Greetings from sunny (and secular) Tel Aviv on a non-Sabbath day: Sunday, September 10, 2023.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Sarah is visiting and Hili is sleeping in Andrzej’s chair at his computer.
Sarah: Do you like this place?Hili: This is my chair to which Andrzej lays claim.(Photo: Sarah Lawson)
Sarah: Lubisz to miejsce?Hili: To mój fotel, do którego Andrzej zgłasza pretensje.
(Zdjęcie Sarah Lawson)
*You’ve surely heard of the powerful earthquake in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco that devastated Marrakesh, one of my favorite cities in Morocco, though increasingly despoiled by tourism. But tourism is irrelevant to the damage (which includes of course places other than the city), and especially to the huge death toll:
Thousands of Moroccans slept outdoors for a second night Saturday into Sunday after the worst earthquake in a century flattened homes across central and southern parts of the country, killing at least 2,000 people and setting off a huge rescue effort in remote mountain areas.
The extent of the damage and number of casualties after Friday’s magnitude 6.8 earthquake remained unclear because the hardest-hit communities were in the Atlas Mountains, where the few roads appeared to be blocked by debris, and where phone service and electricity had been knocked out. Most homes in that area are made of mud bricks, a traditional construction method that is highly vulnerable to earthquakes and heavy rains.
Here’s a NYT map of the quake’s intensity (click to enlarge). Marrakesh is in the “strong” zone at the top (labeled):
You can see a series of poignant and disturbing photos of the aftermath here.
*In the WaPo, J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, explains that although he had significant legal difficulties with RBG, he will still affix and send letters bearing a new postage stamp in her honor. This is a heartening testimony to respecting the honor of one’s opponent and lauding the good things they did:
There was much to like and admire about Justice Ginsburg: The personal gestures of kindness arriving at just the right times. The improbability of such a soft-spoken figure wielding such a large influence on the law. Her courage despite multiple bouts with cancer. Her mastery of the judicial craft. “Get it right and keep it tight,” she would say. Nobody did it better.
She had been my friend. She chose several of my law clerks to clerk for her, and each of them adored her. I had learned at dinners to lean over so I could hear what she was saying. I had come to understand that the long pauses in conversation were not terminations, but intermissions between insights.
But using the stamp on my personal correspondence? No way. I summoned no end of excuses. That she had intruded inadvisedly in the 2016 election. That she claimed for the Constitution an all-but-definitive word on abortion. That she was too quick to exile the slightest religious expression from the public square. That she would too easily displace representative government and the votes and voices of millions with the superior wisdom of just five justices of the court.
The gap was just too great. Affixing portraiture to a letter shows the warm and admiring view of the sender for the person on the stamp. My friends would laugh, seeing it as wildly incongruous or as some kind of heehaw from which we would all derive a merry chuckle. Safer just to let it be.
Safer, maybe, but in the end, not right. Being true to oneself should not mean being untrue to someone else. Death does not erase differences. Nor should it. Historical debates are often the most heated. Witness the one raging over whether the founders of our nation should be judged by our contemporary standards or in the context of their times.
But if not an eraser, death may yet be a benign enabler, allowing us to see others in the round and to render differences so large in life less consequential afterward. What comes through to me in the stamp is not a stand on abortion or judicial activism, but ineffable kindness and a lifetime spent promoting the full dignity of women, and doing so in the belief that the law in all its majesty lights the best path toward that end.
So yes, I will use the stamp — if I can find it.
. . . I hope that, in the future, it will not take mortality and a postage stamp to remind us that simply having different views and leading a different life make no one less of an American than any other. . .
The soon-to-be-issued stamp. Buy ’em after October 2:
*Soon all new iPhones will have to be equipped with the USB-C charging port instead of its proprietary “Lightning” port, which forces you to buy Apple cables. Why? Because a guy from Malta is forcing Apple to abide by EU regulations.
Last year, the EU passed a law that would require new hand-held electronic devices to be equipped with USB-C ports by next year. Most phones, laptops and other popular gadgets already use the port that makes it easy to charge all your devices with one cord. But not the iPhone! It uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning port—and now Europe’s regulators have essentially banned that technology. They say the common charger is common sense and this one law will simplify our lives in a small but meaningful way.
