Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 22, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Thursday, June 22, 2023, and National Chocolate Eclair Day. Them’s good pastries.


It’s also World Rainforest Day and National Onion Rings Day. (I love rings, but I rarely get them. They’re ten times better than fries!)

In honor of Rainforest Day, here are two photos I took in La Selva, Costa Rica, in January of 2012.

I don’t know what these birds are, but I’m sure some reader will. Nice sexual dimorphism!

And a tiny Oophaga pumilio, also known as the Strawberry poison-dart frog or, in this morph (they’re variable) as the “blue jeans frog”). It is toxic, as you can see from its aposematic coloration.

Tiny and adorable.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 22 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Amidst questions about the safety of the submersible that went missing with five passengers trying to look at the Titanic, the search continues, but time is scarce.

The search for five people aboard the missing submersible that was exploring the Titanic wreck grew Wednesday to double the size of Connecticut and 2.5 miles deep, as noises picked up by sonar have yielded no leads and the vessel’s 96-hour oxygen supply is estimated to run out Thursday.

. . .Several Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater noises in the area where crews are looking for the Titan submersible, and operations were redirected there, the U.S. Coast Guard’s First District reported early Wednesday. Those efforts “have yielded negative results but continue,” the Coast Guard tweeted.

Carl Hartsfield, a senior manager at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said at a news conference that officials were conducting an acoustic analysis of “the noises [that] have been described as banging noises.” The sounds could have originated from other man-made sources or animals.

I was hopeful about those noises, which were initially described as repetitive bangings every 30 minutes or so. Now I’m glass-half-empty. And the problems with the vehicle:

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about the regulatory and safety standards of the company that operates the vessel. Concerns were raised about quality control and safety issues relating to the Titan as early as 2018, according to court documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

The allegations came from David Lochridge, former director of marine operations at the company, after he was sued by the company in 2018 for allegedly sharing confidential information. Lochridge claimed that OceanGate refused to pay a manufacturer to build a viewport that would meet the required depth of 4,000 meters, or more than 13,000 feet, according to a countercomplaint.

Lochridge said in court filings that paying passengers would not be aware or informed that “hazardous flammable materials were being used within the submersible.” He also expressed concerns about the quality control and safety of the Titan, and he encouraged OceanGate to use the American Bureau of Shipping to inspect and certify the submersible. Lochridge and OceanGate settled the lawsuit in 2018.

Maximilian Cremer, director of the ocean technology group at the University of Hawaii Marine Center, told The Post that the Titan’s hatch, which is bolted from the outside, does not meet standards.

. . . Experts in maritime regulation say OceanGate was operating in a legal gray area.

Well, they are either crushed and dead. Still underwater with oxygen running out, or floating on the ocean surface, also with oxygen running out and no way to exit the vehicle. Not great alternatives.

*From reader Ken:  “Seems Clarence Thomas’s wingman on SCOTUS, Samuel Alito, has a sugar daddy of his own.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. took the unusual step late Tuesday of responding to questions about his travel with a billionaire who frequently has cases before the Supreme Court hours before an article detailing their ties had even been published.

In an extraordinary salvo in a favored forum, Justice Alito defended himself in a pre-emptive article in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal before the news organization ProPublica posted its account of a luxury fishing trip in 2008.

. . .The ProPublica article centered on a trip Justice Alito took to a remote part of Alaska, arriving on the private jet of Paul Singer, an immensely wealthy hedge fund manager and Republican donor. The flight would have cost more than $100,000 one way if the justice had chartered it himself, the outlet estimated, and his annual disclosures make no mention of the trip, in what many experts in legal ethics said was a violation of federal law. In the years afterward, Mr. Singer’s businesses were parties to a number of Supreme Court cases in which Justice Alito participated.

ProPublica had sought comment from the justice, who instead turned to The Journal to make two main points: that he was not required to recuse himself from those cases or to disclose the travel.

Those are pretty lame excuses. Shouldn’t Supreme Court Justices err on the side of acting ethically? And isn’t it ironic that the two most conservative justices

*Well, once again Joe Biden opened his mouth and the wrong thing came out, this time about China.

By describing Xi Jinping as a dictator, President Biden leveled a personal swipe at China’s leader, injecting fresh discord into the relationship between the two men at a time when the broader U.S-China ties appeared on the threshold of a thaw.

Biden’s seemingly off-hand remark at a fundraiser near San Francisco on Tuesday evening appeared to push the boundaries of how a U.S. leader refers to his Chinese counterpart. While Xi, who is unelected but wields vast power, may fit the textbook description of a dictator, political analysts said the term is loaded and rarely used by U.S. presidents to describe leaders they hope to engage in diplomacy.

