Sunday: Hili dialogue

July 16, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Sunday, the Sabbath for Christian cats, July 16, 2023, and National Corn Fritters Day. I love these as a snack or side dish, but I haven’t had one in decades. They’re best with a wee bit of syrup poured over them:


It’s also National Ice Cream Day, National Fresh Spinach Day, World Snake Day, Guinea Pig Appreciation Day , and Holocaust Memorial Day in France.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 16 Wikipedia page.

There’s a Google Doodle today (click on screenshot below), honoring the 86th birthday of Indian-American artist Zarina Hashmi (1937-2020)

Here’s one of her works, explained by Wikipedia:

Zarina’s work explored the concept of home as a fluid, abstract space that transcends physicality or location. Her work often featured symbols that call to mind such ideas as movement, diaspora, and exile. For example, her woodblock print Paper Like Skin depicts a thin black line meandering upward across a white background, dividing the page from the bottom right corner to the top left corner. The line possesses a cartographic quality that, in its winding and angular division of the page, suggests a border between two places, or perhaps a topographical chart of a journey that is yet unfinished.

Da Nooz:

*Over at the NYT, in an op-ed called, “How to break a country,” Nick Kristof describes how nearly everybody in Europe now hates Russia.

Vladimir Putin has compared himself to the czar Peter the Great. But to travel through Eastern Europe is to see how much he has instead caused Russian influence to shrink.

I’ve been on a road trip through Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — and it’s clear that Putin has managed to unite nearly everyone against Russia. Even Russian speakers who often used to feel loyalty to Moscow are now fund-raising for Ukraine.

“Poland has been able to serve as a model for countries to the east,” Mark Brzezinski, the American ambassador to Poland, told me. And Russia has been a model of a different kind.

“Putin’s actions since February 2022 have proven the thesis that Russia under Putin is interested in leadership by terror and authoritarianism,” Brzezinski added. “For other countries of the former Soviet bloc, if they ever were wobbly about joining the West, they certainly have had a clarifying experience.”

. . . The improvements in the Baltics have been as pronounced as those in Poland. Estonia is now a jewel of Europe, the global model of a high-tech and prosperous “e-state.” It has nurtured countless high-tech start-ups, including Skype, and as I walked through Tallinn, the capital, I shared a sidewalk with a robot delivering a takeout dinner to a nearby home.

In contrast, Russia and the places that have remained in its orbit like Belarus and Transnistria remain dismal and oppressive. A glimpse of that side of the chasm: One of the world’s bravest journalists, Elena Milashina, who has reported on human rights in Russia, was attacked recently in Chechnya; thugs beat her, shaved her head, poured dye on her and left her with a brain injury.

Putin’s depredations also of course put new life in NATO, so that now Scandinavia will soon be a bastion of U.S. allies. Kristof also mentioned that the Baltic countries, with a sizable Russian populace, are no longer so keen on NATO.  Even if Russia manages to win in Ukraine somehow, nobody will love it.

*Nellie Bowles has taken a break from her weekly news summary, with Suzi Weiss (Bari’s sister) filling in on a summary called “TGIF: Hollywood Shutdown.” As usual, I’ll purloin three items (indented):

 1776®Check out this new planned community in Gastonia, North Carolina, for “patriots” over 55. According to the developer, the cluster of 44 homes will all be required to fly an American flag, and owners will have to pledge their allegiance to the United States as well as the Constitution. You can read their own “Declaration” here.

Look, I love planned and intentional communities. My favorites are Mohammed bin Salman’s The Line in Saudi Arabia, Disney’s Storyliving development in California, and the group of people in Snowflake, Arizona, who claim to be allergic to the chemicals associated with modern life. I think if you have the money and want to go all in and live in a real-life Reddit forum, go for it.

→ The Siria Valley 49ers: There is an idea among the progressive prosecutors who run America’s urban justice systems, and that idea is that drug dealers are human trafficking victims who must be protected (I’m serious). Anyway, it turns out that’s not true at all. This week, the San Francisco Chronicle published a blockbuster investigation into the cluster of Honduran villages that provide the Bay Area with its drugs. San Francisco has made the people in Honduras’ Siria Valley very, very rich, and they honor that fact in Honduras with Golden Gate Bridge tattoos, San Francisco-themed murals, and mansions with the 49ers logo welded onto metal gates.

