Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 15, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greetings on CaturSaturday, with Jewish cat shabbos lasting until sundown on July 15,  2023, and it’s a food day worth skipping: National Gummy Worms Day.  If you like this disgusting confection, you can buy a 3-pound gummi worm, available in seven flavors, for only thirty bucks.

Is this thing going in or, like in “Alien”, coming out?

It’s also I Love Horses Day, National Be a Dork Day, National Respect Canada Day, Orange Chicken Day, National Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Day (ecch!), National Tapioca Pudding Day, Saint Swithin’s Day, and, in Kiribati, Elderly Men Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 15 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The House of Representatives narrowly passed a Republican-endorsed military spending bill, one with conservative provisions.

Congress’s decades-long streak of bipartisan support for itsannual defense policy and spending plan collapsed Friday, after House Republicans rammed through the most conservative National Defense Authorization Act in decades — restricting military personnel’s access to reproductive care and diversity protections, and imperiling lawmakers’ broader effort to set major national security priorities.

The House’s version of the bill, totaling $886 billion, passed on a vote of 219-210, carrying a razor-thin Republican majority. Four Democrats voted in favor of the legislation. The outcome sets up a showdown with the Senate, where lawmakers are expected to vote next week on its version of the legislation which lacks the divisive components pushed by House GOP’s hard-right wing.

Democrats and moderate Republicans predict that the defense bill, in its current form, will die in the Senate, raising uncertainty for the fate of major items that leaders from both political parties had identified as national defense imperatives.

. . . Republicans, who maintain a narrow majority in the House, voted late into the night Thursday approving amendments to the NDAA that roll back Pentagon policies that allow servicewomen to travel out of state to obtain an abortion, and that fund diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs operated throughout the Defense Department. They also added prohibitions on specialized health care sought by transgender troops or members of their families.

Maybe the House bill will die in the Senate, by why would the less divisive Senate bill die in a Democratic Senate? At any rate, the bills would have to be reconciled and, if passed by both houses of Congress, be okayed by Biden. That doesn’t look likely, and the defense budget, nearly a trillion bucks, will die. No more military! But its stupid to make the defense of our country hinge on abortion and DEI matters: that’s just the Republicans hurting the country by having an antiwoke tantrum.

*The U.S. is on pace to set a record for mass killings in one year.

This year’s unrelenting bloodshed across the U.S. has led to the grimmest of milestones: The deadliest six months of mass killings recorded since at least 2006.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, the nation endured 28 mass killings, all but one of which involved guns. The death toll rose just about every week, a constant cycle of violence and grief.

Six months. 181 days. 28 mass killings. 140 victims. One country.

. . . A mass killing is defined as an occurrence when four or more people are slain, not including the assailant, within a 24-hour period. A database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University tracks this large-scale violence dating back to 2006.

Here are the data just for shootings, but you can go to the page and see all mass killings, whether involving guns or not.

The 2023 milestone beat the previous record of 27 mass killings, which was only set in the second half of 2022. James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, never imagined records like this when he began overseeing the database about five years ago.

. . .Experts like Barnhorst and Fox attribute the rising bloodshed to a growing population with an increased number of guns in the U.S. Yet for all the headlines, mass killings are statistically rare and represent a fraction of the country’s overall gun violence.

“We need to keep it in perspective,” Fox said.

But the mass violence most often spurs attempts to reform gun laws, even if the efforts are not always successful.

“Not always successful?: They’re almost NEVER successful.  We have a country full of morons who won’t give up their guns until they’re pried from their cold, dead hands.

*Have you had a problem feeling cramped in those narrow airline seats? I do, and I’m only five foot eight. The WSJ shows how widespread this disaffection is.

Passengers have been sounding off for years about airline seating—no legroom, thin cushions, too narrow. Now politicians are listening. A bill introduced in Congress last month to update aircraft evacuation standards would compel federal regulators to study seat sizes and spacing.

Tito Echeverria, who used to travel frequently as a plant manager for a manufacturing company, has had too many awkward interactions with other squished travelers. “You end up having to consistently rub legs with someone, even though you’re not really trying to,” said Echeverria, 32, from Ontario, Calif. “You’re just freaking there next to them.”

U.S. regulations cover aisle width and the number of seats allowed on planes, but not minimum seat sizes. The Federal Aviation Administration has said in court it isn’t required to set seat standards unless it finds they are necessary to protect passenger safety. In late 2019 and early 2020, it simulated emergency evacuations and found seat size and spacing didn’t adversely affect the process.