Biden’s reference to Xi as a dictator, even if glancing, appears to be unprecedented for a sitting U.S. president in recent decades, said Jude Blanchette, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “To have the world’s leading power refer to him in ways that de-elevate him, I think Xi Jinping will take that personally. He wants to be seen as a peer  with the United States,” Blanchette said.

China’s Foreign Ministry termed Biden’s characterization “extremely absurd and extremely irresponsible.”

I thought Biden had stopped emitting these kinds of gaffes. He needs a lesson from Blinken!

*Jessica Grose in the NYT tells us what she means by saying “The largest and fastest religious shift in America is well underway.”

In previous newsletters about Americans falling away from religion, I’ve talked about why so many Americans’ religious identities now fall in the category known as “nones” when, just a half-century ago, nearly all Americans had some kind of affiliation. (It’s complicated and multifaceted, but to summarize, it’s largely a combination of Christianity’s association with far-right politics and the fact that being unreligious has become more socially acceptable over time.)

But it’s not just how Americans identify that has greatly shifted. In their new book “The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?” Jim Davis and Michael Graham with Ryan Burge argue that the most dramatic change may be in regular attendance at houses of worship. “We are currently in the middle of the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country,” they postulate, because “about 15 percent of American adults living today (around 40 million people) have effectively stopped going to church, and most of this dechurching has happened in the past 25 years.”

Umm. . . . “nones” don’t go to church much because they’re not affiliated with one. Aren’t these things pretty correlated?

While the authors find that there is some variation in the rates at which different demographic groups are dechurching (Hispanic Americans are dechurching at the lowest rate, for example), every group is trending away from traditional worship. As Davis, Graham and Burge put it: “No theological tradition, age group, ethnicity, political affiliation, education level, geographic location or income bracket escaped the dechurching in America.”

But remember that they’re talking mainly about Christian denominations. And the authors bemoan this trend: they want people to go back to church, at least according to Grose.

But the piece ends on a high note:

I asked whether he thought the trend of falling away from regular attendance at traditional houses of worship would continue at its rapid clip. He said he thinks it eventually has to slow down, because so many people will become dechurched that there won’t be enough traditionally observant Americans left to keep up the pace. And he agreed with Silverstein that dechurched Americans will have “unchurched” or fully irreligious children. He summed it up this way: “I think the religious disaffiliation as a cultural phenomenon will continue.”

I predicted this several years ago, and it’s not rocket science. Just look at the trends, and ask if there’s anything that could make America more religious. Every force acting on us—science, increasing rationality, the failure of Jesus to return—makes us less and less religious. Short of a nuclear war or Jesus coming back,  America will continue to become more secular. Our goal: the religiosity of Iceland (0% believers under 25 years old).

*And the oddity of the day: retribution for an employer who paid his workers in oily pennies.

 The owner of an auto repair shop who paid a former employee with 91,500 oily pennies has been ordered by a judge to pay nearly 4 million more cents.

A federal judge ruled that Miles Walker, who owns A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Georgia, owes $39,934 to nine workers for unpaid overtime and damages.

Attorneys for Walker agreed to the payments to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the U.S. Labor Department that accused Walker of retaliating against former employee Andreas Flaten in 2021.

After Flaten filed a complaint with the agency saying Walker owed him a final $915 paycheck, the employer dumped that amount in oil-covered pennies in Flaten’s driveway. The mountain of loose change came with a pay stub signed with an expletive.

The Labor Department said further investigation found that Walker’s business had also violated overtime provisions of the federal Fair Standards and Labor Act.

The judge on June 16 signed a consent order in which Walker agreed to pay nearly $8,700 more to Flaten in owed overtime and damages. Eight other workers are to receive amounts between $14,640 and $513 within the next year.

“The court has sent a clear message to employers such as Miles Walker who subject employees to unfair wage practices and outright intimidation and retaliation,” Tremelle Howard, the Labor Department’s regional solicitor in Atlanta, said in a statement.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili again utters profundities:

A: Where are you going?
Hili: I enter the future step by step.
In Polish:
Ja: Gdzie idziesz?
Hili: Wkraczam krok po kroku w przyszłość.
And Szaron is having a drink of water al fresco:


From Divy: (does anyone recognize the leg in the second row of the jury?):

From Merilee, on the domestication of felids (actually, it was the European wildcat that was domesticated):

From Nicole.  Can I have this tub to go with the couch I posted the other day?

From Masih: a retweet from actor, activist, and Iranian refugee Nazanin Boniadi, who dilates on the oppressiveness of the Iranian regime:

From Malcolm, a beautiful spontaneious cat mosaic:

From Michael Shermer, commenting on the unfairness of transwomen competing in bicycle races against biological women (Shermer’s a cyclist):

Reader Barry responds to a woman who thinks that this is cruelty to the cat. It doesn’t look like it!