→ Sonia “Buy 11,004 Hardcover Copies of My Book” Sotomayor: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor required the venues hosting her to buy large quantities of her books before she’d agree to show up for a speech, according to a report from the AP.

Apparently, attendees to Sotomayor’s talks weren’t allowed to get in line for face time with her unless they bought a book, and aides pressured the venues—public libraries, public schools, universities—to have many, many copies on hand. For an event at an Oregon public library, Sotomayor’s aide emailed to say that 250 books simply was not enough. “Families purchase multiples and people will be upset if they are unable to get in line because the book required is sold out.”

Her memoir is called My Beloved World and her children’s books are Turning Pages: My Life Story and Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You. (We’re linking them here so you can buy multiples in the hopes that a sweet librarian in Oregon won’t get shaken down quite so hard next time Sonia comes to town.) And weren’t the aides just taking the justice’s advice? They were just asking if Clemson might want to take that measly 60-book order and pump it up to 400.

To be fair, it’s standard policy for a book signing to have a book to sign if you’re in line. Otherwise, “facetime” tends to run on and people waiting in line naturally get restive.

*It’s only six months until the Iowa caucuses—the official beginning of the 2024 election season. And the AP reports that even now, under indictment and with several others looming, Trump may be “unstoppable”.

He’s been indicted twice. Found liable for sexual abuse. And he’s viewed unfavorably by about a third of his party. But six months before Republicans begin to choose their next presidential nominee, former President Donald Trump remains the race’s dominant front-runner.

Early leaders don’t always go on to win their party’s nomination, but a growing sense of Trump’s inevitability is raising alarms among some Republicans desperate for the party to move on. Some described a sense of panic — or “DEFCON 1,” as one put it — as they scramble to try to derail Trump and change the trajectory of the race. But there’s no clear plan or strategy on how to do that and Trump’s detractors aren’t rallying around a single alternative candidate yet.

“They’re very concerned,” former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said of fellow Republican leaders who share his view that renominating Trump would be a disaster for the party next November. “People expected us to have made more progress than we have at this point.”

. . .Polling finds Trump routinely besting his closest rival by 20 to 30 points or more. Of course, the six months that remain until the Iowa caucuses can be an eternity in politics, where races can turn in a matter of weeks or days.

And Trump faces glaring vulnerabilities, including state and federal investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the possibility that he could end up in the unprecedented position of standing trial while simultaneously mounting a campaign.

But even critics acknowledge the outside events that many were counting on to dent Trump’s standing — namely his criminal indictments in New York and Florida — have not hurt him. In fact, the charges led some voters who were entertaining an alternative to return to Trump’s camp.

Here’s a recent Presidential poll from Five Thirty Eight. Biden/Trump is a squeaker, while there’s more breathing room for us Dems with DeSantis as the GOP candidate. Other polls show Trump leading Bidden, again narrowly. But there’s miles to go before we vote. .

*From the WaPo, “How addictive, endless scrolling is bad for your mental health.” It’s aimed at parents who have scrolling kids, but applies, I think, to adults as well.

But there’s another side to social media, one about which mental health experts have been sounding the alarm for years: how our social media consumption compares to cocaine or alcohol addiction. And how it’s contributing to a growing mental health crisis among youths.

“Human connection is vital for survival. We’re programed over millions of years of evolution to connect with other people,” says Anna Lembke, a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. But Lembke says social media companies have essentially exploited our need for human connection.

“Part of the way our brains get us to do that is by releasing oxytocin, our love hormone, which in turn releases dopamine in the reward pathway, which makes connection feel good, ” she added.

Lembke explains that social media has taken the work out of how we connect with other human beings, placing that effort online and adding three major ingredients: novelty, accessibility and quantity, making scrolling a very potent drug.

In May, Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued a public warning: Social media poses a risk to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.

