It’s Friday, June 2, 2023, and National Rocky Road Day. If you’re not an American, that’s usually a genre of chocolate ice cream that contains nuts, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, and it can be good:
It’s also It’s also American Indian Citizenship Day, Hug an Atheist Day, I Love My Dentist Day, National Doughnut Day, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, National Rotisserie Chicken Day, and International Sex Workers Day. Here’s a statue to sex workers in Amsterdam:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 2 Wikipedia page.
Wine of the Day: Are you in the mood for a white Burgundy that doesn’t break the bank. This is your baby: a recent (2021) vintage of Mâcon-Villages from the southern region of Burgundy, well priced at $17.00. Although it lacks the “dung” aroma of great Burgundy (“great Burgundy smells of shit,” one critic said), it’s redolent of pears, apples, and orange blossoms. The color is pale straw, and it’s ready to drink.
I had it with Indian sag paneer (spinach and cheese) and rice, a somewhat spicy dish that was a good complement to this wine. This is a good all-purpose white, relatively cheap for what is, in effect, a Pouilly-Fuissé, grown right next door to that region but cheaper without the name.
*Halleluljah! Yesterday the bipartisan bill dealing with the debt limit passed to the Senate. It was late last night, and they had to stave off a number of amendments that would have delayed the bill by forcing it back to the House.
The approval by the Senate on a 63-to-36 vote brought to a close a political showdown that began brewing as soon as Republicans narrowly won the House in November, promising to use their new majority and the threat of a default to try to extract spending and policy concessions from Mr. Biden.
. . . .On Thursday night, Mr. Biden cheered its passage, promising to sign it as soon as possible and address the nation from the Oval Office on Friday evening.
“Tonight, senators from both parties voted to protect the hard-earned economic progress we have made and prevent a first-ever default by the United States,” he said. “No one gets everything they want in a negotiation, but make no mistake: This bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people.”
The agreement suspends the $31.4 trillion debt limit until January 2025, allowing the government to borrow unlimited sums to pay its debts and ensuring that another fight will not occur before the next presidential election. It sets new spending levels that will be tested as Congress begins to write its annual spending bills. Other policy changes on energy project permitting and work requirements on social benefits were also included.
“We saved the country from the scourge of default,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, exulted after the bill cleared Congress.The Senate vote came after an afternoon of closed-door talks to resolve a last-minute flare-up over Pentagon funding, ignited by Republicans who said the debt-limit package severely underfunded the military. Senate leaders resolved the dispute with a formal statement that the debt-limit deal “does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds to ensure our military capabilities.”
The vote was 63-36, and you can see how the Senators voted at this site.
*Foreign ministers of NATO countries are meeting in Norway this week to decide whether Ukraine should join. The thing is, NATO unwisely promised a while back that Ukraine would eventually be in the club, and that was premature.
A day earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to add weight to calls for Ukraine’s membership, telling a conference in Slovakia that Kyiv deserved “something concrete” in terms of a path forward.
“Our focus today was how can we bring Ukraine closer to NATO, where it belongs,” said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg after foreign ministers from the alliance’s 31 members and applicant Sweden concluded.
NATO must “have in place frameworks to provide guarantees for Ukrainian security after the end of the war,” Stoltenberg said before opening the meeting, which was arranged as an opportunity to talk more casually than at regularly scheduled ministerial gatherings, and at which no formal decisions will be taken.
The U.S. has until now largely sidestepped discussions of how or when Ukraine might join NATO, instead focusing on Kyiv’s security and military strength. Asked about whether a pathway to NATO would be approved at a coming summit of alliance leaders in Lithuania, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters, “I fully anticipate that will be part of the conversation in Vilnius.”
“Ultimately these are decisions that the leaders have to make and finalize,” Blinken said.
I believe every NATO country has to sign on before an applicant nation can be approved.
The heads of the parliamentary foreign-affairs committees of 19 NATO members released a joint statement on Thursday calling for Ukraine to be given a clear road map to joining at the NATO summit in July. Signatories included the heads of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and its counterpart committees in the U.K., Germany and France.
Finally, here’s the mistake that NATO made before. Premature guarantees lead to invasions by Russia!
NATO said in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually join, but gave no details or timeline. Germany and France led opposition to a concrete path to Ukrainian membership. The 2008 statement has been widely criticized for angering Russia without giving greater security to Ukraine or Georgia. Russia invaded Georgia soon after the summit, and continued to seek political sway in Ukraine.
*The Sensuous Curmudgeon and the National Center for Science Education report on a Texas bill requiring secondary schools that teach evolution present it not as a “fact”, but as a theory with strengths and weaknesses. Well, that bill is an ex-bill; it sings with the choir invisible. (h/t Steve) From the NCSE:
When the Texas state legislature adjourned sine die on May 29, 2023, a pair of identical bills that would have harmed science education, House Bill 1804 and Senate Bill 2089, died in committee. If enacted, the bills would have amended the state education code to require that instructional material adopted by the state board of education “present a scientific theory in an objective educational manner that: (i) clearly distinguishes the theory from fact; and (ii) includes evidence for both the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory.”
Clause (i) appears to reflect a common misconception about facts and theories. “In scientific terms, ‘theory’ does not mean ‘guess’ or ‘hunch’ as it does in everyday usage,” as the National Academy of Science explained in its publication Science and Creationism, second edition (1999). “Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up logically from testable observations and hypotheses. Biological evolution is the best scientific explanation we have for the enormous range of observations about the living world. … [S]cientists can also use [“fact”] to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact.”