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman gassed upon arrival, age 43:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a tribute to Edith Piaf. It’s very hard to get, and I didn’t get it until Matthew explained it.  If you get it, put it in the comments. Otherwise I’ll add the answer here later:

A rare mating (look at that sexual dimorphism!). Sound up:

A tweet from Matthew. It makes me remember, though, that Hitchens said, after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, that he would still have smoked if he had his life to do over again.

67 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1633 – The Holy Office in Rome forces Galileo Galilei to recant his view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe in the form he presented it in, after heated controversy.

    1839 – Cherokee leaders Major Ridge, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot are assassinated for signing the Treaty of New Echota, which had resulted in the Trail of Tears.

    1870 – The United States Department of Justice is created by the U.S. Congress.

    1918 – The Hammond Circus Train Wreck kills 86 and injures 127 near Hammond, Indiana.

    1940 – World War II: France is forced to sign the Second Compiègne armistice with Germany, in the same railroad car in which the Germans signed the Armistice in 1918.

    1941 – World War II: Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.

    1942 – The Pledge of Allegiance is formally adopted by US Congress.

    1944 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill.

    1948 – The ship HMT Empire Windrush brought the first group of 802 West Indian immigrants to Tilbury, marking the start of modern immigration to the United Kingdom.

    1948 – King George VI formally gives up the title “Emperor of India”, half a year after Britain actually gave up its rule of India.

    1969 – The Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, Ohio, drawing national attention to water pollution, and spurring the passing of the Clean Water Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    1979 – Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe was acquitted of conspiracy to murder Norman Scott, who had accused Thorpe of having a relationship with him.

    1986 – The (in)famous Hand of God goal, scored by Diego Maradona in the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup match between Argentina and England, ignites controversy. This was later followed by the Goal of the Century. Argentina wins 2–1 and later goes on to win the World Cup.

    1990 – Cold War: Checkpoint Charlie is dismantled in Berlin.

    1427 – Lucrezia Tornabuoni, Italian writer and wife of Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici (d. 1482).

    1757 – George Vancouver, English lieutenant and explorer (d. 1798).

    1767 – Wilhelm von Humboldt, German philosopher, academic, and politician, Interior Minister of Prussia (d. 1835).

    1856 – Henry Rider Haggard, English novelist (d. 1925).

    1887 – Julian Huxley, English biologist and academic (d. 1975).

    1899 – Richard Gurley Drew, American engineer, invented Masking tape (d. 1980).

    1903 – John Dillinger, American criminal (d. 1934).

    1906 – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, American pilot and author (d. 2001).

    1906 – Billy Wilder, Austrian-born American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2002).

    1910 – Konrad Zuse, German computer scientist and engineer, invented the Z3 computer (d. 1995).

    1932 – Prunella Scales, English actress.

    1933 – Dianne Feinstein, American politician.

    1936 – Kris Kristofferson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor.

    1937 – Chris Blackwell, English record producer, co-founded Island Records.

    1940 – Esther Rantzen, English journalist.

    1948 – Todd Rundgren, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1949 – Meryl Streep, American actress.

    1949 – Lindsay Wagner, American actress.

    1949 – Elizabeth Warren, American academic and politician.

    1953 – Cyndi Lauper, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress.

    1960 – Erin Brockovich, American lawyer and environmentalist.

    1961 – Jimmy Somerville, Scottish singer-songwriter.

    1664 – Katherine Philips, Anglo-Welsh poet (b. 1631).

    1956 – Walter de la Mare, English poet, short story writer and novelist (b. 1873).

    1965 – David O. Selznick, American screenwriter and producer (b. 1902).

    1969 – Judy Garland, American actress and singer (b. 1922).

    1987 – Fred Astaire, American actor and dancer (b. 1899).

    2008 – George Carlin, American comedian, actor, and author (b. 1937). [I watched his excellent rant about euphemisms just the other day.]

    2015 – James Horner, American composer and conductor (b. 1953).

    1. 1969 – The Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, Ohio, drawing national attention to water pollution, and spurring the passing of the Clean Water Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

      Calls for a tune by Mr. Newman:

      1. A paralegal, according to Wikipedia. I’m not sure whether that justifies the description “lawyer” or not ( that came from Wikipedia, too).

  2. My guess is that the submersible went inside the Titanic, losing contact and getting stuck in some way or another.

    1. They lost contact long before the vessel even reached Titanic.

      We now know it was a catastrophic implosion, which was probably the best outcome after surviving the trip.