. . .Now Murthy’s report on social media is trying to move the needle again, and he has statistics to back up his concern: More than 95 percent of people ages 13 to 17 in the country say they use a social media platform, and more than a third say they are “almost constantly” using one.

“We are living in the middle of a youth mental health crisis in America. And my growing concern is that social media has become an important contributor to that,” Murthy told The Washington Post.

In the absence of laws against overuse of social media platforms, Lembke says, the responsibility rests on parents and users. She recommends identifying the particular type of digital media that is affecting us and eliminating it for four weeks, as a sort of dopamine fast.

Parents, of course, can enforce less social media use, though good luck to them. As for adults making a “choice” to use less social media, that’s not possible unless you can rewire the neurons of social-media users, who are bound by the laws of physics to remain online. Consider this posting (which the laws of physics compelled me to make) as an environmental intervention that can rewire your neurons. I’ve known a few full-grown adults who are absolutely addicted to Twitter, but I won’t name them. . .

*And again at the Free Press, Bari Weiss interviews Hannah Barnes, who has a new book on the Tavistock Gender Centre debacle (the Centre was shut down and refurbished after a report led the NHS to conclude that its “affirmative” care was dangerous. Barnes’s new book, Time To Thinkgives the entire story of Tavistock from its founding to its closure, and is the subject of a 73-minute interview here. If you’d like a printed excerpt, go to the site “When ideology corrupts medicine—and how one reporter exposed it.

Two Q&A’s

BW: And as you’re looking through the documents, the internal emails, these unpublished reports, what was your light bulb moment, if there was one? When did you realize that this wasn’t just a few examples of treatment gone awry but a system-wide problem?

HB: So, this is a healthcare story. No one is questioning someone’s identity or that trans people should have anything other than happy lives free of harassment. It wasn’t about identity for us ever. It’s about “Are vulnerable young people being given the best and safest care possible in each and every case?” But I think I realized that there was something quite serious here when I saw the transcripts of some of the interviews that took place as part of an official review of the clinic that was published early in 2019. The review said they had investigated, and none of the concerns that had been raised and leaked to the media were of immediate safeguarding concerns. And then you read what a sizable number of clinicians told the medical director on record, and it’s awful. Some of them had serious child protection concerns. There were clinicians saying these are some of the most vulnerable children they’d ever worked with and they are in really desperate situations. In some cases they’re being referred for a medical intervention after an hour. It’s quite clear from those documents just how worried they are, and it’s just impossible to see those concerns as coming from a place of transphobia. It’s just not credible. These are professional people who’ve dedicated their working lives to helping young people, and what they were saying boils down to: this is not good clinical practice. This isn’t how we’ve ever practiced in other places we’ve worked. Somehow, because this is a gender clinic, the same questions that we would ask normally were not welcome.

.  .  .BW: In your book, you report that in 2000 there was an internal audit done of about 150 patients at the Tavistock gender clinic. That audit found the vast majority of the clinic’s patients were dealing with lots of other issues on top of gender dysphoria, whether that was anxiety or depression, abuse in the home, or an eating disorder. There was this additional internal report done in 2005 by the medical director of Tavistock, and what it found was pretty alarming. It found that no one was collecting data on the patients and that there was a lot of internal confusion and conflict within the clinic about the very treatments they were providing. In short, providers at Tavistock could not agree on whether they were treating children distressed because they were trans or children who identified as trans because they were distressed? Or was it a combination of both? The medical director also said this of puberty blockers in 2005: “They are relatively untested and unresearched.” Tell me about both of these findings of the audit and the report, and what changes were made at the gender clinic following these things coming to light.

