Posting may be light for a while as my insomnia has returned big time and I’m barely sentient. It’s persistent, but I do have help, so readers need not bother suggesting cures.
It’s also Amelia Earhart Day (she was born on this day in 1897), National Drive-Thru Day (I have never been to one–never!), National Tell an Old Joke Day, Pioneer Day in (Utah), and Simón Bolívar Day in (Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia); Bolivar was born on this day in 1783.
Her are several old Jewish jokes told by Steve Talmud. The first one is one of my very favorite (trigger warning: NSFW for several of these jokes!). That first one resonates with me because it exemplifies the character of Jews—the hallmark of the true Jewish joke.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 24 Wikipedia page.
*Israel is tearing itself apart over a proposed revision of the judicial system by the Netanyahu government. Since the country doesn’t have a constitution, the judiciary now has the power to overturn any legislative action that it considers “unreasonable.”
When tens of thousands of Israelis marched up to Jerusalem this weekend to protest the far-right government’s plan to limit judicial power, many were driven by an urgent fear that the government is trying to steal the country that their parents and grandparents fought to build against the odds.
“It’s really a feeling of looting, as if the country is their spoils and everything is theirs for the taking,” said Mira Lapidot, 52, a museum curator from Tel Aviv. This desperate march, in the middle of a heat wave, over the 2,400-foot mountains that lead to Jerusalem, was “a last chance to stop it.”
The government’s supporters — many from more nationalist and religious backgrounds — largely believe the opposite: that the country is being stolen by a political opposition that has refused to accept its losses, not only in a series of democratic elections but also through sweeping demographic and cultural changes that have challenged its once-dominant vision of the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition is set to pass a law on Monday that will limit the ways in which the Supreme Court can overrule the government. Its plan has become a proxy for a broader emotional and even existential battle about the nature of the Israeli state, who controls it and who shapes its future.
But the fly in the ointment is the standard of “reasonableness”, which seems arbitrary, especially in light of the fact that there’s no constitution. I have no dog in this fight, and we’ll see what happens today.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was rushed to the hospital early Sunday for surgery to implant a pacemaker, casting new uncertainty over his government’s deeply contentious plan to pass a law on Monday to limit judicial power.
Doctors at the Sheba Medical Center, east of Tel Aviv, said on Sunday morning that the unexpected procedure had been successful and that “the prime minister is doing very well.” But Mr. Netanyahu was expected to remain hospitalized until at least Monday, a spokesman for the hospital said.
*Things aren’t going that well for Ukraine in the war. First of all, the Russians are pounding the Black Sea port of Odessa with missiles after canceling its grain-shipping deal with Ukraine.
Russia struck the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odesa on Sunday, keeping up a barrage of attacks that has damaged critical port infrastructure in southern Ukraine in the past week. At least one person was killed and 22 others wounded in the early morning attack, officials said.
. . . . Russia has been launching repeated attacks on Odesa, a key hub for exporting grain, since Moscow canceled a landmark grain deal on Monday amid Kyiv’s grinding efforts to retake its occupied territories.
. . .UNESCO strongly condemned the attack on the cathedral and other heritage sites and said it will send a mission in coming days to assess damage. Odesa’s historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site earlier this year, and the agency said the Russian attacks contradict Moscow’s pledge to take precautious to spare World Heritage sites in Ukraine.
“This outrageous destruction marks an escalation of violence against the cultural heritage of Ukraine. I strongly condemn this attack against culture, and I urge the Russian Federation to take meaningful action to comply with its obligations under international law,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
Regional Gov. Oleh Kiper said that six residential buildings were destroyed by the strikes.
And the WSJ reports that Ukraine’s “spring offensive” has been hampered by lack of weaponry and trained soldiers.
When Ukraine launched its big counteroffensive this spring, Western military officials knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons—from shells to warplanes—that it needed to dislodge Russian forces. But they hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day.
They haven’t. Deep and deadly minefields, extensive fortifications and Russian air power have combined to largely block significant advances by Ukrainian troops. Instead, the campaign risks descending into a stalemate with the potential to burn through lives and equipment without a major shift in momentum.
As the likelihood of any large-scale breakthrough by the Ukrainians this year dims, it raises the unsettling prospect for Washington and its allies of a longer war—one that would require a huge new infusion of sophisticated armaments and more training to give Kyiv a chance at victory.
As the United States becomes more cautious, particularly with a Presidential election approaching Europe, in contrast, is more gung-ho, but largely powerless:
The American hesitation contrasts with shifting views in Europe, where more leaders over recent months have come to believe that Ukraine must prevail in the conflict—and Russia must lose—to ensure the continent’s security.
But European militaries lack sufficient resources to supply Ukraine with all it needs to eject Moscow’s armies from the roughly 20% of the country that they control. European leaders are also unlikely to significantly increase support to Kyiv if they sense U.S. reluctance, Western diplomats say.
