CaturSaturday, June 24, 2023, the day of Cat shabbos, when goyische kats are hired to turn on the lights. As a food day, it’s National Praline Day, the sweetest of sweets and best obtained in the American South.
It’s also Bartender and Mixologist Day, the Great American Picnic Day, International Ragweed Day, Swim a Lap Day, Inti Raymi, a winter solstice festival and a New Year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere (Sacsayhuamán), and “St John’s Day and the second day of the Midsummer celebrations (although this is not the astronomical summer solstice, see June 20) (Roman Catholic Church, Europe), and its related observances.”
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 24 Wikipedia page.
*Big trouble for Putin: Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the the head of the mercenary Wagner group, which fought for Russia in Ukraine, has now rebelled against Putin and, according to the NYT, Wagner soldiers “had claimed control of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and were threatening to march to Moscow.” On Moscow!
In its early phases, Ukraine’s counteroffensive is having less success and Russian forces are showing more competence than western assessments expected, two western officials and a senior US military official tell CNN.
The counteroffensive is “not meeting expectations on any front,” one of the officials said.
According to the Western assessments, Russian lines of defense have been proving well-fortified, making it difficult for Ukrainian forces to breach them. In addition, Russian forces have had success bogging down Ukrainian armor with missile attacks and mines and have been deploying air power more effectively.
Ukrainian forces are proving “vulnerable” to minefields and Russian forces “competent” in their defense, one of the Western officials said.
The officials cautioned that the counteroffensive is still in its early stages – and that the US and its allies “remain optimistic” Ukrainian forces will be able to make territorial gains over time. The US and its allies are likely to wait until at least July for a fuller assessment of the progress of the counteroffensive which was gradually launched over the last few weeks and is seen as crucial to determining who ultimately wins the war which was launched when Russia invaded last year.
I’m not happy to hear this. On the other hand, I predicted wrongly that Russia would achieve a relatively easy victory after the first invasion. I was delighted to be wrong, but I want Ukraine to come out of this war without losing a square inch of land, and it would also be nice if they got Crimea back
*Glory be, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 8-1, handed the Biden administration a victory by approving of its immigration policy. (Guess who the lone dissenter was before reading on. You get two tries.)
The policy was a departure from that of the Trump administration, which said anyone in the country illegally could be targeted for deportation.
Friday’s decision was 8-1, with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. the lone dissenter.
“The States have brought an extraordinarily unusual lawsuit,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote for the majority. “They want a federal court to order the Executive Branch to alter its arrest policies so as to make more arrests. Federal courts have not traditionally entertained that kind of lawsuit; indeed, the States cite no precedent for a lawsuit like this.”
Remember, those delegated to enforce federal law are members of the executive branch, and the Court is affirming the division of powers decreed by the Constitution. And. . .
Kavanaugh’s opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, said the court was taking no position on whether the administration’s policy “is complying with the relevant statutes.” Kavanaugh wrote that Congress or even the voters have the ability to examine “the Executive Branch’s arrest policies.”
Ultimately, however, confecting a good immigration policy will be up to Congress, the legislative branch. And they should get busy. But this degree of unanimity in the divided Court is striking. That’s because the law on this point is pretty clear.
*From Jez, who writes:
I’m no fan of Ted Cruz, but his defence of girls’ and women’s sports is strong in this encounter and the Human Rights Campaign’s president Kelley Robinson makes a fool of herself in this Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about changes to Title IX from a couple of days ago.
Later in the session Robinson was questioned by (a rather rambling) Senator John Kennedy and said that there are three sexes, including “intersex”. Good grief!
Riley Gaines, the first person questioned by Cruz, is a championship competitive swimmer who has been vociferous (and attacked) for questioning the presence of transgender women in women’s sports. She’s very brave and very eloquent. (Lea Thomas is a transgender man who competes against biological women in college swimming.)
Cruz is pretty hard on Robinson, but she waffles furiously, unwilling to admit that transwomen have big biological advantages in sports when competing against biological women. And remember that the Biden advantage is also blind to that palpable difference.
Yes, it’s the odious Republican Ted Cruz, and his agenda isn’t mine, but on the issue of who competes in women’s sports, I have to agree with him.
Here’s more testimony from both Gaines (first tweet), and Robinson (second tweet):
President of the HRC not sure if males have athletic advantages over females – eventually deflects to ~"not all males have advantages hold advantages over all females" – an entirely different and irrelevant point. (not all 15 year olds are faster than 11 year olds – but a 15 year… pic.twitter.com/jmnRAh0RRj
— boysvswomen.com (@boysvswomen) June 21, 2023
*Physicists tell us that the phenomenon of superconductivity, the vanishing of electrical resistance, requires extremely low temperatures, and so isn’t practical for most electrical devices. Now that’s not so certaom, as scientists appear to be getting data that superconductivity could occur at room temperature! There’s just one small problem: pressure.
