret it. Seriously, there is no good data on that! That’s why, for example Sweden and the UK have suggested that such interventions be considered only when part of properly-conducted studies aimed at acquiring such data.

      And there is pretty much zero evidence that “gender affirming care” improves the psychological well-being of adolescents, or that it reduces the suicide rate. And, given the huge problems overs whether adolescents are in a position to consent to treatments that will leave them sterile, without sexual function, and unable to have children, there is — on current evidence — no good reason to allow it.

      1. “Zero evidence?”

        Citations please. I did a quick google and the first 10 or so hits are all contrary to your assertion, including some big hitting medical organizations.

        I will add there needs to be more extensive, long-term studies, but for now, I’m on the side that gender affirming care helps the patient and denying it is harmful.

        1. In asserting “zero evidence” I’m going mostly on the long series of articles by Jesse Singal on his Substack. He’s made a series of “deep dives” into the primary literature on trans outcomes and (in my opinion) has shown that most of it is utterly shoddy and ideologically driven. There’s no quick way of assimilating all this stuff. Two recent articles are this one and this one.

          Note that this stuff is indeed “deep dives”, so are not quick reads. The upshot (in my opinion, as someone who has no expertise in the field, but I do know some science so can judge to some extent), is that the papers are ideological and the statements from professional bodies are “ideologically captured”.

          The UK Cass report would be another good starting point.

            1. Thanks to you, Mark, for being willing to read things that may possibly differ from your currently held position. You are, unfortunately, a rare type of person, but one to be commended regardless of whether or not your mind is changed!

  3. Quotes from Spiked!, The Free Press and Andrew Sullivan? All good (I subscribe to all three), but a sad commentary on the state of supposedly liberal outlets these days.
    I’m afraid I’ve turned into the second half of the quote about “If you’re not a socialist when you’re eighteen….” which is understandable, as I’ve turned 65 today!

    1. Be cautious, even wary. Free Press now openly leans right, and Spiked! and its editor Brendan are way way over there on the right, posing as libertarians. Same with The Spectator in the UK. and Quillette. Andrew Sullivan seems to be honest however, as is Douglas Murray.

  4. The halt came one day after the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus declared that Republicans should cease negotiations with Mr. Biden and insist on their debt limit legislation, which demanded steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the federal borrowing cap …

    It bears observing that Kevin McCarthy’s two immediate predecessors as Republican Speakers of the House — Paul Ryan and John Boehner — both walked away from the job (and the number two position in the line of succession to the US presidency) not because of their inability to negotiate with the opposition party, but because of the agita given them by the extremists within their own caucus.

    Boehner and Ryan were both more adroit political operators than McCarthy (which is, admittedly, faint praise indeed). And neither was playing McCarthy’s weak hand — having required 15 votes to get the Speaker’s job, and having essentially handed his gonads to the extremists, by agreeing that any member at any time can call for a vote to replace the Speaker. McCarthy is a spineless bumbler.

    1. It also bears observing that it’s Trump, not McCarthy that is running the show here. It’s like a shadow government. When the negotiations started, Trump put out a “truth social” to the effect: don’t give in and demand everything in your bill, including the kitchen sink. 17 minutes later, they all walked out. Coincidence? Hardly.

      Biden needs to invoke the 14th Amendment, it becomes more apparent each day; let SCOTUS be to blame if they side with Trump and crash the economy. Also, Biden et al., need to explain to the public what the GOP is asking for here. A 20+% cut to the budget where the cuts are focused on social programs and Biden’s (paid for) programs is completely insane by any standard. That would throw us into a recession for sure, and perhaps even a depression. What the GOP is asking for is pure MAGA recklessness and it needs to be explained as thus and countered by any means necessary.

  5. We should add to the “we’re not believing [white] women anymore” that the woman who was destroyed in the media and online, doxxed, harassed, fired from her job, etc. was actually having her bike stolen. She’s now provided receipts. The media and online activists portrayed the video as one of an entitled white woman trying to steal a bike from a black man, and then attempting to “weaponize her white tears” when people around her got wise to it. It turned out that it was a video of her being intimidated and assaulted by several men swarming her so they could steal her bike.