    1. I guessed that was going to be the answer. My biggest problem was fitting the pictures (except the first one, which was obvious) to the syllables.

      Now I know what an egret looks like which is good because it is the name of the boat I go rowing in every Wednesday.

  3. I read Alito’s piece and found it reasonable. The acceptance of a flight on a private plane–and empty seat on a plane that was already going to his destination–seems reasonable. ProPublica doesn’t appear to have shown that this was in any way related to pending litigation before the Court. When will ProPublica turn its focus on the liberal members of the Court? If Alito is operating according to the rule, and they are operating according to the rules (and I have no reason, even prejudice, to think otherwise), then either none of them have a problem or they all do.

    1. Yes, there just happened to be an empty seat on this guys private jet taking him to a very exclusive fishing location in Alaska that costs more than a thousand a day. He is at least as innocent as Thomas I’m sure. Please do not act as if we are dumber than we appear. These are hogs at the supreme trough.

      1. Does DrBrydon really believe others are that dumb or does DrBrydon really believe that explanation?

    2. You don’t think Alito had any obligation to inform the American people of his receipt of such a lavish gift as this Alaskan fishing trip, DrB?

      The way Alito responded in this case is also tawdry. ProPublica gave Alito the respect of sending him questions regarding the matter and giving him an opportunity to respond before the story went to press on Wednesday, June 21st. Instead of responding, Alito repaired to the friendly confines of The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page to get his story out ahead of the ProPublica piece’s being published.

      I’m all for the exact same standards applying to justices left and right, to Democrats and to Republicans. Some of us still put country over Party and personalities. Since Donald Trump took over the Republican Party, the right invariably defends its own at any cost, credulity be damned.

      1. The Supreme Court is held in extraordinary low esteem by the American public. A Marquette Law School poll from March 2023 puts its disapproval at 56%. This lack of faith in this important institution is very bad for democracy. The shenanigans of Thomas and Alito and perhaps other justices have contributed to this. One way to restore faith is to convince the public that the outside financial interests of justices do not sway their votes. This can be accomplished by disallowing them to receive gifts of more than $100, and having any income or gain from financial investments except for bank interest, mutual fund dividends, assets in a blind trust, and from the gain in value of a personal residence. Thus, income from book deals, speaking fees or owning stocks and bonds (except as part of a mutual fund portfolio) would not be allowed. To compensate for the potential loss of income, I would double their current salaries, which for 2023 is $285,400 for associate justices and $298,500 for the chief justice.

        These restrictions would apply to future justices. If a potential justice doesn’t like these terms, a nomination to the Court should be declined. These financial restrictions could possibly have the salubrious effect of justices retiring sooner than otherwise in order make more money. Of course, my proposed reform has no chance of being implemented any time soon.

    3. “The flight would have cost more than $100,000 one way if the justice had chartered it himself, the outlet estimated, and his annual disclosures make no mention of the trip, in what many experts in legal ethics said was a violation of federal law.”

      $100,000 . . . if he had chartered it himself. (Oh, he was one passenger among others on a flight that was going with or without him?!!) Even without having yet read Alito’s WSJ piece, this suggested to me that the reporters had more interest in creating a story than in reporting one. I was trapped in the car listening to CNN the other day, and their reporters continually repeated that number as though Alito had been given cash, a luxury car, or a very nice ring worth $100,000. Did the “experts in legal ethics” take the same approach?

      Under my rules, government officials would accept no gifts of any kind under any circumstances from private individuals that are not immediate family–and they would even report those if over a predetermined value. Forget disclosing them: they would not be allowed to accept them. (“Friends” included.) All gifts from foreign government officials that cost more than a modest lunch for the average American would be reported and either surrendered to the government or purchased at market price.

      But, yes, show us which rules Alito violated, and show us a systematic review of the other justices–past and present–so that we can determine the extent of any problem and the potential fix. Otherwise, it is all partisan bullshit.

      1. It’s my understanding he never reported these very generous gifts from someone with business before the court. Isn’t that a violation of the rules all federal employees have to obey? Are the members of the Court totally exempt from obeying any ethical rules? Sure seems like it. No wonder the country’s faith in SCOTUS is at an all time low.

    4. Even if filling the empty seat incurred no additional expense, how did it get offered to Alito instead of to you or to me? Or are you suggesting Alito is so unethical he can be bought for nothing?

      And what about the fishing lodge?

  4. And the oddity of the day: retribution for an employer who paid his workers in oily pennies.

    Is that legal in the US? Here in the UK, 1p and 2p coins are only legal tender for payments of 20 pence or less (although shopkeepers can accept them in larger amounts if they choose to).