Last year, the FAA sought public feedback on whether seat sizes posed safety issues, and it got an earful. More than 26,000 public comments poured in over a three-month stretch.

“Airplane seat sizes are appalling,” one commenter wrote. “They are built for people from the ’40s and ‘50s. They cannot remotely accommodate a person over 6 feet or 200 pounds. It’s literally painful to fly today.”

. . .The court did agree with one point. “To be sure, many airline seats are uncomfortably small,” it wrote. “That is why some passengers pay for wider seats and extra legroom.”

Victoria Carter, 37, said the price of regular coach seats is already too high—that airlines are asking her to pay Hilton Hotel prices for a Motel 6 quality seat. She said she tries to fly exclusively with Southwest Airlines because they offer plus-size travelers a second seat at no additional cost. A spokesperson for the airline said the policy is meant to accommodate all customers who purchased a ticket for a flight.

Good old Southwest; my favorite airline. A free see for Persons of Size! And then there’s RECLINING:

Barry Umbs, a 6-foot-9 retiree from Milwaukee, said he has gotten into heated exchanges with passengers in front of him who try to recline.

“I hate to say it, but when I get on a plane, I jam my knees into the back of the seat until they give up trying to recline,” said Umbs. “I’ve had people call the flight attendant and say that I’m not allowing them to recline. And the flight attendant will look around to the back of the seat and say, ‘You can’t recline because the person’s knees are jammed in already.’ ”

Well, can t get any worse?  As the Jewish optimist said, “Of course it can!”

*Andrew Sullivan’s Weekly Dish column is largely a paean to a “normal summer and a normal President,” but his second piece is on gender, and he pulls no punches, highlighting an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal:

A live boy or a dead girl?

That’s the question many sex reassignment doctors pose to parents of a child with gender dysphoria. Will you change the kid’s sex or wait till she kills himself? It’s one or the other.

When you think about it, it’s an extraordinary question, the kind of blackmail you might expect from a mafia boss and not a pediatrician. And you’d assume — because these are medical professionals, after all — that such a huge claim would have a mountain of strong evidence behind it.

And yet there is none. Yes, doctors cite personal experience with dysphoric kids. Yes, suicide rates for trans people are much higher than the average — at all ages. Yes, there are some small, sketchy studies that claim success in preventing suicide among teens. But actual, solid evidence in reliable studies? Nope.

To give a sense of the bullshit, here’s Stephen Hammes, president of the Endocrine Society:

More than 2,000 studies published since 1975 form a clear picture: Gender-affirming care improves the well-being of transgender and gender-diverse people and reduces the risk of suicide.

Note the vagueness, and the absence of any mention of children — the only population we need to be concerned about. And here is the Endocrine Society’s own study on sex reassignments for kids:

We could not draw any conclusions about death by suicide.

Today, in the Wall Street Journal, 21 pediatric clinicians from nine countries call Hammes out. In those countries that have conducted systematic evidence-based reviews of all the studies involving children, all of them have concluded that “the evidence for mental-health benefits of hormonal interventions for minors [is] of low or very low certainty.” The risks — permanent sterility, inability to experience orgasm ever, irreversible changes to the body, voice and face — are very real. Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics refuses to conduct a similar systematic review, five years after its last guidance.

. . . But here’s the stunner: of the more than 15,000 children treated for gender dysphoria, the number of suicides was four. It is insane to believe that every child with dysphoria will kill themselves if not subjected to a sex change. If a doctor tells you this, find another doctor.

We’ll have more on this soon, but read the op-ed, or at least be aware that it puts the lie to the assertion in bold above.

*Finally, here’s a NYT piece of interest to all insomnaics: “How to sleep better at every age.” I won’t go into detail, but advice for gerontocrats like me include this:

You have insomnia with no clear cause.

THE PROBLEM: Insomnia, the persistent inability to fall and remain asleep, is common among this age group. Insomnia doesn’t always have a clear cause, but it may occur because of a family history of the condition, stress or significant changes to your life or routines.

TRY THIS: If you have symptoms of insomnia for more than a few weeks, it’s worth seeking solutions. Talking to a primary care doctor is a good place to start. The standard treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, which psychologists and sleep specialists can help administer.

Been there, done that—and more—but Monday I try a new form of short-term CBT. At any rate, my insomnia has abated significantly on its own. And did you know this?

THE PROBLEM: It can take up to 10 hours for caffeine to leave your bloodstream, so a 2 p.m. cup of coffee can linger in your system as you’re trying to fall asleep, flooding your brain with signals to stay awake.