HB: The audit was meant to be the start of a more rigorous, scientific approach to helping this group of vulnerable young people. The better you know your patients and what’s going on with them, the more you can cater their care. So David Freedman, a social sciences researcher, undertook this audit with a couple of other people, and the idea was that they would use the findings to improve, and then continue. But they didn’t do that. Even in 2005, Sue Evans, who was the first whistleblower, felt that young people were being referred too quickly for physical interventions for puberty blockers, and there really wasn’t adequate exploration in some of these cases. So, the report, which was very thorough, went unseen until 2020 when I filed a Freedom of Information Act and received it from Tavistock (they had resisted quite vigorously). And it’s really striking because the recommendations are really sensible. What Dr. David Taylor, who was the medical director, said was: if we’re going to do this, we need to do it properly. We need to conduct proper research. How are these young people using the blocker? Are they using it as time to think, or what else is going on? Who are the people that we’re seeing? And he said, look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t use blockers. But they should be a last resort. Therapy should come first. Most importantly, he said, we have to support our staff in being able to say no when a patient requests puberty blockers and intervention. And he said, if our staff doesn’t think it’s appropriate, they must be able to say no and be supported in doing that. Dr. Taylor also suggested that they do regular and retrospective audits of both those who went on the blockers and those who didn’t, because you can learn from everyone. But none of that happened. So, as for the second part of your question, how were the findings used? Well, they were ignored.

.  . .BW: Here in the U.S., this feels like a very partisan issue. I don’t think it actually is, but I think it feels that way to a lot of people. Hannah, why is this topic and conversation so important?

HB: It’s important because they’re children. It’s the rest of their lives, and adults need to protect children. Absolutely trans people face real transphobia and bigotry. But actually, the current system isn’t serving trans people very well. The adults need to come back into the room. It’s the job of adults to say no, and that’s not saying no to every one of these young people, because it’s more complicated than that. There is a lot of nuance and there’s this real desire for certainty, like “ban puberty blockers or everyone has them.” But the welfare of children is everybody’s responsibility. The judge of a civilized society is how we protect the most vulnerable.

The adults need to come back into the room and, sometimes, say “no.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enervated, as it’s hot in Dobrzyn:

Hili: I do not have strength.
A: What for?
Hili: For any work.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie mam sił.
Ja; Na co?
Hili: Na żadną pracę.
And a picture of Szaron, also lazing about:


From Jesus of the Day:

From somewhere on Facebook:

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0: apparently a demonstration of addition:

According to this tweet from Masih, the morality police, reported to be disbanded a year ago, are actually still in action. This is frightening!

From Frits, an elephant who apparently understands how an electric fence works takes the thing down:

From Malcolm, who notes that “we all need a hug sometimes.” Sound up to hear the otters!

I found this one, though I’m not sure how far I trust it. India, for example, may not have an official state religion, but Hinduism is given preference, so India should be light blue.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a four-year-old boy gassed upon arrival. Do you ever see these and say, “How could they possibly DO that?”

From the ailurophilic Doctor Cobb, a biology lesson:

Look at this intrepid osprey mom.  All three eggs remained intact. Sound up to hear that hail.

Matthew’s note on this is, “They are closing ticket offices on UK railway stations, and poor George the cat is going to become homeless…”  But I’m sure someone will adopt this lovely moggy:

47 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I highly recommend the book by Hannah Barnes. Her reporting was compassionate and thorough on a very difficult issue.

    1. Ditto. Very tightly focused on the history and faikings of the UK’s Tavistock Clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), but applicable to such services throughout the world.

  2. George F. Will, conservative columnist since the Nixon days, thinks that neither DeSantis nor Trump will win the Republican nomination. He provides no evidence for this prediction other than to say “There are not enough Republicans, in Iowa or the nation, enamored of the snarling contest between Trump and DeSantis — their competition to see who can despise the most American defects — to nominate either of them.” This column is a classic example of the bloviating pundit saying whatever he wants with without evidence other than his vague “understanding” of American politics. If he should turn out to be correct, he will be hailed as a great prophet. If he should be wrong, which is most likely, this column will be long forgotten, although it should be then viewed as proof that Will is long past his retirement date.

    1. I saw that. He closes the piece by saying that his assertion that neither Trump nor De Santis can win the nomination is “grim news for President Biden”, which makes no sense.

      Then, as a footnote, is this disclosure:

      Disclosure: The columnist’s wife, Mari Will, is an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott.


  3. Trump does not have a chance in hell. Maybe he won’t even get the liar’s party nomination and will start a second liar’s party.

