Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 1, 2023 • 6:45 am

First, the air quality in Chicago is improving. When I took this photo at a out 5 pm yesterday, the AQI was 89, in the moderate range, and I could make out the skyscrapers downtown from my crib. The air is still not clear, but it’s not dangerious, either.

It’s July!!!  To be precise, CaturSaturday, July 1, 2023, and cat shabbos. It’s also National Gingersnap Day, and I’ll eat any confection that has ginger (candied ginger is the best). Here’s the best value for candied ginger on Amazon (click photo for source):

It’s also these food months:

National Baked Bean Month (just one bean???)
National Culinary Arts Month
National Hot Dog Month
National Ice Cream Month
National Picnic Month
National Pickle Month

It’s also American Zoo Day, International Joke Day, U.S. Postage Stamp Day, Zip Code Day, International Chicken Wing Day, International Reggae Day, Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day), and International Cherry Pit Spitting Day, and, for some reason,  Bobby Bonilla Day in the U.S.

First, here’s a video of the National Cherry Pit Spitting Competition from several years ago.  The world record is a long 93 feet!

And here’s a Jewish joke in honor of Joke Day. I’m allowed to tell it because I’m Jewish, but this isn’t anti-Semitic; it’s just TRUE:

What’s the difference between a Jewish pessimist and a Jewish optimist?
The Jewish pessimist says, “Things can’t possibly get any worse.”
The Jewish optimist says, “Sure they can!”

Readers are invited (indeed, strongly urged) to put a joke in the comments:

Further, Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 1 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*First, reader Reese informs us, and it seems to be true, that you can no longer view anybody’s tweets without having your own Twitter account.

If you’re not logged into your Twitter account and try to view a tweet, you’ll be presented with a sign-in screen. And if you don’t want to have an account on the bird app, too bad!

Twitter hasn’t commented on this change, and given how sloppy the platform has been since Elon Musk’s takeover, it might just be a glitch. However, in a time when Twitter is struggling to grow its user base, it’s possible that this is a tactic to force silent lurkers into creating an account.

*Legal news from reader Ken:

The Court just ruled in favor of the Colorado web designer who refused to provide services for same-sex marriage couples. The vote was 6-3. You can guess the rest.

From the NBC site:

The justices, divided6-3on ideological lines, said that Lorie Smith, as a creative professional, has a free speech right under the Constitution’s First Amendment to refuse to endorse messages she disagrees with. As a result, she cannot be punished under Colorado’s antidiscrimination law for refusing to design websites for gay couples, the court said.

The ruling could allow other owners of similar creative businessesto evade punishment under laws in 29 states that protect LGBTQ rights in public accommodations in some form. The remaining 21 states do not have laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ rights in public accommodations, although some local municipalities do.

Clearly they felt that religious freedom outweighed civil rights laws.

“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place, where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court.

Gorsuch, who wrote a 2020 ruling that expanded LGBTQ rights in an employment context, said that public accommodation laws play a vital role in protecting individual civil rights.

“At the same time, this court has also recognized that no public accommodation law is immune from the demands of the Constitution. In particular, this court has held, public accommodations statutes can sweep too broadly when deployed to compel speech,” he added.

Smith, who opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds and runs a business designing websites, sued the state in 2016 because she said she would like to accept customers planning opposite-sex weddings but reject requests made by same-sex couples wanting the same service. She was never penalized for rejecting a same-sex couple — and it’s unclear if she ever did — but sued on hypothetical grounds.

I have mixed feelings about this, but tend to lean more towards the civil liberties side than the religious accommodation side. FIRE, however, feels differently:

Today’s decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis is a resounding victory for freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. The Court’s opinion reaffirms decades of precedent protecting our First Amendment rights to speak and think free of government compulsion.

Freedom of conscience is a fundamental individual right: The First Amendment protects our right not to speak, too, and the government cannot force Americans to voice its preferred message on pain of punishment. Today’s decision recognizes that just as the First Amendment protects students in our public schools from discipline for refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag, so too does it protect the right of artists to voice only those messages they wish to express, without risking government-imposed fines and “remedial training.”

*At the Weekly Dish, Andrew Sullivan reacts to this decision (and the one on affirmative action).

The decisions this past week — and the reactions to them — are clarifying. In the affirmative action case, the evidence was overwhelming that Harvard was actively and consciously discriminating, sometimes crudely, against Asian-Americans. You might imagine that would embarrass my alma mater, even shame them, exposing their admission methods as systemically racist. Yet Harvard’s response did not mention this at all. That’s how strongly they despise race discrimination: if it’s against Asian-Americans, they don’t despise it at all.

Similarly, the New York Times was able to write a long editorial without mentioning Asian-American students, the key group at issue, once. They are actually lamenting a decision that upholds the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Because like the old racists, they want to establish a systemically racist country which privileges some races over others: a mirror image of the old white supremacy, in a vastly more complicated and diverse ethnic population. And it’s a population that opposes race in  college admissions with a three-quarters majority, including 60 percent of Democrats.

On the Creative v. Elenis case:

In the free-speech case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the issue was whether the state could compel an individual — through public accommodation laws — to create expressive messages which violated her religious conscience. How, I wonder, is this even a question? The idea of compelling someone to express views she does not hold and violate her deepest convictions should be utterly anathema in a free country. This is emphatically not a question of refusing service to same-sex couples in general; it’s about freedom of speech and conscience. I helped pioneer the campaign for marriage equality, I have lived it, I believe in it as passionately as anyone, and I have not a scintilla of a desire to compel someone to celebrate it in their own words if it goes against her conscience.

To repeat, because so many outlets are distorting this so badly, this is not anti-gay. It’s pro-freedom of expression. It’s written by Neil Gorsuch, who gave trans and gay people full equality under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, asserting that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” And if we are to live in a free society, respect and toleration goes both ways. Gay and lesbian freedom is inextricable from religious freedom. And the right to speak freely was the only right gay people had for centuries. We’d now take it away from someone else?

