Welcome to Friday, September 22, 2023, and National Ice Cream Cone Day (I presume they mean that ice cream is included). My flight to Chicago leaves a bit after midnight tonight, and as I have to make my way to Ben-Gurion Airport, posting may be light. The autumnal equinox begins in Israel at 2:50 a.m. Saturday morning and at 4:24 a.m. Chicago time. Thus I’ll leave Israel in the summer and arrive in Chicago in the fall (5:30 a.m.).
It’s also Astronomy Day, Hobbit Day (the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in the book), National White Chocolate Day, Native American Day,National Elephant Appreciation Day, National Bakery Day, World Rhino Day, and Love Note Day (send one to your paramour).
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 22 Wikipedia page.
*The apparent reluctance of Democrats (particularly “progressives”) to enact legislation dealing with immigration is one of the Achilles heels that will damage them in next year’s elections. (There are two other heels: the economy—not Biden’s fault—and pervasive wokeness—partly his fault.) Right now, according to the NYT, immigration is playing a role in eroding the President’s clout during the fracas about governmental shutdown. Biden’s response has been to allow nearly a half million Venezuelan immigrants to remain in the US to work for 18 months, though we all really know that they’re here for good.
Administration officials say the decision was made, as required by law, because of the worsening conditions in Venezuela, not the situation in New York or other cities. But for Mr. Biden, the move is sure to inflame the already charged political debate, both inside his own party and with Republicans, about how to confront the surge of migration from South and Central America.
The situation at the border, where officials on Monday arrested 8,000 migrants — close to record highs in May — is providing ammunition to conservative Republicans who are vowing to shut down the government unless Congress agrees to new anti-immigration measures. They argue that protecting recent Venezuelan migrants from deportation will only encourage more to head north, hoping for similar treatment after they arrive.
Advocates for the policy say Venezuelans and other migrants decide to flee because they fear persecution, starvation and violence, not because of a policy change thousands of miles away in Washington. Mr. Biden singled out Venezuelans for the program because of their sheer numbers — they make up the largest mass migration in the hemisphere in decades.
Does anybody doubt that many of the migrants who legally must assert that they are fleeing persecution and violence are in reality seeking economic benefits—not considered a legal reason for crossing the border? This is one of the Big Lies that has hampered legislation about immigration, a task originally given to Kamala Harris. (She’s done nothing.) One more excerpt:
But the dramatic move by Mr. Biden is evidence of the human dimensions and political power of an issue that has hounded him since he became president. How to deal with the border is at the heart of the funding debate in Congress, and is certain to be central to the debate between Mr. Biden and his Republican opponent in the 2024 campaign next year.
*Nooz from reader Ken:
A Texas teacher has been fired for assigning a portion of Anne Frank’s Diary: the Graphic Adaptation to eighth grade students (which is to say, students about the same age Anne Frank was when she wrote her diary).
The story is in The Washington Post. An excerpt:
A Texas teacher has been fired after a middle school class was assigned to read a graphic novel adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” that officials say had not been approved by the school district.
The Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District announced that a teacher had assigned an eighth-grade class to read a passage from “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,” which includes passages Frank wrote about female and male genitalia, and a possible attraction to women. The unabridged version of Frank’s diary has been removed from schools in Texas and Florida this year after complaints from parents over the book’s sexual content.
The teacher, who has not been publicly identified, was sent home on Sept. 13 after “concerns regarding curricular selections in your student’s reading class,” district spokesman Mike Canizales said in a letter sent to eighth-grade parents at Hamshire-Fannett Middle School in Beaumont, Tex., east of Houston. Canizales did not specify the reason for the termination but said a substitute has been teaching the class since Sept. 13.
. . . The 2018 graphic novel, adapted by Ari Folman from the unabridged version of Frank’s diary and illustrated by David Polonsky, was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “so engaging and effective that it’s easy to imagine it replacing the Diary in classrooms and among younger readers.” The version by Folman, whose parents survived the Holocaust, illustrates the hope and despair that Frank felt during her time hiding from the Nazis inside a tiny annex. The graphic adaptation is fully authorized by the Anne Frank Fonds, the Switzerland-based foundation that oversees the copyright to Frank’s diary.