That was the case Agius Saliba made when he stood in front of the European Parliament last year. He reached into a box that he’d schlepped from his home in Malta and pulled out a mess of tangled cables—the kind of electronic spaghetti you might recognize from your own junk drawer. But that was the past, he said. In his other hand was the future. He was holding a single USB-C charger.
“Today,” he said, “we are replacing this pile of chargers with just…this.”
And this is why Apple is expected to unveil a notable change to the iPhone next week, phasing out Lightning connectors after more than a decade and switching to USB-C. That is the only way it could keep shipping iPhones to Europe under the regulations that Agius Saliba helped write.
“If Apple wants to market their products and sell their products within our internal market,” he told the EU legislature last year, “they have to abide by our rules.” He put it another way in a Facebook post: “I’m not going to let Apple do what they want!”
Yay for Saliba, who took on Apple, and won! Here’s a WSJ photo and caption of the Lightning and the standard cable (used by most other phones):
*Joe Biden continues to coddle one of the world’s worst human rights violators: Saudi crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, oppressor and murderer of political opponents (journalist Jamal Khashoggi).
The Saudi crown prince once vilified by President Joe Biden has been elevated from a fist bump to a hearty handshake.
Biden warmly greeted Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman, after they appeared together along with several other leaders at the Group of 20 summit Saturday in New Delhi. The leaders had gathered to announce an ambitious plan to build a rail and shipping corridor linking India with the Middle East and Europe.
Biden smiled and shook hands with the crown prince, who is often referred to by his initials MBS, as the announcement wrapped up. This year’s G20 host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mod i, quickly draped his own hand over their hands.
The cordial greeting was a sharp contrast to the last time Biden and the crown prince met, just over a year ago, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During that encounter, Biden awkwardly greeted the crown prince with a fist bump, a moment roundly criticized by human rights activists, who were already upset at Biden’s decision to meet with the Saudi leader.
Bin Salman has been harshly criticized for his human rights violations. U.S. intelligence officials determined that the prince approved the 2018 murder of the U.S.-based writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was a tough critic of the kingdom’s ruling family,
Fred Ryan, who was publisher of The Washington Post at the time of last year’s Biden-Prince Mohammed meeting, said the fist bump “projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.” Khashoggi was a contributor for the newspaper.
Biden refused to speak to Prince Mohammed at the start of his administration. As a presidential candidate in 2020, Biden said he wanted to make the Saudis “pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”
Well, Biden has done no such thing. The Saudis are no longer pariahs to the U.S., if they ever were.
Some memes, and forgive me if I forgot who sent them:
A Far Side cartoon from Gary Larson:
Three tweets from Masih. First, two protestors who lost an eye:
32) 18-year-old Asal Jazideh lost an eye to the brutalities of the Islamic regime. Now, bravely breaking her silence from exile, she declares: 'I endured pain, mentally and emotionally, but my belief in the #WomanLifeFreedom revolution and its people remains unbroken.' pic.twitter.com/OsOPaPcqQj
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 9, 2023
And a mother who lost a son (sound up):
Listen to the heart-wrenching plea of a mother. Years ago, the Islamic regime took her son’s life and hid his body. She’s been searching cemetery after cemetery, longing for a sign of her son’s grave. This is the true face of the authoritarian Islamic regime. #WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/UnWeu1GCqn
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 9, 2023
A chill chinchilla:
The way this Chinchilla is focussed pic.twitter.com/uzt69eercs
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) September 9, 2023
From Barry, a David Attenborough imitation (sound up):
Three tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, I haven’t seen a better catch, including Willie Mays’s vaunted one;
Masato Akamatsu makes an insane catch. Arguably the greatest catch ever pic.twitter.com/sXSJ5hakhy
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) September 9, 2023
Listen to this elephant squeal and then play drums:
Animals are beautiful people. pic.twitter.com/1ottBSBy6o
— Earthling / 🦣: journa.host/@ziya (@ziyatong) September 9, 2023
Not a philosopher but a wag:
Deeply obsessed with this tiny Irish child’s trolley problem joke pic.twitter.com/zx67FXKFjD
— c e aubin? 🍯 (@ceaubin) September 8, 2023