*The Supreme Court is really busy changing laws this week. As I am looking at news pieces on Friday afternoon, I learned that the Supreme Court just rejected Biden’s plan to forgive some student loans (to be exact, forgiving $10,000 for students that make over $100,000. The vote? 6-3 of course.

The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority struck down President Biden’s proposal to cancel at least some student debt for tens of millions of borrowers, saying it overstepped the powers of the Education Department.

In a 6-to-3 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that a mass debt cancellation program of such significance required clear approval by Congress.

Chief Justice Roberts declared that the administration’s logic — that the secretary of education’s power to “waive or modify” loan terms allowed for debt cancellation — was a vast overreach. “In the same sense that the French Revolution ‘modified’ the status of the French nobility,” he wrote, quoting a previous court decision.

Citing the same authority the Trump administration used to begin the pause on student loan payments during the pandemic, Mr. Biden promised in August to forgive $10,000 in debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per household, and $20,000 for those who received Pell grants for low-income families.

Nearly 26 million borrowers have applied to have some of their student loan debt erased, with 16 million applications approved. But no debts have been forgiven or additional applications accepted in light of the legal challenges.

The decision — a day after the court struck a blow against affirmative action policies in college admissions — effectively ended what would have been one of the most expensive executive actions in U.S. history.

This would have cost the American taxpayers about $430 billion. Here’s Sullivan’s take on that decision, clearly written at the last moment:

On the third Court question, student loans, it seems equally astonishing to me that the Democratic Party, which rightly decried Trump’s penchant for exceeding the bounds of presidential power, should now believe that the president, by executive action alone, can waive away $400 billion of student debt. If temporary forgiveness during the emergency of the Covid pandemic was permissible, that emergency is now over. And if the Congress wants to devise other ways to ease the pain of former students, they have every right to do so. Restraining executive overreach is what the Supreme Court is designed for. And it did the right thing.

I agree.

*Nellie Bowles is back with her ever-entertaining weeklynews summary, this week called “TGIF: Going to Supremes.” As usual, I’ll steal three items from her:

→ Affirmative action has been struck down: The Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions on Thursday, ending a decades-long battle. If you’re upset about this, I wouldn’t worry. Schools will find a way (to ensure that Asian students don’t succeed too much). In the court’s decision you’ll find the line: “nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life.” In a response to the decision, Harvard cites that exact carve-out, while noting that they will “certainly comply with the court’s decision.” So there can’t literally be a big minus-10 for children of Indian descent. But all the Korean kids will just get very bad marks for their essays, you see. Harvard finds a way (to keep out Asians). For those applying to schools this upcoming college admissions cycle, make sure to include anecdotes about your lived experiences making pupusas with your abuela, regardless of your race.

Yes, expect some cringe-making (and uniform) essay topics from American universities this fall.  Next, don’t neglect the piece Nellie singles out; it’s heartbreaking.

→ If you read anything about disasters at sea: Let it be this deeply reported piece about the fishing boat that wrecked off the coast of Greece, and the 750 migrants who were on board. We give the mainstream media a lot of flak here, but this piece in the Washington Post reminds us of how great the old newspapers can be.

→ Martha’s Vineyard accepts four (4) migrants, gets glowing NYT story: After those bad mean Southern red-state governors sent migrants to liberal cities, Martha’s Vineyard residents looked inside their hearts. They found their strength. They harnessed their love. They spoke their truth. And they accepted exactly four migrants under their wing, who have stayed in the region and found odd jobs. How gracious! How good! In honor of this big-hearted embrace, The New York Times arrived to document the kindness of these Martha’s Vineyardians. Those four migrants are shacked up in the Vineyard and it’s not even a big deal, except that there’s a New York Times profile of them. From the story:

“Ms. Cauro is one of at least four migrants who have quietly stayed behind on the island, forming bonds with a community that opened what doors it could. Ms. Cauro, 25, is working as a landscaper. Her brother, Daniel, 29, and her cousin, Eliud Aguilar, 28, found jobs in painting and roofing.”

“A community that opened what doors it could.” Four doors, to be exact. If you’d like to see these four migrants simply thriving in their new community, there’s a lovely, understated $13 million house for sale nearby (six beds, no doors).

Nellie’s piece is especially good this week, so go over there and read all the items.

*And, not really news but advice for coffee lovers from the Wall Street Journal:

For the last umpteen years I’ve used only a Breville espresso machine, but the article touts pour-over coffee as the apotheosis of Java:

IN PURSUIT of the perfect cup of coffee, Dorothy Weinstein has tried almost every method of brewing.

The 62-year-old adjunct professor of clinical research and leadership based in Bethesda, Md., has reached one firm conclusion: No drip machine, AeroPress, Keurig, percolator, French press or moka pot can compare to the $7 plastic Melitta pour-over cone she began using in college. To get the best results with such a device, or the ubiquitous hourglass-shaped Chemex, you must heat the water yourself, precisely weigh, then grind your coffee—and then stream the heated water over those grounds with finesse.

I am dubious. But now Dr. Weinstein is thinking of going high end:

Last year, she decided to splurge on one of a growing class of machines that promise pour-over-quality joe with press-a-button convenience: the Chemex Ottomatic 2.0 ($350). Though pricey, the Ottomatic might seem a bargain compared to similar machines that range from $645 to $799, including: the Ratio Eight, which debuted in 2012; the xBloom, released last year; and the Brew by Balmuda, new this May.

. . .Pour-over devotees might point out smugly that a cone like Melitta’s costs little more than a latte with tip. As any good barista will tell you, though, getting the most from one of these drippers does require some skill. Every decision you make while brewing a cup of pour-over leads to small, but discernible, changes in flavor. It’s not just water temperature that matters, but the rhythm, motion, and speed with which it’s poured over the grounds.

These automatic pour-over machines promise to simulate the motion of a human barista, extracting all the coffee’s particular flavors and hidden notes, without making it too bitter or acidic. But, according to Jon Freihofer, 34, the director of coffee services for Joe Coffee Company, these further degrees of control aim to “add a level of replicability that’s hard to achieve as a human.”

