Good morning on a hump day (কুঁজ দিন in Bengali), Wednesday, July 26, 2023, and National Bagelfest. If you don’t live in Montreal, good luck in getting the real thing:
The real thing, dense, chewy, cooked over a wood fire, and boiled with a bit of honey (with schmear):
It’s also Aunts and Uncles Day, National Coffee Milkshake Day, World Tofu Day, and Esperanto Day, celebrating ” the publication of Unua Libro, the first book in the Esperanto language, by the language’s creator, L. L. Zamenhof on this day in 1887. As Wikipedia notes, “Esperanto was created in the late 1870s and early 1880s by L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist from Białystok, then part of the Russian Empire, but now part of Poland.” I tried to learn it when I was a kid, but gave up quickly, and I know nobody who speaks it now. But it still has official uses, for example by the Chinese government.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 26 Wikipedia page.
Reader Rick writes in saying that it’s George Bernard Shaw’s birthday, and sends a quote:
I have never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from other men. There is not much harm in a lion. He has no ideals, no religion, no politics, no chivalry, no gentility; in short, no reason for destroying anything that he does not want to eat.
-George Bernard Shaw, writer, Nobel laureate (26 Jul 1856-1950)
*Israel is still recovering from the legislature’s passage of a law that weakens the power of the nation’s Supreme Court, and politicians are plotting their next move.
After a night of furious mass protests, Israelis on Tuesday confronted a divided nation, some celebrating and some seething over the passage of a highly contentious law that limits the Supreme Court’s ability to check governmental power.
Quiet generally prevailed across the country, as supporters and opponents of the law — the first step in a broader effort by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultraconservative government to curb judges’ influence — considered their next moves in a political standoff that could take weeks or months to play out.
Even as most demonstrators who had camped outside Parliament left after an eviction order, leaders of the protest movement, which has held mass rallies for 29 consecutive weeks, have vowed to fight on. Thousands of doctors scaled back medical operations in much of the country on Tuesday, hundreds of high-tech industry leaders said they’re considering moving their businesses abroad and the country’s biggest union said it was still considering a general strike.
How the deeper political crisis might be resolved remains unclear. Opposition activists said they had already asked Israel’s Supreme Court to review the law limiting its powers. A decision could take months, but the case would set up a crisis among the branches of the Israeli government.
And the doctors are on strike, too, which seems very unfortunate as the issue is a political, not a medical one:
The Israeli Medical Association, which represents 97 percent of Israel’s doctors, declared a strike in much of the country for Tuesday, saying its members outside Jerusalem, the capital, would handle only emergencies and critical care needs.
Israelis in the military have threatened to strike, though so far few have done so.
More than 11,000 Israelis in the military reserve said last week they’d resign if the government’s judicial overhaul went ahead. But now that the law has been passed, military officials and experts say it will take time to test the sincerity of those warnings.
The military says that the vast majority of those who participated in the joint declarations last week have yet to either send in their resignations or formally turn down direct call-ups. Since most reservists only get called up a few times a year, it may be weeks or months before significant numbers are forced to follow through with their threats.
“It’s still too early to say,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman. “People still seem to be sleeping on the decision.”
In the meantime, the military is trying to persuade the relatively few who have already withdrawn to change their minds, Colonel Hecht said. “We’re saying to them: ‘We need you, only together can we defend this house,’” Colonel Hecht said.
If you were an Arab state bent on eliminating Israel, you’d now be thinking about invading. But somehow I can’t imagine Israeli reservists refusing to defend their country.
*A federal judge has overturned Biden’s new immigration policy, which was aimed at restricting immigration at the southern border by regularizing the way immigrants applied for admission. This seems to be a blow to Biden but a boon to “progressive” Republicans:
A federal judge struck down on Tuesday a stringent new asylum policy that officials have called crucial to managing the southern border, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s strategy after illegal crossings by migrants declined sharply in the last few months.
The rule, which has been in effect since May 12, disqualifies most people from applying for asylum if they have crossed into the United States without either securing an appointment at an official port of entry or proving that they sought legal protection in another country along the way.
Immigrant advocacy groups who sued the administration said that the policy violated U.S. law and heightened migrants’ vulnerability to extortion and violence during protracted waits in Mexican border towns. They also argued that it mimicked a Trump administration rule to restrict asylum that was blocked in 2019 by the same judge, Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Judge Tigar stayed his order for 14 days, agreeing to a request by the Biden administration to give it time to appeal.