Well, I’ve had enough of this censorship. The novel is widely praised, authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation, and is certainly age-appropriate. It is of course mostly Pecksniffian Republicans who get these books removed, and some might be age INappropriate, but this is not one of them. Don’t 14-year-olds know about genitalia and same-sex attraction?
*The Daily Free Press at Boston University has written a pretty damning exposé of Ibram Kendi’s management of his highly funded Center for Antiracist Research at BU. Note that some of the report is based on two disgruntled employees who left, reported mismanagement, and whose complaints were ignored. An excerpt:
Boston University hired Ibram X. Kendi to lead its new Center for Antiracist Research in 2020, a year marked by a global pandemic and nationwide racial tension.
Three years later, after at least $43 million in grants and gifts and what sources say has been an underwhelming output of research, the Center for Antiracist Research laid off almost all of its staff last week.
Multiple former staff members allege that a mismanagement of funds, high turnover rate and general disorganization have plagued the Center since its inception.
The $43 million, according to 2021 budget records obtained by The Daily Free Press, includes general support, such as the $10 million from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as donations for specific projects.
The document, which is not an all-inclusive list of donors, also lists TJ Maxx’s foundation, Stop & Shop and Peloton as donating over a million dollars.
But there’s enough independent information to suggest an investigation is warranted, and that is now happening. If the allegations are true, then Kendi is a species of grifter. At any rate, when the antiracist tsunami happened, the first thing I did was read Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist, and I was appalled at how incoherent and superficial it was. But he’s made his nut, and is widely worshiped.
*According to the AP, an appeals court is taking up a case about transgender health care, in which North Carolina and West Virginia are denying transgender people “affirmative” medical care (surgery, hormone treatment) on the grounds that gender dysphoria is not an illness. I suppose this interpretation makes it close to a forme of plastic surgery, which one could consider “body dysphoria”. But whatever th appellate court does, the AP says this case is ultimately headed to the Supreme Court:
A federal appeals court is considering cases out of North Carolina and West Virginia that could have significant implications on whether individual states are required to cover health care for transgender people with government-sponsored insurance.
The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in cases Thursday involving the coverage of gender-affirming care by North Carolina’s state employee health plan and the coverage of gender-affirming surgery by West Virginia Medicaid.
During the proceedings, at least two judges said it’s likely the case will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Both states appealed separate lower court rulings that found the denial of gender-affirming care to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. Two panels of three Fourth Circuit judges heard arguments in both cases earlier this year before deciding to intertwine the two cases and see them presented before the full court of 15.
. . .“The exclusion here is actually quite targeted, it’s quite specific,” Borelli said in court, arguing that a faithful interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and the equal protection clause ensures transgender people coverage.
Borelli is “Tara Borelli, senior attorney at Lambda Legal — the organization representing transgender people denied services in both states.”
Attorneys for the state of North Carolina said the state-sponsored plan is not required to cover gender-affirming hormone therapy or surgery because being transgender is not an illness. Attorney John Knepper claimed only a subset of transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria, a diagnosis of distress over gender identity that doesn’t match a person’s assigned sex.
Knepper said North Carolina’s insurance plan does not discriminate because it does not allow people to use state health insurance to “detransition,” either.
I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Gender dysphoria does seem to be a psychological malady, and if other psychological maladies require medical intervention, and that intervention is provided by the states, why not hormone or surgery treatment? But one must take precautions that the diagnosis is dead serious and not made lightly.