. . .  I was drawn to the sleek, compact design of Balmuda’s the Brew, and some of its extra features, including its ability to make cold brew concentrate. Mostly, though, I wanted to see if it was worth the absurd cost: Could it brew a transcendent cup of coffee?

Author Max Cea tested the pricey machines SCIENTIFICALLY, using blind testing:

To help test if its results beat those from my drip machine, I invited my sister over for a blind, but certainly not peer-reviewed experiment. Using beans from two favorite New York roasters—Brooklyn’s Abbotsford Road and Tarrytown’s Coffee Labs Roasters—I brewed coffee three ways: with a manual Hario V6 pour-over; with my Bonavita Connoisseur drip machine; and with the Brew.

The differences were small but noticeable. Each time, my sister favored the manual pour-over, closely followed by the Brew, with the standard drip ranking a relatively distant last. “The manual pour-over was the Goldilocks cup, not too burnt or bitter, something I could drink every day,” she said.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends: if you drink regular Joe, the cheap funnel and filter paper is the way to go. As for me, I need espresso, and a funnel won’t get you that.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s becoming the Greta Thunberg of cats:

Szaron: Scientists say that the world will end in three years.
Hili: I’ve heard that it can be prevented if we become vegetarians.
In Polish:
Szaron: Naukowcy twierdzą, że za trzy lata będzie koniec świata.
Hili: Słyszałam. Podobno możemy temu zapobiec przechodząc na wegetariańską dietę.

, . . and a picture of baby Kulka:

********************

From Divy:

From Stash Krod, a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon, and a sad one for duck lovers:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih:  Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German journalist, was kidnapped from Dubai in 2020, taken to Iran, and sentenced to death on bogus charges.

Titania clears up a misunderstanding:

From Malcolm: a kitten falls asleep standing up:

From Barry: a crazy creationist. (Plus we have plenty of evidence for macroevolution: many fossil “transitional forms” between current major taxa, for instance (reptile—>mammal, reptile—>bird, for instance).

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 7-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. This one, which he just posted, is, I think, his daughter’s graduation from the University of Cambridge.

I posted this audio illusion on Twitter and it works most of the time for me, but not all the time. I have no idea why it works at all!

This is a fantastic lineup:

67 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1766 – François-Jean de la Barre, a young French nobleman, is tortured and beheaded before his body is burnt on a pyre along with a copy of Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique nailed to his torso for the crime of not saluting a Roman Catholic religious procession in Abbeville, France.

    1770 – Lexell’s Comet is seen closer to the Earth than any other comet in recorded history, approaching to a distance of 0.0146 astronomical units (2,180,000 km; 1,360,000 mi).

    1819 – Johann Georg Tralles discovers the Great Comet of 1819, (C/1819 N1). It is the first comet analyzed using polarimetry, by François Arago.

    1837 – A system of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths is established in England and Wales.

    1858 – Joint reading of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s papers on evolution to the Linnean Society of London.

    1867 – The British North America Act takes effect as the Province of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia join into confederation to create the modern nation of Canada. John A. Macdonald is sworn in as the first Prime Minister of Canada. This date is commemorated annually in Canada as Canada Day, a national holiday.

    1870 – The United States Department of Justice formally comes into existence.

    1867 – The British North America Act takes effect as the Province of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia join into confederation to create the modern nation of Canada. John A. Macdonald is sworn in as the first Prime Minister of Canada. This date is commemorated annually in Canada as Canada Day, a national holiday.

    1870 – The United States Department of Justice formally comes into existence.

    1903 – Start of first Tour de France bicycle race.

    1908 – SOS is adopted as the international distress signal.

    1915 – Leutnant Kurt Wintgens of the then-named German Deutsches Heer’s Fliegertruppe army air service achieves the first known aerial victory with a synchronized machine-gun armed fighter plane, the Fokker M.5K/MG Eindecker.

    1916 – World War I: First day on the Somme: On the first day of the Battle of the Somme 19,000 soldiers of the British Army are killed and 40,000 wounded.

    1931 – Wiley Post and Harold Gatty become the first people to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engined monoplane aircraft.

    1932 – Australia’s national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was formed.

    1957 – The International Geophysical Year begins.

    1958 – The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation links television broadcasting across Canada via microwave.

    1963 – ZIP codes are introduced for United States mail.

    1963 – The British Government admits that former diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent.

    1967 – Merger Treaty: The European Community is formally created out of a merger between the Common Market, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Commission.

    1968 – The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is signed in Washington, D.C., London and Moscow by sixty-two countries.

    1972 – The first Gay pride march in England takes place.

    1979 – Sony introduces the Walkman.

    1980 – “O Canada” officially becomes the national anthem of Canada.

    1991 – Cold War: The Warsaw Pact is officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague.

    1997 – China resumes sovereignty over the city-state of Hong Kong, ending 156 years of British colonial rule. The handover ceremony is attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Charles, Prince of Wales, Chinese President Jiang Zemin and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    1999 – The Scottish Parliament is officially opened by Elizabeth II on the day that legislative powers are officially transferred from the old Scottish Office in London to the new devolved Scottish Executive in Edinburgh. In Wales, the powers of the Welsh Secretary are transferred to the National Assembly.

    2002 – The International Criminal Court is established to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

    2003 – Over 500,000 people protest against efforts to pass anti-sedition legislation in Hong Kong.

    2007 – Smoking in England is banned in all public indoor spaces.

    Births:
    1633 – Johann Heinrich Heidegger, Swiss theologian and author (d. 1698).

    1646 – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, German mathematician and philosopher (d. 1716).

    1872 – Louis Blériot, French pilot and engineer (d. 1936).

    1873 – Alice Guy-Blaché, French-American film director, producer and screenwriter (d. 1968).

    1892 – James M. Cain, American author and journalist (d. 1977).

    1899 – Thomas A. Dorsey, American pianist and composer (d. 1993).

    1899 – Charles Laughton, English-American actor and director (d. 1962).