. . . A migrant surge could open up President Biden to attacks from Republicans, as campaigning gets underway for the presidential election next year. This policy, in particular, did not diverge greatly from the one introduced by President Donald J. Trump, according to legal experts.
. . . Even so, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit could put Judge Tigar’s ruling against the policy on hold while the government appeals, and the case could ultimately reach the Supreme Court.
Once again, I fault Congress for failing to pass sensible immigration legislation; there seems to be no will, especially among Democrats, to do so. And even that legislation might have to be adjudicated by the Supreme Court.
*This is past history by now, but the news has just been reported. According to the Washington Post, when Yevgeniy Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner Group, started his mutiny and March on Moscow, Putin was paralyzed with indecision, a distinctly un-Putinlike behavior.
When Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, launched his attempted mutiny on the morning of June 24, Vladimir Putin was paralyzed and unable to act decisively, according to Ukrainian and other security officials in Europe. No orders were issued for most of the day, the officials said.
The Russian president had been warned by the Russian security services at least two or three days ahead of time that Prigozhin was preparing a possible rebellion, according to intelligence assessments shared with The Washington Post. Steps were taken to boost security at several strategic facilities, including the Kremlin, where staffing in the presidential guard was increased and more weapons were handed out, but otherwise no actions were taken, these officials said.
“Putin had time to take the decision to liquidate [the rebellion] and arrest the organizers” said one of the European security officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. “Then when it began to happen, there was paralysis on all levels … There was absolute dismay and confusion. For a long time, they did not know how to react.”
This account of the standoff, corroborated by officials in Western governments, provides the most detailed look at the paralysis and disarray inside the Kremlin during the first hours of the severest challenge to Putin’s 23-year presidency. It is consistent with public comments by CIA Director William J. Burns last week that for much of the 36 hours of the mutiny Russian security services, the military and decision-makers “appeared to be adrift.”
It also appears to expose Putin’s fear of directly countering a renegade warlord who’d developed support within Russia’s security establishment over a decade. Prigozhin had become an integral part of the Kremlin global operations by running troll farms disseminating disinformation in the United States and paramilitary operations in the Middle East and Africa, before officially taking a vanguard position in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
As the local authorities didn’t get any information from the Kremlin, they assumed the Wagner March was okay with Putin, and let Prigozhin’s band march on. Not good leadership. However, the Post adds that it also speaks as well to widespread dissatisfaction within Russian forces with Putin:
The disarray in the Kremlin also reflects a deepening divide inside Russia’s security and military establishment over the conduct of the war in Ukraine, with many including in the upper reaches of the security services and military supporting Prigozhin’s drive to oust Russia’s top military leadership, the European security officials said.
Putin appears to have righted himself, but the dissatisfaction within the Russian military and security services is heartening to supporters of Ukraine—unless those people are even bigger aggressors than Putin.
*From the Heterodox Academy comes a short essay by David Sacks, a Stanford Law School student, “How universities should consider diversity after SSFA” (the court decision in “Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. vs. President and Fellows of Harvard College“)
Diversity-related values, such as promoting a diverse academy or ensuring equality of opportunity, are laudable. In many ways, Justice Powell’s view recommends itself to those of us who embrace the Heterodox Academy’s values of viewpoint diversity and academic freedom. However, I see two problems with Powell’s approach: The Court is right about Affirmative Action’s unconstitutionality, and relatedly, it is functionally the wrong approach for promoting diversity. . .
An emphasis on diversity of experience better captures the values Justice Powell aimed to capture in Bakke — and it better accords with HxA’s values too. Diversity of experience not only can prepare students for a university’s academic rigor — it makes a more interesting student body, promoting viewpoint diversity. The university exists primarily to encourage students’ intellectual and spiritual growth, and to promote thoughtful, novel research.
Thus, there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing diversity in admissions — a student body with the widest variety of interests, perspectives, abilities, and worldviews will create a richer educational environment inside and outside the classroom. But doing so based on race misses the point. Eliminating this crude proxy may create more work for admissions committees to ensure that deserving disadvantaged students can earn their spot in the institution. But this work is worth the time it takes. It is the privilege of the university to elevate deserving candidates across all groups, and in so doing, create a richer, more viewpoint-diverse student body.
