Saturday: Hili dialogue

June 3, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s CaturSaturday, June 3, 2023, shabbos for Jewish moggies and National Chocolate Macaroon Day. And, as usual, they get it wrong, showing macarons instead of macaroons. They are NOT the same confection!


It’s also Drawing Day, Love Conquers All Day, National Black Bear Day, National Pineapple Day, National Prairie Day, and World Bicycle Day.

And it’s Convocation Day at the University of Chicago: the day that all the fourth-year students graduate into the real world.

Here are black bear cubs (plus mom) frolicking in Wyoming:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 3 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*This exemplifies the falsity of saying there’s no conflict between excellence and diversity: it’s a NYT article called “Stuyvesant High School admitted 762 new students. Only 7 are black.” This is where my old boss Dick Lewontin went to school, as well as many other famous scientists. The problem is that entrance is strictly “merit” based, if you think a standardized test assesses merit:

About 10 percent of offers to New York City’s most elite public high schools went to Black and Latino students this year, education officials announced on Thursday, in a school system where they make up more than two-thirds of the student population overall.

The numbers — which have remained stubbornly low for years — placed a fresh spotlight on racial and ethnic disparities in the nation’s largest school system.

At Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the most selective of the city’s so-called specialized schools, seven of the 762 offers made went to Black students, down from 11 last year and eight in 2021. Twenty Latino students were offered spots at Stuyvesant, as were 489 Asian students and 158 white students. The rest went to multiracial students and students whose race was unknown.

Gaps at many of the other schools were also stark: Out of 287 offers made at Staten Island Technical High School, for example, two Black students were accepted — up from zero last year — along with seven Latino students.

The annual numbers traditionally fan a debate over the admissions process at the eight schools, to which acceptance is determined by a single entrance exam. About 26,000 eighth graders took the test last fall, and just under 4,000 were offered seats.

Students may receive few measurable benefits from attending them, some studies suggest. But the schools offer access to powerful alumni networks, and hold immense significance for many families, who view them as a ticket into a top college and successful career.

The schools also represent perhaps the highest-profile symbol of segregation across the system, where over the last decade, Black and Latino students have never received more than 12 percent of offers.

This year, 17 percent of eighth-graders who took the exam were white and 26 percent were Latino. But white students received more than four times as many offers.

At the city’s other selective high schools — where factors like grades are weighed and admissions were loosened during the pandemic — tougher criteria were restored this fall, worrying integration advocates.

Asian students get nearly half the offers. To get more students of color, you somehow have to relax admissions criteria and exercise a form of affirmative action. Or you can argue that standardized tests and grades have nothing to do with “merit”. I’m surprised these figures haven’t triggered a citywide fracas, but the NYT says “The system’s chancellor, David C. Banks, has argued that many Black and Latino families care more about school quality than who their children’s classmates are.”

*As usual, I submit three items lifted from Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary at The Free Press, this week called: “TGIF: Instigators, investigators, and aliens.”

→ Insurance as the end of climate denial: State Farm announced this week they will no longer offer home insurance in California, citing wildfires and generally “rapidly growing catastrophe exposure.” Across the country, insurance rates are going through the roof, which is partly inflation but partly the local climate realities. The best essay I’ve read on this comes from Hamilton Nolan, my favorite leftist economics writer. His take: “The insurance industry is going to serve a very useful role in the climate apocalypse. It is going to be the tip of the spear that punches through all of the bullshit of climate denialism once and for all. Indeed, the process is very much underway already. Politicians and oil lobbyists can lie all they want, but their homeowners insurance rates are going up.”

→ Noooooo: Patrisse Cullors, BLM cofounder and scam inspiration to us all, has lost her Warner Brothers deal after two years of not producing anything. We are all worse off for it. And new public findings show that the organization gave out only 33 percent of its $90 million in donations to charities. The rest? Hmmm. Well, listen, it was important to spend $6 million on a (gorgeous) L.A. home and another $8.1 mil on a (very cool) Toronto party pad they’re calling Wildseed.

