Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, August 29, 2023, and oy, it’s National Chop Suey Day. This vile dish, often made with canned crispy noodles, stir-fried celery, and a cornstarch-infused goo poured over the whole odious mess, may be the worst example of cultural foor appropriation I know. It’s okay if you’re hungry (everything is), but is bland and flavorless.
It’s also Lemon Juice Day, More Herbs, Less Salt Day (brought to you by the Leisure Fascists), National Swiss Wine Growers Day, International Day against Nuclear Tests, and, in Ukraine, both Miners’ Day and Day of Remembrance of the Defenders of Ukraine. In India it’s both National Sports Day and Telugu Language Day.(tomorrow, “Hump Day”, would be translated as మూపురం రోజు in Telugu.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 29 Wikipedia page.
*Crikey, Trump’s lawyers tried to postpone his “insurrection” trial for conspiracy to overturn the election results until 2026, but a federal judge set the trial to begin two years earlier: on March 4 of next year.
The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election set a trial date on Monday for early March, rebuffing Mr. Trump’s proposal to push it off until 2026.
The decision by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to start the trial on March 4 amounted to an early victory for prosecutors, who had asked for Jan. 2. But it potentially brought the proceeding into conflict with the three other trials that Mr. Trump is facing, underscoring the extraordinary complexities of his legal situation and the intersection of the prosecutions with his campaign to return to the White House.
The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., has proposed taking Mr. Trump to trial on charges of tampering with the election in that state on March 4 as well. Another case, in Manhattan, in which Mr. Trump has been accused of more than 30 felonies connected to hush-money payments to a porn actress in the run-up the 2016 election, has been scheduled to go to trial on March 25.
And if the trial in Washington lasts more than 11 weeks, it could bump up against Mr. Trump’s other federal trial, on charges of illegally retaining classified documents after he left office and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them. That trial is scheduled to begin in Florida in late May.The March 4 date set by Judge Chutkan for the federal election case at a hearing in Federal District Court in Washington is the day before Super Tuesday, when 15 states are scheduled to hold Republican primaries or caucuses.
Judge Chutkan said that while she understood Mr. Trump had both other trial dates scheduled next year and, at the same time, was running for the country’s highest office, she was not going to let the intersection of his legal troubles and his political campaign get in the way of setting a date.
“Mr. Trump, like any defendant, will have to make the trial date work regardless of his schedule,” Judge Chutkan said, adding that “there is a societal interest to a speedy trial.”
The article notes that Trump is plotting to delay the outcome of the federal trials until after the election, for if he wins he can pardon himself. But he cannot pardon himself if convicted for state crimes. And, of course, there are legal issues with a President pardoning himself.
*The AP has an article about how data-driven approaches may help curb gun violence (they don’t consider my solution: using the UK solution of severely restricting access to guns).
In recent years, research reviews have begun to conclude there’s enough evidence to say which public health interventions prevent shootings, which do not, and which need more study. Knoxville is one of a growing number of cities teaming with researchers to develop an evidence-based plan to stop the bleeding.
Though some big questions remain, there is a growing consensus about what programs and policies make a difference — and which don’t.
According to an assessment by the Rand Corp., measures that work include laws that permit charging adults who let children have unsupervised access to guns, well-enforced background checks and policies that ban guns from people subject to domestic violence restraining orders.
Measures that don’t: stand-your-ground and concealed carry laws, which studies consistently show increase gun homicides, and gun buyback programs, which have been shown to have little, if any, effect on crime.
I don’t get the concealed-carry stuff; if those laws increase gun homicides, then repealing them should be a recipe for reducing deaths.
. . .As shootings accelerated, Kincannon turned to Thomas Abt, whose book, “Bleeding Out,” offers a plan for cities that includes having police and community organizations work together.
Crucially, Abt’s program doesn’t count on policymakers to take action to restrict gun access. That was appealing, because Tennessee’s state government has been moving in the opposite direction.
Kincannon supports expanded background checks and other gun control measures, but said Knoxville’s efforts are designed to make a difference “no matter what happens legislatively.”
But the stuff above all involves the legislature, and the solutions suggested for the test city of Knoxville seem like weak beer. Here’s one:
The research also supported police data showing most gun violence happened in a few “hot spots,” mostly in East Knoxville, leading to a plan initially focusing police and community outreach to a nine-block area there.
The effort involves church leaders and a range of community organizations. There were also changes at the police department, including a new police chief, a detective unit focused only on homicides and shootings, and officers dedicated to patrolling in areas with many shootings.
A goal is to increase public trust in law enforcement, which had been low and sometimes abysmal. A particular low point occurred in 2021, when a police officer killed a student in a high school bathroom in East Knoxville.
