Good morning at the tail end of the work week, for it’s Friday, June 23, 2023, and National Pecan Sandy Day. This is a cookie made with sugar, lots of butter, and a pecan plopped atop. They are tasty but I find them somewhat dry (they’re called “sandy” for a reason).
It’s also National Pink Day, Pink Flamingo Day, Take Your D*g to Work Day, National Detroit-Style Pizza Day (not even close to Chicago deep-dish pizza), International Widows Day, and Saint John’s Eve and the first day of the Midsummer celebrations [although this is not the real summer solstice; see June 20] (Roman Catholic Church, Europe). Some of the celebrations are Bonfires of Saint John (Spain), First night of Festa de São João do Porto (Porto), first day of Golowan Festival (Cornwall), Jaaniõhtu (Estonia) Jāņi (Latvia), and Kupala Night (Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine).
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 23 Wikipedia page.
*By now the submersible vessel that went missing while looking at the Titanic has run out of oxygen, and has still not been found. The Coast Guard is now looking at a “debris field” that may or may not be connected to the vehicle.
A remote vehicle involved in the search for the missing submersible that was exploring the wreckage of the Titanic has discovered a debris field, a finding authorities are evaluating, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Thursday afternoon. The search has entered a critical stage. The point at which the Coast Guard had estimated the vessel’s oxygen could run out — 96-hours after its departure — has passed, but Rear Adm. John Mauger said Thursday that the search-and-rescue mission would not stop.
The words “debris field” themselves carry some weight:
Those conducting the search-and-rescue operation already know that region of the ocean is littered with debris, Andrew Norris, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, told The Post.
“So if they are publicly mentioning a debris field, one can assume it is directly related to the missing submersible,” he said, adding that he is not involved in the search. “If the debris they have found is part of the hull or the craft, then it’s a sign that there was a catastrophic implosion and everyone died instantaneously.”
There is always the off chance that the debris could be a part of the submersible’s propeller or something off the side of the vessel, he said.
“If it was just an antenna or something, they wouldn’t have called it a debris field, in my opinion,” he said.
. . .Another remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can reach a depth of more than 19,500 feet is en route to join the search for the Titan, the submersible that vanished in the Atlantic on Sunday, said Magellan, the deepwater site investigation and mapping company that owns the ROV.
The ROV is expected to reach waters around the Titanic shipwreck Thursday afternoon.
I’m afraid that the submersible is gone, and five people with it. With luck they would have died instantly in an implosion [see below; this was apparently the case] rather than slowly running out of air. At some sites, morons are applauding this tragedy, arguing that anybody with enough money to foot the bill ($250,000 per passenger) must have been a bad person, for you have to be immoral to accumulate that much wealth. But that’s about the crassest lack of empathy I can imagine. Each of those people, no matter how rich, had others who loved and cared about them, and there was even a 19-year-old guy who just finished high school; now his future has vanished.
As I finished this yesterday afternoon, I just got a newsflash from yahoo! News:
- OceanGate has released a statement saying they believe the passengers onboard the Titanic expedition submersible have “sadly been lost.”
- Earlier, the US Coast Guard said a ‘debris field” has been discovered within the search area.
- David Mearns, a rescue expert and friend of two passengers, has told reporters the debris found is from the ‘landing frame and rear cover’ of the OceanGate submersible.
And from the NYT update at 2:30 pm yesterday:
“The debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” he said.
OceanGate Expeditions, which operated the Titan submersible, said in a statement that “we now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost.”
That’s all she wrote. I expect these expensive viewing trips are coming to an end.
*There are two op-eds in the NYT calling out Indian Prime Minister Nirendra Modi, “The India Quandry,” by the entire Editorial Board, and “Narendra Modi is not who America thinks he is,” by Harvard history professor Maya Jasanoff. India, with a population of 1.4 billion, and filled with people who know the value of education, has enormous potential, but Modi, an autocrat and somewhat of a theocrat, is holding it back.
