Greetings on a Hump Day (“Pukkelens Dag” in Danish), July 12, 2023, and National Pecan Pie Day, the BEST of all possible pies, and my favorite. But make sure when you make one, or buy one, that the pecans are scattered throughout the filling, not just a thin, stingy and layer atop the pie. Here’s a good one:
It’s also Etch A Sketch Day (do they still have these? I did when I was a kid), National Eat Your Jell-O Day, Paper Bag Day (a big holiday for cats), and, on the islands where I worked, Independence Day, celebrating the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe from Portugal in 1975.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 12 Wikipedia page.
There’s a Google Doodle today in which you play an interactive game with Indian snack food (click on the screenshot). It’s a celebration of pani puri, India’s favorite snack food.
NATO leaders would invite Ukraine to join the military alliance “when the Allies agree and conditions are met,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday as NATO begins its annual summit in this Baltic nation. Stoltenberg’s comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had criticized NATO leaders. In a tweet, he said, “wording is being discussed without Ukraine” that gives little clarity on his country’s prospects for joining the bloc, in apparent reference to draft text that had been circulated. Kyiv wants specific pledges on when and how it can join the defense alliance.
. . .In a key section of Tuesday’s communiqué, NATO says not only that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” but that Ukraine’s path to integration with the alliance has “moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan,” the standard route for joining NATO. Instead, there would now be a NATO-Ukraine Council, a new joint body for “political dialogue, engagement, cooperation, and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO,” the statement said.
“The Alliance will support Ukraine in making these reforms on its path towards future membership,” it stated. “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.”
. . .Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday jolted a summit of NATO leaders by blasting their joint statement on his country’s prospective membership, decrying its lack of a concrete timeline as “unprecedented and absurd.”
Ukraine has demanded a definitive timeline for NATO membership that includes specific steps and milestones.But many NATO countries are cautious about risking direct war with Russia, and they have been searching for a way to balance Ukraine’s hopes with pragmatic security calculations.
I can understand Zelensky’s being upset at the nebulous nature of the timeline, but let’s face it, Ukraine is going to become a member of NATO. It’s problemati to do so during wartime, for what is our obligation then? And if the war drags on, the timeline will move further and further away. I’m giving Zelensky a pass on this outburst, though, as I attribute it to the tremendous stress he’s under. After all, either a victory or a defeat for Ukraine will be blamed on him.
*A new Gallup poll reveals that American’s trust in higher education has taken a nosedive. (h/t Luana).
Americans’ confidence in higher education has fallen to 36%, sharply lower than in two prior readings in 2015 (57%) and 2018 (48%). In addition to the 17% of U.S. adults who have “a great deal” and 19% “quite a lot” of confidence, 40% have “some” and 22% “very little” confidence.
That’s a big drop, and here are the data (click to enlarge):
But colleges are not alone here:
The latest decline in the public’s trust in higher education is from a June 1-22 Gallup poll that also found confidence in 16 other institutions has been waning in recent years. Many of these entities, which are tracked more often than higher education, are now also at or near their lowest points in confidence. Although diminished, higher education ranks fourth in confidence among the 17 institutions measured, with small business, the military and the police in the top three spots.
And this makes sense:
In 2015, majorities of Americans in all key subgroups expressed confidence in higher education, with one exception — independents (48%). By 2018, though, confidence had fallen across all groups, with the largest drop, 17 percentage points, among Republicans. In the latest measure, confidence once again fell across the board, but Republicans’ sank the most — 20 points to 19%, the lowest of any group. Confidence among adults without a college degree and those aged 55 and older dropped nearly as much as Republicans’ since 2018.
And those data:
I suspect that a lot of this drop is caused by the perception of colleges as hotbeds of extreme Leftism or wokeness; why else would it drop, and drop especially among Republicans (look ta that change: from 54% to 19% in just eight years!) Since the woke tend to be younger, this also explains why confidence was lost more among older people. I’m sure there are other reasons, like the increasing view that colleges are simply stores selling diplomas, but you be the judge. To a college professor, though, this loss of confidence in what we’re doing is quite dispiriting.
*Cathy Hochul, the governor of New York State, is concerned with an upcoming Supreme Court decision in a NYT op-ed, “The Supreme Court case that has me worried, for survivors and for my state.” It’s about gun possession.
The Supreme Court recently announced plans to take up the Rahimi case, which will most likely rely on the court’s recent Second Amendment decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. In that case, a majority led by Justice Clarence Thomas overturned New York’s concealed carry law that had been on the books for more than a century — claiming 21st-century gun laws should be consistent with an earlier time, when muskets were common firearms.
In doing so, the court stripped away a critical tool I had as governor to keep New Yorkers safe. In New York, we quickly responded with actions to try to prevent more deadly firearms than ever from flooding our communities, our businesses, our bars and restaurants and even our crowded subway cars. One stray word, or sharp elbow, could immediately have devastating, life-threatening consequences.
Now, in Rahimi, the Supreme Court will decide whether deadly firearms can flood the homes of domestic violence survivors. The case arrives at the court after a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in favor of abusers. The appeals court decided that government cannot prevent an abusive individual, against whom a court has issued a domestic violence protective order, from possessing a deadly firearm.