There are other things one can do (programs for kids, more outreach), but the article says that so far there’s been no palpable effect on homicides in Knoxville. I really don’t think you can make inroads on the American issue of gun violence without restricting access to guns—and that will take legislatures and, more than that, a change in morality equivalent to that which lead to the civil rights laws of the Sixties.
*Here’s a clickbait WaPo headline for me, “This is the most glamorous book you’ll read this year. Or any year.” What’s a “glamorous” book? And what is reviewer Jacob Brogan recommending? It turns out to be the memoir Better than Sane: Tales from a Dangling Girl by “model, actress, and New Yorker writer [now writing for Vogue] Alison Rose.” The book review is glowing, though other reviews haven’t been. I’ve requested the book from our library, though. A few words:
“She is incredible,” I said, volume rising, words speeding up. “When she’s a child, she has a crush on Gardner McKay, the handsomest actor who ever lived. Then she meets him when she’s grown up. They become best friends! He casts her in a play that he wrote where she plays a mentally disabled boy. They screened it on PBS! Things like that just keep happening to her. She’s the hottest person you’ve never heard of.”
. . . “Better Than Sane” is the most glamorous book you will read this year. If you read it next year, that will still be true. If you were one of the few who read it in 2004, read it again. Rose’s natural glamour is of the slightly sorrowful kind Lana Del Rey aspires, sometimes successfully, to convey. But in her memoir, Rose also exudes aglamour of the kind some fairies in folklore possess: a beguiling but slightly illusory beauty that perhaps disguises a still more compelling ugliness, after which we can only ever wonder.
There are, of course, many affairs and a lot of sex, but I’ll skip that part and go to the reviewer’s conclusion:
. . . It is, however, a perfect book; not in the way that gemstones are, but in the way that a Saturday can be. This is the rare sort of memoir that invites you into a world beneath our own, a secret commonwealth made possible by Rose’s spiky genius and irresistible magnetism. It deserves to be reveled in, returned to and, if you are anything like me, enthusiastically and loudly shared. There are treasures here on every page, sometimes an unforgettable quip and sometimes just a joyful little encounter with a pet. Above it all there is Rose herself, as adventurous and unhinged as Titania, friend to movie stars and poets, glamorous precisely because she is possibly unreal.
Them’s very positive words! Well, this is a challenge for me. Will I find this a “perfect Saturday-like book”? Stay tuned.
*The conservative WSJ op-ed section has a piece on Nikki Haley, my second favorite Republican candidate after Chris Christie (I won’t, of course, vote for a Republican in the next Presidential election, but I’m not happy about voting for Biden, potentially turning Kamala “Do Nothing” Harris into President. The article, “Nikki Haley’s debate truths“, says this:
If Nikki Haley gets a bump in the polls from Wednesday’s presidential debate, one reason will be that she respected viewers by telling them the truth. Ms. Haley said, accurately, that passing a national abortion ban at 15 weeks is politically off the table, since it would require 60 votes in the Senate. She has argued this before, but many Republicans might be hearing it for the first time.
The former South Carolina Governor instead suggested—brace yourself—consensus policy-making. “Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions?” she asked. “Can’t we all agree that contraception should be available?” At the same time, Ms. Haley called herself “unapologetically pro-life.”
The contrast to Ms. Haley came from her fellow South Carolinian, Sen. Tim Scott, and especially former Vice President Mike Pence, who have endorsed a national abortion ban at 15 weeks. “A 15-week ban is an idea whose time has come,” Mr. Pence said. “It’s supported by 70% of the American people. But it’s going to take unapologetic leadership.”
Mr. Pence is principled, and he’s right that the Democratic Party’s abortion absolutists are far from the center of public opinion. In a recent Gallup survey, 55% of Americans (including 52% of women) said abortion should be generally illegal in the second three months of pregnancy, versus 37% who said legal.
Yet Ms. Haley is right that Mr. Pence’s idea would get zero support from Democrats in the Senate. Breaking a filibuster would take a supermajority that Republicans haven’t enjoyed in living memory, and if Mr. Pence has a plan to flip another 11 seats, he isn’t sharing it.
. . .Ms. Haley’s honesty didn’t stop there. “Donald Trump added $8 trillion to our debt,” she said. “You look at the 2024 budget: Republicans asked for $7.4 billion in earmarks. Democrats asked for $2.8 billion. So you tell me who are the big spenders.” Those figures are backed by a Roll Call story last month: “House Republicans have so thoroughly stacked the earmarking deck in their favor in appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year that the top Democratic recipient doesn’t even appear in the top 60.”
