Tuesday: Hili dialogue

September 26, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Tuesday, the Cruelest Day: it’s, September 26, 2023, and National Key Lime Pie Day. Don’t be fooled by pies made with “regular” (i.e., Persian) limes, for Key limes are a different fruit with a different flavor, and better for pies.  Here’s the size difference, but there’s a flavor difference, too. If you see “Key Lime Pie” on the menus, ask if it’s made from real Key limes.

It’s also National Better Breakfast Day, Shamu the Whale Day, Johnny Appleseed Day (his birthday in 1774), National Dumpling Day, European Day of Languages, National Good Neighbor Day, Dominion Day in New Zealand  and Lumberjack Day, which recalls this:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 26 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*My 2022 post on “The ice cream scams” proved to be the most viewed post I’ve ever done on this site, probably because the shrinkage of not just ice cream, but many products, struck home with many consumers. Now the BBC has a related post on “shrinkflation” showing that it’s not only irreversible, but ubiquitous.  (h/t N0rm)

Shrinkflation’ – reducing a product’s size or quantity while keeping its price stable – is rampant. As the global economy grapples with issues including rising raw material costs, supply chain backlogs and higher post-pandemic labourer wages, consumers are bearing the brunt of spiking production expenses.

Whether it’s toilet roll or a bag of crisps, the practice, which mostly happens during times of inflation, is showing up in shops around the world. Last week, French supermarket Carrefour put stickers on products to warn consumers when a packet’s contents have gotten smaller without a corresponding price decrease.

ALL supermarkets should do this!

Consumers are taking note of the shift to smaller packaging and – and, naturally, they aren’t happy, especially as their purchasing power is already falling amid inflation. Yet as uncomfortable as the sticker shock is now, a longer-term problem looms large: past manifestations of the phenomenon show the story of shrinkflation doesn’t end when inflation does.

In terms of consumer frustrations, “they notice price increases more than they notice size decreases”, says US-based Mark Stiving, the chief pricing educator at Impact Pricing, an organisation that educates companies on pricing. As a result, he says, companies use shrinkflation to raise prices “less painfully”.

. . .Consumers do not always see the changes right away; often, they are incremental. For instance, a favourite drink that may have come in a 12oz (340g) bottle a year earlier may now be offered for the same price, yet downsized to 10oz (283g) now.

And experts say that once the new sizes are on the shelf, they are likely to stay that way. Phil Lempert, food industry analyst and editor of SupermarketGuru adds that, since shoppers don’t have a choice, they have to adapt to the changes.

. . . et even as shrinkflation largely corresponds with inflation, Crolic says consumers usually don’t see product sizes rebound even after economic challenges abate. There are rare exceptions, but companies generally seize the opportunity to use less product and make the same amount – or more.

Instead, a new phenomenon often takes hold. “After products are repeatedly reduced in size, the manufacturer will come out with a new, larger version of it – sometimes with a fanciful new name,” agrees Edgar Dworsky, a former US consumer rights lawyer and founder of resource guide Consumer World. And with it, shoppers pay a higher cost for the upgrade.

Toilet paper and potato chips are particularly subject to this name change. But I have to say that the entire phenomenon was anticipated by none other than Stephen Jay Gould in one of his great essays, “Phyletic size decrease in Hershey bars.” (Read it!)

*A NYT op-ed by Brian Beutler is called “The Democratic Party has an old problem and won’t admit it.” The problem is in the double-entendre “old”: Democrats are unwilling to lean on the older members of their party to retire when it’s time, and not doing that can create big problems. Some examples:

The party’s leaders seem to believe implicitly in the inalienable right of their aging icons to remain in positions of high power unquestioned, long after it becomes reasonable to ask whether they’re risking intolerable harm.

The party has come to operate more like a machine, in which lengthy, loyal service must be rewarded with deference. It is why Mr. Biden has not drawn a credible primary challenger, when polling and reporting alike suggest that Democrats are deeply anxious about his ability to mount a vigorous campaign and serve another full term.

. . .If defeating Republicans is a matter of existential urgency for the country, why is the Democratic Party so blasé about elevating leaders who are oblivious to the views of the young people who stand to inherit it?

I peg the beginning of this recurring nightmare to the year 2009, when Senator Ted Kennedy’s death nearly derailed President Obama’s signature health care reform and ultimately deprived Democrats of their Senate supermajority, which they might have used to pass more sweeping legislation than they did. Eleven years later, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also died in office. Her death was a hinge point where history turned and swept much of her substantive legacy into the dustbin; worse, it left living Americans to toil indefinitely under the legacy that replaced hers.

There were gentle behind-the-scenes efforts and a robust public persuasion campaign meant to convince Justice Ginsburg to retire when Democrats still controlled the Senate and President Obama could have appointed her replacement, but there were plenty of liberals urging her to stick it out. Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, who was then the House minority leader, cheered Justice Ginsburg for ignoring the calls for her to step down. “You Go Ginsburg! Resist that sexist Ageism,” she wrote.