. . . By striking down a federal law aimed at protecting survivors of abuse, the appeals court put forth an outrageous legal theory that claims individuals with domestic violence orders have a constitutional right to possess a gun. Using Justice Thomas’s historically focused argument from Bruen as precedent, the Supreme Court could rule that domestic violence survivors today deserve only the protections they had in the 18th century — a time before most women could own property or work outside the home, let alone vote.
That is about as insane a Constitutional argument as I can imagine. Even as an “originalist”, you can’t hold all morality where it was in the eighteenth century. Convicted felons could presumably own guns then, too, but no longer. There is no benefit I see, save a slavish adherence to a warped idea of the Second Amendment (which, after all, is about maintaining a militia), to allowing someone under a domestic violence order to own a gone. No benefit at all.
*Here’s Glenn Loury going off on affirmative action again to a much calmer John McWhorter. (You can see the dialogue written out here.) Loury’s point is that there are plenty of good colleges for those students who would need affirmative action to get into the “elite” colleges. Now that affirmative action is banned, argues Loury, this doesn’t mean that minorities lack educational opportunity. McWhorter agrees, noting that the passage of Prop. 209 in California, which banned affirmative action in that state, wasn’t a disaster for minorities. He also considers it both unrealistic and patronizing to expect disadvantaged black students to do as well as non-minorities in “elite” colleges.
*If you use two-factor authentication for websites, and you lose your phone, you’re cooked. The WSJ tells you how to avoid this circumstance.
It may be tempting to disable two-factor authentication to avoid the trouble. Don’t do this: “You’d be incurring significant risks, including account hijacking,” said Christopher Budd, director of security firm Sophos X-Ops. There are better ways to set up 2FA, including using apps that support cloud backups, he said.
The popular Google Authenticator app recently addressed the problem with a new option to save codes to your Google account. That means you can now set up Google Authenticator on a new device—even if you don’t have your old one—and restore your codes. It’s a good solution, as long as you connected your Google account before you lost your phone.
There are other solutions as well. Here’s the easiest, and one that gives me considerable mental comfort:
Use another device. Sign in on a tablet or computer that you’ve used to access that account before. If you previously checked the “Don’t ask again on this device” box, you may be able to log in with just your password, no 2FA required.
If it does ask for 2FA, see if there’s an option for an alternative verification method. Google and Facebook, for example, can send an approval notification to a device where you’re already logged in.
This is what I’ve done, using both Google or Facebook, but it has happened only a couple of times. Here are two more among several suggested:
Multiple forms of verification: There are different types of 2FA, and many services allow you to mix and match. A physical security key, the most secure form of 2FA, can act as your main authentication method or a spare key. You can use an authenticator app along with a security key, and even add multiple security keys to one account.A physical security key, such as the YubiKey 5C NFC ($55), can act as a spare if you lose access to your phone. PHOTO: YUBICO
Also consider passkeys, a new password-less form of login available for Google, Microsoft and other accounts. With a passkey, you can use just your fingerprint to log in on your laptop, or your face to log in on your phone. They’re automatically synced to the cloud, so you can use multiple devices to sign in with a passkey.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, a blurry Hili’s been reading up on her philosophy:
Hili: I’m more and more sure.A: About what?Hili: That Socrates might have been right. We are ignoramuses.
Hili: Jestem coraz bardziej pewna.Ja: W jakiej sprawie?Hili: Że Sokrates mógł mieć rację. Jesteśmy ignorantami.
And a blurry photo of the affectionate Szaron (maybe both cats went on a bender):
A pun from Merilee: Do you get it? Answer is below the fold:
From Divy. This is TRUE!
From Nicole, a cat buffet:
From Masih. The young woman has by far the best arguments; all the older woman has is Islamic dogma.
“I used to be a Muslim but not any more. I don’t think it has any relevance in today’s world.”
Listen to the argument between a young woman and an older supporter of the Islamic regime. The younger generation no longer wish to be controlled by outdated Sharia laws and… pic.twitter.com/DhlEZxLXez
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 11, 2023
I found this tweet of Zelensky telling a Jewish joke. Though it’s not really a Jewish joke per se, it’s funny and timely:
— Eto Buziashvili (@EtoBuziashvili) July 10, 2023
From Simon, three tweets from Larry the Cat, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office:
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) July 10, 2023
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) July 10, 2023
“Nice to meet you Richie: where’s Larry?” pic.twitter.com/haBzS5JCOj
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) July 10, 2023
From Barry, two big cats get cozy:
— Noble Ron (@perry_ron) July 10, 2023
From The Auschwitz Memorial, a 45-year-old woman killed on arrival:
12 July 1898 | A Polish Jewish woman, Hane Messer (nee Krotowska), was born in Turek. She emigrated to Belgium.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 11, 2023
Tweets from the good Dr. Cobb. Look at this single cell!
Arachnula is a crazy amoeba. Look at it move in real-time. Hard to believe that this is a single-celled organism! 😮 pic.twitter.com/IxyrvcQsVC
— James Weiss (@jam_and_germs) July 10, 2023
Is this for real?
Finnish Hobby Horse Championships 2023 pic.twitter.com/9j6r06qLZO
— Dr Paula Leach (@drPLeach) July 10, 2023
What a fantastic shot, especially with all that curving!
This is the greatest sporting moment I’ve ever seen pic.twitter.com/4Xsp65SpgI
— Jack (@TheDartsReferee) July 9, 2023
Click”read more” to see Merilee’s pun:
The pun: “Wrong on many levels.”