Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 30, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Tuesday, the Cruelest Day: May 30, 2023, and National Mint Julep Day. It’s a good drink, especially when made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon. I like it served in a frosty metal cup, though you can’t see the booze:

The Spruce Eats/Madhumita Sathishkumar

It’s also National Creativity Day, World MS Day, Lod Massacre Remembrance Day, and Jail Day for Theranos Grifters: by 2 p.m. today, Elizabeth Holmes must report to Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas, to begin her 11 year+ 3 month sentence. Will she show up? If she does, you can check out what her life will be like here  and see her 75-page “Inmate Handbook” here.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 30 Wikipedia page.

Wine of the week:  There aren’t many reviews of this red Rhone wine on the web, and those you can find say it’s okay but not great. I disagree a bit: it’s very good, especially for the price: I recall I paid around ten bucks for it. It’s from the Ventoux region, the SE part of France’s Rhone valley.

One site describes this wine as “rich and intense” but adds (for the 2007), “This is not widely known among wines from Ventoux. Interest in this wine has fallen off relative to previous years.” Pity.  The 2012, below, is made from Grenache and Syrah, and has the characteristic black-olive nose that I always smell in a good Rhone, and a taste of blackcurrents with very little tannin. It isn’t thin, nor gutsy either: it is in excellent drinking condition.

Rhones are my favorite of all the world’s reds (n.b., I have little experience with good Burgundy), and although this bottle doesn’t come close to the heights of a good Cornas or Côte-Rôtie, neither does it run you the $150 per bottle that those would cost you (oh, for the days forty years ago before people had discovered Rhones!). This is a smooth, luscious wine that I had with bucatini pasta with tomato sauce, and it was a great accompaniment.

Now I have only one bottle of this vintage, and don’t know if you can find it from more recent years, or what newer vintages would cost. But if you find this 2012, try one, and if you like it buy a case. It would make a great house wine.

Da Nooz:

*We now know more about the details of the debt ceiling deal. I was wrong in my prediction and description yesterday: there is not a new debt ceiling that is frozen for two years; rather, there IS no debt ceiling for two years. But the Dems pay in spending cuts:

The centerpiece of the agreement remains a two-year suspension of the debt ceiling, which caps the total amount of money the government is allowed to borrow. Suspending that cap, which is now set at $31.4 trillion, would allow the government to keep borrowing money and pay its bills on time — as long as Congress passes the agreement before June 5, when Treasury has said the United States will run out of cash.

In exchange for suspending the limit, Republicans demanded a range of policy concessions from Mr. Biden. Chief among them are limits on the growth of federal discretionary spending over the next two years. Mr. Biden also agreed to some new work requirements for certain recipients of food stamps and the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program.

Both sides agreed to modest efforts meant to accelerate the permitting of some energy projects — and, in a surprise move, a fast track to construction for a new natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia that has been championed by Republican lawmakers and a key centrist Democrat.

The spending cut also takes away a substantial sum allocated to the Internal Revenue Service, a blow to Biden, who had said he’d hire additional agents to go after tax cheats. There’s also an official end to the moratorium on repaying student loans, and, in a boon to Biden, still allows his forgiveness of between $10,000 and $20,000 in student loan debt for some ex-students. And there’s one big question mark:

The agreement only sets parameters for the next two years of spending. Congress must fill them in by passing a raft of spending bills later this year. Large fights loom in the details of those bills, raising the possibility that lawmakers will not agree to spending plans in time and the government will shut down.

*New York City is sinking under the weight of its infrasctructure. It’s not Venice yet, but they better start doing something about the future. Dikes around Manhattan?

If rising oceans aren’t worry enough, add this to the risks New York City faces: The metropolis is slowly sinking under the weight of its skyscrapers, homes, asphalt and humanity itself.

New research estimates the city’s landmass is sinking at an average rate of 1 to 2 millimeters per year, something referred to as “subsidence.”

That natural process happens everywhere as ground is compressed, but the study published this month in the journal Earth’s Future sought to estimate how the massive weight of the city itself is hurrying things along.