This, of course, will eliminate the number of minority students in elite colleges, for there are plenty of other students who have diverse viewpoints, and it’s fatuous to believe that, say, all blacks or Hispanics share a single homogeneous viewpoint. (Were that the case, then increasing ethnic diversity would decrease “viewpoint diversity.” Fortunately, I don’t accept this patronizing view of minorities. In the end, there’s no substitute for the hard work of going through application by application, ensuring that all are good enough to pass a bar of merit but then confecting a truly diverse student body.
*World Aquatics, the governing body of the sport, has announced that it has created an “open” category for transgender swimmers.
Swimming will set up an “open category” that will include transgender competitors, the governing body of the sport said Tuesday.
World Aquatics president Husain Al-Musallam said the event would take place in the future but gave no details. Reports suggest it could be this year.
“This is a very complex topic,” Al-Musallam said at the World Aquatics Congress. “But I am delighted to tell you today that we are now making plans for the first trial of an open category, and we hope to be able to confirm all the details soon.
“Our sport must be open to everybody,” he said.
World Aquatics had previously banned transgender competitors from major events such as the Olympics and world championships.
The topic has been divisive and many governing bodies in major sports have avoided it. And there will be many questions to answer as the first trial event unfolds under the eyes of lawyers and scientists.
“It was very important that we protected fair competition for our female athletes,” Al-Musallam said. “But you have heard me say many times there should be no discrimination. Nobody should be excluded from our competitions.”
This isn’t ideal, as it pits transgender male swimmers against transgender female ones, with the latter probably having an inherent advantage. But it at least allows trans people to compete in athletics—something that’s essential to have fairness for everyone in athletics. I suspect more sports federations will be going this route.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn. I asked Malgorzata what Hili, lying on the windowsill, was kvetching about, and got this response, “To quite a lot of phenomena but mainly to wokeness and to behavior of Israeli elites (she read the article by Bret Stephens and marveled about the way this very intelligent man’s mind works).”
Hili: I have new data.A: On what topic?Hili: The rise of the level of irrationality among the enlightened.
Hili: Mam nowe dane.Ja: Na jaki temat?Hili: Wzrostu poziomu irracjonalności w populacji oświeconych.
From The Cat House on the Kings:
If you know your Oppenheimer, you’ll recognize this phrase, where and when Oppenheimer said the original, and where it came from. From Kristin:
And, given the day, this is appropriate. From Pet Jokes & Puns (or GTFO!):
Lagniappe: go here.
From Masih; the brave women of Iran #7,562. She’s not wearing a hijab, either.
In the face of tragedy, a mother’s resilience shines. Despite losing her 16-year-old son at the hands of Islamic Republic agents, she persists. They tore down her son’s photo, but she’s now hanging pictures of him and other victims citywide. Let’s stand together against… pic.twitter.com/ZxS50aBtX0
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 25, 2023
I found this one. There’s either water or salt on that turtle’s head:
the cutest video you will see today pic.twitter.com/K0kFUBl2Qk
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) July 25, 2023
From Simon, who says “But why?” (Good question!). He adds, “I think the slow motion hurts even more!”
What’s the physiological relevance? pic.twitter.com/B9rzQ4r1lu
— Oded Rechavi 🦉 (@OdedRechavi) July 25, 2023
Angry mode pic.twitter.com/Mdv7OmHDpI
— cats with pawerful aura (@catswithaura) July 23, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 30-year-old man who lived but two weeks in the camp before dying:
26 July 1911 | A Polish Jew, Psachje Krieser, was born in Nowy Sącz. A clerk.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 26, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb, about to have cataracts removed and new lenses installed. In the first one, Matthew likes the bear but I was more interested in the skunks.
They put out water and were amazed at the variety of animals that visiting during the night
Wait for it…
IG | hurtingsouls pic.twitter.com/SOe31PtOyu
— Jessi 💫 (@its_jessi_grace) July 24, 2023
Sound up. But why are these soldiers in England?
Very wholesome video of Ukrainian soldiers seeing Stonehenge for the first time. pic.twitter.com/Axws0RbExm
— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen) July 24, 2023
A byproduct of Matthew’s research on his Crick biography. The solutions, of course, involved how are proteins made, followed by the discovery of DNA, followed by the deciphering of the genetic code, the discovery of messenger RNA, and the way that proteins are synthesized on ribosomes.
The opening paragraph of Crick’s PhD thesis (July 1953), setting out a research programme that would take the scientific community nearly 15 years to resolve. pic.twitter.com/63BgEHZOUf
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) July 24, 2023