Good morning on a workday for all (except cats): it’s Monday, July 10, 2023, and National Pina Colada Day. Mix rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, shake with ice, garnish, and you have this lovely summer drink:
It’s also Clerihew Day, explained this way,
Edmund Clerihew Bentley, commonly known as E.C. Bentley, was born on today’s date in 1875. He was a British writer known for clerihews: four-line biographical poems of a comedic nature and an AABB rhyme scheme. The subject of the poem is usually named in the first line, and other characteristics of the poem are its clumsy rhythm and irregular number of accents.
Bentley came up with his first clerihew at the age of 16, while in a science class. It was about a chemist named Sir Humphry Davy and was later published in 1905 in Biography for Beginners. The clerihew is as follows:
Sir Humphry Davy Abominated gravy. He lived in the odium Of having discovered sodium.
It’s also National Kitten Day, Don’t Step on a Bee Day, Pick Blueberries Day, Martyrdom of the Báb, Nikola Tesla Day (Tesla was born on this day in 1856), Statehood Day in Wyoming, and Teddy Bear Picnic Day. The song “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” sung by Rosemary Clooney, was perhaps my favorite song as a young child. I can still sing the whole thing:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 10 Wikipedia page.
*Former world chess champion and expat Russian dissident Gary Kasparov takes the U.S. to task in a WSJ column, “Ukrainians die as America dawdles.” What? Didn’t we just give them cluster munitions? Here’s what Kasparov has to say:
My first message: Ukraine is the one nation worthy of NATO membership, because it is fighting the war the alliance was built for in 1949. My second message: While America delays, Ukrainians die.
(For a strong argument that Ukraine should be admitted into NATO ASAP, see this op-ed in yesterday’s NYT by Alyona Getmanchuk.) More from Kasparov:
The U.S. is the laggard of the alliance. The once-timid Europeans are now more assertive than the Biden administration, which is still quibbling about every weapons-system delivery. Worse, new reports of back-channel contacts between current and former U.S. officials and Russian authorities betray the concept of alliance unity and deterrence of Vladimir Putin’s terrorist regime.
. . .Mr. Putin is terrified of escalation. Yet it’s the U.S. and NATO that act as if the collapse of his illegitimate regime—or what’s left of Russia itself—would somehow be worse than a nuclear arsenal in the hands of a KGB thug waging genocidal war in Europe. Anyone else would be better.
Sixteen months into the war, the Biden administration either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that the price of aiding Ukraine will keep rising with every delay. The latest example is Washington’s clearing the way to send cluster munitions to root out entrenched Russian positions in Ukraine—which wouldn’t exist had it provided stronger support weeks ago.
For months, the U.S. and its allies have repeated that they will stand with Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” That sounds nice, but what exactly does “it” mean? To push out every last Russian colonizer from sovereign Ukrainian land? To commit to seeing the zhovto-blakytnyy—the “yellow and blue”—fly free over Sevastopol? Will NATO give Ukraine the planes, armor and ammunition it needs to win and keep the peace? The Biden administration is happy to share Ukrainian flags on social media instead of planting them in Crimea.
. . .Ukraine must win. Those are the three words Mr. Biden needs to say in Vilnius. If the leader of the alliance doesn’t publicly commit to a full Ukrainian victory, more blood will be on his hands. Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Putin in 2021 in Geneva—the city where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1985—didn’t turn Mr. Biden into Reagan. Nothing will, but he must still try to finish off the evil empire once and for all. There can be no compromise with genocide, no negotiation with war criminals.
President Biden, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for Ukrainian lives, send planes and guns to save them. Europe’s line of defense against a Russian invasion has moved from the Rhine to the Dnipro, but the values that line represents must not change. Slava Ukraini. Glory to heroes.
I support Ukraine’s admission to NATO (Biden apparently doesn’t), but will more “planes and guns” sent to Ukraine enable them to be “saved” and win the war? What can the U.S. and its European allies actually do to ensure a Ukrainian victory?
*The NYT continues its weekly pandering to religion with Pastor Tish Harrison Warren’s column, “Why we shouldn’t lose faith in organized religion.” (In her email the title was “Faith communities are still a force for good”.)