From the first op-ed:
But Mr. Biden cannot ignore the other, equally significant, changes in India during the last nine years: Under Mr. Modi and his right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, India has witnessed a serious erosion of the civil and political rights and democratic freedoms guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Mr. Modi and his allies have been accused of policies that target and discriminate against religious minorities, especially India’s 200 million Muslims, and of using the power of the state to punish rivals and silence critics. Raids on political opponents and dissenting voices have become frequent; the mainstream news media has been diminished; the independence of courts and other democratic institutions has been eroded — all to a chorus of avowals from the B.J.P. that it is acting strictly within the law.
In March, a court in Mr. Modi’s home state sentenced the opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, to a two-year prison term for defaming the prime minister; though Mr. Gandhi has not been jailed, the sentence led to his expulsion from Parliament, and will most likely prevent him from running again. Before that, in January, the Modi government used emergency laws to limit access to a BBC documentary that re-examined damning allegations that Mr. Modi played a role in murderous sectarian violence in Gujarat State 20 years ago, when he was chief minister there. As this editorial board warned, “When populist leaders invoke emergency laws to block dissent, democracy is in peril.”
This remains true, and it behooves Mr. Biden and every other elected official and business leader who meets with the Indian delegation this week to make sure that a discussion of shared democratic values is on the agenda.
And from the second:
But here is what Americans need to know about Mr. Modi’s India. Armed with a sharp-edged doctrine of Hindu nationalism, Mr. Modi has presided over the nation’s broadest assault on democracy, civil society and minority rights in at least 40 years. He has delivered prosperity and national pride to some, and authoritarianism and repression of many others that should disturb us all.
Since Mr. Modi took power in 2014, India’s once-proud claim to being a free democratic society has collapsed on many fronts. Of the 180 nations surveyed in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, India sits at 161, a scant three places above Russia. Its position on the Academic Freedom Index has nose-dived since Mr. Modi took office, putting it on a course that sharply resembles those of other electoral autocracies. The Freedom in the World index has tracked a steady erosion of Indian citizens’ political rights and civil liberties. On the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, India has tumbled squarely into the ranks of “flawed democracies.”
A working paper from the Indian government dismisses such metrics as “perception-based.” Sadly, it is no “perception” that the government systematically harasses its critics by raiding the offices of think tanks, NGOs and media organizations, restricting freedom of entry and exit, and pressing nuisance lawsuits — most conspicuously against the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who was recently ejected from Parliament after his conviction on a ludicrous charge of having defamed everybody named “Modi.” It is no “perception” that Muslim history has been torn from national textbooks, cities with Islamic eponyms renamed and India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, stripped of its autonomy.
Western commentators enthusing about the “new India” tend to breeze past such outrages as distractions from India’s economic growth and investment potential.
India has a population comprising ambitious and restless people, and, as Tyson says below, the country’s potential is limitless.
But under Modi, scientific education in India has also been eroded, including the teaching of evolution. I got this from an Indian scientist: “Did you see [Neil de Grasse] Tyson’s statement on our PM being scientifically thoughtful?! It’s going to make things worse here!” Yeah, Tyson’s sucking up to this autocrat (see the video below) is not helping. The first thing India needs is a New Prime Minister.
*A deadly, drug-resistant fungus that can kill more than half the people it infects is overrunning America.
Severe fungal disease used to be a freak occurrence. Now it is a threat to millions of vulnerable Americans, and treatments have been losing efficacy as fungal pathogens develop resistance to standard drugs.
Medical experts say one reason for the surge is that more people have compromised immune systems, including cancer patients and those taking medicines after organ transplants. Compounding the problem, research shows, is that rising temperatures appear to have expanded the geographical range of some deadly fungal pathogens, and possibly made them better adapted to human hosts.
“It’s going to get worse,” said Dr. Tom Chiller, head of the fungal-disease branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hazardous fungi are everywhere. They live inside our bodies and on our skin. They are abundant in the air, water and soil.
Healthy people typically keep them at bay, but when immunity is compromised, yeasts and molds can invade the bloodstream, lungs, brain and other organs. Most at risk are the estimated 10 million people in the U.S. whose immune systems have been weakened.
Diagnosing a dangerous fungal infection early makes it more likely a patient will survive. Delaying treatment of some fungal disease by just a day can double the risk of death, research shows. Yet treatment often is delayed because doctors fail to consider fungus.