More than 1 million buildings are spread across the city’s five boroughs. The research team calculated that all those structures add up to about 1.7 trillion tons (1.5 trillion metric tons) of concrete, metal and glass — about the mass of 4,700 Empire State buildings — pressing down on the Earth.

How fast, you’re asking?

While the process is slow, lead researcher Tom Parsons of the U.S. Geological Survey said parts of the city will eventually be under water.

“It’s inevitable. The ground is going down, and the water’s coming up. At some point, those two levels will meet,” said Parsons, whose job is to forecast hazardous events from earthquakes and tsunamis to incremental shifts of the ground below us.

But no need to invest in life preservers just yet, Parsons assured.

The study merely notes buildings themselves are contributing, albeit incrementally, to the shifting landscape, he said. Parsons and his team of researchers reached their conclusions using satellite imaging, data modeling and a lot of mathematical assumptions.

It will take hundreds of years — precisely when is unclear — before New York becomes America’s version of Venice, which is famously sinking into the Adriatic Sea.

I can imagine a dystopian movie set in the future in which just the tip of the Empire State Building is sticking out of the water.

*Uganda has must made homosexuality a capital crime. You can get life in prison for simple same-sex activity, and execution for “aggravated homosexuality.”

Uganda’s president signed into law a wide-ranging anti-LGBTQ bill on Monday that imposes life imprisonment for same-sex activity and the death penalty in some cases, signaling an intensification of the East African nation’s crackdown on LGBTQ+ people despite widespread international condemnation of the law.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 punishes those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” with death, a category broadly defined by legislators to include offenses that range from having gay sex with a minor to seducing someone through “misrepresentation” or “undue influence.”

The new law also imposes life imprisonment as punishment for anyone found to have performed a sexual act with a person of the same gender, and up to seven years in prison for “an attempt to commit the offense of homosexuality.”

. . .Uganda’s parliament originally passed the bill in March but it was returned to legislators by a presidential veto. The final bill, approved by Museveni, remains largely the same but no longer includes a requirement for people to report homosexual activity or criminalizes merely identifying as LGBTQ+.

Its passage into law Monday sparked fear and confusion among LGBTQ+ Ugandans, many of whom have already fled the country.

This isn’t a Muslim initiative, as only 1/8 of the population of Uganda is Muslim. Nope, this comes from Christianity, as 80% of Ugandans are Christian.

*Eggs are finally coming down in price again, but bread is still way overpriced.  I’m sure that everyone’s noticed that food has gone way up in price during the pandemic, but the NYT lays out:  “The real reason your groceries are getting so expensive.”

To understand why grocery prices are way up, we need to look past the headlines about inflation and reconsider long-held ideas about the benefits of corporate bigness.

Like other independent grocers, Food Fresh buys through large national wholesalers that purchase goods by the truckload, achieving the same volume efficiencies the big chains do. What accounts for the difference in price is not efficiency but raw market power. Major grocery suppliers, including Kraft Heinz, General Mills and Clorox, rely on Walmart for more than 20 percent of their sales. So when Walmart demands special deals, suppliers can’t say no. And as suppliers cut special deals for Walmart and other large chains, they make up for the lost revenue by charging smaller retailers even more, something economists refer to as the water bed effect.

This isn’t competition. It’s big retailers exploiting their financial control over suppliers to hobble smaller competitors. Our failure to put a stop to it has warped our entire food system. It has driven independent grocers out of business and created food deserts. It has spurred consolidation among food processors, which has slashed the share of food dollars going to farmers and created dangerous bottlenecks in the production of meat and other essentials. And in a perverse twist, it has raised food prices for everyone, no matter where you shop.

It’s capitalism, Jake! The government used to enforce antitrust regulations on some foods, so that small grocers would pay the same wholesale prices as big chains, allowing small towns and poor people in “food deserts” to afford to eat. But they stopped enforcing the laws. Now stores like Walmart takes huge cuts of the food dollar, and farmers are getting less than ever. And independent grocers are going extinct. Further, as more customers flock to the giant chains like Walmart, it increases their market share and hence their ability to demand better deals from food suppliers. If anything should be subject to anti-trust legislation, it should be food.