This is actually Warren’s interview with Eboo Patel, identified as “an American Muslim and founder and president of Interfaith America, a Chicago-based nonprofit that aims to promote cooperation across religious differences. . .” Some Q&A, with Warren’s questions in bold and Patel’s responses in plain type.
At many interfaith gatherings I’ve been to, I see mainly religious progressives talking about progressive causes. Your organization reaches out to moderate and conservative religious people as well, including white evangelicals. How do you bridge those progressive/conservative divides that seem so deep now?
It’s actually so much simpler in practice than it is in theory. I’ll give an example: In any hospital in America at any hour, there are people from very different religious identities — a Muslim surgeon with a Jewish anesthesiologist, with a Mormon nurse, with a Jehovah’s Witness social worker, with a Baptist who is sanitizing the room at a hospital started by a Catholic social order like the Dominicans or the Jesuits, that is run by an agnostic who grew up Buddhist. And every single one of them before they walk into a surgery is having their own kind of moment of prayer or reflection or connection with what they call God. That’s what we see as interfaith work.
People from diverse religious backgrounds — who may disagree on some fundamental things about abortion or where to draw the line in Jerusalem or doctrinal matters like the nature of Jesus — who are working together on other fundamental things. That is the genius of American society. We call that civic cooperation. It takes place everywhere all the time.
What is needed to help people become more constructive in their approach to social change?
I’m a big believer in the stories that we tell. This is my understanding of religion, of pluralism, of social change: If you tell an inspiring story, people will want to move in that direction. If you only tell a terrible story about America, then people will think that terribleness is inevitable. You tell a terrible story about Islam or Christianity and people will think that terribleness is inevitable. Which is why I think that call-out culture and cancellation culture is wrong in both theory and practice. It is the wrong approach to social change. We want to encourage people — whether schools or churches or entire religions or nations — to be doing more of what we think is beautiful and healthy.
. . . When it comes to religious diversity, specifically, American pluralism is mostly inspiring and generally the envy of the world. And we ought to be proud of that. For all of the mistakes and sins of the European founders, their understanding of religious identity and diversity was totally inspiring, both in 1776 and in 2023. And it’s our job to try to live into that vision.
Well that “civic cooperation” leads to social strife, and we can see that in the Supreme Court or in the very split down the middle of America between Left and the mostly religious right. Yes, a Jewish surgeon can operate with a Muslim anesthesiologist and a Catholic head nurse, but that kind of cooperation is MANDATORY, not voluntary. As for making religions worse by telling stories about them, I don’t think the Taliban or ISIS needs “stories” to perform their dastardly deeds. All over the world people are being oppressed and killed by religion (look at Iran). And yet the ever-sunny Warren tells us to “keep the faith.” No thank you, especially because there’s no evidence for the things she believes, which are wholly Christian. She is the NYT’s main instrument for touting religion, and it’s not a very good instrument.
*But Warren’s contention about the goodness of the church is countered by David French in an op-ed called “Who truly threatens the church?”
. . . I’ve seen the “new” Christian right re-embrace the authoritarianism of previous American political eras. At the exact time when religious liberty is enjoying a historic winning streak at the Supreme Court, a cohort of Christians has increasingly decided that liberty isn’t enough. To restore the culture and protect our children, it’s necessary to exercise power to shape our national environment.
. . .Years ago, I laughed at claims that Christian conservatives were dominionists in disguise, that we didn’t just want religious freedom, we wanted religious authority. Yet now, such claims are hardly laughable. Arguments for a “Christian nationalism” are increasingly prominent, with factions ranging from Catholic integralists to reformed Protestants to prophetic Pentecostals all seeking a new American social compact, one that explicitly puts Christians in charge.
The motivating force behind this transformation is a powerful sense of threat — the idea that the left is “coming after” you and your family. This mind-set sees the Christian use of power as inherently protective, and the desire to censor as an attempt to save children from dangerous ideas. The threat to the goodness of the church and the virtue of its members, in other words, comes primarily from outside its walls, from a culture and a world that is seen as worse in virtually every way.
