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.
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.
*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.
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.
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że w sąsiedniej wsi pada deszcz, a u nas susza.Ja: To nie pierwszy raz.
From Lorenzo the Cat:
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:
From Masih, hijab-less women pass a protest sign:
It’s written on the wall for all to see “#WomanLifeFreedom”. After all of the threats, arrests, and violence by the Islamic regime against Iranian woman to force them to wear a mandatory hijab, this is how Iranian streets look. Brave Iranian woman ignore Khamenei and his gangs. pic.twitter.com/4c1g8pe0iN
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 14, 2023
One I found. Don’t anger the hedgehog!
Hedgehog trying to destroy everything, cuteness wins pic.twitter.com/fh4qzYUW3b
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) July 14, 2023
A tweet I made:
From New Zealand's official weather forecasting service: watch how astronomy morphs into astrology! This is the problem with pretending that indigenous "ways of knowing" constitute science. https://t.co/MrGXmzDHyV
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) July 13, 2023
From Luana, a long-lasting hoax:
In 1948, a guy in Florida wore heavy, three-toed lead shoes that weighed around 30 pounds. He stomped around a beach at night, leaving behind massive footprints. People thought a 15-foot-tall penguin was roaming the area. This prankster kept it up for 10 years, hitting different… pic.twitter.com/ryJ3788neu
— Historic Vids (@historyinmemes) July 14, 2023
From Barry: an errant cat at a baseball game falls, gets saved. (I think I’ve posted this before.)
— Noble Ron (@perry_ron) July 13, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial a five-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:
15 July 1937 | A French Jewish girl, Jeannette Rotbaum, was born in Paris.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 15, 2023
From the ever-diligent Dr. Cobb. The first has a link to the paper:
Fascinating overview of nest-building behavior across fishes and how sexual and natural selection have interacted in its evolution from Svenson & Kvarnemo https://t.co/Ek5n797Yha pic.twitter.com/3YSNoetzcH
— John P. Sullivan (@halooie1) July 13, 2023
A giraffe video selfie:
Giraffe posing for the cameras pic.twitter.com/8IhTK3Qnbm
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) July 13, 2023
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!
— depths of wikipedia (@depthsofwiki) July 11, 2023