    1. At one time, anyway, you couldn’t use more than five nickels for a purchase, or words to that effect.

    2. When I attended Northwestern University in the ’70s, a fellow student wheeled a huge cart laden with sacks of coins into the bursar’s office to pay for his tuition. The bursar had to accept the coins as legal tender and proceeded to count them. The student’s tuition was paid in full.

      1. Stories like this make me imagine that the bursar was a rare-coin collector and on counting all those coins found one that was worth many thousands of dollars, a secret he would keep until he retired from the university.

      2. The bursar did not have to accept, assuming story is true.

        Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment?

        There is no federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law that says otherwise.

        Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled “Legal tender,” states: “United States coins and currency [including Federal Reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve Banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.” This statute means that all U.S. money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor.,payment%20for%20goods%20or%20services.
        Not sure about employees, though.

        1. I suppose it depends on whether you class the payment as paying off a debt or not. All “legal tender” means is that, if somebody offers to pay you in it for a debt, you can’t then sue them for non payment, or, if you have sued them, and they offer to use legal tender to pay, as far as the court is concerned, they have met their obligations.

          On the assumption that tuition is paid in advance, the bursar could refuse to accept any particular means of payment and then exclude the student from classes perfectly legally.

          The oily pennies thing is clearly malicious compliance, and the law suit was about more than just the wages owed.

          1. The oily pennies thing is clearly malicious compliance,

            Assuming that the oil in question is used motor lubricant, not food-grade cooking oil (a pretty safe bet) the offender is potentially open to all sorts of littering convictions, and possibly loss of any licensing for handling motor oil – which is typically manages at the city/ county level here. That might have serious impact on his business, as well as the atrocious publicity this has brought him.

    3. It used to be a popular sub-sport for paying unwelcome debts – most recently the Poll Tax, here in Scotlandshire (before it was introduced in Englandshire.
      That fun stopped when the council’s invested in coin-counting machines. Instead of the staff getting employed for a half-hour or so (per £100 of payment ; I timed them) They’d pour the bags into the hopper on top of the machine, change the receptacles at the bottom every so often, and deliver you the count in about 10 minutes.
      Personally, I suspect they rented the machines from the banks, who’d been using them for years for dealing with pub takings, that sort of thing.

  5. “You’ll never see this again in your life! Witness a mating of cuckoo wasps is actually exceptional.”


      1. That was a saying even before Bowie used it in “Suffragette City,” although he certainly gave it a more prominent position on the cultural map. Whenever I use it now myself, I hear it in Bowie’s singing voice.

        1. According to Wikipedia, the phrase comes from Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange ‘and the famous lyric “Oooohh Wham Bam, Thank you, Ma’am” ‘.

          I seem to remember that it also appears in Jaws – the book, not the film – but I could be mistaken given the decades that have passed since I read it…

          1. Madame Brody, fantasising about the shark-ologist (Hooper?)? Our memories seem to coincide.
            Didn’t Burgess also write about car-crash sex? Or was that some other “controversial” author?


          However, the earliest instance of wham, bam, thank you ma’am that I have found is used as an adjective in the generic, neutral sense speedy; it is from Dear Mr. Banker, by Nicholas P. Mitchell, published in The Greenville News (Greenville, South Carolina) of Saturday 14th January 1950:

          By the way, in spite of the fact that various Greenville bankers have explained to me why it isn’t a good idea, I still wish every bank had at least one teller’s cage reserved for people who want to cash a check or to make an individual deposit. Such transactions require about half a minute, but it is not unusual to wait in line fifteen minutes or more while those who are banking on behalf of business get their requirements met. It naturally takes much more time for them, and everybody is happy that business is so good that business banking can’t be done in a minute or two. But if we small fry had a “wham, bam, thank you ma’am,” line of our own, we’d all save a lot of time.

          The second-earliest occurrence of the phrase that I have found is from the column Record Roundup, by Harold Ober, in the Asbury Park Evening Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) of Sunday 9th July 1950:

          Hank Penny1’s string orchestra comes thru with a fine instrumental job for King on that jazz classic, “Jersey Bounce.” It’s in hill billy style, but very listenable. Hank provides vocals on the flipover, “Wham’. Bam.’ Thank You, Ma’am.”

          1 Herbert Clayton ‘Hank’ Penny (1918-92) was an American singer and musician.

          The above-mentioned song was entered as follows in the Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series, Volume 5, Part 5A, Number 1: Published Music: January–June 1951 (Copyright Office, The Library of Congress – Washington, D.C.):

          Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am!; by Hank Penny. [For voice and piano, with chord symbols] © Lois Pub. Co., New York; 19Oct50; EP51551. Appl. states prev. reg.2 21Jul50, EU210280.