    1903 – Amy Johnson, English pilot (d. 1941).

    1907 – Norman Pirie, Scottish-English biochemist and virologist (d. 1997). [Discovered that a virus can be crystallized by isolating tomato bushy stunt virus in 1936. This was an important milestone in understanding DNA and RNA.]

    1912 – David Brower, American environmentalist, founder of the Sierra Club Foundation (d. 2000).

    1915 – Willie Dixon, American blues singer-songwriter, bass player, guitarist and producer (d. 1992).

    1916 – Olivia de Havilland, British-American actress (d. 2020).

    1934 – Sydney Pollack, American actor, director and producer (d. 2008).

    1942 – Julia Higgins, English chemist and academic.

    1943 – Jeff Wayne, American composer, musician and lyricist.

    1945 – Debbie Harry, American singer-songwriter and actress. [Blondie’s set at Glastonbury last weekend got very good reviews.]

    1952 – Dan Aykroyd, Canadian actor, producer and screenwriter.

    1961 – Carl Lewis, American long jumper and runner.

    1961 – Diana, Princess of Wales (d. 1997).

    1971 – Missy Elliott, American rapper, producer, dancer and actress.

    1977 – Liv Tyler, American actress. [Daughter of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, but raised by Todd Rundgren.]I

    Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.
    1749 – William Jones, Welsh mathematician and academic (b. 1675).

    1860 – Charles Goodyear, American chemist and engineer (b. 1800).

    1884 – Allan Pinkerton, Scottish-American detective and spy (b. 1819).

    1896 – Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author and activist (b. 1811).

    1912 – Harriet Quimby, American pilot and screenwriter (b. 1875).

    1925 – Erik Satie, French pianist and composer (b. 1866).

    1943 – Willem Arondeus, Dutch artist, author and anti-Nazi resistance fighter (b. 1894).

    1944 – Carl Mayer, Austrian-English screenwriter (b. 1894).

    1971 – William Lawrence Bragg, Australian-English physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1890).

    1974 – Juan Perón, Argentinian general and politician, President of Argentina (b. 1895).

    1983 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect, designed the Montreal Biosphère (b. 1895).

    1995 – Wolfman Jack, American radio host (b. 1938). [The second Todd Rundgren connection of the day…]

    1995 – Ian Parkin, English guitarist (Be-Bop Deluxe) (b. 1950).

    1997 – Robert Mitchum, American actor (b. 1917).

    1999 – Forrest Mars Sr., American businessman, creator of M&M’s and the Mars chocolate bar (b. 1904).

    2000 – Walter Matthau, American actor (b. 1920).

    2003 – Herbie Mann, American flute player and saxophonist (b. 1930).

    2004 – Marlon Brando, American actor and director (b. 1924).

    2005 – Renaldo Benson, American singer-songwriter (Four Tops) (b. 1936).

    2005 – Luther Vandross, American singer-songwriter and producer (Change) (b. 1951).

    2009 – Mollie Sugden, English actress (b. 1922).

    2013 – Charles Foley, American game designer, co-creator of Twister (b. 1930).

    2015 – Val Doonican, Irish singer and television host (b. 1927).

  2. From an engineer.
    Q: what is the difference between an introvert engineer and an extrovert engineer?
    Ans: An introvert engineer looks at his feet when he talks to you; an extrovert engineer looks at YOUR feet when he talks to you.

  3. I have another engineer joke.

    A priest, a physician, and an engineer are waiting for a particularly slow group of golfers to finish their game.
    All: “What’s up with those guys? We’ve been waiting for a very long time!”
    Golf Official: “That’s a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!“
    The group fell silent for a moment.
    Priest: “That’s so sad. I’ll say a special prayer for them tonight.”
    Physician: “I’ll contact my ophthalmologist and see if there’s anything she can do for them.”
    Engineer: “Why don’t they play at night?”

    1. Here’s another one:

      A priest, a lawyer and an engineer are to be guillotined.

      The priest puts his head on the block, the rope is pulled but nothing happens. He claims he has been saved by divine intervention and is released.

      The lawyer puts his head on the block, but again, nothing happens, he claims he can’t be executed twice for the same crime and is set free.

      The engineer places his head under the guillotine. He looks up at the release mechanism and says:
      ‘Wait a minute, I see your problem…’

    2. Not an engineer joke, but it involves an engineer.
      An engineer, a physicist and a philosopher visit Scotland for the first time and they see a black sheep.
      “Look at that” exclaims the engineer “Scottish sheep are black”!
      “Well” comments the physicist “some Scottish sheep are black”.
      “No, No” objects the philosopher “one Scottish sheep is black, at least on one side”.

    3. Three engineers debated the nature of God.

      ‘He’s a mechanical engineer! Just look at the human body, a marvel of levers and pulleys.’

      ‘He’s an electrical engineer! Look at the human body and its intricate wiring.’

      ‘He’s a civil engineer. Who else would put a waste disposal system right through a major recreational area?’’

  4. Thanks for raising an alert about the smoke. Not to give away personal details, but it’s coming for me now.

    … ok maybe that’s paranoia, but the air unhealthiness is high on my handy Weather app. And it’s extreme right around James Bay, Quebec.

    1. I’ve just pestered the other two kids for jokes.

      From Iván:
      Q: What do you do if you’re addicted to seaweed?
      A: Sea kelp.

      From Mónica:
      Knock, knock.
      Who’s there?
      James.
      James who?
      It was at that point that James realised his mother’s dementia had reached its final stage.

  5. At a funeral, the widow approached a man and asked him to say something. Anything. So the man said “plethora”. The woman said “Thanks. That means a lot”.

  6. [ one more new comment and done ]

    Today four doors, tomorrow – and on and on, the world. Made by us, for us, through lifelong praxis – nothing to do with the material world, or resources, or anything but lived experience in a social construction.

    That is the faith of Critical Social Justice.