*The Wall Street Journal offers readers’ tipping habits to help guide you in the post-pandemic food situation. Some of the respondents are servers, others just consumers, and there is of course a variation in responses. Here are some ones you might consider (15-20% tipping on expensive wine is really a no-no; one reason why I usually bring my own bottle, though the main one is that wine in restaurants often costs TRIPLE the retail price, or about six times what the restaurant paid for it).

As a former server, and someone very concerned about the plight of low-wage workers, I usually tip generously. Also, I usually tip in cash, to ensure the tip gets to the server and they get to keep all of it. It is not at all uncommon for owners/managers to steal tips, sad to say. Plus there are fees taken out of electronic transactions.

—Karen Peterson, Brooklyn, N.Y.

STEAL TIPS????  I don’t tip in cash, as I think the credit-card nick is only about 2%. Plus my regular tip for food is 20% unless the server is surly or incompetent.

As a former waitress who worked my way through college almost entirely on tips, I am a very generous tipper in a sit-down restaurant. However, if it’s counter service or self-serve, I hit no tip every time.

—Kathy McMichael, Beaver Dam, Wis.

If I’m just picking up something simple like a Subway sandwich (yes, like Jussie Smollett), I don’t usually tip, though every few times I’ll put a buck or so in the tip jar.  I used to tip 15% on that kind of stuff when I used a credit card, but I realized that I just did it out of guilt. I will tip on sit-down counter service or if it’s a small family joint.

Last week, I was at an expensive restaurant and saw the suggested tip amounts were 20%, 23% and 25%, as though these were the norms. To top it off, they showed the tip on the total bill, including tax, which is ridiculous. I never tip on tax. (Do you tip your IRS auditor or tax collector?)

Rochelle Flynn, Hoboken, N.J.

Do not tip on the tax! It’s easy in Chicago, as the tax on restaurant meals is about 10%. You can see that separately, and just double it on a credit card bill (or use 1.5X if you’re a 15% tipper.  Trying to wheedle 25% out of the customer is a rookie move, and greedy to boot.

If somebody orders a very expensive wine, let’s say $300 with a light lunch, why is the expected tip of 20% increasing pro rata with the bill? The amount of work done hasn’t changed vis-à-vis ordering a cheaper $50 bottle of wine.

—Baran Kayhan, Toronto

Wine in restaurants is way overpriced, and often the sommelier does very little, so tipping a lot on a pricey bottle of wine is just dumb! Finally, if you patronize a place often, tip on the high side: you don’t want to stiff people you know and like.

Everybody has their own customs; what are yours?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the Princess demands to be photographed

A: Hili: It’s not going to be a good picture.
Hili: But I want to have the photo.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, to nie będzie dobre zdjęcie.
Hili: Ale ja chcę mieć taką fotografię.

. . . and a photo of baby Kulka:


From Anna:

From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy (yes, this is real: a group of churches):

From Jesus of the Day:

From Peter, a fox cub frolicking in the flowers:

View post on imgur.com

From Masih.  The religious Pecksniffs in Iran just can’t bear to see a woman doffing the hijab:

From Luana, a dog who loves wind chimes:

From Barry, remarkable mental momentum:

From Malcolm: a compendium of nosey cats:

Physics kitty!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but ten days in Auschwitz before dying (or being gassed).  I discovered a “Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database” (see Jucker at this link).

Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, a sneaky boat (at the end):

Sound up to hear the moth squeak!

Collecting fossils from the ocean floor:

27 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1381 – Beginning of the Peasants’ Revolt in England. [ “Sire, the peasants are revolting!” “I know, I can smell them from here.” – Ah, the old ones are the best…]

    1431 – Hundred Years’ War: In Rouen, France, the 19-year-old Joan of Arc is burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal.

    1631 – Publication of Gazette de France, the first French newspaper.

    1723 – Johann Sebastian Bach assumed the office of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, presenting his first new cantata, Die Elenden sollen essen, BWV 75, in the St. Nicholas Church on the first Sunday after Trinity.