    Why did Messi come over here for retirement? I guess any great footballer who wants to drift into forgotten should try the U.S.

    1. “Trump does not have a chance in hell.”

      As things stand now, you don’t have to be thrilled about Trump in order to vote for him, you just have to prefer him to Biden, which isn’t that much of a stretch for many Independents like myself. IMO, Trump’s pretty much a shoe-in on the Republican side, so it’s the Dems who need to be seriously considering an alternative to Uncle Joe, which, apparently, many of them are in the persons of Amy Klobuchar, Joe Manchin, Gavin Newsome, et al. Who do you think could beat Trump?

      1. Thrilled about Trump you say. I would find it very difficult to believe that Independents, like or not like yourself, want to see abortion eliminated, want to see Trump’s version of immigration, his removal of the U.S. Court system, his love of white Nationalism, his corruption, attempt to overthrow the last election or may just being a Fascist. I wish you the best of luck. By the way, those people you mention, except for Manchin would like to be the candidate so sure, go with that. Manchin just wants to sell coal.

          1. “Basically, if you support Trump, you don’t support American democracy.”

            I would have thought American democracy included the freedom to make poor decisions.

  4. “Do you ever see these and say, “How could they possibly DO that?””

    Every single day.

    1. Many years ago I read a book (no longer remember the title) of interviews with the children of Nazis who were directly involved in the Final Solution — concentration camp guards and administrators. All of those interviewed struggled to understand how someone so familiar to them could have performed such daily atrocities.
      In some cases, they weren’t surprised. Their fathers had been just as brutal and cruel at home: sadistic psychopaths. In most cases, however, they remembered ordinary or even sensitive men who seemed far removed from the obedient soldiers gassing children.
      Elsewhere, I read about the psychological manipulations involved. Nobody was randomly assigned to this detail: volunteers only. Lots of propaganda about the long term benefits to Germany and the world. Overcoming the emotional “difficulty” took not just bravery but an unselfish nature — and made them heroes to future grateful generations.
      And, of course, nobody was acting alone. Peer pressure and a desire to conform to one’s assigned role was, as always, a significant factor.

      1. In the classic British documentary World at War a couple of the 26-episodes feature the Holocaust. In one, an ex-guard when asked, to the effect: “how could you possibly do that?” He answered, “you can get used to anything.” And he said it with a strange smile…I think it was a self-conscious smile, but I found it very disturbing. Especially when considering if “I” could possibly get used to murdering an innocent human being, especially an infant or child. I hope it’s a question I will never learn the answer to, and I tell myself “I could never do that.”

          1. Olivier was brilliant, his tone and descriptions still haunt me when I think about them, like now. Of course, he had skin in the fight as a British Navy officer (officer? dunno), I just remember he was already famous, living in the US (Hollywood?) and like many “made men” of the time, quit his professional life and joined the fight. Admirable. Even Elvis did it!

      2. The “elsewhere” book might be Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, 1996. The essence of the author’s thesis is that once they took up antisemitism they just got off on acting it out.

    2. Yes, every single day!
      I refocus compassionate emotions towards humanity every day.
      Jerry, thank you for posting.

      1. Absolutely. I make a point of saying the name of each person featured – I probably mangle many of the pronunciations in the process, but every single individual needs to be remembered.

    3. Yep, I do it for every holocaust victim, but the infants and children are immeasurably disturbing.

      I’d also like to say “thanks, Jerry,” for providing a photo of a random victim who was murdered by the Nazi regime on “this day.” Never forget.

  5. That colored map about separation of church and state hides this and that with its simplicity. In Hungary Church and State might be separated in an admirative sense, but for example religious schools not simply fully taxpayer founded, but in fact they receive significantly more taxpayer money per child than the public schools. The government blatantly and strongly discriminates against secular schools in favor of religious schools. Also the constitution explicitly says that the protection of “the Christian Culture of Hungary” is a constitutionally mandated responsibility of every organs of the state + it is also a constitutional responsibility of the state “to provide education based on the values of Christian culture” (whatever it means).