French is an evangelical Christian, but abhors what Republican-style “Christian nationalism” is doing to America:
The sense of virtue creates a sense of righteous entitlement. In Christian America, the belief that “we” are good leads to the conviction that the churches will suffer, our nation will suffer and our families will suffer unless “we” run things. It closes our hearts and minds to contrary voices and opposing ideas.
Putting aside for the moment the long history of religious misrule, recent events demonstrate the reach of Christian sin. In 2021 our nation suffered when many Christian activists, Christian members of Congress and Christian Trump aides participated in an attempt to overturn an American election and helped instigate a violent assault on the Capitol.
. . . Who is wrong? I am wrong. We are wrong. Until the church can give that answer, its political idealism will meet a tragic and destructive end. The attempt to control others will not preserve our virtue, and it risks inflicting our own failures on the nation we seek to save.
Who’s right, the Anglican pastor or the evangelical Christian? Well, they’re both victims of religious delusion, but at least French doesn’t have the peaches-and-cream attitude of Pastor Warren that the world would be a better place if we were all religious; we just need to “love each other.” What French realizes, but Warren doesn’t, is that religion keeps members of different tribes from loving each other. And this is what’s happening in America now.
*I checked on the doings of Elizabeth Holmes, now serving an 11+ year sentence for wire fraud in the Theranos scandal. (She’s in a federal country-club prison in Bryan, Texas). I found that, according to the BBC and several other sources, Holmes, who owes her defrauded victims $452 million, can’t afford to pay even $250 per month, divided up among 14 investors.
Elizabeth Holmes, the jailed founder of fraudulent blood-testing start-up Theranos, will be unable to pay back her victims when she is released from prison, her lawyers have said.
Holmes has been told to pay $250 (£197) a month for her share of $452m in restitution to 14 investors.
Her co-defendant, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani”, is jointly liable for the payments and will pay $1,000 a month.
Holmes’ attorneys said on Monday she has “limited financial resources”.
The fraudster, 39, once heralded as America’s youngest self-made female billionaire, was sentenced in November to more than 11 years in prison.
Restitution is a form of reimbursement available in federal cases to victims of crime for lost income, property damage, medical expenses or related financial costs.
Over the course of their fraud, Holmes and Balwani, 57, raised hundreds of millions of dollars, including from some of the wealthiest families and corporations in America.
Donors they have been ordered to repay include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Safeway supermarket franchise and the Walgreens drugstore chain, according to the restitution order.
An earlier restitution order had only included a $25 quarterly payment while Holmes serves her sentence at a minimum-security facility in Bryan, Texas.
But government prosecutors last week said they had made a “clerical error” and proposed a new repayment schedule: $250 a month or at least 10% of her income, whichever is higher, once she is released.
ONCE SHE IS RELEASED. Not now! Holmes argues that she’s dirt-broke and will spend the rest of her life repaying her lawyers after she goes free, even though she’s married (or not married, depending on whom you believe) to her parter and hotel heir Billy Evans, who seems to have a lot of dosh. We’ll have to wait another decade or so to see if Holmes starts paying what she owes, though I’m likely to be dead by then.
*An AP story about Bruce Springsteen’s return to live concerts after a 7-year hiatus had a title that made me click on it: “Springsteen has mortality on his mind but celebration in his songs at London show.”
Blowing the deadline was never a real threat as Springsteen, still going strong at 73, got an earlier start and powered through a three-hour set Thursday in rapid-fire succession. He only broke stride a few times to reflect on the passing of time and the passing of friends.
The 28-song set included anthemic classics like “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Prove it all Night” and “Born to Run,” along with several newer tunes and one cover in a show that leaned heavy on a message of mortality but felt more like a celebration of life as an enthusiastic audience sang along on a beautiful summer evening.
“London is there anyone alive out there tonight?” he boomed in an intro to “Mary’s Place,” one of several tunes that showcased the E Street Band’s crisp horn section, dueling keyboards and impressive group of backup singers supported, of course, by tens of thousands of amateurs. “If you’re alive, then I’m alive. And that’s what we came here for.”
