Welcome to Friday, July 21, 2023, and National Crème Brûlée Day, a dessert (invented in 1691) that is tasty but always proffered in meager amounts. Portions should be at least a quart in volume.
It’s also National Lamington Day, celebrating Australian “butter or sponge cakes that are coated with or dipped in chocolate and then covered with fine desiccated coconut. Other coatings or toppings can also be used, like salted caramel, peanut butter, or strawberry”. Those are infinitely better than crème brûlée. Further, it’s Legal Drinking Age Day, National Tug-of-War Tournament Day, National Junk Food Day, Belgian National Day (in Belgiumm, of course), and, in Singapore,Racial Harmony Day.
Here’s a bisected Lamington from Wikipedia. Sometimes they’re filled, and some Aussies call them “Lammos.”
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 21 Wikipedia page.
*The NYT points out that Trump’s mounting legal troubles are going to clash with his campaign calendar next year, as criminal defendants must be present in the courtroom during their trial. And he’s got a LOT of trials coming up.
As former President Donald J. Trump campaigns for the White House while multiple criminal prosecutions against him play out, at least one thing is clear: Under the laws of physics, he cannot be in two places at once.
Generally, criminal defendants must be present in the courtroom during their trials. Not only will that force Mr. Trump to step away from the campaign trail, possibly for weeks at a time, but the judges overseeing his trials must also jostle for position in sequencing dates. The collision course is raising extraordinary — and unprecedented — questions about the logistical, legal and political challenges of various trials unfolding against the backdrop of a presidential campaign.
“The courts will have to decide how to balance the public interest in having expeditious trials against Trump’s interest and the public interest in his being able to campaign so that the democratic process works,” said Bruce Green, a Fordham University professor and former prosecutor. “That’s a type of complexity that courts have never had to deal with before.”
More broadly, the complications make plain another reality: Mr. Trump’s troubles are entangling the campaign with the courts to a degree the nation has never experienced before and raising tensions around the ideal of keeping the justice system separate from politics.
Mr. Trump and his allies have signaled that they intend to try to turn his overlapping legal woes into a referendum on the criminal justice system, by seeking to cast it as a politically weaponized tool of Democrats.
Well, there goes the criminal justice system! It’s rigged towards Democrats! Actually, Trump has three civil trials coming up and needn’t be present for those, but he’s got one criminal trial coming up in New York, one in Florida (the documents case), and probably one in Washington (insurrection). And if he or another Republican wins the election, they could order the government to drop federal cases. Oy, my kishkes!
*Pamela Paul, a worthy addition to the NYT op-ed staff, has a deeply depressing piece on the upcoming Presidential election, “Hoping for a miracle, hurtling towards disaster.” If you don’t get depressed, whether you be a Democrat or Republican, there’s something wrong with you.
Instead, most Democrats seem to view what looks like an inexorable rematch between Biden and Donald Trump with a sense of impending doom. My personal metaphor comes from Lars von Trier’s film “Melancholia,” in which a rogue planet makes its way through space toward an inevitable collision with Earth. In that film, the looming disaster symbolized the all-encompassing nature of depression; here, the feel is more dispiritedness and terror, as if we’re barreling toward either certain catastrophe or possibly-not-a-catastrophe. Or it’s barreling toward us.
A Biden-Trump rematch would mean a choice between two candidates who, for very different reasons, don’t seem 100 percent there or necessarily likely to be there — physically, mentally and/or not in prison — for the duration of another four-year term.
To take, momentarily, a slightly more optimistic view, here is the best case for Biden: His presidency has thus far meant a re-establishment of norms, a return to government function and the restoration of long-held international alliances. He has presided over a slow-churning economy that has turned roughly in his favor. He’s been decent.
But really, wasn’t the bar for all these things set abysmally low during the Trump administration (if we can even use that word given its relentless mismanagement)? We continue to have a deeply divided Congress and electorate, a good chunk of which is still maniacally in Trump’s corner. American faith in institutions continues to erode, not helped by Biden’s mutter about the Supreme Court’s most recent term, “This is not a normal court.” The 2020 protests led to few meaningfully changed policies favoring the poor or disempowered.
A Biden-Trump rematch feels like a concession, as if we couldn’t do any better or have given up trying. It wasn’t as though there was huge passion for Biden the first time around. The 2020 election should have been much more of a blowout victory for Democrats. Yet compared with his election in 2016, Trump in 2020 made inroads with nearly every major demographic group, including Blacks, Latinos and women, except for white men. The sentiment most Democrats seemed to muster in Biden’s favor while he was running was that he was inoffensive. The animating sentiment once he scraped by into office was relief.
There’s a lot more to read, and a lot more to get you depressed. Is this the best that we as a nation can do? Can you really be as enthused about Biden as the Democratic candidate (ignore Trump for the moment) as you were about Obama?
*Will This Story Pan Out Department? The EU has threatened to stop funding the Palestinian Authority if it doesn’t remove hatred of Jews and anti-Semitic tropes from its textbooks. (If you read here regularly, you’ll see that these tropes are staples of all Palestinian school books, stoking hatred and genocidal wishes towards Jews. You won’t find the counterparts in Israeli textbooks.)
The European Union official who oversees aid to the Palestinian Authority has voiced support for conditioning the release of funds on the removal of incitement and antisemitism from P.A. textbooks.
The remarks follow two European Parliament resolutions last week demanding the “deletion of all antisemitic references, and removal of examples that incite hatred and violence” in Palestinian textbooks, and calls for a funding freeze.
“Incitement to hatred and violence and glorification of terror violate E.U. core values,” tweeted Olivér Várhelyi, the European commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement. “It is a poison for our society, in particular in classrooms and textbooks. There can be no justification to turn a blind eye, neither in Europe nor beyond.”