  6. Britain and Norway are the same colour as some other countries that have a state religion. I don’t think they compare 🙂 I don’t think Britain is a bad place to live if you think the state religion is hogwash and openly say so. Even some people who go to church might agree with you 🙂

    1. We are still a theocracy though, given the automatic inclusion of clergy in the House of Lords, where they can attempt to interfere with legislation from parliament and get a few hundred quid a day just for turning up. Sandi Toksvig was promoting a petition about this very subject, comparing us to Iran if memory serves. Additionally, we have an established church with a monarch as “defender of the faith” – tricky in these multicultural days, when they have to embrace so many other faiths (this is probably why atheists don’t get a look in, we are the very anithesis of a faith). Oh well, it gives us our longest word in the dictionary, the famous “antidisestablishmentarianism”.

      1. Some time ago – in one “constitutional (unwritten) crisis” or another – I heard an estimate that it would take several years of parliamentary time to “disestablish” the CoE. Which isn’t an argument for continuing with “establishment”, but does suggest that it’s probably not going to happen any time soon. The amusing prospect is if the CoE implodes through death of congregations while still being “established”. Unfortunately, since they’re still one of the larger landowners in the country (including of that bizzarity of “freehold” in Englandshire), so even if the congregations dies out, the institution is likely to continue, even if administered by non-believers.

      2. Sandi Toksvig was promoting a petition about this very subject, comparing us to Iran if memory serves.

        Indeed, the UK and Iran are the only countries where clerics have guaranteed seats in the legislative bodies.

        Sadly, Sandi and her Women’s Equality Party have been captured by the secular gender identity cult.

      3. But honestly, how much does the established Church of England affect your day to day life? The shops aren’t open for as long on Sundays, but that’s about it.

        In any case, you have made a common mistake with the relationship between church and state in the UK (well, England really). This is not a theocracy where the church runs the government, but quite the reverse: the secular government runs the church.

        The CofE bishops aren’t there to tell us what to do, they are there to represent the church’s interests. They are still an anachronism that needs to go, but it’s nonsense to call this country a theocracy.

    2. England has a state religion, but Scotland – also blue – does not. Also, from a lot of what I read, Christianity seems to be the preferred religion in the USA despite their constitution.

  7. I had to look up Mable Peabody’s. I wondered if this were just bad signage in a strip mall, which often limit signage (i.e., this was a mall called “Mable Peabody” which had a beauty parlor, chain saw repair, and a night club). It is not. Apparently, “Mable Peabody’s Beauty Parlor and Chainsaw Repair” was, according to google, a “Unique watering hole set in a strip mall offering live music, karaoke, burlesque & drag queen shows” located in Denton, TX. It appears to be closed now after 40 years, a victim of Hurricane Harvey. A shame it didn’t make it on to “Bar Rescue.”

  8. Nicholas Kristof: “Don’t believe me? Let’s ask Mark Brzezinski, son of Polish immigrant and noted Cold Warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski.” If I was going to quote one person for objective commentary on Russia, I would have tried to find someone else.

    1. And where would we get that objective commentary on Russia here in the U.S? Oh yes, the republican party.

    2. I wonder if Kristof would care to consult with Jeffrey Sachs, John Meiersheimer, Douglas McGregor, Ray McGovern and Scott Ritter.

    3. Apart from the fact that Mark Brzezinski is the son of someone you don’t like, why is his opinion on Poland useless? He’s the US ambassador to Poland, so he should have at least some insight into how things are going there. Are your objections to his comments from other things he’s said and not due to his father’s politics? If so, why mention Zbignew at all? If it is because of his dad, well that’s a pretty lame reason to discredit what the son’s said. Now, I know a US ambassadorship is no guarantee of sensible (or even sane) commentary, so maybe he’s been an idiot in the past. You could provide evidence of it.

      WEIT does have regular commentators from the lovely land of Poland. Maybe we will see their reflections on this.

  9. The link for “World Snake Day” takes us to “National Fresh Spinach Day”, as does the link for “National Fresh Spinach Day”.

  10. Remarkable the degree to which Russia’s actions have made Europeans look on all Russians as “knuckle-dragging orcs” (to quote one Finnish commentator). This utter lack of concern with the opinions of mankind belongs under the heading of solipsism syndrome
    (https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Solipsism_syndrome#:~:text=Solipsism%20as%20a%20belief%20is,external%20to%20their%20own%20minds. ) According to the Wiki entry, “the syndrome has been identified as a potential concern for individuals living in outer space for extended periods of time”. In other words, the hermetically sealed bubble in which Putin & Co. tell each other what they want to believe is analogous to living in outer space.

  11. Do pollsters actually know what they’re doing nowadays? They can’t poll anyone successfully who isn’t of the silent generation or a baby boomer and Gen X is probably somewhat reliable. But the largest potential voting block, Millennials through Gen Z, cannot be relied on in polls. You can rely on the fact they won’t vote Republican, but you can’t poll them to find out if they’ll actually vote, and that’s what’s shaping elections nowadays; will the younger generations show up and vote? It is “the voters who can’t be polled” who decides elections and the pollsters are out of the picture.

  12. The Gold Hill sign! I ride my bicycle past that sign fairly often. Gold Hill is located 10 miles west of and 3000 feet above Boulder. If you come up one of the other roads, you pass a sign that says “Private Sign: Do Not Read”. And yet another way to GH is up the delightfully named Lickskillet Road.

    1. Next time you’re on that ride, get photos. I suspect the rules for “Readers Wildlife Photos” wouldn’t need much of a stretch to encompass that sort of wild life.

    2. Yes, the Gold Hill sign is a good reflection of the character the town! Also, anyone passing through this neck of the woods should have dinner at the Gold Hill Inn – pretty good fixins for such a hole-in-the-wall town. Also Morrocco’s over in Ward is excellent.

  13. Oops, very late indeed – I was visiting an old schoolfriend who I’ve known since I was 6. His mother was my sister’s first school teacher.

    On this day:
    622 – The Hijrah of Muhammad begins, marking the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

    1212 – Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa: After Pope Innocent III calls European knights to a crusade, forces of Kings Alfonso VIII of Castile, Sancho VII of Navarre, Peter II of Aragon and Afonso II of Portugal defeat those of the Berber Muslim leader Almohad, thus marking a significant turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain.

    1228 – The canonization of Saint Francis of Assisi.

    1232 – The Spanish town of Arjona declares independence and names its native Muhammad ibn Yusuf as ruler. This marks the Muhammad’s first rise to prominence; he would later establish the Nasrid Emirate of Granada, the last independent Muslim state in Spain.

    1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco.

    1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act. [Whatever happened to “No taxation without representation”?]

    1910 – John Robertson Duigan makes the first flight of the Duigan pusher biplane, the first aircraft built in Australia.

    1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen to highlight his commitment to Britain during the first World War.

    1935 – The world’s first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. [Renting small areas of concrete for exorbitant sums has since become a global money-spinner.]

    1942 – Holocaust: Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv): The government of Vichy France orders the mass arrest of 13,152 Jews who are held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver in Paris before deportation to Auschwitz.

    1945 – Manhattan Project: The Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico.

    1945 – World War II: The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis leaves San Francisco with parts for the atomic bomb “Little Boy” bound for Tinian Island.

    1948 – The storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane.

    1950 – Chaplain–Medic massacre: American POWs are massacred by North Korean Army.

    1951 – J. D. Salinger publishes his popular yet controversial novel, The Catcher in the Rye.

    1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11, the first mission to land astronauts on the Moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Kennedy, Florida.

    1994 – The comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 is destroyed in a head-on collision with Jupiter.

    1999 – John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, die when the aircraft he is piloting crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. [I’ve lost track of the Kennedy clan…]

    2004 – Millennium Park, considered Chicago’s first and most ambitious early 21st-century architectural project, is opened to the public by Mayor Richard M. Daley.

    1723 – Joshua Reynolds, English painter and academic (d. 1792).

    1821 – Mary Baker Eddy, American religious leader and author, founded Christian Science (d. 1910).

    1862 – Ida B. Wells, American journalist and activist (d. 1931).

    1872 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian pilot and explorer (d. 1928).

    1887 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (d. 1951).

    1907 – Barbara Stanwyck, American actress (d. 1990).

    1911 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1995).

    1911 – Sonny Tufts, American actor (d. 1970).

    1927 – Shirley Hughes, English author and illustrator[23] (d. 2022). [ “Bath water’s hot. Sea water’s cold…” ]

    1942 – Margaret Court, Australian tennis player and minister.

    1952 – Stewart Copeland, American drummer and songwriter.

    1958 – Michael Flatley, American-Irish dancer and choreographer.

    1968 – Larry Sanger, American philosopher and businessman, co-founded Wikipedia and Citizendium.

    That’s all folks!
    1935 – Zheng Zhengqiu, Chinese filmmaker (b. 1889).

    1953 – Hilaire Belloc, French-born British writer and historian (b. 1870). [Put the Hilaire into hilarious. (Not really, but he was very funny.)]

    1995 – Stephen Spender, English author and poet (b. 1909).

    2003 – Carol Shields, American-Canadian novelist and short story writer (b. 1935).

    2014 – Karl Albrecht, German businessman, co-founded Aldi (b. 1920).

    2014 – Johnny Winter, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1944).

  14. Your claim that Hinduism is given preference as a religion in India is poorly supported by Indian laws, policies and spending decisions. If anything, Hinduism is treated as a 3rd class religion in India (even under Modi government), let me explain:

    1) There are funding and schemes devoted specifically to minority religions in India. Hinduism doesn’t get that. There is a specific minority commision department run by government of India.
    2) Christian/Islamic schools can get government funding but Hindu schools are not eligible.
    3) Hindu temples can be taken under government control, where they are operated by a government appointed board and have to pay taxes. The other religious institutions are tax exempt.
    4) Waqf board act: Creates an quasi-judicial Islamic board which can essentially unilaterally make permanent claims to land under the name of Islam which cannot be subsequently sold off. This has been used in currupt manners by board members/waqf owners and have made claims to unsuspecting citizens property which could not be sold off by those members ( In a secular country, can a law based on Islamic land ownership practices be justified?
    5) Religious minorities are eligible for reservation quotas which set aside spots in government jobs/educational institutions for them. Hindus don’t get any of these quotas. Even the Jain religious community which is disproportionately very wealthy is eligible for such quotas.
    6) All religions have thier own set of personal laws which govern matters related to property ownership, adoption, marriage, divorce, inheritance. While this does not neccesarily show a bias against Hinduism, I just wanted to highlight that given existence of laws for each religion, that India is not truly a “secular state”.

    There are probably more examples of religiously motivated policies and laws in India but these are the most contentious.

    You may think you’ve seen “leftism” in America, but believe me- American leftism is nothing like Indian leftism which is actually what happens when radical marxist policies get put into practice.

  15. Regarding the money flowing from San Francisco to Honduran villages, except for the particulars, this is typical.

    In 2022, remittances from America to Latin American countries reached a whopping $152B, of which $61B went to Mexico. That is a three fold increase from 2013 when remittances to Mexico totaled only $20B.

    Remittances have become such a meaningful contribution to some home-country GDPs and lifestyle that these countries support their foreign diaspora in multiple ways to instill home-country loyalty. For the home-country this is both smart business and smart politics as the foreign diaspora can also influence America’s policies to their benefit

    For example, as of 2015, with one in ten of its native-born population residing in America and American remittances representing two percent of its GDP, naturally Mexico encourages the loyalty of Mexican-Americans to Mexico and its interests for both economic and political reasons. Strengthening ties to Mexico is the stated objective of the Program for Mexican Communities Abroad [PCME), “the programme seeks to strengthen the loyalty of migrants … to the Mexican state.” The program is effective and quite large with “150 home town clubs [in Los Angeles alone] and 10 state-level associations” in 1995.

    Immigration is a many-sided issue, but at its core it is a net benefit. However, America’s current policy is regressive. The semi-skilled and skilled workers of the middle and upper-class benefit more from immigration than the unskilled workers of the lower-classes.

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