    She was six months pregnant and just finished a twelve-hour shift as a nurse. She had this video played on every media channel, every center and left-wing outlet online, and in everybody’s twitter/tiktok/instagram feed so tens of thousands of people could harass her and her husband and get her fired. She was branded a racist and everything else. And then…oops! Media silent, some activists delete their messages, and others continue trying to pretend.

      1. Mebbe so, man, but that turns 400 years of US history on its head. Just ask Emmett Till or any of the other 4,000 black men lynched during the Jim Crow era how often the word of a black man was accepted over that of a white woman — all while the southern delegation to the US congress, for a century, time after time blocked passage of a simple national anti-lynching law.

        Oh, wait, you won’t be able to ask them, will you? And history didn’t start three years ago with the woman with the unleashed dog in the Central Park bird sanctuary calling the cops on the black birdwatcher.

        1. This argument is exactly the problem. Instead of striving for equality, we seem to be striving for a society in which we simply reverse the sins of the past by committing them against those who happen to have the same skin color or sex of the people who perpetrated them. That’s not called “justice”; it’s called “revenge,” and it’s revenge against people who have done nothing wrong and bear no responsibility for the past.

          1. The person who ought to be believed is the person who is telling the truth, regardless of race (and, in the absence of sure knowledge of what the truth is, the person whose version bears the indicia of truthfulness).

            But it is ridiculous to claim, as Doug appears to do without reservation, that the word of a black man is always taken as true over that of a white woman — not today, and not ever in American history.

            1. I posted my first comment before leaving for work; I’ve just returned and see I’ve started something. So I’ll try to clarify my positions (Sorry if this post is long):

              1. I do not believe that one should always “believe the women.” I was quoting an attitude held by some on the Left, and attempting to point out a double standard. I am aware of Emmett Till, the Scottsboro Boys, the Tulsa Race Massacre and other atrocities. I myself have used these examples when discussing the issue.

              2. I have no sympathy for racism. I have Black relatives–my brother married a Black woman and I have seen how pervasive racism is. One example, among many: my mother’s neighbor, who had been friendly up until then, turned ugly when she found out my mother had [half]-Black grandchildren. She told my mother that our family was “a bunch of nigger-lovers” and she and her husband began harassing and threatening my mother. When my mother called the police, a couple of cops came to the house and yelled at her for calling them; “If you’re having trouble with your neighbors, tell the landlord. Don’t bother us with this shit. If you call us again, we’ll arrest you and the neighbors and let the judge sort it out.” Having intimidated an elderly woman, the pigs (yes, I called them that ) strutted away with idiotic smirks on their mugs. Of course, the landlord sided with the neighbors, who claimed that my mother and nieces (age 8 and 9) had been harassing THEM. So I have no illusions about how bad racism is.

              3. I also do not go to the other extreme and assume that in any confrontation, the Black person is right and the White person is wrong. I do not believe that “the word of a black man is always taken as true over that of a white woman” but I do believe that SOME people will respond that way, as in the case involving the bicycle. We should not assume right off the bat that we know which side is right, especially as the press cannot always be trusted, especially in the early stages of a story.

              1. I appreciate your reply, Doug. I didn’t mean to pick on you personally, or to suggest a racial insensitivity on your part, and I apologize if it came off as though I did.

        2. Do you really think white people don’t have police called on them for no reason plenty of times every year? Of course they do. The media just wouldn’t bother to report on it because it’s not part of a grand narrative. What you provided was not an argument, but simply an example of (probable) racism by one person.