TRY THIS: Cut yourself off from caffeine after noon.

Hell, I learned about the long-term effects of caffeine years ago. I now have one latte in the morning, and it’s down the hatch by 6 a.m. And that’s it.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has become a weathercat:

Hili: I have a feeling that it’s raining in the next village but here we have a drought.
A: It’s not the first time.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że w sąsiedniej wsi pada deszcz, a u nas susza.
Ja: To nie pierwszy raz.
And a somewhat blurry picture of Szaron.


From Lorenzo the Cat:


From Merilee:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

From Masih, hijab-less women pass a protest sign:

One I found. Don’t anger the hedgehog!

A tweet I made:

From Luana, a long-lasting hoax:

From Barry: an errant cat at a baseball game falls, gets saved. (I think I’ve posted this before.)

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

From the ever-diligent Dr. Cobb. The first has a link to the paper:

A giraffe video selfie:

Every American Jewish boy knows about Moe Berg, one of the few Jews to play professional baseball. Not only that, but he was an intellectual and a SPY!



18 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1640 – The first university of Finland, the Royal Academy of Turku, is inaugurated in Turku.

    1738 – Baruch Laibov and Alexander Voznitzin are burned alive in St. Petersburg, Russia. Vonitzin had converted to Judaism with Laibov’s help, with the consent of Empress Anna Ivanovna.

    1741 – Aleksei Chirikov sights land in Southeast Alaska. He sends men ashore in a longboat, making them the first Europeans to visit Alaska.

    1799 – The Rosetta Stone is found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign.

    1815 – Napoleonic Wars: Napoleon Bonaparte surrenders aboard HMS Bellerophon.

    1834 – The Spanish Inquisition is officially disbanded after nearly 356 years. [Who was expecting that?!]

    1838 – Ralph Waldo Emerson delivers the Divinity School Address at Harvard Divinity School, discounting Biblical miracles and declaring Jesus a great man, but not God. The Protestant community reacts with outrage.

    1910 – In his book Clinical Psychiatry, Emil Kraepelin gives a name to Alzheimer’s disease, naming it after his colleague Alois Alzheimer.

    1916 – In Seattle, Washington, William Boeing and George Conrad Westervelt incorporate Pacific Aero Products (later renamed Boeing).

    1941 – The Holocaust: Nazi Germany begins the deportation of 100,000 Jews from the occupied Netherlands to extermination camps.

    1955 – Eighteen Nobel laureates sign the Mainau Declaration against nuclear weapons, later co-signed by thirty-four others.

    1975 – Space Race: Apollo–Soyuz Test Project features the dual launch of an Apollo spacecraft and a Soyuz spacecraft on the first joint Soviet-United States human-crewed flight. It was the last launch of both an Apollo spacecraft, and the Saturn family of rockets.

    2002 – The Anti-Terrorism Court of Pakistan sentences British born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh to death, and three others suspected of murdering The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl to life.

    2006 – Twitter, later one of the largest social media platforms in the world, is launched.

    2012 – South Korean rapper Psy releases his hit single Gangnam Style. [More than 10 years ago? Seriously?!]

    1573 – Inigo Jones, English architect, designed the Queen’s House (d. 1652). [My mother just gave WEIT reader Dom a painting by an artist who apparently has two paintings on display in the Queen’s House. I know – there goes my inheritance ;o) ]

    1606 – Rembrandt, Dutch painter and etcher (d. 1669).

    1905 – Dorothy Fields, American songwriter (d. 1974).

    1925 – D. A. Pennebaker, American documentary filmmaker (d. 2019).

    1938 – Carmen Callil, Australian publisher, founded Virago Press. [I met her very briefly once; she wouldn’t remember.]

    1946 – Linda Ronstadt, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress.

    1950 – Arianna Huffington, Greek-American journalist and publisher.

    1951 – Gregory Isaacs, Jamaican-English singer-songwriter (d. 2010).

    1952 – Celia Imrie, English actress. [Dad knew her: her nickname wouldn’t be allowed today…]

    1952 – Johnny Thunders, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1991).

    1956 – Ashoke Sen, Indian theoretical physicist and string theorist.

    1956 – Ian Curtis, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1980).
    1956 – Nicholas Harberd, British botanist, educator, and academician.

    1956 – Joe Satriani, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1966 – Jason Bonham, English singer-songwriter and drummer.