→ Speaking of alarming takes on Israel, I highly recommend reading this, which is a pretty perfect encapsulation of the modern anti-Zionist belief system, published in the leftist magazine Jewish Currents. It’s a takedown of the Iron Dome, Israel’s anti-missile defense system that protects people in cities like Tel Aviv from rockets lobbed from Gaza. The argument is that it keeps Jews alive really well. Like, too well. As the magazine’s editor-in-chief Arielle Angel wrote: “The orientation toward absolute safety for individual Jewish bodies over the prospect of long term peace and safety for both peoples is one of the things at the root of the problem. So something has to shift.” Duh, guys. Less safety for Jewish bodies equals more long-term peace. How many times does this have to be spelled out?

*Everybody knows that California, with its good climate and lax law enforcement, has a huge homeless population. And the state has spent tons of money on it: according to The Wall Street Journal, $17 billion.  But they also report that “it’s not working.” Their example is Wood Street in Oakland, a homeless encampment that’s a disaster (for one thing, fires break out there regularly.)

The number of homeless people in California grew about 50% between 2014 and 2022. The state, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. population, has about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless, an estimated 115,000 people, according to federal and state data last year. It also has among the highest average rent and median home prices in the U.S.

California spent a record $17 billion combating homelessness in the past four fiscal years. For the state budget year starting in July, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed another $3.7 billion.

Voters in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which have some of the largest homeless populations in California, were unhappy enough about it to approve taxes costing them billions of dollars to fund anti-homelessness programs and housing in recent years. So far, cost overruns and delays have left little to show for the money.

. . .Talya Husbands-Hankin, an activist who often delivers food and supplies to residents, said authorities are stuck in a cycle of clearing out encampments and scattering people who find another spot to gather.

“Money is being wasted,” she said, “consistently pushing people around.”

And when, after a court battle, they dismantled the Wood Street encampment, many people had nowhere to go:

Thompson, the Vietnam veteran, has been relocating his RV from one street to the next since last September. He recently offered to help homeless friends tow their broken-down vehicles out of the Wood Street neighborhood, but they didn’t have a good idea where to take them.

“Nobody knows where to go,” he said.

What a horrible thing to be homeless. It’s something that hardly any of us are likely to experience. As Robert Frost wrote:

Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.’
And there’s nobody to take you in.

*The Associated Press recounts the last days in prison of Jeffrey Epstein—right before he hanged himself.

Two weeks before ending his life, Jeffrey Epstein sat in the corner of his Manhattan jail cell with his hands over his ears, desperate to muffle the sound of a toilet that wouldn’t stop running.

Epstein was agitated and unable to sleep, jail officials observed in records newly obtained by The Associated Press. He called himself a “coward” and complained he was struggling to adapt to life behind bars following his July 2019 arrest on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges — his life of luxury reduced to a concrete and steel cage.

The disgraced financier was under psychological observation at the time for a suicide attempt just days earlier that left his neck bruised and scraped. Yet, even after a 31-hour stint on suicide watch, Epstein insisted he wasn’t suicidal, telling a jail psychologist he had a “wonderful life” and “would be crazy” to end it.

On Aug. 10, 2019, Epstein was dead.

. . . Nearly four years later, the AP has obtained more than 4,000 pages of documents related to Epstein’s death from the federal Bureau of Prisons under the Freedom of Information Act. They include a detailed psychological reconstruction of the events leading to Epstein’s suicide, as well as his health history, internal agency reports, emails, memos and other records.

Taken together, the documents the AP obtained Thursday provide the most complete accounting to date of Epstein’s detention and death, and its chaotic aftermath. The records help to dispel the many conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s suicide, underscoring how fundamental failings at the Bureau of Prisons — including severe staffing shortages and employees cutting corners — contributed to Epstein’s death.

The documents also provide a fresh window into Epstein’s behavior during his 36 days in jail, including his previously unreported attempt to connect by mail with another high-profile pedophile: Larry Nassar, the U.S. gymnastics team doctor convicted of sexually abusing scores of athletes.

Epstein’s letter to Nassar was found returned to sender in the jail’s mail room weeks after Epstein’s death. “It appeared he mailed it out and it was returned back to him,” the investigator who found the letter told a prison official by email. “I am not sure if I should open it or should we hand it over to anyone?”

The letter itself was not included among the documents turned over to the AP.