          2 “Appl. states prev. reg.” means “Application states previous registration”.

          The American singer and actor Dean Martin (Dino Paul Crocetti – 1917-95) recorded the song the same year, as mentioned in The Progress (Clearfield, Pennsylvania) of Thursday 24th August 1950:

          The new Dean Martin record for Capitol is “Wham! Bam! Thank You, Ma’am!” a new bright novelty piece.

          Lyrics of Wham! Bam! Thank You, Ma’am!, as interpreted by Dean Martin:

          (Wham bam thank you ma’am I hope you’re satisfied)

  6. “dechurching”

    What are the previously-churched doing in the space left by the church?

    I’m reading Voegelin’s Science, Politics and Gnosticism (1968). He shows how mass movements pull followers into those movements by processes similar to that used in crusty old-fashioned religions, and I think faith is a strong force in that.

    I think the idea is that it is a bug (not a feature) of human nature – and without something to delineate this, people can just fall for it over and over again.

    Voegelin uses these stories to illustrate:

    Thomas More – Utopia (1516)
    Hobbes – Leviathan (1651)
    Hegel’s construct of history (Hegel, 1770-1831)

  7. Poor Hitch. Smoking is a disgusting habit that is also bad for your health. However, in a society where no one smoked tobacco, we would have to devote more money to healthcare, not less. Non-smokers live longer and incur large costs for chronic health care in their declining years, as well as their pensions and residential costs of long-term care. Many smokers will never collect pensions that they have paid into all their working lives. Those unclaimed benefits go to juice up the actuarial entitlements of 90-year-olds. Smokers don’t live long enough to get dementia, on average. They die younger of stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, head and neck cancers, and many other diseases, especially if they drink alcohol, too. As smoking becomes more and more concentrated among the lower social classes, whose health outcomes are worse for everything anyway, the impact on early death will be even stronger than in the days when the well-off smoked, too. Finally, tobacco taxes are an important source of government revenue (to pay for the coming tsunami of chronically ill and frail baby boomers), although admittedly this tax stream is undermined in Canada by the abundance of cheap contraband untaxed tobacco.*

    So like everything, it’s a trade off. The authors agree, as I do, that smoking should be discouraged in order to have a healthier society. But it will not also save money in the bargain.

    A Dutch economic analysis from 1997 funded by their Ministry of Health (not by tobacco interests as is sometimes alleged) found that non-smokers incur higher lifetime direct health costs (by 15% for men and 18% for women) than smokers. They didn’t include taxes, elder care, and pensions as I alluded to above.,population%20of%20smokers%20and%20nonsmokers.

    Free full text and letters critical of their analysis are available.
    * Not to mention the undermining of smoking-cessation campaigns themselves, which high taxes are meant to support.

    1. The fallacy here is assuming that dying early doesn’t incur a cost. If you die before your productive life ends, it incurs the cost of lost productivity. If you are ill before your productive life ends, it incurs a cost. Smokers are more prone to both of these than non smokers, and that’s excluding lost productivity due to the cigarette breaks.

      1. The article had the scope to look only at healthcare costs, and these were clearly higher for people who lived into their late years where they become expensive. And since most medical advances target older people, because literally that’s where the money is, it is likely that the healthcare costs incurred by the elderly are even greater today than in 1997. Baby boomers born before 1962 who never smoked but have become fat are costing the system enormous sums now. Whether smokers die or become disabled early enough that their lost productivity has an important economic cost that, if prevented, would “pay for” the economic costs of living long past retirement is a testable question. The fallacy is just assuming that it would. If most smokers died in their 30s leaving widows and helpless orphans behind (as tuberculosis and coal-mining accidents once did) and increasing the cost of life insurance, your point would be more empirically compelling.

        A healthy society that allows more people to live into their 90s still has to figure out a way to fund 30 years of idleness out of 40 years of work, discounted for workforce participation. Not every 65-year-old has worked for money, yet all expect to eat and visit doctors.

  8. Re. conservative judges: you wrote “And isn’t it ironic that the two most conservative justices” . Looks like you skipped spelling out the irony, but I think we can fill in the blanks.

    Re. Biden’s gaffe: I feel that that speaking the truth should be the default position, not a reason to be raked over the coals. I admit I would make a lousy politician, though.

    Re. Smoking: I have changed my attitude over the years. I don’t smoke, and don’t plan on starting, but a couple of years ago, there was speculation that people on a severely calory-restricted diet might live a few years longer, and I thought “live longer, but feel miserable all the time? Fuck that! Wait… isn’t that the choice that smokers are facing?”