A magical material that could effortlessly conduct electricity at room temperatures would likely transform civilization, reclaiming energy otherwise lost to electrical resistance and opening possibilities for novel technologies.
Yet a claim of such a room-temperature superconductor published in March in the prestigious journal Nature, drew doubts, even suspicion by some that the results had been fabricated.
But now, a group of researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago reports that it has verified a critical measurement: the apparent vanishing of electrical resistance.
This result does not prove that the material is a room-temperature superconductor, but it may motivate other scientists to take a closer look.
Ranga P. Dias, a professor of mechanical engineering and physics at the University of Rochester in New York and a key figure in the original research, had reported that the material appeared to be a superconductor at temperatures as warm as 70 degrees Fahrenheit — much warmer than other superconductors — when squeezed at a pressure of 145,000 pounds per square inch, or about 10 times what is exerted at the bottom of the ocean’s deepest trenches.
The high pressure means the material is unlikely to find practical use, but if the discovery is true, it could point the way to other superconductors that truly work in everyday conditions.
Dias’s original observation has been doubted because it hasn’t been replicated (and the new “confirmation,” by a very credible scientist, hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet) and because Dias is seen as “controversial”. BUT:
The new measurements, revealed in a preprint paper posted this month, come from a team led by Russell J. Hemley, a professor of physics and chemistry at the University of Illinois Chicago. Dr. Hemley declined to comment because the paper had not yet been accepted by a scientific journal.
Nonetheless, he is well regarded in the field, and his report could lead to a more positive reconsideration of Dr. Dias’s superconducting claim.
“It may convince some people,” said James J. Hamlin, a professor of physics at the University of Florida who has been a persistent critic of Dr. Dias’s research. “It makes me think there might be something to it.” We’re just going to have to wait until the papers and then the data come in, and we’ll have to see about any practical applications. Still, it’s a surprise.
*Once again Nellie Bowles published her weekly TGIF news summary, the best summary around. This week’s is called “TGIF: Plumbing the depths,” and it’s a great collection of snark and news. Nellie, don’t ever stop writing the TGIFs.
As usual, I’ll steal three items.
→ Tragedy off the coast of Greece: In reality, this is the biggest news of the week. A migrant ship carrying an estimated 750 people, including children, sank as it tried to reach Italy. Hundreds of people are still missing. Apparently, the captain fled on a small craft before it sank. It’s a surreal kind of nightmare because there are photos and there were witnesses. From Reuters: “Greek officials said people on the crowded decks repeatedly turned down attempted assistance from a Greek coast guard boat shadowing it, saying they wanted to reach Italy.” I don’t know if I believe the Greeks, who have new leaders and have taken a harder line against accepting migrants. This tragedy should be getting so much more attention and rage than it is right now. But to give it rage is to reckon with what these people are fleeing in Pakistan, Syria, and Afghanistan: failing economies, yes, but also Islamic extremism. Anyway, it’s just haunting.
→ Harry and Meghan lose their Spotify deal: After Harry and Meghan scored a $20 million Spotify deal, I was expecting a slew of strange, mournful podcasts about life as rich, beautiful, and powerful #brave #trauma #survivors. But my mistake—and Spotify’s—was in thinking they would make podcasts. Harry and Meghan had no interest in podcasts. They just needed some indulgences to keep the chickens in the coop fluffed. It would have been so little work: they’d have producers who schedule the guests, read the books, script the questions, and cut the tape. They ended up releasing twelve episodes (and a Christmas special). But even in those, Meghan apparently wouldn’t always do the interviews. She’d have producers do the interview, then splice in her voice asking the questions later. Bill Simmons, Spotify’s head of podcast innovation and monetization, put it bluntly this week, calling them “fucking grifters.” America was built by clever Brits who were on the outs. Personally, I’ve never liked them more.
I don’t like them at all. They are grifters, and big-time, entitled ones. By the way, read the article cited below:
→ Rainbow nukes: According to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (they are the ones that do that cute Doomsday Clock) “queering” (no, I won’t explain this one) nuclear weapons will “strengthen security and reshape disarmament.” Also, “nuclear weapons discourse is gendered” and “nuclear facilities still have a reputation for being unwelcoming toward queer people.” Still? In 2023. Man. Read the room, nuclear facilities.
It is physically impossible to get through this article unless you went to a Seven Sisters college so I will direct you to the comments, and one concerned citizen who writes, “Please, keep the much-needed focus on the now-immediate threats of international nuclear warfare. Not on ideological warfare.”
To that I say: speak for yourself, white man!
*Okay, call me a braggart, but I can’t help but put up this shout-out to Luana and me from Andrew Sullivan in his latest Weekly Dish piece, ‘Gay rights and the limits of liberalism.” (The material is NOT sensitive!”)