The night before Epstein’s death, he excused himself from a meeting with his lawyers to make a telephone call to his family. According to a memo from a unit manager, Epstein told a jail employee that he was calling his mother, who’d been dead for 15 years at that point.

*David Brooks’s latest op-ed in the NYT has an intriguing and click-irresistible title: “Let’s smash the college-admissions process.”

Within days or weeks, the Supreme Court is going to render a decision on the future of affirmative action in higher ed. If things go as expected, conservatives will be cheering as these policies are struck down — and progressives will be wailing.

But maybe we can all take this moment to reimagine the college admissions process itself, which has morphed into one of the truly destructive institutions in American society.

What are we gonna do? Well, we could sneak around the Court decision, we could abide by it, or we could practice a different form of affirmative action. And the last thing is what Brooks suggests. First, he denigrates the meritocratic system now used, but mostly for “elite” schools:

Worse, this system is built on a definition of “merit” that is utterly bonkers. In what sane world do we sort people — often for life — based on their ability to be teacher-pleasers from age 15 to 18?

We could have chosen to sort people on the basis of creativity, generosity or resilience. We could have chosen to promote students who are passionate about one subject but lag in the other subjects (which is how real-life success works). But instead we created this academic pressure cooker that further disadvantages people from the wrong kind of families and leaves even the straight-A winners stressed, depressed and burned out.

And his solution:

For the past few decades, Richard D. Kahlenberg, the author of “The Remedy: Class, Race and Affirmative Action,” has been arguing that we should replace the race-based system of affirmative action with a class-based system.

His proposal, to give preference to applicants from economically disadvantaged families, would address a core inequality in society. As Kahlenberg wrote in The Economist in 2018, social science research “finds that today, being economically disadvantaged in America poses seven times as large an obstacle to high student achievement as does race.”

Furthermore, he continues, if you structure the programs well, you can lift up the poor and middle class while simultaneously redressing the iniquities that have historically been visited upon African Americans. Writing in Dissent this year, Kahlenberg, an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the case seeking to overturn affirmative action, describes an exercise he did with the Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono. Based on data from Harvard and the University of North Carolina, they built an admissions model that would end racial preferences and preferences for the children of faculty members and alumni, but boost applicants from poor families and disadvantaged neighborhoods.

. . .At Harvard, under this model, the share of African American, Hispanic and other underrepresented minority students would rise, and the share of first-generation students would more than triple.

The case for Kahlenberg’s proposal gets stronger every year. If the Supreme Court.

This sounds fairer to me, as a fair number of black kids aren’t educationally deprived, and a lot of white kids are. Using need rather than pigmentation just seems, well, better. Of course, why is everyone always worried about the “elite” colleges when the advantage of having gone to one disappears after a few years?

And what about affirmative action for underrepresented viewpoints?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is pondering her favorite subject

Hili: I’m thinking.
A: What about?
Hili: Whether it’s time to eat something.
In Polish:
Hili: Zastanawiam się.
Ja: Nad czym?
Hili: Czy to nie jest pora, żeby coś zjeść.

And a photo of the loving Szaron:


From The Cat House on the King’s, the perfect beer (an imperial porter, which I like):

From Beth:

From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:

From Masih, Google translation: “The people of Abdanan came to the street to protest the death of #Bamshad_Solimankhani, a student who was arrested by government forces and died after being released. His family announced the cause of his death as ‘torture during detention’. Several people were injured in the shooting. Protests continue. #freedome_life_woman.

You can hear the shooting.

Emma (Matthew’s colleague) is delightfully snarky:

From Malcolm, cats doing commando training:

From Barry, a wonderful tweet of a mother seal and her baby:

From Simon: the story of Trump:

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

Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, an author cruising for a bruising, which I suspect he’ll get this weekend:

From Ziya Tong (see the species info here).

Eagle loses in an epic interaction (but isn’t hurt):

30 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. I’m in favour of class-based action rather than race-base affirmative action when it comes to college admissions. But the end result of the mechanism suggested above will be the same—discrimination in favour of a particular group, in this case poor students. It’s just as wrong to open college doors wider to poor kids as it is to any other group, unless they have the ability to benefit from attendance. It will have all the same drawbacks: students taking courses they are not equipped to complete, flunking, debt, dilution of the worth of a degree and so on. It is not going to work if we give an unfair advantage to any one group, without a system of merit to decide who shall enter. Rather, we should level the playing field. Remove the economic barriers that stop clever but poor kids from going to university. Earn your place by some form of meritocracy, be it academic or experiment with something broader, as suggested, but then give poor kids a grant so money won’t be an issue for them. Only that way will we not waste good minds that are not achieving all they can, give all who can benefit from university the chance to get in and attend, and keep the value of a degree. Such a programme has a complementary side: recognise that universal college attendance is a daft idea, and provide the same help for poor kids to attend a trade school (or polytechnic, community college or whatever you might like to call it) if that is what will help them the most. We still need skilled tradesmen and women, and there’s a good, satisfying and decently-payed life available for plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics and so on.

    1. In a prior life, I looked (somewhat extensively) into class-based vs. race-based AA. Based on my research, it will ‘work’. However, most of the admitted kids will come from poor white and Asian families. That’s a no-no for the advocates of race-based AA. Coming from a rich black family would no long be a huge plus. That’s a no-no for the advocates of race-based AA.

    2. “Who were your primary mentors helping you through the college admissions process?” This was a question my wife encountered in graduate school, posed by a student in an adjacent department who was developing a survey. My wife’s response was laughter. As was mine when she posed it to me. The verbal answer is “Nobody”. Not family, not friends, not neighbors, not teachers, not high school counselors. Nobody. That was my wife’s story, the first in her family to attend college. I, at least, had a single meeting with a counselor who simply said, “I went to University of X. You could consider that.” Of course, that conversation didn’t happen until my senior year. Somehow, I survived.

      I have never understood the hand-wringing over diversity—racial or socio-economic class. It strikes me as being mostly people in elite institutions who recognize the gated-community aspect of their schools and feel vaguely uncomfortable with that. Most colleges and universities in the U. S. admit virtually anyone with a high school diploma. Money might be a hindrance. Lack of adequate preparation might drag you down. The mind-numbingly trivial irrelevance of so much of the curriculum in such places might drive you to that trade job your family wanted for you in the first place. But admissions standards are not a barrier to a college diploma in America. (Unless, a person is one of those types who believes that college should be the new middle school.) Even lower-middle class kids with little to offer other than strong ACT and SAT scores can get into exceptionally good state flagships. Yes, we have too few such kids. But that is a pipeline (and culture) problem. And money? If you support free college for all in the United States, I would like to introduce you to faculty who already try to teach college students who cannot write a coherent sentence or read anything beyond a basic text. Throw the money at the pipeline, though I doubt it does us much good.

      I will throw this out: we don’t need more teenagers going to college. We already send too many. I detect a whiff of condescension sometimes, as though a failure to push every student to college means that we do not believe that they are “good enough” to join our club. The WSJ ran a piece the other day highlighting that, given the hot job market, only 62% of recent high school graduates were enrolled in college last year. That was down from over 70% in 2009. Good. Look at high school graduation rates. The Department of Education reports that in 2019-20 it was 87%. Combine that with the on-to-college rate. Do we really want to push more and more people on the bottom half of the bell curve into college? Really? And suggest to them that they are somehow failures if they do not make it? And milk them of tuition money when many of the nonselective schools in the country have 50+% dropout rates and six-year graduation rate expectations? But, but, but wages. Yes, that is the system we helped create. Be like us and you can probably make money; serve us and you will likely make far less. Because you are less worthy or markets or something.

      I was about to propose solutions to fix the pipeline, but the ROOLZ, and perhaps our time is better spent doing something more achievable like ending the war in Ukraine.

  2. In the 1960s I attended another of NYC’s elite high schools – the Bronx High School of Science. Students were required to take extra science and math classes. As now, admittance was determined by a single test. Then the school was majority Jewish with very few Black students. As far as I can recall, the students were the children of lower middle class or working class parents. They were afforded a free education that most considered on the par with the expensive prep schools. The school served as a gateway to admittance to a good college and a successful career. I am surprised to find that Wikipedia has an article devoted to notable Bronx Science alumni. The list is rather long. It graduated eight Nobel Prize winners, including Steven Weinberg, who has been mentioned on this site.

    Yet, for me, attending Bronx Science had a real downside. The competition for grades, in an era prior to grade inflation, was extremely intense. Not being a genius, as some students were, my time there was miserable because studying and doing well on tests were all that seemed to matter. I knew who my competitors were and that created incredible anxiety. Over the decades I have mused as to whether I would have been better off going to the local public high school. Nevertheless, I still support the current admission process to enter the elite high schools because a free, high quality education (I assume that is still the case) is available to talented, not necessarily wealthy kids, that otherwise would be the case. By saying this, I am not suggesting that the entire NYC school does not have to be retooled so that all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, can have an equal opportunity in life. Although there is a place for elite schools, all students should be afforded a quality education. This is the challenge, not currently being met, for all urban areas.

    1. I went to Bronx High School of Science, in the 1950’s. Maybe I was lucky, but it was then a place with lots of kids with wide-ranging interests. There were faculty members encouraging these interests, including creative writing, journalism, acting. Certainly we studied, but it wasn’t all that mattered. My sister and some of my friends went to the High School of Music and Art..again with admission requirements, but an excellent education, and a good record of sending students to college. But the non-special high schools had not yet deteriorated and did have winners in the national science competition. Having schools that are attractive to talented, imaginative, faculty matters greatly.

    2. I read a funny comment on this from the Dean of the Harvard Medical School. “Bronx High School of Science was the most intellectual place I have ever been and that includes Harvard”.

    3. I went to Bx Science in the 1960s. I think the pressure to do well academically came from the students themselves, not the school. They would have had the same drives no matter what school they attended.

      1. You’re right that the pressure was largely self-imposed. At least for me, part of the pressure came from a desire to please my parents. My parents (on the margin between lower middle class and working class) lived through me vicariously. They were in an unspoken competition between themselves and their friends as to whose children were doing best. Bragging about their children was quite common. All were pretty much in the same socioeconomic status. If I had gone to the local high school, the pressure would not have been so great. Of course, if I had gone to the local high school, my parents would have been very disappointed in me.

  3. Quick math in my head. $17 billion over 4 years, for 115,000 unsheltered homeless = just shy of $37,000.00/ person.

    Per capita income in California is $41,276.00

    I don’t know what the answer is, but there should be enough money to improve things.

    1. There is not amount of money that can solve a problem not accurately identified. I think this applies to both main topics under discussion here.
      No amount of affordable housing is going to fix the issues faced by people who are mentally ill and addicted to drugs.
      The number I have heard often is that around 10% of the homeless are people who have had some sort of financial setback, which they can overcome with temporary help.

  4. On this day:
    1140 – The French scholar Peter Abelard is found guilty of heresy.

    1539 – Hernando de Soto claims Florida for Spain.

    1839 – In Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroys 1.2 million kilograms of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War.

    1844 – The last pair of great auks is killed.

    1885 – In the last military engagement fought on Canadian soil, the Cree leader, Big Bear, escapes the North-West Mounted Police.

    1889 – The first long-distance electric power transmission line in the United States is completed, running 14 miles (23 km) between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.

    1940 – World War II: The Luftwaffe bombs Paris.

    1940 – Franz Rademacher proposes plans to make Madagascar the “Jewish homeland”, an idea that had first been considered by 19th century journalist Theodor Herzl.

    1943 – In Los Angeles, California, white U.S. Navy sailors and Marines attack Latino youths in the five-day Zoot Suit Riots.

    1950 – Herzog and Lachenal of the French Annapurna expedition become the first climbers to reach the summit of an 8,000-metre peak.

    1965 – The launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Ed White, a crew member, performs the first American spacewalk.

    1979 – A blowout at the Ixtoc I oil well in the southern Gulf of Mexico causes at least 3,000,000 barrels (480,000 m3) of oil to be spilled into the waters, the second-worst accidental oil spill ever recorded.

    1980 – An explosive device is detonated at the Statue of Liberty. The FBI suspects Croatian nationalists.

    1982 – The Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov, is shot on a London street; he survives but is left paralysed.