  7. This joke is one of my absolute favourites, and is bound to please cat lovers. If you tell it out loud, it’s better if you draw it out a bit…

    —-
    A German Shepherd, Doberman and a cat have died. All three are faced with God, who wants to know what they believe in.

    The German shepherd says, “I believe in discipline, training, and loyalty to my master.”

    “Good,” says God. “Then sit down on my right side. Doberman, what do you believe in?”

    The Doberman answers, “I believe in the love, care and protection of my master.”

    “Ah, yes,” said God. “You may sit to my left.”

    Then he looks at the cat and asks, “And what do you believe in?”

    The cat answers, “I believe you’re sitting in my seat.”

  8. Suppose you are holding yourself out to the public as a web-designer. The Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for picketing fallen soldiers’ funerals to remind people that their deaths were just God’s way of punishing America for allowing homosexuality, comes to you. They want you to do a webpage promoting their next funeral picketing. Gorsuch says you don’t have to. On the other hand, the liberal minority says you do. You might say, but the picketing is despicable. Well, the web-designer in the case says that her religion says gay weddings are despicable. Do you get to tell her what her religion says? Now, if the leader of the Westboro Church comes to you and wants you to do a web-page for his unrelated widget business, I think even Gorsuch says, yes, you have to do that page. Actually, I think the religion angle is almost irrelevant [except to certain Justices], and the decision can be based solely on the “no forced speech” issue.

    1. What does “do a web page” mean? Designing a web page to be hosted by your client does not mean you are voicing or endorsing their views in any way. You may be enabling them to do so, but that seems very different to me.

      1. It appears that the basis for the website designer case is that the designer cannot be compelled in her artistic creations to express views that she does not believe in that is, therefore, a violation of her free speech rights. The Court’s opinion is limited to artists, which a website designer is one, that are deemed “creative.” But would the website designer actually be expressing views by creating a marriage website for a gay couple? I think not. The commissioning of a website is a purely commercial transaction. One person is paying another to perform a service. This transaction in no way implies that the designer endorses the content of the website or is expressing any personal views at all. The name of the designer need not appear on the website. Why should a so-called artist be left off the hook on the grounds of the first amendment when other profit making businesses are not?

        If a business is a public profit making concern (this is the key point) then its services must be open to all, even when the owner finds the customer distasteful for whatever reason – whether it is because the customer is a gay couple or a bunch of Nazis. The more I think about it, I find the arguments of the Supreme Court, Sullivan, and FIRE to be wrong. It is not a free speech issue. It is an issue of discrimination.

        1. At the risk of over-commenting I submit with respect that you are fundamentally incorrect here on three points:
          1). That the business makes a profit, or hopes to, is not a key point. It is actually beside the point. Non-profits also are bound by human rights codes in employment and in providing service to the public.
          2). A “person” (which can be a corporation) providing public accommodation may refuse service to any person* (or fire any employee) for any reason,as long as that reason is not one of the grounds prohibited under the human rights code. I’m using language I’m familiar with. I stand to be corrected if American language differs in important ways. “No shoes, no shirt, no service” is legal. “No gang colours permitted in the bar” also. “No one under 18 admitted.” “Joe Blow is banned for being a dick.” It could be awkward for an ordinary retail establishment to refuse to serve uniformed Nazis coming in for lunch but it would not be illegal discrimination to do so. A request for custom service like a website or a tailored uniform could be met with, “Sorry. I don’t think I can meet your needs or expectations for this commission.” (And seriously, if you were a tailor would you really whip up an SS uniform for a Nazi customer just because he asked you to?) Being a Nazi (or a barefoot dick named Joe Blow with no shirt) is not a protected criterion like race, sex, orientation, religion, plus others that vary place to place. The state can’t prevent Nazis speaking but you don’t have to cater their coffee breaks.

          If a member of a protected group wants you to provide a service, that’s a different story which is the meat of the decision. Here I’m just challenging your view that an ordinary retail business cannot pick its customers and exclude those not worth having.

          3). The decision of the Supreme Court is final. It can’t in any meaningful sense be wrong.
          ——————
          * There is an exception in the case of regulated monopolies that must obey “common carrier” rules and accept all comers willing to pay, such as railways, telcos, electricity and gas utilities. These don’t apply to simple retail businesses.

          1. I don’t have the space, desire or time to answer your first two comments. Point 3 is easy to answer: a Supreme Court decision is not final. You may recall, for example, that the Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade on the grounds that Roe was decided wrongly. Anytime the Supreme Court discards precedent it is declaring the prior decision was wrong. This has happened many times. Also, a constitutional amendment can overturn a Supreme Court decision. At best, a Supreme Court decision has a precarious existence, subject to being discarded when the current Court finds that decision at odds with its understanding of the Constitution.

      2. If I read the decision correctly (of which I can give no assurance, as there is a LOT to unpack, but I think I have the core here), the key thing is the creative aspect. If I am misreading, please let me know, but I think that I have the essence here

        Say, for example, that you are a fine carpenter, and you have both a store where you sell your finished product as well as take commissions for clients. You can refuse to create a piece for a client if the piece will violate your beliefs, such as you, who follows the call of Cthulhu, being asked to do a carving of a map that explicitly and graphically depicts the destruction of R’lyeh and all within before the return.

        If, on the other tentacle– sorry, hand– you had already created such a piece (not actually being a follower of the tentacled one), and it was on your shop floor for sale,a customer came in to the store and you refused to sell the existing, for sale, piece to the customer, because the customer is wearing a clown nose and floppy shoes, that is not addressed by this decision.

        Designing a web site is a creative process, as is writing or painting or advertising. The same brief would result in different, often very different, product from each particular designer, and the product of each will reflect, to a greater or lesser extent, the `voice’ of the particular designer. It is not the same as hosting a web site, which is providing the data storage and access means to the data, and involves no voice of the host.

      3. But it didn’t to the six justices, KD33. And theirs is the only opinion that counts.
        Harrync and FIRE (and now enl) nailed it. It’s not about civil rights for homosexuals and it’s not about religious freedom for Roman Catholics, much as all right-thinking people believe the former should crush the latter. It’s about protecting everyone’s freedom not to be coerced by the government into affirming something we don’t believe.