A 2022 survey of 500 infectious-disease doctors by researchers at the University of Iowa and University of California, San Francisco, identified fungal infections as among the diseases most frequently diagnosed late. Failure to consider fungal disease was most often to blame, the doctors said.
A lack of good tests makes identifying fungal disease more difficult. Some blood and urine tests for some yeasts and molds are accurate only half the time. Many molds need to be identified by specialists using microscopes. Misidentification is common, infectious-disease experts said.
So if you have mysterious symptoms, do what they say on t.v. and ASK YOUR DOCTOR to consider fungus. I had it once in my throat when I was a kid, and it was godawful: white bumps all over the inside of my mouth and throat and an inability to swallow without great pain. I got cured by swallowing some yucky substance, but that was a walk in the park compared to what some of the people described in this article experienced.
*From the Substack site “Reality’s Last Stand” we have a piece by Pamela Garfield-Jaeger called “They are scared,” with the heartening subtitle, “Gender activists no longer have total control over the narrative, and they know it.” Garfield-Jaeger reports on a a training conference she attended organized by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and the “affirmative care” mavens were a lot less arrogant than usual, and also more wary:
. . . the workshop “Gender-Affirming Medical and Mental Health Care for Transgender Adolescents,” hosted by Aydin Olson-Kennedy, LCSW, and Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD, requested that no filming take place due to a “tumultuous and hostile environment.” Ayden, a fully transitioned trans man, and Johanna, a Los Angeles Children’s Hospital pediatrician with 16 years of experience prescribing puberty blockers, were the sole workshop to issue such a request. This class “taught” me that puberty blockers are as harmless as a new haircut or clothing style. My question for them is: If you are an expert sharing important clinical information that you are certain of, why would you want your workshop to be hidden?
And here are some statistics that are kept will under wraps:
According to a summary of multiple studies, about 80 percent of children desist.
. . .Evidence from 10 available prospective follow-up studies from childhood to adolescence indicates that childhood gender dysphoria will recede with puberty in ~80% of cases. A Dutch paper notes that follow-up studies show the persistence rate of gender identity disorder to be about 15.8%, or 39 out of the 246 children who were reported on in the literature.
. . . During the workshop, the Olson-Kennedys emphasized that gender dysphoria often causes other co-morbid mental health issues, contradicting what many therapists observe—distressed children clinging to trans identity with the misguided belief that it will resolve their underlying issues. “Depression treatment does not treat dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria for some folks is Depression. Gender Dysphoria = Depression,” stated Aydin Olson-Kennedy.
. . . In summary, it was interesting to hear people who promote the sterilization of children and vulnerable adults attempt defend their faulty ideas. Most of what I heard were blatant lies and the bending or omission of truth. They openly said they were afraid of the “attacks” on trans people (which are simply bills to protect minors from high-risk procedures) and they tried unsuccessfully to discredit the thoughts, ideas, and experience of many outspoken critics of transgender medicine. Their quick-paced deliveries and limited question times further hinted at an awareness of growing scrutiny. For those opposed to the gender transition of minors and vulnerable adults, this means your voices are being heard and making a difference. Continue standing up for your beliefs; it’s causing those pushing these transitions to reassess their stance.
*I almost got sucked into the Amazon scam, in which you were tricked into subscribing to Amazon Prime but, smelling a rat, before I put in my order I called Amazon customer service to see how I could avoid signing up. (It seemed to be built into the ordering process. It turns out from this piece in ArsTechnica that making a call was perhaps the best way to avoid this rabbit hole, even though I did spend over half an hour on the phone with a call center that was probably in India As the article notes, the Federal Trade Commission is suing Amazon over just this deceptive practice (h/t Reese). This piece is from Wednesday:
The Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon today, claiming the online giant violated US law by tricking consumers into signing up for the $14.99-per-month Amazon Prime subscription service and making it annoyingly difficult to cancel.
“For years, Defendant Amazon.com, Inc. has knowingly duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in its Amazon Prime service,” the FTC alleged in a complaint filed in US District Court for the Western District of Washington. “Specifically, Amazon used manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as ‘dark patterns’ to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically renewing Prime subscriptions.”