Despite a few cancellations on the tour due to unspecified illness, Springsteen remains a formidable performer though he moved a little more stiffly as he hustled along the stage or walked down several steps to slap palms and pose for selfies with ecstatic front-row audience.
On a rousing “Out in the Street,” in which he sings “I walk the way I want to walk,” he stumbled climbing stairs back to the stage. It was not as awkward as a fall on stage at an Amsterdam show in May. He sat on the stairs to finish the song and Clemons sat next to him.
. . .For an encore, Springsteen emerged alone with acoustic guitar and harmonica and joked he was just getting warmed up.
He then sang “I’ll see you in my Dreams,” a lullaby-like comment on mortality inspired by yet another friend’s death.
“For death is not the end,” he sang, “‘cause I’ll see you in my dreams.”
Crikey, why do they have to keep emphasizing how old he is (same age as me); they don’t do that when Paul McCartney performs, and McCartney doesn’t do threee-hour sets. Ageism, I tell you!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has ambitions:
Hili: How to get to be a celebrity?A: You have to shout loudly about your narcissism.Hili: Theoretically I would have a chance, but I’m hindered by my inborn modesty.
Hili: Jak zostać celebrytką?Ja: Trzeba głośno krzyczeć o swoim narcyzmie.Hili: Teoretycznie miałabym szansę, przeszkadza mi tylko moja wrodzona skrtomność.
An anti-theist meme sent in by Barry:
From Divy, though I don’t know where she got this:
From Masih. The Google translation is this:
Today is the anniversary of July 18. The day the government attacked the university to shut down the protests forever and teach the students a lesson. But after years of repression, neither the universities have calmed down nor the clubs have won, but the struggle of students and their dreams for freedom is more alive than ever. #freedom_life_woman
امروز سالگرد ۱۸ تیر است.
روزی که حکومت به دانشگاه حمله کرد تا اعتراضات را برای همیشه خاموش کند و درس عبرتی به دانشجویان بدهد. اما پس از سالها سرکوب، نه دانشگاهها آرام شدهاند و نه چماقها پیروز شدهاند، بلکه مبارزه دانشجویان و رویاهایشان برای آزادی زندهتر از همیشه است.… pic.twitter.com/4lKMum06m8
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 9, 2023
Steve Pinker goes after his employer’s (Harvard University) “nutty admissions process.” New Republic article from 2014:
… the fact that a precocious cohort selected only on SAT scores (SMPY) would outperform them on professional AND creative achievement: "the Harlem Globetrotters vs the Washington Generals." ..
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) July 9, 2023
From Barry, with the caption, “Get out of here, and don’t you ever show your face around these parts again!” !
This is NOT OK!
— Pastor Alex (@PastorAlexLove) July 9, 2023
From Merilee: both ageism and ableism in an old Disney cartoon:
This scene from the 1934 animated Disney short "Funny Little Bunnies" pic.twitter.com/tvx6jO1qHu
— Historic Vids (@historyinmemes) July 9, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, two young Jewish girls gassed upon arrival:
10 July 1936 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Eva Minzer (or Münzer), was born at The Hague.
In February 1944 she was deported to #Auschwitz and murdered in a gas chamber after the selection together with her younger sister Liane (in the picture: Eva (left), Liane (right)). pic.twitter.com/LRvL7dPuNd
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 10, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. This first one is a work of art, and the movie in which this song appears is in the tweet:
A work of art. https://t.co/irdZVTWiaW
— GailRenard (@GailRenard) July 9, 2023
Isn’t this adorable? It’s an elephant shrew, and there are several species falling into six genera.
The cutest little snoot that you'll want to BOOP 😍
These tiny sengis grow to just 10cm and weigh less than 50 grams, but they have an incredible genetic link to elephants and aardvarks! Hence that amazing trunk-like snout 🙌 pic.twitter.com/2qGESCfIqY
— Chester Zoo (@chesterzoo) July 8, 2023
This is a GREAT place for a cat to be!
— place where cat shouldn't be 😺 (@catshouldnt) July 9, 2023
Matthew adds another that just appeared at the Auschwitz Memorial site:
10 July 1902 | Russian Jewish woman Tsipa Gast was born in Chernigov. She emigrated to France.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 10, 2023