    1899 – Pearl Hart, a female outlaw of the Old West, robs a stage coach 30 miles southeast of Globe, Arizona.

    1914 – The new, and then the largest, Cunard ocean liner RMS Aquitania, 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England, to New York City.

    1922 – The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C..

    1937 – Memorial Day massacre: Chicago police shoot and kill ten labor demonstrators.

    1941 – World War II: Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climb the Athenian Acropolis and tear down the German flag.

    1943 – The Holocaust: Josef Mengele becomes chief medical officer of the Zigeunerfamilienlager (Romani family camp) at Auschwitz concentration camp.

    1966 – Former Congolese Prime Minister, Évariste Kimba, and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Joseph Mobutu.

    1967 – The Nigerian Eastern Region declares independence as the Republic of Biafra, sparking a civil war.

    1968 – Charles de Gaulle reappears publicly after his flight to Baden-Baden, Germany, and dissolves the French National Assembly by a radio appeal. Immediately after, less than one million of his supporters march on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This is the turning point of May 1968 events in France.

    1971 – Mariner program: Mariner 9 is launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.

    1972 – The Angry Brigade goes on trial over a series of 25 bombings throughout the United Kingdom.

    1972 – In Ben Gurion Airport (at the time: Lod Airport), Israel, members of the Japanese Red Army carry out the Lod Airport massacre, killing 24 people and injuring 78 others.

    1975 – European Space Agency is established.

    1989 – Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: The 10-metre high “Goddess of Democracy” statue is unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

    2012 – Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War.

    2020 – The Crew Dragon Demo-2 launches from the Kennedy Space Center, becoming the first crewed orbital spacecraft to launch from the United States since 2011 and the first commercial flight to the International Space Station.

    1814 – Mikhail Bakunin, Russian philosopher and theorist (d. 1876).

    1846 – Peter Carl Fabergé, Russian goldsmith and jeweler (d. 1920).

    1896 – Howard Hawks, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1977).

    1908 – Mel Blanc, American voice actor (d. 1989).

    1909 – Benny Goodman, American clarinet player, songwriter, and bandleader (d. 1986).

    1912 – Julius Axelrod, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2004).

    1939 – Tim Waterstone, Scottish businessman, founded Waterstones.

    1943 – James Chaney, American civil rights activist (d. 1964).

    1950 – Joshua Rozenberg, English lawyer, journalist, and author. [Presents Law in Action on BBC Radio 4.]

    1955 – Topper Headon, English drummer and songwriter.

    1955 – Colm Tóibín, Irish novelist, poet, playwright, and critic.

    1961 – Harry Enfield, English actor, director, and screenwriter.

    1963 – Helen Sharman, English chemist and astronaut.

    1964 – Wynonna Judd, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress.

    1964 – Tom Morello, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor.

    1968 – Zacarias Moussaoui, French citizen, sentenced to life in prison related to September 11 attacks.

    We should be considerate to the living; to the dead we owe only the truth:
    1593 – Christopher Marlowe, English poet and playwright (b. 1564).

    1744 – Alexander Pope, English poet, essayist, and translator (b. 1688).

    1778 – Voltaire, French philosopher and author (b. 1694).

    1912 – Wilbur Wright, American pilot and businessman, co-founded the Wright Company (b. 1867).

    1947 – Georg von Trapp, Austrian captain (b. 1880).

    1960 – Boris Pasternak, Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1890).

    1967 – Claude Rains, English-American actor (b. 1889).

    1993 – Sun Ra, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1914).

    2006 – David Lloyd, New Zealand biologist and academic (b. 1938. [The seventh New Zealander to be elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in London, he did pioneering work in the field of plant reproduction. In December 1992, Lloyd fell victim to an apparent poisoning by acrylamide, a common laboratory chemical. In a coma for three months, he was left blind, mute, and quadriplegic. His former partner and fellow molecular biologist Vicki Calder was tried twice for his attempted murder. The first trial ended with a hung jury and the second acquitted her.]I

    2012 – Andrew Huxley, English physiologist and biophysicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1917).