    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.A good </b
    1883 – General Tom Thumb, American circus performer (b. 1838).

    1904 – Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright and short story writer (b. 1860).

    1919 – Hermann Emil Fischer, German chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852).

    1940 – Robert Wadlow, American giant, 8"11' (271 cm) (b. 1918).

    2011 – Googie Withers, British-Australian actress (b. 1917).

  2. Sullivan:
    A live boy or a dead girl?

    That’s the question many sex reassignment doctors pose to parents of a child with gender dysphoria. Will you change the kid’s sex or wait till she kills himself? It’s one or the other.

    Sullivan is keen in providing evidence that the efficacy of gender affirming care in reducing the number of suicides among gender dysphoria youth is dubious. He cites a study. Thus, he condemns sex reassignment doctors for asking the above question. But, here, he provides no evidence what the word “many” connotes in this context. Is there a study to back up his assertion? If so, why hasn’t he cited it? And, for those doctors that do warn of suicide, is the warning issued for all their patients or just some of them whom the doctor thinks it is warranted? Again, we don’t know. So, unless Sullivan or someone else can provide evidence, it seems that Sullivan has created nothing but a strawman based on non-scientific anecdotes.

    1. Oh puh-leeze. Did you read the whole piece, where you would have seen this?

      A survey of a decade of child transitions in the UK, from 2010 to 2020, found that the data “shed no light” on whether reassignment affects the suicide rate. But here’s the stunner: of the more than 15,000 children treated for gender dysphoria, the number of suicides was four. It is insane to believe that every child with dysphoria will kill themselves if not subjected to a sex change. If a doctor tells you this, find another doctor.

      Is that number, 0.026%, “many”? And yes, there’s a reference that he cited.First you say “he cites a study” and then you say he hasn’t cited a study to back up his assertion that suicides are “not many”.

      1. The purpose of my comment was to note that Sullivan provided no evidence (in the form of a study) as to the ubiquity of doctors warning patients about the potential of suicide if gender reassignment therapy were not undertaken. He used the vague term “many.” I was not talking about the suicide rate or studies related to it. I’m sorry if I was not clear.

    2. I think the biggest flaw in all of the work on affirmation and mental health in minors is the assumption about causation. “Trans” kids have high frequency of depression and suicidal thoughts, and physicians like Hammes assume without evidence that “trans” causes mental health distress, so treating “trans” will resolve mental health problems. The idea that mental health problems might cause “trans” is anathema to Hammes and others because they think “trans” is an identity not a symptom, and “trans” is not caused it simply exists immutably.

      But suicidality does not improve after affirmative medical treatment across all studies; in one study with preregistered outcomes the authors simply left out of their report most of their planned outcomes including suicidality (presumably because those variables got worse or did not improve as expected); in some other small studies suicidality and suicides increased after the start of treatment.

      The other big flaw I think is the failure to analyze and understand male and female “trans” minors separately. The two populations seem to arrive at their “trans” identities by different routes (see ROGD in social groups of girls). More importantly, the affirmative medical treatment of male and female “trans” kids is fundamentally different. Female “trans” kids who get testosterone routinely report feeling great, with lower incidence or severity of depression. Male “trans” kids who get estrogen and progesterone not so much. This seems to be commonly reported as a kind of mixed result in studies of “trans” kids, without noting that testosterone therapy also tends to make *males* (both youth and adults) feel great too.

      That last result points indirectly to an untapped market for gender-affirming care not just for the tiny numbers of gender dysphoric people but for the vastly greater numbers (maybe a majority?) of people who at some time in life experience dissatisfaction with their ability to conform to gender norms or stereotypes for their own sex. Maybe all boys and men should be able to do testosterone shots to improve their gender score? And maybe all girls and women should be able to pump up their estrogen levels so they can look like “trans” women?

  3. How are things over there in the House of Lies we call congress. Instead of messing around with a defense bill they should just pass a law declaring it 1850 again.

  4. There is a GOP amendment in the NDAA restricting communication with the MRFF.

  5. Here’s the new thought on the sex thing :

    If girls are merely uncomfortable with breasts doing what they do – or maybe even ovaries doing what they do to produce pain – why not simply apply surgery to that and be done?

    What purpose is the “sex reassignment” nonsense doing?

  6. The cat that was saved was at a football game, not a baseball game. It looks like a University of Miami football game, judging from the fans’ hats. It is definitely a football game at Hard Rock stadium.

  7. I’m 6’3″, 215 lbs. Nowadays, I only fly first or business class; that’s the only comfortable way I can fly. Luckily, for my pocket book, I rarely fly.