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) June 23, 2023
The quote in context:
When majorities supported gay couples getting married, they did not thereby support having their daughters forced to shower next to biological males in locker rooms, or compete with them in competitive sports; they did not support teaching kindergartners that their bodies have nothing to do with whether they are boys or girls; they did not support using unapproved drugs on troubled children to arrest their puberty, and sterilize them for life; and they did not support schools transitioning their children into the opposite gender without their knowledge.
They didn’t support these things because they have absolutely nothing to do with gay rights. And they didn’t support them because trying to abolish sex differences in society — differences that are among the most well-established facts of human existence — is insane. Sure, many Americans were and are open to helping transgender kids be accepted, to treating trans adults with sympathy and dignity — all the polls show that — but using the experience of this minuscule minority of humans as the default reality for all of us — and teaching that as fact to children — is not an example of inclusion. It is an example of a well-meant untruth, imposed by fiat. Of course we’ve seen a reaction.
And most who were persuaded to support gay equality did not believe that supporting gay rights meant endorsing anti-scientific piffle that sex is a “spectrum.” In a brilliant essay this week, Jerry Coyne and Luana Maroja lay out the damage done by this illiberal movement to the core integrity of the scientific process, and it’s getting worse and worse: “Unless scientists finally find the courage to speak up against the toxic effects of ideology on their field, in a few decades science will be very different from what it is now. Indeed, it’s doubtful that we’d recognize it as science at all.”
It’s a good piece: Sullivan in fine form, and i don’t say that because of the encomiums, but because he goes after all the “piffle” that gender activists think should be tacked onto accepting gay rights. Here’s the point of his piece:
In the gay rights movement, we examined every single possible argument that could be used against us, and answered them. We debated anyone anywhere. And, in the broader context, we left you, gays and straights, alone. Nothing in your life had to change to accept gay equality.
Compare that with the transqueer movement. They will never leave you alone, they will police the words you use, they will deny you access to any same-sex space, they will force your daughter to compete against males, they will tell your child they may be the opposite sex inside and keep it from you, and they will use blackmail — and a farrago of falsehood — to put your kid on a lifetime of medication. They refuse to debate opponents; they cancel and demonize even the most liberal of people (see JK Rowling); they censor words or destroy their meaning and defend violence. In all of this, they are as hostile to a free society as the worst fanatics on the far right.
And what the theocons and the transqueers want you to believe is that you have to pick a side between them. But you don’t. You can reject both — as a quiet majority of gays and straights already do. The fundamentalists on both sides are intent on undoing the liberal settlement on gay and trans rights we just won after great struggle; and they are symptoms of the rapid decay of liberal democracy under Trump and the woke. They need to be called out and stopped.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have a chinwag:
Hili: Did you read the news today?Szaron: No, was there anything interesting?Hili: Nothing about mice.
Hili: Czytałeś dziś wiadomości?Szaron: Nie, a było coś ciekawego?Hili: Nic na temat myszy.
. . and a photo of Baby Kulka:
From Bruce; the original audio book from Mark Parisi’s “Off the Mark“:
From Blue, a creationist myth:
And from somewhere on the Internet (I can’t recall):
A tweet from Masih showing another courageous Iranian woman. Sound on: there’s (forbidden) music:
The authoritarian Islamic regime keeps threatening Iranian women that if they don’t cover their hair they will be jailed, punished, and their property confiscated. Here’s how the Iranian woman respond to that threat every day.#WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/VM1Mlz35KT
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 22, 2023
Early cat pottery from Gravelinspector:
— Angela O'Brien (@GrecianGirly) June 22, 2023
From Malcolm. I didn’t even know these things existed!
How these 3D backlit Hwang Seontae inspired artworks are made
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) June 20, 2023
From Simon, who must be talking about Tr*mp:
Walking into work after the primary target of your criminal investigations confesses on national TV… pic.twitter.com/lIa5vGgS7q
— Jack E. Smith ⚖️ (@7Veritas4) June 20, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, another young boy gassed upon arrival:
24 June 1935 | A Jewish boy, Mario Claudio Polgar, was born in Budapest. He lived in Fiume, Italy.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 24, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who is sad because his 16.5-year-old cat Ollie is pretty sick. The first one shows a bull-goose loony:
Stew Peters' Rothschilds conspiracy theory: The OceanGate sub was purposely sunk to hide "that it wasn't an iceberg that sank the Titanic."
— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) June 23, 2023
Okay, this can’t be true.
my favorite medieval story is the one about how alexander the great wanted to see the world, so he built a contraption to dive underwater and brought his cat and chicken to explore the ocean with him 🙂 pic.twitter.com/dngsUvxOmz
— weird medieval guys (@WeirdMedieval) June 23, 2023
I wonder what else could be made out of the continents?
The continents can be arranged to look like a chicken pic.twitter.com/ESMrkQdAsz
— Terrible Maps (@TerribleMaps) June 23, 2023