    2015 – Beau Biden, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 44th Attorney General of Delaware (b. 1969).

  2. In England, tipping is not considered compulsory since the wait staff are properly paid (by which I mean they must be paid at least the legal minimum wage). I usually add 10% and then round up to the nearest pound or five pounds, or, if there is a group of us, the nearest multiple of the size of the group.

    It’s becoming a bit more common recently that the restaurant will automatically add a service charge to the bill. If they do that, I don’t give a separate tip.

    Tax on restaurant food is the standard VAT rate of 20% which would be considered a very generous tip here. Note that all prices you see in restaurants and pretty much everywhere will be inclusive of VAT. There’s none of this seeing a price on an item then taking it to the sales staff and finding out you have to pay 20% more than you thought.

    1. And in France and Italy the price on the menu is the price you pay. Tipping is not required or expected.

      1. Tipping should be banned. Wages paid should be fair and not depend on the vagrancies of the customer. Some customers, especially in bars, hold servers hostage to very poor behavior with tips. If you want your tip them I get to pat your ass. There is no up side to tipping

        1. I don’t know about in other places, but in San Francisco the servers would be the ones who would fight hardest to defend tipping. The minimum wage is $15.50 and will go up to $18.07 in July, and they get health insurance paid for by a surcharge on the bill. Their tips are on top of this. They do very well.

    2. VAT added on at bill presentation and checkout has the advantage of being visible to the customer as taxpayer. But yes, it produces sticker shock: add 13% (in Ontario) to an automobile! That after you’ve paid a bundle of other regulatory fees and taxes.

      In restaurants it is easy to see the pre-VAT price on which you (should) calculate tip. I assume the tip apps on the Moneris machines calculate percentage of the total bill so I always select “$ amount” or leave cash.

      My theory, which is mine, is that this is the cause of tip inflation. Waiters cheat the government by under-reporting their cash tips. With more customers paying electronically, the waiters demand a higher percentage to compensate them for the income tax they can no longer evade on their tips. I suspect this is a stronger driver than management shorting their staff on electronic tips. A waiter in an upscale restaurant being tipped on Canada’s very high liquor prices could hit the combined federal+provincial marginal tax rate bracket of 40%. A $10 tip on the books is therefore worth only $6 in cash.

      1. VAT added on at bill presentation and checkout has the advantage of being visible to the customer as taxpayer.

        Yes, this is true. In the UK, in a lot of places, you will get a receipt with VAT on it. restaurants will almost always give you a receipt with VAT itemised because, people on business who expense meals can claim it back from the government. Prices on menus are always inclusive of VAT though.

        In restaurants it is easy to see the pre-VAT price on which you (should) calculate tip.

        Nobody cares in the UK. There’s no accepted tip percentage. As I said, I always calculate 10% (of the price including VAT) and then round up to a whole number of pounds – or five pounds if it’s a largish bill. Some people tip more. Some people don’t tip.

        A waiter in an upscale restaurant being tipped on Canada’s very high liquor prices could hit the combined federal+provincial marginal tax rate bracket of 40%.

        And this is one of the reasons why tipping is still a thing. Many wait staff can earn a lot of money from tips. They are probably frightened that, if tipping is made illegal, they will just get paid minimum wage and that would be it. I think there might be some truth in that.

  3. That inflation story in the NYTimes was a guest essay by a lobbyist for independent retailers, not any real analysis. Just self supporting lobbying.

    The argument is silly. If Walmart pays less for food and independent retailers pay more that does not raise the overall price level. It just gives a competitive advantage to Walmart, and more people buy there. So expenditure weights rise where prices are lower.

    Inflation is food prices is caused by demand exceeding supply at current prices. Walmart has been very large for years. Why is inflation in food prices a concern only recently? How can a slow long term trend cause a sudden acceleration in prices? It makes no sense. You would never accept such a silly argument in a biology context.