    That cat save was quite dramatic…and NICE catch!

  8. Victoria Carter, 37, said the price of regular coach seats is already too high . . . She said she tries to fly exclusively with Southwest Airlines because they offer plus-size travelers a second seat at no additional cost. A spokesperson for the airline said the policy is meant to accommodate all customers who purchased a ticket for a flight. [bolding mine.]

    I’m confused about this. The WSJ story is paywalled (but I am going to subscribe because our host cites it a lot, especially about issues I care about.)

    1) Does the airline mean that any passenger, even a thin one, can request a second seat for free? What if everyone did this? Who wouldn’t like to spread out a little? A full flight would yield only the revenue of a half-full flight*. So the price of a nominal seat would have to double in order to make the economics for the “free” second seat work. And the airline would have to turn away many customers (or put on extra planes, with the maintenance, leasing, and emissions that entails) with so many seats occupied by half a giant bum. Surely the customer must have to identify as fat at the time of booking in order to get that second seat, to prevent her from using it for a babe in arms or a ‘cello or something.
    * Remember that three-across seating means that only one person in the row can have two seats. If everyone wanted two seats, the plane would fly only one-third full if no one would take the single remaining seat in each row, perhaps at steep discount?

    2) Even If Southwest gives only bona fide fat people (how fat?) a free second seat, it still must have to charge its thin customers more for their single seat. This rather defeats Ms. Carter’s totally subjective complaint that the price of regular coach seats is “too high”. It will get even higher if the thin customers have to pay more to subsidize her obesity. But what care she? She’s still getting two seats for her fare.

    3) Surely it would make sense for lean passengers to patronize airlines who don’t give free seats to fat people but provide a better grade of pretzels for all. So why would a lean person like our host want to fly Southwest, given that the price of the free seats, which he will never use, is built into their cost structure?

    1. Sorry slightly off topic but this is an interesting opportunity to think about how affirmative action can (not) work, even where it seems to make sense to accommodate some people: how fat is fat enough? should we measure BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, skinfold thickness, bioelectrical impedance, or something else? do rich fat people (who could buy two tickets) qualify, or only poor fat people? must a person be fat all over, or is it good enough to be fat just in the caboose? do fetishists with implants qualify, or only those with all-natural wideness?

      Canadian universities will soon have to answer similar questions as they start making good on their Scarborough Charter commitments to hire hundreds of black and indigenous professors:

      How black is black enough? should we measure darkness of skin or other traits? can people self-identify as black? are Africans who are descended from people who were never enslaved also eligible, or dark-skinned aboriginal people from places like Australia, New Guinea, and India? or do only black descendants of slaves in the Americas qualify? if only black descendants of slaves, then can black descendants of other non-black slaves from other countries also qualify?

      Will we spot all the pretendians? can anyone who is accepted by an Indian Band qualify, or only those who can show an indigenous ancestor? how much blood quantum is required to qualify? does an indigenous person have to be from Canada, or is it good enough to be from an indigenous group in what became the USA or Mexico or South America?

    2. The WSJ story is paywalled (but I am going to subscribe because our host cites it a lot, especially about issues I care about.)

      You can post links into an archive site to see an unpaywalled version – and if it hasn’t already been archived you can easily do it yourself.

      There’s an archived copy of the airline seat article here:

      1. Thanks. The story is mostly about the rows being too close together, not that the seats are too narrow for fat people. At 5’6″ and lean, I can fit just about anywhere. Of course the passengers want the airlines to put the rows farther apart, at the expense of operating profit, as if the passengers have any right to dictate an airline’s profitability. Besides, didn’t Warren Buffet call the airlines destroyers of wealth, that if someone in 1903 had cared for shareholders’ interests he would have shot down Orville Wright? You can see why basic air travel can’t be profitable though: if it was, the regulators would assume (correctly) that flying could be made even safer if the profit from coach was ploughed back into more meticulous maintenance or training enhancements. The profit is on business class which once you’ve had a free upgrade you never go back.

        I don’t know what a 6’6″ person really expects an airline to do, except refuse to fly her because it knows she will complain. Still, it would seem a winning marketing strategy for an airline to say, “We are giving everyone two extra inches of leg room in coach….but we will under no circumstances give anyone a free seat for any reason.” But if they had to charge $25 more for those two inches, I bet no one would take them up on it. They’d all cram themselves into a standard row to save $25, and then complain about it. 🙂

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