          How many people know the name Tony Timpa? From my experience, almost 0%. That’s because he was white. Still, three years before almost the exact same scenario played out and led to countrywide riots and an enormous “reckoning” over racism, Tony Timpa was suffocated to death by a cop with a knee on his back for fifteen minutes on a Dallas sidewalk in broad daylight. And, three years later, video came out showing that the cops and the entire department lied in saying that Timpa resisted arrest, when he in fact did absolutely nothing. The cops joked about “waking him up” for breakfast once he had gone unconscious, and then continued to suffocate him for several more minutes. No criminal charges were brought. To this day, it seems 99% of people don’t know the name Tony Timpa.

          Of course people are going to think we live in a white supremacy when the media reports on every incident that could possibly, just remotely, if looked at the right angle be seen as racism. But the fact that these stories aren’t on the news literally every night, with multiples of them, in a country of 330 million people, makes me think it happens a heck of a lot less than the media’s reporting would lead people to believe. If the media is reporting on stories like the supposed six months pregnant white woman trying to steal a bike from a group of men, shouldn’t that tell us not only about their motives in reporting, but also the dearth of good examples they have despite cameras being literally everywhere at all times?

        3. Carolyn Bryant’s word, true or false, seems not likely to have had any impact on the fate of Emmett Till or on the acquittal of his killers.
          1) She didn’t tell her husband about her brief unsettling encounter with Till, realizing what he would likely do. The New York Times cites evidence that a black farm worker saw the encounter and ratted Till and Mrs Bryant out to her husband. We don’t know what she told him when (if) he confronted her. We don’t even know what happened really.
          2) Her famous lurid testimony which she later recanted as a lie was never heard by the jury. The judge heard it with the jury out of the room and ruled it inadmissible. I think the jury was planning to acquit anyway and probably weren’t surprised that Mr. Bryant and his half-brother soon came clean for money.

          The crime of the unpunished murder of Emmett Till is bad enough. There is no need to conjure up a maliciously lying woman in a he-said-she-said betrayal that doomed him or let his killers go free. Yes I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. She was never on trial. Nor was Emmett Till.

          I’m sure you have lots of lying women behind those other 3999 lynchings but Dorothy Bryant isn’t one of them, so far as the record can show.

    1. “I need a bike to get home after work, I know I’ll go and arm-wrestle one off that group of five, bigger, stronger adolescent males” — thought no woman, ever (especially not one 6-months pregnant).

      How warped does the worldview of the media have to be that they got this one wrong?

      Now had the woman been a transwoman (that is, a man, big enough to arm-wrestle the youths), the media would, of course, have instantly taken “her” side.

  6. Sullivan laments that “queers now run what was once the gay rights movement”. The civil rights movement was never taken over by its “Black Power” fringe, but years later, the civil rights movement’s language was appropriated by the careerist operators of the DEI racket. 54 years ago, it looked as if the movement opposing US military intervention in Vietnam was run by the John Jacobs/Bernardine Dohrn/David Gilbert school of Ho Ho Ho-Leninism-Exhibitionism—but eventually it was the pragmatic, political wing of the movement, and not the Ho Ho Ho pantomimists, which made a difference.

    I wonder how much this ratchet toward self-caricature is real, and how much an artifact of media coverage. If the ratchet were an inescapable reality—i.e., Sturgeon’s Law everywhere—then there would be no social progress in any realm. As it is, social progress does at least turn up once in a while, here and there.

  7. It is important to de=code what Nellie Bowles and Bari Weiss write, and find out what is behind it. Bowles’ quote deploring the
    liberals’ “intensity” about the war is the way she avoids looking like she is pro Russian and against helping Ukraine…but gives herself away by writing about, with scorn, the liberals who are too intense, e.g. too supportive of Ukraine. This is dishonesty and deviousness. Readers need to read these political comments carefully. We need MORE “liberal intensity”. I wonder just why she wrote that….is she a coward and afraid of speaking her
    real opinion? Yes, indeed, that’s what she is. Deliberately deceptive too. She and Bari are on the same page.

    1. Above you say that Bowles is dishonest, devious, cowardly and deliberately deceptive. I have enjoyed reading Bowles up to now, but maybe I am wrong. I would be interested to read the evidence for your claims.

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