        The danger with human rights codes (as we call these things in Canada) is that they can be used to coerce allegiance to an ideological position if the aggrieved party is a member of a protected group. The anti-discrimination codes were intended to protect such people from being harassed at work, fired from their jobs, or denied service in businesses open to the general public. They were not meant to enforce a code of behavioural deference in all public utterances. The decision is a welcome guardrail to the coercive power of the state in the name of civil rights..

        The way I see this is that if a transgender person wants to order a sandwich at my restaurant, I can’t refuse to serve him because he’s trans (if gender identity is a protected category in that state or province.). But if I ask the hostess to show “him” to “his” table, the customer can’t make a civil rights complaint that I didn’t use “she” or “zir” or “them”, and didn’t have a written policy that my employees must do so. Naturally I would prefer not to alienate a paying customer, but I also don’t want to alienate staff by making “misgendering” a disciplinary offence. The state needs to butt out here.

        I’m a bit sensitive on this because Canada’s Liberal government is trying to make it a criminal offence to express doubt that genocide occurred in Indian residential schools. This would compel fealty to an ideological falsehood, given that [edit: NO!] genocide actually occurred.

        In a freedom of speech and expression case, this freedom must trump others.

    2. The infuriating thing with the wedding website decision, is that it was based on a hypothetical case which was based on a lie. The woman wasn’t even making wedding websites. She had suffered no injury. The person she claimed wanted her to make a “gay wedding” website denied ever making the request. This case only came before the Supreme Court because the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom organization KNEW they would get the decision they wanted.

      The claim that the government is “compelling” speech isn’t true either. The government isn’t requiring her to make wedding websites. They are not “compelling” her to do anything. All they needed to say is that “if you want to have a public business making wedding websites, you must treat all weddings equally”. Wasn’t that the same way it was treated when striking down the ban on inter-racial marriages? Doesn’t this decision now permit people to deny making websites for inter-racial couples if they are against them? What about couples that were previously divorced? Or couples who are handicapped? I agree with Sotomayor’s dissent. This was a wrong decision because now, in the eyes of the law, same-sex marriages are not at all equal to opposite-sex ones.

  9. Bath Festival of Blues & Progressive Music ’70

    Me and some friends from University went down to this festival, and it was really good. There were many well known ‘big groups’ of the era but I particularly remember Led Zeppelin.

    I did wonder about the health risks to some crowd members nearby who were huffing ‘something burning’ from a plastic washing-up liquid bottle.

    1. Looks like a great line-up at Bath. I wasn’t there, but did make it to the Isle of Wight festival a couple of months later – a formative experience for an American high-school student hitchhiking around Europe.

  10. A man was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was informed he had 6 months to live. A few days later he had dinner with his priest, his doctor and his lawyer. During dinner, he informed them that he thought he would need money in the afterlife. So, he gave each of them an envelope, and said each one contained $10,000 in cash, and asked them to try to make it to his funeral and put the envelopes in his casket. They thought it was odd but given the circumstances they agreed to do it.

    About 6 months later the man passed away, and the priest, doctor and lawyer all made it to his funeral, and placed their envelopes into the man’s casket. The three then went to dinner together, during which the priest said, “Gentlemen, I have a confession to make: I removed $1000 from my envelope because we needed a new computer for the parish. I feel terrible about this.” The Doctor said, “Well, you are not the only one having qualms tonight, father. I removed $5000 from my envelope since we needed a new x-ray machine at my clinic.”

    The lawyer then said, “You two should be ashamed of yourselves. God knows my conscience is totally clear. I removed all $10,000 from my envelope and replaced it with a check for the same amount.”

  11. I’m OK with all three of the Court’s major rulings. (Not saying that I love them, but I understand the reasoning and think that all three rulings are defensible.)

    Harvard’s behavior was clearly racist and should not be tolerated. This behavior enabled (perhaps required) the Court to examine the use of race in admissions. They found the practice to itself be racist. Andrew Sullivan expresses it well.

    In the “freedom of conscience” case, the Court rules against compelled speech. Forcing people to voice views against their will is wrong and violates the First Amendment. (I hope that DEI statements are next to fall under this umbrella.)

    Finally, students voluntarily entered into contractual agreements for their student loans. They are unsurprisingly disappointed that the loan forgiveness plan was struck down, but that doesn’t mean that the plan was formulated correctly. Unless a new plan can be put in place that passes constitutional muster, they will need to pay back their loans. One can debate the morality and wisdom of forgiving loans, but one can’t debate the morality of refusing to pay them back.

    The jokes are great! And, yes, Jerry’s joke about Jewish optimists and pessimists is a classic.

  12. A guy leads a fairly ordinary life, and in due course dies and finds himself at the Pearly Gates, expecting a spell in Purgatory. But St Peter says “No, that’s old hat. What you have to do is climb this ladder and chalk off one rung for each sin you’ve committed in your life. When you’ve remembered and atoned for each one, you’ll be in Heaven”.

    The guy climbs and climbs, and chalks off every sin he can recall, but there’s still no sign of Paradise. Eventually he sees a white-clothed figure climbing down the next ladder. Plucking up his courage, he says “Excuse me, sir, but are you an angel coming down for more candidates?”

    The figure turns round and says rather crossly “No, indeed I’m not; I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury coming down for more chalk”.

  13. Those who think that the website designer case revolves around free speech rather than religion may be correct, but for the religious right the case is viewed as a minor victory in the pursuit of its ultimate goal: the transformation of the United States into a Christian theocracy. They will continue to press state legislatures and Congress for laws that further their goals, and they will file law suits that push for rulings favorable to “religious liberty.” They will lose some battles, but will win many that results in a net gain for them. They are skilled at employing “salami” tactics. Small slices can be cut from a salami, but, almost by magic, there is nothing remaining. That is, the religious right expects to win a small victory here and a small victory there and before you know it total victory is won. It realizes that one big victory may not be achievable, but a series of small victories will accomplish the same end.