Then there was the elephant not in the room, as Fox News host Bret Baier put it, meaning former President Trump. “Three-quarters of Americans don’t want a rematch between Trump and Biden,” Ms. Haley said. “And we have to face the fact that Trump is the most disliked politician in America. We can’t win a general election that way.”
Haley’s foreign policy, made evident when she was ambassador to the UN, isn’t bad, either. As I said, I wouldn’t vote for her, but she and Christie are way, way better than Trump as Republican candidates.
*Gross news: reader Pyers informs me that an Australian woman who was having bouts of “abdominal pain and diarrhoea, followed by a constant dry cough, fever and night sweats,” graduating to “forgetfulness and depression”, was diagnosed with harboring a live roundworm in her brain!
It was a fairly regular day on the ward for Canberra hospital infectious diseases physician Dr Sanjaya Senanayake, until a neurosurgeon colleague called him and said: “Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe what I just found in this lady’s brain – and it’s alive and wriggling.”
The neurosurgeon, Dr Hari Priya Bandi, had pulled an 8cm-long parasitic roundworm from her patient, prompting her to call on Senanayake and other hospital colleagues for advice about what to do next.
The patient, a 64-year-old woman from south-eastern New South Wales, was first admitted to her local hospital in late January 2021 after suffering three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhoea, followed by a constant dry cough, fever and night sweats.
By 2022, her symptoms also included forgetfulness and depression, prompting a referral to Canberra hospital. An MRI scan of her brain revealed abnormalities requiring surgery.
“But the neurosurgeon certainly didn’t go in there thinking they would find a wriggling worm,” Senanayake said. “Neurosurgeons regularly deal with infections in the brain, but this was a once-in-a-career finding. No one was expecting to find that.”
The surprising discovery prompted a team at the hospital to quickly come together to uncover what kind of roundworm it was and, most importantly, decide on any further treatment the patient might require.
. . .“Canberra is a small place, so we sent the worm, which was still alive, straight to the laboratory of a CSIRO scientist who is very experienced with parasites,” Senanayake said. “He just looked at it and said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is Ophidascaris robertsi’.”
Ophidascaris robertsi is a roundworm usually found in pythons. The Canberra hospital patient marks the world-first case of the parasite being found in humans.
She’s okay after the worm was removed, though she’s being tested for any sign of being immunocompromised, She may have gotten infected by coming into contact with python feces, as snakes live in her area. Here are two pictures from the article:
Caption from the Guardian article:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej gives Hili some bird-catching lessons:
Hili: What is the probability that this bird will not fly away when I come close to it?A: Close to zero.Hili: That’s just a theory.
Hili: Jakie jest prawdopodobieństwo, że ten ptak nie odfrunie, kiedy do niego podejdę?Ja: Bliskie zera.Hili: To tylko teoria.
From David, a Tundra cartoon by Chad Carpenter:
From Barry, a figure he found on reddit about the decline of religion in America (I can’t vouch for the data):
From Facebook, but I can’t find the artist:
From Masih. This really is a chilling video, showing several guys removing a woman not wearing a hijab from a taxi and beating her up. (Sound on.) Taxi drivers don’t have to accept women without hijabs, but beating them up for going unveiled is beyond the pale. Such is life for women in the Iranian theocracy.
Chilling video shows Iranian woman being beaten after removing hijab in Snapp car. The girl who sent this video to me says: this woman got attacked savagely. Taxi driver didn’t accept her for not wearing hijab. Iran’s authorities allowed taxi drivers to not accept unveiled women. pic.twitter.com/t3XFnAjGj5
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 28, 2023
A good scene from the first season of Ricky Gervais’s “After Life” (highly recommended show):
“I think I’ll have that.”
AFTER LIFE (2020)
— Michael Warburton (@MichaelWarbur17) August 26, 2023
From Jez, the BEST personal trainer. But don’t squash the kitten!
Pawsonal trainer.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/8VGNfWguri
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) August 24, 2023
From Malcolm, a lovely blanket octopus (there are four species), so named because of the webbing between their arms,
This is a blanket octopus
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) August 24, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, two sisters gassed upon arrival:
There were 1,000 people in the transort (including 320 children aged 2-12). Some 200 Jewish able-bodied men were selected during a stop on a train station in… pic.twitter.com/t8gXc1Wj1u
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 28, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb, the first showing an amazing fossil and then a tweet with a reference:
Want to know more? https://t.co/cH2Lc0BVSZ
— Natalia Jagielska (@WryCritic) August 28, 2023
Duck therapists have a hard job:
— World of Moose (@World_of_Moose) August 28, 2023
Live and learn: I had no idea! My batteries are always scattered in the drawer:
I feel like we should’ve learned this in some class pic.twitter.com/X7hAeLmEgH
— Today Years Old (@todayyearsoldig) August 27, 2023