. . .The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction, civil penalties, and other monetary relief. The agency says Amazon violated Section 5 of the FTC Act by unfairly charging consumers without their express informed consent.
The FTC said Amazon also violated the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA), a 2010 law that “generally prohibits charging consumers for goods or services sold in transactions effected on the Internet through a negative option feature.” Amazon was accused of violating the law because its disclosures to consumers were inadequate and because it “failed to obtain the consumer’s express informed consent” before charging each customer.
Once you were duplicitously enrolled, it was almost impossible to cancel, and had to do so through a process called “Iliad”, appropriately named:
The FTC complaint said that Amazon finally made some changes to its cancellation process in April 2023 due to pressure from the agency. “Fittingly, Amazon named that [cancellation] process ‘Iliad,’ which refers to Homer’s epic about the long, arduous Trojan War,” the FTC said. “Amazon designed the Iliad cancellation process (‘Iliad Flow’) to be labyrinthine, and Amazon and its leadership—including [Prime executives Neil] Lindsay, [Russell] Grandinetti, and [Jamil] Ghani—slowed or rejected user experience changes that would have made Iliad simpler for consumers because those changes adversely affected Amazon’s bottom line.”
I have to add this bit:
Before the April 2023 changes, “there were only two ways to cancel a Prime subscription through Amazon: a) through the online labyrinthine cancellation flow known as the ‘Iliad Flow’ on desktop and mobile devices; or b) by contacting customer service,” the FTC said. “The Iliad Flow required consumers intending to cancel to navigate a four-page, six-click, fifteen-option cancellation process. In contrast, customers could enroll in Prime with one or two clicks.”
I liked Amazon because it was easy and you could get almost anything delivered to your door, including Listerine Ultraclean Dental Floss, which is available almost nowhere else. But now I’m down on them. I’ll keep using them, but I’m going to be very careful. And, if you need help, do call customer service. When I have had mess-up orders they always fixed them quickly
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili tenders a notapology:
A: You have a long shadow.Hili: I know, I’m very sorry about it.
Ja: Masz długi cień.Hili: Wiem, bardzo mi przykro z tego powodu.
And a picture of the loving Szaron:
From Masih, a clear sign that the Iranian people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore:
The totalitarian Islamic republic installed a billboard supporting the mandatory wearing of the hijab. In response, the Iranian people set the billboard on fire, sending a clear message to that present authoritarian regime that they are fed up with them and thier barbaric laws. pic.twitter.com/CCyHd84RUH
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 22, 2023
From Malcolm, D*g parkour:
Parkour.. 😂 pic.twitter.com/9BveOsbtP8
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 20, 2023
Chase Strangio, the ACLU lawyer in charge of LGBTQ issues, promotes “gender-affirming care”, a hill he implied he’d die on.
Today is the first time a federal court has ruled that gender-affirming care bans are unconstitutional.
To trans kids everywhere — we see you, and we won't stop fighting alongside you. pic.twitter.com/9jYl2Sa9Wl
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 21, 2023
From Simon, a war between the two predominant laboratory model species:
Now that C. elegans can fly, what do Drosophila researchers have left?
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) June 21, 2023
. . . . here’s the article:
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a nine-year-oldboy gassed upon arrival:
23 June 1934 | A German Jewish boy, Fred Schoenfeld, was born in Berlin.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 23, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. I guess Netflix doesn’t know who Philomena Cunk is!
Netflix has just sent me an email suggesting I might like this. pic.twitter.com/BfNMNBgi9M
— Diane Morgan (@missdianemorgan) June 22, 2023
I never thought I’d live to see the day when animals would learn to read. The cats did it first, of course. (Sound up!)
Can you read this ?
— place where cat shouldn't be 😺 (@catshouldnt) June 21, 2023
No way this engineer was going to hit that mother duck!
Funny thing happened on the way to Glasgow this morning… Well done to the driver of the 10am EK train for his care and patience. The mother duck flew onto the platform and they all waddled out the station door! @ScotRail pic.twitter.com/cIOBp7tFPS
— Frank Mosson (@frank_mosson) June 21, 2023