*Self-aggrandizement department: Point of Order in New Zealand has reprinted my recent analysis of an official “let’s-have-two-ways-of-knowing” post, but I added a long comment to the original if you follow Kiwi science. This is from an anonymous New Zealand scientist. Referring to the proposal to use both science and indigenous knowledge, each of which has ways of knowing not used by the other, this scientist commented:
This is not an improvement in epistemic terms. Arguably it’s even worse than integrating MM into science, as social constructivism/epistemic relativism are antithetical to science.I think it does make it easier for us to criticise what’s going on, however, as the postmodernist ideology is more evident. It’s pretty hard to argue that criticism of postmodernist ideology is racist!You ask: how are they going to teach MM [Mātauranga Māori] now? The answer is they’re not – to do so would be “recolonisation”. This was never really about teaching MM. It was always a political project designed to promote an ideological agenda. Here’s a relevant quote from Doug Stokes’ book “Against decolonisation”:“[A]ctivists impose decolonisation as part of a counter-power move to push back against what they claim is knowledge power plays of historically tainted thinkers and institutions. In short, if all knowledge is relative, it becomes politically acceptable to impose your agenda in the name of social justice and a form of restorative activism. Decolonisation is thus an explicitly political power play.This, in turn, transforms the academic social contract. It moves from a process whereby the sum of human knowledge improves in terms of its capacity to explain the world to a form of radical political deconstruction underpinned by an ethical claim that this is justified to compensate for the legacy effects of the alleged perfidiousness of Western civilisation. The assertion that all human knowledge is equally valid and the university is a site of power contestation makes it easier to understand the abandonment of fundamental academic principles, not least that of academic freedom; Itself often portrayed as a conspiracy on the part of bigots to justify discrimination and ideas that may run contrary to those of the progressive ‘woke’ Left. Aside from the obvious fact that if all knowledge is relative, why should we subscribe to the assertions of the decolonisation critique itself, [when] this form of unbounded judgmental relativism abandons any notion of reality or truth for a seeming endless play on meaning, identity and power that is transforming the university system.” (p. 83-84)
In short, the inherent attack on science is a feature, not a bug, and we’re replaying the science wars of the 1990s. People here in New Zealand should be asking themselves the following questions: if any of the MM proponents actually had a commitment to science, why are they all engaging with MM instead, and why to they consistently seek to caricature modern science?
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili isn’t drinking coffee, but is curious about it for obvious reasons:
Hili: Do you make this coffee with milk or with cream?A: Why do you ask?Hili: I prefer cream.(Photo: Sarah Lawson)
Hili: Czy tę kawę robisz sobie z mlekiem, czy ze śmietanką?Ja: Dlaczego pytasz? Hili: Wolę śmietankę.
And a photo of Szaron yawning taken by Sarah:
From Bad Cat Clothing:
From Masih. Here “promoting” means “publicizing”:
last year Islamic Republic killed Javad Heydari for promoting the murder of #MahsaAmini. Today Javad’s sister shared footages shows security forces attacked the family's home and assaulted them. Regime arrested the families of more than 70 victims.pic.twitter.com/CGSzQXzcaZ
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 21, 2023
Some crazy creationism sent in by Barry:
Imagine being someone who, casting around for a group of organisms that need some advice on how to achieve reproductive success, settles on “rabbits.”
Just imagine. pic.twitter.com/Fz2VnCLblD
— Take That Darwin (@TakeThatDarwin) September 21, 2023
What does one expect when Jacinda Ardern, whom I once admired greatly as New Zealand’s PM (she no longer is), turns super woke and then gives her opinions on free speech? I reposted this segment of her speech and added a comment:
Looks like the ex-PM has nominated herself to be the person who gets to judge which speech gets to be promulgated. No First Amendment in New Zealand. . . https://t.co/TCASlizjN2
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) September 21, 2023
And words from Elizabeth Warren, who apparently will say anything to demonstrate her ideological purity. No, I never voted for her.
Remember when farmers, teachers, and factory workers were the "backbone of our democracy"? pic.twitter.com/2a5UFPpvIh
— i/o (@monitoringbias) September 21, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
22 September 1908 | A Hungarian Jewish woman, Blanka Klein, was born in Aszód.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) September 21, 2023
Tweets from Herr Professor Cobb. First, weird behavior of kingfishers. Could it be mating behavior (not so if both birds below are males):
I don't see enough Kingfishers to know what this behaviour might mean ~ both birds on the edge of the scrape (for 25 minutes+), often appearing to mimic each other, move for move. Not seen this before. Territorial? A sibling thing?
Our learned friend @themarshtit, over to you… pic.twitter.com/b2NvFeb3nw
— The White Falcon 💙 (@Vaasetter) September 21, 2023
Duckling rush hour (muscovies). 28 of them!
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) September 20, 2023
How lovely! Good thing the youngsters have great balance! Sound up to hear the hooves.
Baby mountain goat zoomies!
Imagine taking a hike into the mountains outside Leadville, Colorado and getting to experience a baby mountain goat skipping and jumping in the snow. That's exactly what happened to Marceleno Diaz on a recent hike. pic.twitter.com/kHrNkyQFdu
— U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (@USFWS) September 20, 2023