Welcome to the first day of the “work” week: Monday, July 17, 2023, and National Peach Ice-Cream Day (is that hyphen correct?). Sadly, this may be in short supply this year since the weather has severely reduced the crop in states like Texas and Georgia (the “Peach State”):
It’s also Global Hug Your Kids Day, Wrong Way Corrigan Day, celebrating the day in 1938 when Douglas Corrigan made an unauthorized solo transatlantic flight from Brooklyn to Ireland, claiming that it was a “navigational error” (he lied), National Tattoo Day, International Firgun Day (look it up), World Day for International Justice, and World Emoji Day.
Here’s the backwards headline of the New York Post on August 5, 1938, celebrating Corrigan’s feat and his return to the U.S.:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 17 Wikipedia page.
*One of the jewels of Britain’s crown, the National Health Service, is in big trouble—it’s overloaded. Whenever I mention this, British readers take me to task and say that NHS is fine, but I think I was right all along. At any rate, the NYT lays out the problems:
Her stoicism captures the reverence that Britons have for their cradle-to-grave health system, but also their rueful sense that it is broken.
As it turns 75 this month, the N.H.S., a proud symbol of Britain’s welfare state, is in the deepest crisis of its history: flooded by aging, enfeebled patients; starved of investment in equipment and facilities; and understaffed by doctors and nurses, many of whom are so burned out that they are either joining strikes or leaving for jobs abroad.
Interviews over three months with doctors, nurses, patients, hospital administrators and medical analysts depict a system so profoundly troubled that some experts warn that the health service is at risk of collapse.
“Doctors and nurses face an endless stream of patients filling beds,” said Matthew Trainer, the chief executive of the N.H.S. trust that runs Queen’s and another nearby hospital, the King George. “For the clinical staff, that removes a sense of hope — that sense that what you’re doing matters.”
More than 7.4 million people in England are waiting for medical procedures, everything from hip replacements to cancer surgery. That is up from 4.1 million before the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.
. . .Mortality data, exacerbated by long wait times, paints a bleak picture. In 2022, the number of excess deaths rose to one of the highest levels in the last 50 years, and those numbers have kept rising, even as the pandemic has ebbed.
In the first quarter of 2023, more than half of excess deaths — that is, deaths above the five-year average mortality rate, before the pandemic — were caused by something other than Covid-19. Cardiovascular-related fatalities, which can be linked to delays in treatment, were up particularly sharply, according to Stuart McDonald, an expert on mortality data at LCP, a London-based pension and investment advisory firm.
. . These problems are compounded by a breakdown in primary care, which has made it all but impossible for many people to get an appointment with their family doctor. With a shortage of general practitioners and nowhere else to turn, the E.R. has become the first stop for millions of sick Britons.
It looks to me like the NHS is circling the drain. And then what? The E.R. is also the first stop for millions of impoverished Americans who can’t afford health insurance. And the U.S. doesn’t have National Health.
*Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican, of course, continues to hold up military nominations and promotions (including the head of the Marine Corps and the soon-retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) because the Secretary of Defense has a policy of allowing female troops reproductive health care, including abortions that involve travel. First, how can he do this?
In the Senate, one senator can hold up nominations or legislation even if the other 99 want it to move forward.
Generally, leaders in the majority party get around this by holding a series of votes to move a measure and dispense of the hold. It just takes some additional time on the Senate floor.
But Tuberville’s blockade is unique because there are hundreds of military nominations and promotions, and Democratic leaders would have to hold roll call votes on every single one of them to get around the hold. It’s a decades-long tradition for the Senate to group military promotions together and approve them by voice vote, avoiding lengthy roll calls.
So Tuberville has put the Senate in a bind. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said this week that voting on the more than 260 military nominations through the regular procedure would take 27 days with the Senate working “around the clock” or 84 days if the Senate worked eight hours a day.
. . .Senators in both parties — including Republican Leader Mitch McConnell — have pushed back on Tuberville’s blockade, but Tuberville is dug in. He says he won’t drop the holds unless majority Democrats allow a vote on the policy.