    1. and I thought “live longer, but feel miserable all the time? Fuck that! Wait… isn’t that the choice that smokers are facing?”

      Considering the flurry of music lyrics upthread, can I add Debbie Harry’s line (probably not original) of “Die Young, Stay Pretty”.
      I’ve also heard very much the same argument from people pursuing “dangerous sports” – mountaineering, caving, deep and “overhead” diving, BASE jumping … Which is why I’m not particularly critical of the passengers on the Titan submersible. Though coming from the “pack your own parachute” fraternity, I’ve got a lot of questions for the vessel’s operators and designers.

  9. “And isn’t it ironic that the two most conservative justices”

    I noticed in this article on Alito and the one in WaPo no mention is made of Sotomayor and her refusal to recuse herself from a case involving a publishing company that paid her outright $3M…

    From Newsweek: “In 2013, Sotomayor voted in a decision on whether the court should hear a case against the publisher called Aaron Greenspan v. Random House. Now-retired Justice Stephen Breyer, who had received money from the book publisher, recused himself in that case.”

    I wonder why why they don’t mention that when they do bring up another justice, Thomas.

    Some friends have defended the NYT and WaPo reporting by saying the Sotomayor situation is different. Yes, she didn’t go fishing and fly in a plane but don’t get lost in the weeds. But that’s not the point. All the relevant facts deal with the issue of conflict of interest. Sotomayor was paid outright $3M by an organization with business before the court. She did not recuse herself. THAT is a conflict of interest and is therefore relevant to this story. But WaPo and NYT conveniently neglect to remind people of her conflicts.

    1. I agree that Sotomayor should have recused herself from cases that involved her publisher. No buts about that.

      However, why should any given article or comment about bad behavior of a SCJ mention the entire known history of bad behavior by all SCJs in US history? I know of one reason that people make comments like yours. They want to create a false equivalency between the unethical behavior of conservative justices and the liberal justices. And that’s exactly what it is, a false equivalency. Degrees do in fact matter. In reality that’s all there is. And there are 2 important ways in which Sotomayor’s failure to recuse herself are different from Alito’s, Thomas’s, Gorsuch’s and Robert’s.

      1) The money Sotomayor received from her publisher was for normal business dealings. Not gifts or bribes. She wrote books, they published them and paid her for them.

      2) She disclosed all of the income from her book deals with her publisher, as the judges are required to do. The others did not.

      Those differences make Sotomayor’s case very different from Alito’s et al. They are not equivalent.

    2. Another what about story. Republicans love the what about. The facts “about” the Supreme Court are, they can do whatever they want. Oh, they are suppose to report things on their disclosure reports that every Federal employee fills out so did Sotomayor report the $3 million?? We know that both Alito and Thomas have asked for 90 day extensions on their disclosure statements. So what’s that “about”. The facts about the Supremes is they can do whatever they want. They can throw out the law books and go directly to the bible. That is their supreme.

  10. I remember being drunk in a bar and my brother’s friend was talking about great singers and say’s ‘do you know Piaf?’ and in all seriousness I said something like ‘yeah, I hear it’s a great sewing machine.” As in Pfaff the sewing machine brand. True dumb, young and drunk story. Do I regret the incident? “Non, je ne regrette rien”

  11. Doubling down on shower cat:

    Susan Robinson🟧
    Jun 17
    As an extremely experienced cat person, that is a cat who is cornered in a shower and cannot get away from the person with the showerhead. I reported it for animal cruelty, but Twitter doesn’t care about cruelty to animals.

    1. A quick search on “Cat breeds that like water” returns 9 breeds, including Bengal, which our shower kitty resembled. A quote from one website: “Many Bengal pet parents note how much their pets love their pool, fountain, or pond. Bengal cats will even follow their pet parents into the shower…”

    1. Larkin was a miserable old misanthrope, but he wrote some great poems. “Aubade” is my favourite, but “Church going” and “Going, going” are wonderful, too.

  12. “From Michael Shermer, commenting on the unfairness of transwomen competing in bicycle races against biological women (Shermer’s a cyclist):”

    FWIW, I was just listening to the latest episode from Decoding The Gurus, where Shermer is getting something of a tongue-lashing from the hosts. (For being surprisingly too credulous of conspiracies….)

    1. And c’mon Michael, give us the numbers of both trans- and non-trans athletes who did and did not win medals — not just trans athletes who did win. Otherwise you haven’t demonstrated a nonrandom pattern.

      1. I’m not sure of the point you’re making, Susan. If a man wins even one women’s bicycle race, he denied women places on the podium and the purse. Why would it matter if some men are too old and slow (like me) to beat the women and finish behind most of them? As more and more male never-wozzers decide they want to try their hand at beating women you probably will find non-winning trans-ID guys eventually. The occasional woman will be fast enough to beat them all if they suck and are over 50. But that still means the one trans-ID guy who does win his race is cheating.