    1. “They [the religious right] are skilled at employing ‘salami’ tactics. Small slices can be cut from a salami, but, almost by magic, there is nothing remaining.”

      A British fighter pilot was shot down over German occupied airspace and was captured by the Nazis on the ground. He was beaten up pretty bad in the dogfight and parachute landing, and they had to amputate his leg, so he begged them “Please, if you have to take my leg, can you drop it over my base the next time you send a bombing mission?”

      The Nazis figured there was no harm in it and the leg was dropped in the next raid.

      A week later, his other leg succumbed to his injuries and had to be amputated, and again, he asked his captors to drop in over the base on the next raid, and again they obliged.

      The next week his arm succumbed to injuries and it was amputated. Again, he asked the German guards to have it dropped over his base on the next raid. The German barked at him “Nein!”

      The pilot asked, “Why not? You’ve done it before!”

      The German guard said, “Vee tink you are trying to escape!”

  14. Musk said yesterday that the login requirement to read tweets was temporary, but as far as I’m aware there was no mention of when it would be open again. You can see what he said and claimed reasons in this reuters article (I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other reasons though):

    https://www.reuters.com/technology/twitter-now-needs-users-sign-view-tweets-2023-06-30/

    I’ve made a point of not getting an account. I read a few things on Twitter, mostly fun and amusing items, but if I had an account I feel like I would be too tempted to waste time getting into pointless arguments with various people saying ridiculous things there. Arguments on Twitter aren’t typically what you would call intellectually sophisticated. Usually they either start or quickly devolve into slogans and name calling.

    1. I like the way user Jeremy Pereira put it (and I paraphrase heavily ):

      “social media” – which this website is, like it or not – but especially Tw1773r – is akin to conversations one might overhear at a pub. Really of dubious significance.

    2. This isn’t the first time that Twitter has done this–and it was also done before Musk.

      Like you, I won’t register an account. Joining Twitter debates feels too much like joining a political party, and I won’t do that, either.

      1. I refuse to get an account as well. Sites like Sotwe and Nitter can be used to view Twitter instead, and they don’t require an account. Elon Muskrat can get stuffed.

  15. A mathematician and an engineer are both placed in a room. Across the room from them is a bag of gold. They are told that whoever reaches the gold first may have it, BUT they can only move half the distance to the bag each time they move. The mathematician throws up his hands and says, “That’s impossible!” The engineer, however, begins to move. Half way. Half way. Half way. Eventually, he gets to within an arm’s reach of bag and grabs it, saying, “Well, that’s close enough for an engineering approximation.”

    1. Good one – I thought the engineer might go half way for the first step, and then that same half again for the last step.

      Or maybe that’d be … a lawyer or Alfred E. Neuman.

  16. The student loan bailout represents one of the most perplexing things about Biden’s first half-term. With majorities in both houses, he didn’t even bother to go to Congress for authority to cancel the loans. Didn’t even bother to suggest they do something.

  17. I don’t get the web site case. Is designing a web site to be posted by a client the same as “forcing people to voice views against their will”? The designer is not endorsing or voicing anything.
    By the same logic, a public defender representing a known murderer or child molester could be said to endorse those acts, and should be allowed to decline to represent them. Or, as a teacher, I should not have to teach any content that I don’t agree with. Slippery slope.

    1. But she isn’t a public employee. She is more like a lawyer in private practice or a publisher. Isn’t a lawyer allowed to decline to represent a client that she doesn’t like to represent for some reason, and a publisher, even a for-pay-publisher, allowed to decline the publication of a text that she deems not okay in some way? (Neither publisher nor lawyer would be allowed to say “I refuse to represent/publish you because you are of this or that race or sex or sexual orientation”, but they would be in their rights if they refused because they did not like what they had to say or print, even though it’s not their own speech.
      Just speculating here. I am out of my depth in US antidiscrimination law.

    2. Lawyers and doctors have special obligations especially in emergencies or where they agree to be on-call for whomever shows up needing help, which make simple parallels impossible. But do remember that no accused person is “known” to be a murderer or child molester until he pleads guilty or is convicted. And that doesn’t happen until after the lawyer takes his case. Lawyers and doctors shouldn’t care what bad things their clients might have done. If that really keeps them awake at night, they’re in the wrong game.

      Teachers are employees who agree to reach what’s on the curriculum. If they can’t teach evolution because they don’t believe it, their employer can fire them for violating the employment contract. It’s the employer, not the state, compelling the speech, which employers have clear rights to do. Some such cases do go to union arbitration but then it’s covered by labour law, not civil rights.

      The website designer was likened in the majority opinion to a free-lance.speechwriter. No compelled speech, therefore no compelled websites.

    3. [I originally submitted this comment about six hours, but it never posted.}

      It appears that the basis for the website designer case is that the designer cannot be compelled in her artistic creations to express views that she does not believe in that is, therefore, a violation of her free speech rights. The Court’s opinion is limited to artists, which a website designer is one, that are deemed “creative.” But would the website designer actually be expressing views by creating a marriage website for a gay couple? I think not. The commissioning of a website is a purely commercial transaction. The designer is acting under the direction of the customer. One person is paying another to perform a service. This transaction in no way implies that the designer endorses the content of the website or is expressing any views at all. The name of the designer need not appear on the website. Why should a so-called artist be left off the hook on the grounds of the first amendment when other profit making businesses are not?

      If a business is a public profit making concern (this is the key point) then its services must be open to all, even when the owner finds the customer distasteful for whatever reason – whether it is because the customer is a gay couple or a bunch of Nazis. The more I think about it, I find the arguments of the Supreme Court, Sullivan, and FIRE to be wrong. It is not a free speech issue. The issue is discrimination.

        1. My mistake. I could swear that I checked many times and didn’t see it. I hope I it was a mere oversight rather than something more serious.😊

  18. Re the website-creating case. I think it’s a bad move to regard companies as being “persons” with free-speech rights. Thus, if a company is offering a general service to the public, then it should not be allowed to decline a customer by citing “compelled speech” grounds.