For now, the fight is at a stalemate. Democrats say a vote on every nominee could tie up the Senate floor for months. And they don’t want to give in to Tuberville’s demands and encourage similar blockades of nominees in the future.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that holding up the promotion of military leaders, most of whom have dedicated their lives to protecting the country, “is one of the most abominable and outrageous things I have ever seen in this chamber, witnessed by the fact that no one has ever had the temerity, the gall to do this before.”
*Here’s Lauren Boebert and her “postmodern” idea about there being no truth getting demolished by Democratic representative Jamie Raskin (his hat is there to cover his balding head, as he’s being treated for cancer). Why did she get reelected? If you can’t see the video below, go here. (h/t: Merilee)
*The Washington Post‘s Kathleen Parker has a heterodox take (for this liberal paper) on the Dylan/Mulvaney Bud Light fracas, “Bud Light started a fight it was bound to lose.”
Pardon the clichés, but this is what we’ve become — a continuous, live-streaming cliché of mass-produced outrage alternating between the apocalyptic and the absurd. If you’ve been hammocking the past few months, you might have missed the comedy team known as Anheuser-Busch and its marketing department’s merry pranksters. The latter are the geniuses who thought transgender woman and TikTok sensation Dylan Mulvaney should partner with Bud Light for the March Madness basketball tournament.
. . . The point for most people is, you be you — but leave me out of it. That goes for my children, too. Most people are too afraid to say it, but not [Megyn] Kelly. An influencer herself, she is probably considered a “transphobe” by people in the LGBTQ+ community. Is she? I don’t know and don’t care, but let’s try to be rational for a second.
To be phobic is to have an irrational fear of or an aversion to something. As used today, phobic connotes animosity or hatred as well, which might or might not be the case. What is true is that changing one’s sex through chemical or surgical alteration is alien to most people, many of whom hold no animosity toward anyone. Even so, they might question the direction their culture is taking and its effect on children. Mulvaney’s audience, by the way, skews younger than the legal drinking age.
Here’s what I’m phobic about — the manipulation of innocents through sophisticated targeting, and the political exploitation of issues that are intentionally misleading, unconstructive or hurtful.
In trying to be trans-friendly by tapping Mulvaney, Bud Light might as well have labeled their cans, “Vote Republican.” And now Republicans aren’t about to let the controversy cool down. No sooner was Mulvaney posing with her personal Bud than a boycott materialized, costing the company billions. In June, sales were down 28 percent. Joining the fray, LGBTQ+ activists protested Mulvaney’s treatment by the company, which tossed her aside like an empty beer can.
. . .Anheuser-Busch tried to undo the damage by pandering to another group: the heterosexual, beer-guzzling men who once were its best customers. A fresh batch of ads and products left no stereotype unturned. New designs for beer cans included a limited-edition veterans Bud Light and a sports-hunting camouflage Bud Light. A TV ad created for the July Fourth holiday, attempting to parody the 1974 film “Blazing Saddles,” featured NFL star Travis Kelce and a bunch of guys popping their Bud Lights to the accompaniment of grunts.
Get it? Men. Beer. Grunting. Of course, men tend to be pander-averse. The boycott stands.
. . . In a time of culturally encouraged identity confusion and gender fluidity, Anheuser-Busch tried to exploit a real-time identity crisis playing out in the form of a 26-year-old personality on TikTok. Shame on them. This to me is the real story.
*The Food Police are having their way, at least according to CNN, which dutifully recounts “How America fell out of love with ice cream.”
Consumption of regular dairy ice cream, which does not include frozen yogurt, sherbet or non- and low-fat ice creams, has been falling for years, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
In 1986, the average American ate 18 pounds of regular ice cream, according to the USDA. By 2021, the most recent year of the data, that was down a third to just 12 pounds per person.