    1. Anecdote: My parents in the 80s and 90s owned a couple of convenience stores in areas several miles from a regular grocer. They were decently stocked with several small aisles of standard grocery items beyond the usual convenience store assortment of snacks, candy, cigarettes, and booze. The problem they had was volume: while they carried many items that saved customers from taking trips to the other side of town, they didn’t always carry many of an individual item. So, they had to order split cases; they wanted 6 or 12 of an item—not the 24 or 48 or 60 or whatever came in a case. As a result, they paid wholesale prices that cost them more than what they could have bought the same products for at a large discount grocer. Easy solution at hand? My recollection is that it was illegal for them to buy from the discount grocer and then offer it for resale on their own shelves. They were stuck with the inflated wholesale prices (prices I found understandable, albeit a bit excessive at the time), which they then had to pass on to the customers. Of course, when the discount grocer built within walking distance, one of their stores was done. Again, understandable. My parents stripped the other store down to the always-profitable snacks, coffee, cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets before eventually moving to other forms of self-employment that had fewer corporate competitive pressures.

      It seems that Dollar General, with its sprawling network of stores, has found that sweet spot of store size, location, convenience, and volume to be able to compete with Walmart. I wonder whether a similarly-stocked, single Mom-and-Pop shop could have the same success today.

      I’ll admit a bit of nostalgia for the independence (and grind) of self-employment over all of us being wage slaves, but I’m not anti-corporate. Now, if only Walmart can find a solution to their cramped, crappy, dirty, cart-littered parking lots.

  4. Tipping is an issue. More and more folks seem to think they deserve a tip and that it should be more than 15%. This at a time when costs are up and service is down. My particular pet peeve at the moment are automatically included “service charge” (usually 20%) some establishments are putting on the bill.

  5. I like the fact that mobile card readers (and some stationary ones) calculate possible tips for you. That’s progress! The regress is that the numbers often start at 18%. 15% is not on the menu.

  6. On Uganda’s rabid anti-gay laws, I remember that around the time when Gene Robinson was elected the first gay Episcopalian Bishop, the Ugandan Anglican Bishops came out in support of their Government’s hard line, which could then (as now) have included the death penalty. I was shocked that the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, felt able to castigate the Episcopalian Church without saying a word about the Ugandan Bishops.

    Let’s see whether Justin Welby, the current AB of Cant, can bring himself to say anything. He certainly went out of his way not to offend the Ugandans at the recent CofE Synod.

  7. I think it’s criminal that a business that employs servers is legally allowed to pay them $2.13/hour, nearly 3.5 times less than the already ridiculously low standard minimum wage of $7.25/hour. At the same time I think that tipping has gotten completely out of hand in the US.

    I’m a bit uncomfortable with anyone serving me and certainly feel like I want to show my appreciation of them by giving them a tip. But knowing that the servers are dependent on my tip in order to even have a chance of making enough to live off of pisses me off. If a business can’t make it if it has to pay its employees a wage they can live off of, then they shouldn’t be in business. When it comes down to it though, I always tip about 20% at sit down restaurants, about 10% for takeout.

    There is one restaurant near me, a craft beer joint that makes some pretty good brews and has very good food for that genre, that has started doing something a little different. They tell you up front that they’ve included in their prices the equivalent of tipping 20% and that you are not expected to leave a tip. There is a sign at the entrance, it’s explained on the menu and it’s one of the first things your sever tells you. They seem to be doing just fine since they made this change. I like it.

    1. Everyone I know who was a waiter/waitress loved tips.

      I tip similarly to what you do. But I often don’t calculate. We had lunch the other day and the bills was $32. I just gave two twenties and said keep the change. Many times I have done this.

      For outstanding service, they may get even more. A few bucks to me; but it makes their day.

  8. Although I think most Democrats will support the debt ceiling deal and Biden did better than expected, many on the left (not necessarily the extreme left) have a bitter taste in their mouths because the deal normalizes hostage taking, and when the debt ceiling comes up for debate again in two years the Republicans may not settle without getting much more than this time. The deal is just kicking the can down the road. Until the debt ceiling is permanently removed, we can expect this lunacy on a regular basis.