Despite all of this terrible history, we face a similar challenge today: an aging party, and a Democratic establishment not just unwilling to take decisive action to stave off disaster but also reluctant to even acknowledge the problem.

Dianne Feinstein, 90, is another example.  But the GOP does better, despite the “freezing” episodes of Mitch McConnell:

Although the Republican base is older, it does a better job insulating itself from gerontocracy than Democrats do. Republicans are obviously far from perfect champions of their own self-interest. Their penchant for personality cults has wedded them to Donald Trump, who also happens to be old, but they are vulnerable to charlatans of all ages. That’s in part because they take steps to reduce the risk that they lose power by the attrition of elderly leaders. Justice Anthony Kennedy timed his retirement so a Republican president could replace him; the House G.O.P. has cycled through several leaders over the past decade and a half, none of them terribly old. When Kentucky’s Democratic governor Andy Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, encouraged his allies in the Kentucky Legislature to circumscribe Mr. Beshear’s appointment power — to ensure partisan continuity in Washington, should a Senate seat become vacant. So although Mr. McConnell seems committed to serving out his term, he has a succession plan.

It looks as if Biden will run, and of course I’ll vote for him over any Republican I know, but it’s really time for him to step down. His speeches become more incoherent, and he’s started using the shorter stairs on Air Force One (there are two sets) so he won’t trip as much. And if he dies in office, what do we have? President Kamala Harris. The mind boggles.  I offer up Peter Buttigieg, young, vigorous, and smart. But he doesn’t stand a chance—not next year.

*Speaking of aging Democrats, Max Boot in the WaPo would prefer a Democrat younger than Biden (Boot despises Trump), but it ain’t gonna happen. And he muses how we can stop Trump from winning given that he’s running neck and neck with Biden in the polls and may have an electoral-college advantage. Well, the VP is not a solution, even though there are better candidates:

So how do we stop Trump? Biden is a feeble vessel at best, but he’s the only realistic option we have. It’s true that he is 80 years old (and would be 82 at the start of a new term), and he often stumbles rhetorically and sometimes physically. But his successful performance in office belies his doddering image.

He has managed to pass big, bipartisan bills, including infrastructure legislation that Trump only talked about. He has been even more impressive internationally, assembling a large coalition to oppose Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and another coalition in East Asia to deter China from aggression of its own. The economy — the ultimate barometer of a president’s performance — has been doing much better than expected, with low unemployment, declining inflation and no recession in sight. That’s a record any president can be proud of. Yet the polls haven’t been giving Biden the credit he is due, possibly because perceptions of the economy still lag the reality.

In an ideal world, Biden would head off to a well-deserved retirement and a younger, more vigorous successor — someone such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom or Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — would run in his place.

But we don’t live in that ideal world. In the world as it is, we’re just a few months before the start of the primaries, so if Biden were to step down now, the almost certain Democratic nominee would be Vice President Harris. (The last sitting vice president who sought but failed to secure a party’s presidential nomination was Alben Barkley in 1952.) And I have yet to meet a Democrat who has any confidence in Harris’s ability to beat Trump.

Harris has a poor track record in national politics. She exited the 2020 Democratic race before a single vote was cast and has done little to elevate herself as vice president (admittedly a difficult task in a low-profile post with few fixed responsibilities). Moreover, unfair as it is, there is good cause to worry that Trump would run a sexist and racist campaign that could hurt Harris among working-class White voters in industrial states. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows that, while Trump is beating Biden by just 0.5 points, he leads Harris by 4 points — and that’s before he has begun to focus his fire and fury on her.

.  . . At the same time, any move to challenge Biden in the primaries or to replace Harris on the ticket would lead to Democratic fratricide which would likely ease Trump’s path back to power. Anyone who believes in preserving American democracy and the U.S.-led world order, therefore, has no choice but to back Biden in 2024, however uninspiring that might be.

Yes, as long as Joe wants to be President, nobody is going to challenge him, but I don’t get the fealty to Harris. Why should it alienate Democrats to replace her her with someone who could actually be a good President should Biden die or be debilitated? Is it because she’s a woman? Or a person of color (half Indian, half African-American)? I don’t quite get this, but Whitmer, Buttigieg, and other Democrats should be our VP insurance policy should Biden die, not Harris, a politician for whom I have little respect.

*LiveScience reports that the world’s oldest aquarium fish, a lungfish, is likely to be older than previously thought. Maybe even a century!

The world’s oldest aquarium fish, a lungfish named Methuselah, may actually be decades older than researchers originally thought and may even be over 100 years old, a new study finds.

Methuselah is a female Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) that resides at Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, California. She first arrived at the aquarium in 1938 after being sent to the U.S. along with more than 200 other fish from Fiji and Australia.

Aquarium staff have never been sure how old Methuselah is, but until now the best guess was that she is 84 years old, which makes her the oldest known fish in captivity. (In the Bible, Methuselah was a man who reputedly lived to be 969 years old.)

The elderly fish, who loves belly rubs and is hand-fed figs by her doting keepers, shows no signs of slowing down, which has added to the confusion about her age. So researchers decided to work out exactly how old she is using a “DNA age clock.”