For years, ice cream was more than a frozen dessert: It was a lifeline for American brewers during Prohibition and a means to boost morale among troops during World War II. By the 1950s, the sweet, creamy treat had become an American treasure.
But like full-fat milk, soda, red meat and other former heroes of the American diet, ice cream has been scrutinized for its impact on health and the environment. After peaking in the 1940s, per capita availability of regular ice cream started to decline in the 1990s and through the 2000s as health-conscious consumers — including a member of the Baskin Robbins family — turned on the sugary, fatty food, or started treating it as an occasional, pricey treat.
“An occasional pricey treat”. OY! The first word is disturbing, the second distressing.
“I think part of the reason that ice cream has faded is that novelty has worn off,” he said. And with concerns rising about the impact of sugar on health, ice cream’s image as a wholesome treat is melting away.
It probably didn’t help, Siegel noted, that one man leading the charge against ice cream and dairy production was John Robbins, the one-time heir apparent to the Baskin-Robbins’ ice cream kingdom.
. . . Robbins walked away from the family business decades ago, instead devoting his attention to heralding plant-based diets and animal rights.
Here are the data:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is reaching across the species aisle:
Hili: You understand.A: What do I understand?Hili: How much unites a human and a cat.
Hili: Sam rozumiesz.Ja: Co?Hili: Jak wiele łączy człowieka z kotem.
From Thomas, one of the best Gary Larson Far Side cartoons EVER:
From The Cat House on the Kings. We seem to be getting a lot of cat-in-the-loo cartoons lately:
From Masih. Iranian cops love to shoot out people’s eyes.
Raheleh Amiri, a 30 year old woman who lost an eye in the widespread protests in Iran now lives in Italy. She said, “I mourn for my eye, but I will never back down and always fight with my people”. #WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/6sF6WWavOd
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 15, 2023
From Luana. Is this social pressure or what?
This is being taught to primary school students in the UK.
It is subtle indoctrination that gives children the message that to be ‘cis’ and comfortable in their own body is to be boring or uncool.
This is abusive. pic.twitter.com/f4yv2BqqGb
— James Esses (@JamesEsses) July 14, 2023
From Ziya Tong, frog television!
WormTV is 🤌🏽 https://t.co/TUnLpmgTPU
— Earthling / 🦣: journa.host/@ziya (@ziyatong) July 15, 2023
From Barry, a chinwag between a cat and a crow. Sound up!
What are they talking about? 😅 pic.twitter.com/wg8Rr2FksU
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 13, 2023
From Amy, who adds
Pauly at Hedgehog Cabin shared this video on Twitter recently. A cat walked into Hedgehog Cabin and when Pauly checked the chip folk, she discovered this cat had travelled 13 miles from where the cat lives to Hedgehog Cabin. Pauly provided a cat bed but he preferred the sink as seen here.
Being a rescue, often other animals turn up. This cat arrived 5 days ago and has been sleeping in the sink (I have cat beds!).
I scanned him and contacted the chip folk, and they finally reached his owners. He went missing 7 days ago, from 13 miles away!!
Always chip your pets. pic.twitter.com/kNqzq8M7HG
— Hedgehog Cabin (@HedgehogCabin) July 11, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, one I retweeted. A rare survivor!
One who survived (camp orchestra members were often treated better than others). https://t.co/UswDJhGjLu
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) July 17, 2023
From the diligent Dr. Cobb. This bit looks like a bit from Matthew’s upcoming bio of Crick:
Science students! Are you crap in the lab? I have been reading Francis Crick’s lab books from the beginning of his PhD: pic.twitter.com/aNGv1Ov0Ll
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 16, 2023
Matthew sez, “Yesterday on the Tour de France. This rider is out of all contention, it was an amazingly tough ride, so he had some fun with his supporters…”
— Julien Trivero (@Julientrivero) July 15, 2023
In JAPAN! I’m flabbergasted!
Turns out a few different universities in Japan are down with this tradition. We need to normalize this everywhere. Traditional graduation gowns are boring.
— Rob (@thegallowboob) July 15, 2023