        You don’t have to show that all men are faster than all women—they aren’t, obviously—in order to exclude them from women’s racing. You need show only that the male winners have a physiologic advantage that comes from being men, proved by their outrageously shorter times.

        Besides, what if the field had three trans-ID guys and 30 women? The three guys win one two three. So there you have two trans-ID guys who didn’t win, but what does that add to the argument? Even the third-place “loser” still beat all the women.

        As it is now, I doubt if there are many slow trans-ID men in the women’s racing peloton. If they get beaten by the average women in the race, they’re going to slink home with their tails between their legs. They certainly aren’t going to boast about being proud of making history, finishing fifteenth.

        1. My point was that if competitions are won by trans and non-trans women in strict proportion to those.two groups’ representation among the competitors, there would be no evidence that trans women have an unfair advantage. For example, 8 trans women winning races would be unsurprising if 72 non-trans women also won races and trans women are 10% of all competitors. I’m not saying that this is true, only that we can’t tell using the information given by Shermer.

          1. But we don’t need to test if trans-ID men win more races than would be expected from their proportions in the peloton. All we need to know is that one trans-ID man beats all the women in the particular race he rides. Every race with a trans-ID rider, that rider wins. He beats all the women, not just most of them. All of them. The only races your 72 women will win will be the races the trans-ID men choose not to ride in, or if they all crash and can’t continue. If a woman ever does win a race with a trans-ID man in it, you’d hear all about it. “See? That proves transwomen don’t have an unfair advantage. Ciswomen win sometimes!”

            I can promise you that if a racing calendar has 72 female riders and 8 trans-iD male riders, none of those 72 women will get anywhere near the podium in any of the races, unless the 8 men are all involved in a bunched-sprint crash and none can get back on his bike before the woman in ninth place can come up from 3 minutes back for the win. Men’s and women’s cycling is just that different. We call these “slam-bang” effects where you don’t need statistical analysis. (A medical example was the use of streptomycin to effect the first-ever cure of tuberculous meningitis in children.)

            Many innovations to advance performance are subtle and require sophisticated testing with statistical analysis to detect the small effects and prove an unfair advantage. Erythropoietin, amphetamines, aerodynamic seat posts, sharkskin knee socks are of this type. A clue would be that riders using them placed higher in the standings than expected from the proportion using them, and it was true that some losers actually used amphetamines in a failed hope of compensating for less ability. None of them let you win a single stage of a race by 5 minutes. Only genetics, training, and male puberty do that.

          2. I stand by my original point: “Eight transwomen won races” (the information content of Shermer’s post) isn’t evidence for unfairness. Only if you compare their rate of success (perhaps appropriately subdivided by racing event) with the rate of success of their non-trans women competitors does it potentially show evidence for unfairness. Now, you seem to be already persuaded by other evidence that any time any transwoman wins a women’s race, that is unfair. In that case, Shermer’s post reinforced your beliefs but didn’t lead to any new conclusions.

          3. But we do compare the success rates between women and trans-ID men directly against each other: the women never win a race that has a trans-ID man in it. No matter how many races they win against women, their rate of success is zero against trans-ID men. The trans-ID men have a 100% success rate against women.*. That’s the comparison you say needs to be done, and there is the result: no woman ever beats a trans-ID man.

            A women’s sporting event that no woman can ever win is unfair on its face. Only if you think these guys really are women who just have some special talent and physiologic endowment that makes them faster, that any other woman could have had if she had been luckier in the genetic lottery, can you not see the unfairness. Some women are born with powerful thighs and strong hearts, some women are born with testicles. Same diff, I guess.

            Anyway, it doesn’t matter what you and I think. The governing bodies of sport make these decisions. I’m done.
            * There’s some strategic thinking here. A mediocre man knows what time he has to beat to be certain of beating the fastest women. If he can break that time, he can enter a women’s race confident of winning. If he’s too slow to win, he won’t humiliate himself by entering and getting beaten, So even though it’s possible that really slow trans-ID men would lose to women, in practice that wouldn’t happen. The only guys who will enter women’s events will be the ones who know they will win. By many minutes.

  13. The Costa Rican birds in Jerry’s photo appear to be Great Currasows (Crux rubra); the black one is a male, the brown one is a female.

  14. I’m tired of hearing about Alito. The leg in the jury room cartoon is
    from the movie “Christmas Story”.

  15. In their new book “The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?”

    The last question is fairly easy to answer : whips, chains, and a very large supply of wild horses to do the dragging.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *