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!
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.
*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.’
*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.
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 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.
مردم آبدانان در اعتراض به مرگ #بامشاد_سلیمانخانی، دانشجویی که توسط نیروهای حکومتی بازداشت و پس از آزادی جان خود را از دست داد به خیابان آمدند. خانواده او علت مرگش را «شکنجه در زمان بازداشت» اعلام کردند. چندین نفر در اثر تیراندازی زخمی شدهاند. اعتراضات ادامه دارد.#زن_زندگى_آزادى pic.twitter.com/My9a2LMIsR
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 1, 2023
Emma (Matthew’s colleague) is delightfully snarky:
This is a man who thinks I should listen to him about fairness and sport. He sometimes get cross when I don’t answer him.
— Emma Hilton (@FondOfBeetles) May 31, 2023
From Malcolm, cats doing commando training:
— @Ram_Mohd_Singh_Azad (@Arun_Kaku05) June 1, 2023
From Barry, a wonderful tweet of a mother seal and her baby:
A mother seal just delivered a baby and thinks it's dead. And when she realizes the baby is alive, her joy and happiness are worth seeing. This magical moment makes the world beautiful for a moment.🪄 pic.twitter.com/cjL2oSRyTS
— Hakan Kapucu (@1hakankapucu) May 4, 2023
From Simon: the story of Trump:
How it’s going …pic.twitter.com/sXrmkMEPQO
— George Conway 🇺🇦 (@gtconway3d) April 4, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, mother and child gassed upon arrival:
3 (or 2) June 1913 A French Jewish woman, Henriette Vecksler (née Bril), was born in Paris.
She arrived at #Auschwitz on 25 September 1942 in a transport of 1,000 Jews deported from Drancy. She was murdered in a gas chamber with her sons Claude (in the picture) and Serge. pic.twitter.com/J0yTeHfqCi
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 2, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, an author cruising for a bruising, which I suspect he’ll get this weekend:
Sex and gender are binaries? Sorry, that's a scientific falsehood https://t.co/Konc1XfZK0
— SFChronicle Opinion (@sfc_opinions) June 1, 2023
From Ziya Tong (see the species info here).
— Earthling / 🦣: journa.host/@ziya (@ziyatong) June 1, 2023
Eagle loses in an epic interaction (but isn’t hurt):
Crazy eagle tries to steal a rabbit right out of a hungry momma fox’s mouth. pic.twitter.com/LzQqB2dZY1
— Mark Smith Photography (@marktakesphoto) May 30, 2023