In the tweet, the E.U. official said that the “commission duly notes this request from the budgetary authority.”
In May, Várhelyi said that the European Union “will make sure it’s not funding Palestinian textbooks that incite against Israel.” He had previously announced that the European Union would conduct a second study of the P.A.’s textbooks.
Unlike previous resolutions, which mentioned incitement to violence without directly calling for the removal of antisemitism, the wording of the resolutions last week explicitly links E.U.-funded textbooks to “rising involvement of teenagers in terrorist attacks.”
The European Parliament resolutions stated that the European Union should freeze its funding to the P.A. until its curriculum is aligned with UNESCO standards.
Now what do you think the chances are that this will actually happen? I’d say about . . . . . zero.
*The WSJ has a fascinating article about meteorite hunters: those intrepid souls who jet all over when a meteororite breaks up over Earth. For pieces of meteorites can go for thousands of dollars. An excerpt:
When Roberto Vargas got an alert that a meteorite had exploded above Junction City, Ga., he knew he had to move fast.
He immediately booked a flight from Connecticut and was airborne within hours. He found a piece of the meteorite within minutes of parking his rental car in the area where fragments had landed. Some of what he found sold for $100 a gram.
Vargas, 38 years old, said he is one of roughly 15 people in the U.S. pursuing an unusual vocation: professional or semiprofessional meteorite hunter. “As soon as somebody sees something or hears about something, they post on Facebook, and that basically prompts me to get into gear,” he said.
After quitting his job as a mental-health therapist to pursue the passion full time about two years ago, Vargas said, he has been “super, super blessed.” His earnings from hunting, collecting and selling meteorites just helped him buy a house.
Hunters like Vargas chase down space rocks that have been spotted as they streak through the atmosphere—what are known as “falls.” Sometimes only a single stone hits Earth, and at other times, hundreds of fragments. Recovering these falls, scientists say, helps expand our knowledge of the solar system, and even perhaps how life on Earth began.
. . . Vargas said meteorites can range in value from about 50 cents to $5,000 a gram, depending, in part, on the circumstances of the fall, composition and how much of any given specimen exists. Often he sells just slices of what he finds, mostly to people who want to own a piece of space without going there.
*Not long ago I put up the Washington Post‘s guesses about what would be on Barack Obama’s famous summer reading list. They didn’t do too well, but at least they put the King book on it, one I intend to read. Here’s the ex-Prez’s actual summer reading list that the paper published yesterday. (Do you even wonder whether Obama reads some schlock, too, but doesn’t publicize it?)
Here are all the titles on this summer’s list (and you can check out which four books we guessed correctly):
‘Poverty, by America’ by Matthew Desmond
‘Small Mercies’ by Dennis Lehane
‘King: A Life’ by Jonathan Eig
‘Hello Beautiful’ by Ann Napolitano
‘All the Sinners Bleed’ by S.A. Cosby
‘Birnam Wood’ by Eleanor Catton
‘What Napoleon Could Not Do’ by DK Nnuro
‘The Wager’ by David Grann
‘Blue Hour’ by Tiffany Clarke Harrison
*If you’re a baseball maven, take this NYT quiz, “How well do you know your Baseball Hall of Famers?” For me, apparently not very well; I got two out of ten (about what’s expected from random guessing, and I did guess randomly. A baseball-loving friend got only three. This is hard! Here’s one question (I won’t give the answer).
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron have taken over the chairs in which Malgorzata and Andrzej sit on the veranda:
Szaron: I think that they want to sit here.Hili: And who cares?
Szaron: Zdaje się, że oni chcą tu usiąść.Hili: A kto się tym przejmuje?
From Unique Birds and Animals:
From Ducks in Public (this is me):
From Seth Andrews:
From Masih. First, her discussion with the BBC about the return of the morality police:
What the Return of the 'Morality Police' Means For Iran's Women?
Removing hijab in Iran became symbol, of regime, change. By enforcing hijab on women, regime is trying to prevent another uprising, ahead of the anniversary of murder of #MahsaAmini
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 18, 2023
And a tweet from Faisal with an article describing how Iran is adopted Chinese surveillance technology to identify those miscreant women who just won’t cover their heads.
As Iran adopts Chinese tech to enforce its hijab law, we enter a new chapter in the era of encroaching state control. A global dialogue on balancing tech with human rights is urgent.
A look at the looming international challenges by Zach Van Meter.https://t.co/UHFKujn7tX
— Faisal Saeed Al Mutar (@faisalalmutar) July 19, 2023
From Barry. This cat gives a good stink-eye!
The dog said “nope”.. 😂 pic.twitter.com/VYRFrM624K
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 15, 2023
Good for Lady Gaga!
Dear Lady Gaga – you are my hero. ♥️♥️♥️ pic.twitter.com/RfyqxffFmU
— ᒪᗩᑎᑕᗴ 🏳️🌈 (@LanceUSA70) July 20, 2023
And good old Ricky Gervais:
This tweet is why I’m still on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/q4NmiT4wRg
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 20, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a family gassed upon arrival:
21 July 1940 | A Dutch Jewish boy, Salomon de Bruin, was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 21, 2023
Tweets from the fit Dr. Cobb:
You just got sniffed… pic.twitter.com/egyLrsQdA1
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 20, 2023
Okay, I had to find out more about this. Read here (there’s also miracle gnocchi). This is ripe for some careful investigation. . .
In these troubled times, remember we live in an amazing world pic.twitter.com/ogfyIPzi8W
— Tori Herridge (@ToriHerridge) July 20, 2023
A very tolerant moggy:
this is the cutest video ever pic.twitter.com/bTA9LrnT3L
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) July 19, 2023