    1984 – Operation Blue Star, a military offensive, is launched by the Indian government at Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine for Sikhs, in Amritsar. The operation continues until June 6, with casualties, most of them civilians, in excess of 5,000.

    1989 – The government of China sends troops to force protesters out of Tiananmen Square after seven weeks of occupation.

    1992 – Aboriginal land rights are recognised in Australia, overturning the long-held colonial assumption of terra nullius, in Mabo v Queensland (No 2), a case brought by Torres Strait Islander Eddie Mabo and leading to the Native Title Act 1993.

    2012 – The pageant for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II takes place on the River Thames.

    2013 – The trial of United States Army private Chelsea Manning for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks begins in Fort Meade, Maryland.

    2017 – London Bridge attack: Eight people are murdered and dozens of civilians are wounded by Islamist terrorists. Three of the attackers are shot dead by the police.

    1723 – Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, Italian physician, geologist, and botanist (d. 1788).

    1726 – James Hutton, Scottish geologist and physician (d. 1797).

    1864 – Ransom E. Olds, American businessman, founded Oldsmobile and REO Motor Car Company (d. 1950).

    1897 – Memphis Minnie, American singer-songwriter (d. 1973).

    1906 – Josephine Baker, French actress, singer, and dancer; French Resistance operative (d. 1975).

    1925 – Tony Curtis, American actor (d. 2010).

    1926 – Allen Ginsberg, American poet (d. 1997).

    1929 – Werner Arber, Swiss microbiologist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1939 – Ian Hunter, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1942 – Curtis Mayfield, American singer-songwriter and producer (d. 1999).

    1950 – Suzi Quatro, American-English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1951 – Jill Biden, American educator, First Lady of the United States.

    Circulation of the blood ceased:
    1657 – William Harvey, English physician and academic (b. 1578).

    1875 – Georges Bizet, French pianist and composer (b. 1838).

    1900 – Mary Kingsley, English explorer and author (b. 1862).

    1924 – Franz Kafka, Czech-Austrian lawyer and author (b. 1883).

    1977 – Roberto Rossellini, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1906).

    1986 – Anna Neagle, English actress and singer (b. 1904).

    2001 – Anthony Quinn, Mexican-American actor and producer (b. 1915).

    2009 – David Carradine, American actor (b. 1936).

    2011 – Andrew Gold, American singer, songwriter, musician and arranger (b. 1951).

    2011 – Jack Kevorkian, American pathologist, author, and activist (b. 1928).

    2016 – Muhammad Ali, American boxer (b. 1942).

  5. Regarding today’s lead picture, I think it’s time for a groaner:

    Scotsman goes into a cake-shop, points at the counter, and says:
    “Excuse me, is that a macaron or a meringue?”

    The counter assistant replies: “No, you’re right, it is a macaron”.

    1. Translation for those who didn’t get it, from a Glaswegian: “a meringue” in Scotland sounds like “am I wrang? (wrong)”.

      1. OH!

        That is very funny!

        Good explanation of the pronunciation – a very tricky thing to do.

  6. I don’t listen to anyone who talks about a “climate apocalypse” any more than someone who talks about a religious apocalypse. The Climillerites are alive and well.

    1. As far as I know, the future climate is very much up in the air. At some point climate may move rapidly out of control with nothing we can do to put the breaks on. For example the thawing of the poles and the permafrost. Or, efforts underway might stop and then reverse the problem before the chance for control is lost. What evidence is there to favor one of these over the other? Perhaps you could explain your optimism.

    2. Reading Nellie’s first linked story in Grist, it’s not clear that State Farm is leaving California because of climate change. The insurance market in the state has been destabilized for a number of reasons described in the story, some of which are deliberate policy choices in the regulatory milieu, and none of which are shown in the story to be due to climate change. The author of the piece glibly tacks on, ”because of climate change” to accounts of wildfires, as is the convention now for news articles about any natural calamity, whether a heat wave in California, a cold snap in Texas, or a tornado in Oklahoma. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the event was due to climate change. It’s just parroting the conventional wisdom that these events are more severe, more common, or more likely to hit expensive residential property and cost more to reconstruct than before we started to burn coal and the earth started to warm.