Clause (ii) betrays the intention of the bills. As The New York Times editorialized of the phrase “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” in 2008, “This is code for teaching creationism.” Employed by proponents of “creation science” and “intelligent design” alike, the phrase appears in antievolution laws enacted in Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012. In 2017, Texas’s House Bill 1485 would ostensibly have provided Texas science teachers with the academic freedom to teach “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of scientific theories discussed in the state science standards; after receiving a public hearing, during which a member of the state board of education testified that the bill would allow the teaching of creationism, the bill died in committee, as NCSE previously reported.
Both bills were, of course, sponsored by Republicans.
*Writing on Substack, Clyde Rathbone explains why “Modern intellectuals are writing their best ideas on Substack.” And, by and large, yes, you get better ideas (though not necessarily news) on Substack than on the MSM. One problem is that there are too may people to follow, and of course those subscriptions mount up. But there are two new authors that you might want to follow. One is Jon Haidt:
Much of my work is focused on helping academics establish a sustainable publishing strategy on Substack, and I had suggested Jon might consider using Substack as a platform to explore the themes of his book, inviting criticism that could help him refine his manuscript. I am thrilled to say he found merit in the proposal. On his new Substack’s About page, he explains part of his rationale for launching on Substack:
“I could make this Substack an adjunct to my writing, where I could share findings, theories, and questions while inviting the kind of criticism that I’d rather get before I submit the manuscripts than after each book is published.”
Through his Substack, Jon is modeling a new and exciting way for academics to communicate directly with readers. He’s creating an avenue for collaborative feedback, akin to crowdsourced peer review but with the added advantage of early engagement. He’s also expanding the audience for his upcoming books and raising significant funds for his nonprofit organizations. Jon is not alone.
. . . and:
This week, Richard Dawkins is launching on Substack.
An esteemed evolutionary biologist, prolific writer, and passionate advocate for science and reason, Richard has captivated audiences with his thought-provoking ideas and unwavering dedication to the pursuit of knowledge.
One thing that will differ from the Twitter account is that, as far as I know, there are no comments on Twitter, so there won’t be the rancor you often see when Richard speaks his mind. On the other hand, ten to one people will still spew stuff on his Twitter feed. I, for one, am looking forward to see what he says.
*In Connecticut, a bear with a sweet tooth gorged itself on 60 cupcakes when nobody was looking. From the AP:
A hungry black bear barged into the garage of a Connecticut bakery, scared several employees and helped itself to 60 cupcakes before ambling away.
Workers at Taste by Spellbound in the town of Avon were loading cakes into a van for delivery on Wednesday when the bear showed up. There are between 1,000 and 1,200 black bears living in Connecticut, the state environmental agency says, with sightings last year in 158 of the state’s 169 towns and cities.
Bakery owner Miriam Stephens wrote in an Instagram post that she heard employee Maureen Williams “screaming bloody murder” and yelling that there was a bear in the garage.
Williams told TV station WTNH that she shouted to scare the bear off but it retreated and came back three times.
Williams said the bear charged at her so she backed out of the garage and ran.
Surveillance video obtained by WTNH shows bakery workers walking around the side of the business to try to scare the bear, but then running away after it scares them.
And here’s that video, which I found on YouTube. The bear has a whole bloody BOX OF CUPCAKES! Let him eat in peace—this bear will never have it so good again!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, a carnivore, bemoans carnivory:
Hili: We had a guest.A: Who?Hili: A caterpillar, but a starling ate it.
Hili: Mieliśmy gościa.Ja: Kogo?Hili: Gąsienicę, ale szpak ją zjadł.
From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:
From Jesus of the Day:
These two journalists who covered Mahsa Amini’s murder are facing a sham trial merely for their accurate reporting. All the while, the perpetrators of Amini’s murder remain free. ⁰⁰The trials of Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, who broke the story of the assault on Amini,… pic.twitter.com/19BYYnt3ge
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) May 31, 2023
A Twitter conversation found by Barry:
I found this one, with a cockatoo hitting the jackpot:
NO STOPPING pic.twitter.com/9AI39q0cnj
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) June 1, 2023
From Malcom, a Bruce Lee cat!
Bruce Lee the cat! 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/XmcgvWxTCv
— Critically Thinking & Drinking 🤔🥃🍹🧉🍻🤪 (@TheCriticalDri1) April 30, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, “she did not survive”:
2 June 1926 | A French Jewish girl, Ketty Algazi, was born in Paris.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 2, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, a snake on a plane!
Where’s Samuel L Jackson when you need him? pic.twitter.com/0UYlf5i307
— D Attenborough (@Attenboroughs_D) June 1, 2023
This guy just added a bunch of cats to his collection:
They've seen me in all my darkness and in all my light. They're with me in strength and struggle. 5yrs go by like days when every moment with them is my best life. Even when cleaning up endless poop or stepping on furball sick!Being your dad is my greatest honor. Happy Birthday! https://t.co/gl1lkvtSR7 pic.twitter.com/dmUgH3OrEG
— Paris Zarcilla (@ParisZarcilla) May 30, 2023
A Woodstock romance:
In 1969, Judy and Jerry Griffin crossed paths for the first time at the iconic Woodstock festival. Their encounter lasted only 48 hours, but it was enough time for them to form a deep connection. Surprisingly, over 50 years have passed since that fateful meeting, and the couple… pic.twitter.com/0jaXvquyVG
— Historic Vids (@historyinmemes) May 31, 2023