*I reached my limit not long ago when I bought a $2 baguette at a bakery and was asked, when paying with my card, whether I’d like to leave a tip. And this is from a business that boasts about how well it pays its employees. Yes, all Americans have noticed the increased and inappropriate importuning for tips, a behavior highlighted in the WSJ’s article, “Why businesses can’t stop asking for tips.”
American businesses have gotten hooked on tipping.
Tip requests have spread far beyond the restaurants and bars that have long relied on them to supplement employee wages. Juice shops, appliance-repair firms and even plant stores are among the service businesses now asking customers to hand over some extra money to their workers.
“The U.S. economy is more tip-reliant than it’s ever been,” said Scheherezade Rehman, an economist and professor of international finance at George Washington University. “But there’s a growing sense that these requests are getting out of control and that corporate America is dumping the responsibility for employee pay onto the customer.”
Consumers seeing tip prompts at every turn say they are overwhelmed—and that worker wages should be business owners’ responsibility, not theirs.
I’ll tip at restaurants, take-out meals from restaurants, but I won’t be guilt-tripped into tipping when I buy bread or groceries. You can believe that a 50% increase in the price of bread at a bakery (the Medici, by the way) doesn’t translate into a 50% increase in pay for the workers. .
*The WaPo has a fascinating article about an ancient winery, “Roman ruins reveal how emperors used winemaking in an ancient power play.“
Fights involving exotic cats, chariot races, gladiatorial battles: At the banquets of ancient Rome, there was no skimping on dinnertime entertainment. And, according to a recent study, sport for elite guests included something rarer, too: winemaking as a form of theater.
The findings, published in the journal Antiquity, describe how the Villa of the Quintilii used alcohol production for show in what is now believed to be the among the most lavish wineries in the ancient world. This makes the 2nd-century villa only the second known to have used wine in this way, said lead study author Emlyn Dodd, a lecturer in classical studies at the University of London.
. . .On the basis of these clues, archaeologists think the Quintilii served as a kind of “imperial toy,” said Alice Poletto, a Rome fellow at the British School at Rome who was not involved in the research.
The experts think enslaved people would have pounded grapes in the winery’s treading area, most likely slipping about on the luxurious red marble while doing so, to the gruesome delight of sloshed guests. Attendees from the era’s highest social circles would look on as the roughage of crushed grapes, or must, made its way down to mechanical presses, which would send juice gushing through fountains set in the courtyard wall and pouring from open channels into dolia, or ceramic storage jars, in the ground to collect the spoils.
By Poletto’s estimations, the dining complex could seat 25 to 27 guests, with the winemaking spectacle taking place perhaps twice a year as “a unique opportunity and an absolutely high honor that served not only as a reward to the invitees, but also, in my opinion, a way for the emperor to highlight [and] reinforce his power.”
What I’d like to know is what the wine tasted like!
*The NYT has a bird-song quiz: “Can you understand bird? Test your recognition of calls and songs.” You’re given five identified birds, and one call from each. Your job is to interpret what that call is saying. Then you’re given two other questions asking you to distinguish a bird call from either a frog or a car alarm.
Ornithologists have made progress in understanding the rich variety of ways in which birds converse, thanks in part to large and growing databases of bird calls such as one from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which includes millions of recordings captured by citizen scientists.
This summer the New York Times birding project is encouraging readers to try birding by ear. So here’s a quick tour of the avian soundscape.
Here’s one example:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, guests from Warsaw visited Dobrzyn yesterday. Szaron and Hili have messed up the bed!
A: Guests are coming, the bed must be made.Hili: Close the door and they will not see it.
Ja: Goście przychodzą, trzeba łóżko posłać.Hili: Przymknij drzwi to nie będą widzieli.
From Maish. Ceiling Cat bless the brave women of Iran:
Iranian regime agents confiscated (stole) her car because she didn’t have her hair covered. After this she she decided to walk back, defiantly unveiled, and continue protesting the oppressive mandatory hijab laws. These are the unstoppable women of #WomanLifeFreedom revolution. pic.twitter.com/sw0RiTKeo2
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 22, 2023
From Malcolm, a real heartwarmer (sound up):
Love is the answer.. ❤️
Thank you.. 🙏
🎥 IG: littlestepsmatter pic.twitter.com/nwPFXWsdem
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 22, 2023
From Barry (sound up):
Wrong neighborhood.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/qI3XuaoI6K
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 22, 2023
I found this one. Separation of church and state throughout the world:
Separation of church and state? Not everywhere. Some grey countries of course have a strong cultural preference for specific religions but church and state are still (officially) strictly separated. pic.twitter.com/VAvR1J55N1
— Simon Kuestenmacher (@simongerman600) November 30, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 12-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:
24 July 1930 | A French Jewish girl, Helene Lender, was born in Pontoise.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 24, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. Look at this nice man!
Thank you.. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ewcV8SIQ7I
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 23, 2023
Here’s a fly that’s eager to mate!
That’s a very intense male! https://t.co/CGocaNsdyW
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 23, 2023
I could use these for my itchy back:
"Wait, what did you think they were for?" pic.twitter.com/E9lw3kn5b0
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) July 23, 2023