    A sole trader might then be treated different from a larger company. To me it comes down to whether the sole-trader or company is offering a general service, or whether it picks and chooses its customers. A publisher picks and chooses what it publishes. An artist or web-site designer could do the same, picking and choosing commissions that they like. If so, it’s fine to decline a commission they dislike. But if a business is offering a general service (“we bake cakes decorated with your message”) then declining a commission citing “compelled speech” is not ok.

  19. Prudence suggests that I can neither compete with the jokes nor add to what has already been said, so I will stifle my comments about the Supreme Court rulings.

    But I will add this: Chemex pour-overs during the summer and other breaks; Technivorm Moccamaster automatic drip during the school year when things around the house are a bit more rushed. It is one of the few home machines that I have found that heats water sufficiently for a good cup of coffee. Also, for those who like to strike back against disposable consumer good culture, virtually all parts are available for purchase and replacement. Ours is going on eight years and still operates like new.

    1. We have had a Technivorm Moccamaster for at least 15 years. It makes excellent drip coffee. I buy whole beans in bulk online from CoffeeBeanDirect.com (awesome beans) and grind them just before brewing. It takes no time at all, but does take a bit of valuable space on the counter. The Moccamaster is expensive, but works very well.

      I did have to replace a microswitch inside my Moccamaster a few years back, which I did myself, and I expect it to work for another 15 years (10,500 cycles at two cycles per day). The repair was not trivial, as it required taking the entire unit apart, isolating the problem, sourcing the part from an online electronics jobber, soldering in the new part, and putting everything back together again correctly. The ~$3.00 switch saved me the $339.00 I’d have to spend for a new one. Technivorm sells replacement parts for broken carafe’s and other such frequently needed parts.

      1. Your post just drove me back to their website. They used to carry heating elements and switches in stock; I no longer see those. (They do have a number to call for any parts not listed. I wonder whether those are still available.) When I ordered the maker with the stainless steel carafe, I eliminated the part that I was otherwise guaranteed to break while operating in my morning fog.

        We also do the daily grind. Tired of quick-failing and noisy electric grinders, I found Orphan Espresso hand grinders online. It’s a couple in rural Idaho who make some great manual coffee grinders. Pricey, but the ones I’ve bought are well designed and durable. There is something oddly gratifying about the bit of manual labor involved.

  20. —- Yoohoo! How can I get to the other side of the lake?

    ——You ARE on the other side of the lake!

  21. New chemical Element Discovered
    The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization. Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings. Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

  22. When I was in training to be a chemist, my sense of humour was extracted, so I can not react to jokes from which I distill no essence. Yet, I will follow the lead and bore on like a mole, without an ad holmium dissociation on those that have the metal and try to iron out some humourous tale. I zinc I can do it. Or maybe a better solution, if I am a good samarium, is to grab my pole and go fission, so I don’t make you all sulfur.

    Remember: Alcohol is not the solution. It is a compound. Beer is the solution.

  23. Jesus and Moses were golfing. At one point they’re in front of a water trap. Moses pulls out a 3 iron and sends his ball nicely over the trap. Jesus pulls out a 6 iron and Moses asks “you sure you want to do that?” Jesus says “I happen to know that if Arnold Palmer were in this situation he would have used a 6.” Moses just says “Alright, go ahead.”

    Jesus swings and the ball falls into the water. Moses says “I’ll help you out this once” and raises his arms and divides the water so Jesus can get his ball.

    Awhile later they’re in a similar situation and again Moses uses a 3 iron to send his ball over the trap. And again Jesus pulls out a 6 iron and Moses says “You’re going to do that again?” Jesus repeats that he knows that this is what Arnold Palmer would have done.

    Again Jesus puts his ball in the water. Moses says “I’m not helping you out this time”. Jesus says “fine” and walks over the water, gets his ball and starts walking back. Just at that moment another golfer sees him and exclaims “Who the hell does that man think he is? – Jesus Christ?”. Moses turns to him and says “Nah, he thinks he’s Arnold Palmer.”

  24. Re Twitter, Elon Musk has just Tweeted:

    “To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we’ve applied the following temporary limits:

    – Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day
    – Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day
    – New unverified accounts to 300/day”

    [Data scraping here refers (I think) to companies training AI systems by feeding them the entire Twitter archive.]

  25. Re the website decision, the UK’s Supreme Court reached the same decision in Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd and others:

    Following appeals, the Supreme Court overturned previous rulings in favour of Lee [who wanted a cake iced with a slogan in favour of gay rights] and made a judgement in favour of Ashers [the baking company that refused to provide the cake]. The court said there was no discrimination against Lee and that Ashers’ objections were with the message they were being asked to promote. The court held that people in the United Kingdom could not legally be forced to promote a message they fundamentally disagreed with. The case became known in the British and Irish media as the “gay cake” case.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_v_Ashers_Baking_Company_Ltd_and_others

    1. Nailed it, Jez.

      The thing that rubs me the wrong way in commentary here is that people are worried that standing up against compelled speech has the unacceptable toxic effect of letting the religious believers get away with something. We should choose instead an expanded gross over-reach of civil rights enforcement….because religion.

      So let’s make the website designer or cake-baker an atheist. A male homosexual throws a party to raise funds for his campaign to be allowed to donate blood for transfusion (an actual controversy in Canada.). He wants a cake iced with the message, “They can ask. We won’t tell. Gay blood is not illegal!” (That’s a lot of piping.).

      The baker refuses to decorate the cake. The message promotes conduct he finds reprehensible and his business would suffer. His mother died of transfusion-related AIDS. The customer launches a human rights complaint alleging discrimination in providing a service on the basis of a prohibited ground, the customer’s acknowledged homosexuality.

      If you would side with the baker here, you have to side with the website designer and the other bakers, too, as the two Supreme Courts did. We want to put a social-justice thumb on the scale when we are sympathetic to homosexual weddings and hostile to religious believers. But that thumb doesn’t belong.

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