      As for the Hamilton Nolan piece, do people really talk like that, that they write with so many casual f-bombs? I honestly tried to follow him but there was just too much eff’n this and eff’n that with a few bull-shits thrown in for flavour that I gave up. He might be persuasive, for all I know. He sure sounds angry.

      Our house insurance is down this year, even with inflation, just paid it today. It is about the same for our modestly-more-than-modest suburban two-storey as the average price quoted in California. Yet we have no wildfires or floods and there must be many houses in California that would cost 10-100 times as much to rebuild as ours, pushing up the Calif. average risk. Sounds like Californians are getting a good deal. Too good to last, it seems.

  7. “About 10 percent of offers to New York City’s most elite public high schools went to Black and Latino students this year, education officials announced on Thursday, in a school system where they make up more than two-thirds of the student population overall.”

    This appears to be the technique of problematization, where a discrepancy is noted, the discrepancy itself is asserted to be a problem, and any questions that arise reinforce the idea that the discrepancy is a problem.

  8. The problem with these admission interventions is that they place costs on a subset of the advantaged – for every race-based admission there is a race-based loss which is a single person that bears the cost. Is that person compensated?

    Interventions should be done in such a way that society as a whole pays costs, but apparently that is a political hot-potato that no one wants to address?

    1. “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time.”

      — Second Epistle of Peter

  9. (Satire but well sourced):Racial Gap in NYC Schools’ Achievement Still Wide

    by Lorna Salzman

    In a blow to Mayor Bloomberg, a resetting of testing threshold shows no closing of the racial achievement gap.

    Despite recent claims by NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg and educational experts of progress in closing the educational achievement gap between racial groups in the city schools, this gap has not decreased in recent years, leading to fears that those groups lower on the scale will not fulfill their potential.

    “Failure to close this gap could lead to continued discrimination in the job market and a two-tier society of elites and failures”, said the mayor. “We need to find out why this is happening and take drastic measures to close this gap. We owe it to the failing group as well as to society at large”.

    Nationwide, the gap is not as great as it is in New York City, where differences between the various racial groups – white, Hispanic, black, Asian – are still marked and not evening out. Initially there was much celebration at what appeared to be a narrowing gap, but re-testing and re-examination of test results revealed the opposite to be true.

    In some cases with some groups, poverty and difficulties with learning a new language were at the root of poor academic accomplishment, as they have been for many years. But in other cases where these were not a factor, the persistence of a gap was puzzling and not explained by socio-economic factors.

    “We are at a loss to know why the educational achievement gap continues to widen between Asians, who persistently score the highest, and whites, who have the benefit of having English as their native language and have received, for better or worse, preferential treatment for such a long time”, said Joel Klein, schools chancellor. But Klein said he still felt “awfully good”.

    Off the record, some educational experts will venture reasons, not wanting to voice opinions that might appear racist or derogatory. When told of the low level of achievement of whites, these were some of the responses.

    Said one, speaking on guarantee of anonymity: “Some knee jerk liberals might attribute the under-average academic achievements of American whites to innate inferiority, but of course this conclusion is morally unacceptable”.

    Another said: “Nonsense. We know the Chinese and Koreans bribe the teachers to give high grades; didn’t you see that film “A Serious Man”?

    Said another: “You can’t help but think that what Americans see on TV and in Washington DC or hear in their houses of worship or from their peers is having a major impact on their intellectual development”.

    Another dismissed any notion of Political Correctness, saying bluntly:”We’ve always known that white Americans were beer-swilling anti-intellectual couch potatoes”.

    Said another: “Duh”.

  10. Anybody else having posting problems the last week or two? It’s fine if I don’t edit, but when I edit and “save” the comment, everything, at first, looks great. Then I close my browser and come back later, and the post is gone. Again, it’s only happening for edited posts.

    Other times, I am replying to a person’s comment, but then my comment posts at the end of the comment list. I come back later, and the comment has moved to the proper location. It’s all a bit odd.

  11. There’s a “quote” that appeared in a number of publications and (of course) on a certain Internet company’s website, that I add below – and I’m not arguing anything here, I’m just putting down the “train of thought” stemming from the previous comment:

    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”

    An interesting thought – not perfect, but thought it was worth adding.

    Some detailed research about the “quote” origin can be found here :

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