    These two articles explain the leftist discontent with the deal.



  9. Also a disturbing
    New trend of charging a fee to use your credit card
    Surprised the credit card companies haven’t addressed this
    Either takes cards or cash only – not have it both ways

  10. Re. Uganda, it’s not hard to see what a Christian theocracy could look like here. I’m sure certain GOP governors would love to sign such a law for their state. I know that during Trump’s 2024 Presidential announcement, he called for the killing of drug dealers like they do in China and Singapore. I’m sure the majority of his base would be fine with the practice.

  11. Can someone explain the ‘dash of their career … under the closing bascules’ bit to me? It appears the little boat had plenty of clearance even with the bridge closed. Or is there some other rule involved?

  12. Everybody has their own [tipping] customs; what are yours?

    I started working in the restaurant business as a 15-year-old busboy and dishwasher. and I pretty much did it off and on for quite a while — tending bar from my college days, through my “missing years” between undergrad and grad school in Key West, through to the first semester of my second year of law school. Somewhere along the line I made a vow to myself that I would tip like Frank Sinatra as long as I had the wherewithal. And when I do, I do.

    This means I always substantially over tip in cash (and almost always pay in cash, at least for any purchase that doesn’t require the use of a computer) — all from what some people have described as the “gangster roll” I keep in a money clip in my pocket. It also means that, when in doubt about the appropriateness of tipping, I generally err on the side of doing so (unless I think the gesture might be found insulting by the person to whom it is made). Hell, like Charlie’s cousin Paulie in The Pope of Greenwich Village, I even used to tip tollbooth attendants, until technology took them out of the game.

    None of this is to be expected of regular citizens who don’t carry around the same bon vivant baggage, of course. For them, I think, a solid rule of thumb it to tip 20% following a sit-down restaurant meal (a bit more where the service is exceptional), 15% for food delivery, and 10% for takeout. (Here, I’m talking about the type of takeout where you call it in and they box it up real nice, with all the little extras, as at most Italian or Chinese restaurants, not just some store or shop where you grab something yourself off the shelf or out of a cooler.)

    1. Ken, I’m sure you’ve heard this Sinatra-tipping anecdote, but for the benefit of anyone who haven’t…

      Sinatra was in a cab and asked the driver “What’s the biggest tip you ever got?”

      “100 dollars” said the cabbie.

      “Okay,” says Sinatra. “Tell you what, I’ll give you 200 dollars if you tell me who gave you that tip.”

      “Sure,” says the cabbie, who takes the money.

      “Now,” said Sinatra, “who gave you the 100 dollar tip?”

      “You did.”

      1. I heard that story about a parking valet at the Sands Hotel in Vegas from a pit boss who swore he’d heard it decades ago from the parking valet himself.

        The way I heard it, one morning, just after dawn, Sinatra comes strolling out of the casino, after spending the night after his show gambling.

        The valet spots him coming out the exist, runs over to the special spot where they kept Frank’s red Caddy convertible, pulls it up front, and jumps out of the car to hold the door open. As Sinatra is about to get in, he stops and asks the valet what was the biggest tip he even got. The valet tells him a hundred buck. Sinatra pulls out a roll of bills, peels off two C-notes and stuffs them in the valet’s shirt pocket. He then jumps into the Caddy, puts it in gear, and starts pulling away. After a few feet, Sinatra jams on the breaks, turns around and says, “By the way, kid, who duked the the hundred?”

        “Why you did, Mr. Sinatra, just last week.”

        But, what the hell, Frank being Frank, essentially the same incident could have happened with both car valet and a cabbie.

  13. re: New York sinking under the weight of its buildings. I thought you dug out about as much earth by weight for a buildings foundation as the building weighs.

    1. That’s a “floating foundation”. Most of the big buildings in New York weigh more than the soil displaced.

  14. In the UK, until a couple of years ago, restaurant management could choose to keep tips paid by card (cash tips were the property of the staff). Some restaurant chains passed on some of the tips made via card, but deducted a “processing charge” of 20% or so, despite the actual cost of administration not being actually anything like that high.

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