In the study, researchers compared Methuselah’s DNA to the genetic material of other Australian lungfish to work out how much wear and tear her DNA had accumulated. The results suggest that she is most likely age 92, but the level of uncertainty with this type of experiment means she could be up to 101 years old. The study will be published later this year.

I didn’t know that “wear and tear on DNA” studies could be this accurate, but what do I know.  Here’s how they do it:

The researchers compared the DNA of 30 Australian lungfish from captivity and the wild, including two other lungfish at the Steinhart Aquarium. The team analyzed the amount of methylation in the fishes’ genetic material. Methylation is a biological process by which methyl groups —a carbon atom bound to three hydrogen atoms — are added to the DNA molecule. From this, they were able to work out how long it would have taken for Methuselah to build up the number of methyl groups found in her DNA.

At any rate, here’s Methuselah:

HOWEVER, Wikipedia mentions Hanako, a captive koi in Japan that died at what seems to be age 225. This is, however, disputed.

*Lettie Teague, the WSJ’s wine columnist, is pretty good, and her column this week is called “Is this the best time ever to be drinking wine? 4 compelling reasons?” Yes, it is a pretty good time, though I fondly recall the cheap ’82 Bordeaux, whose quality/price ratio hasn’t been matched since, or the absurdly inexpensive high-quality German wines of the mid to late eighties; you won’t see those prices again. However, here are Teague’s reasons that now is the BEST time to be drinking wine? (I don’t necessarily agree, but she has some points.

1.) Ciao to corked bottles (more good wines are dispensing with corks).

Although I’ve uncorked plenty of corked bottles over the years, happily, I rarely encounter one these days. And I’m hardly alone. Katja Scharnagl, beverage director of Koloman restaurant in New York, and Caroline Styne, co-owner and wine director of the Los Angeles-based Lucques restaurant group, both told me they are coming across far fewer corked bottles tableside, and both cited increased use of cork alternatives as a factor.

2.) Screw caps ascendant (not really different from #1):

Today, screw caps are employed by winemakers all over the world. And why shouldn’t they be? Screw-capped bottles reliably deliver wine that is fresh and contaminant-free (see cork taint, above). They are also easy to open and close. And in my experience, an open bottle of wine outfitted with a screw cap will stay fresh a bit longer than one closed with a cork.

Indeed, I’d be hard pressed today to find a forward-thinking winemaker—or, for that matter, wine drinker—who thinks there’s anything cheap or less than incredibly handy about a bottle closed with an easy-to-open, (practically) airtight metal cap.

She’s right here. I’ve dealt with too many crumbling corks in old wines to disagree with her.

3.) Embrace the unfamiliar.

Certain grapes have long dominated the wine world. But while Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet and other international superstars remain widely planted, well-known and very popular among wine drinkers, these varieties are far from the only game in town.

Today, I see open-minded wine drinkers—many of them younger and perhaps less fettered by convention—embracing grapes whose names they might be unsure how to pronounce. They are crazy for Carricante from the Etna region of Sicily and Alvarinho from Portugal’s far western edge; for Mencia, that fragrant red grape from Galicia, or Torrontes, the quixotic white grape grown in the same high-elevation vineyards of Argentina that produce that country’s more-famous red grape, Malbec.

Again, she’s right. If there’s one problem with wine lovers, it’s that they often hesitate to try wines that either aren’t made from wel known grapes or are otherwise obscure. Try the little-known reds of Southern France or Spanish whites!

4.) High regard for low alcohol. 

More and more of the emails I get from WSJ readers about a wine I’ve mentioned in my column ask: “What’s the alcohol content?” The wines these readers are looking for are those with low numbers—by which I mean somewhere between 11 and 13% alcohol.

These readers are over the bombastically big Cabernets and Zins and over-oaked Chardonnays whose alcohol content hovers between 15 and 16%. While these alcohol bombs were once hotly pursued by wine lovers and won high critical scores, they have lost some of their luster.

Perhaps it’s because wine drinkers are exhausted by their efforts to pair high-alcohol wines with food—always a challenge. When the alcohol is high, it becomes the dominant feature of the wine, like a loud talker dominating an otherwise silent room.

I don’t fully agree. Those high-alcohol fruit bombs can be great either with the right food or on their own. I suspect many of these people are just assuming that low alcohol wines are healthier, or perhaps they don’t want to get tipsy. There’s a time and place for wines of all alcohol levels, including those lovely vintage ports that are 19% alcohol or more!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is fantasizing about clouds:

Hili: A lion?
A: Where?
Hili: In the cloud, it is riding on a skateboard.
In Polish:
Hili: Lew.
Ja: Gdzie?
Hili: Na chmurze, jedzie na deskorolce.
And a somewhat blurry picture of Szaron:


From Divy:

From Barry:

From Laurie Ann:

From Masih, another protestor harassed in Iran (sound up):

From Titania:


Good news from Simon: Larry is okay! There were rumors that he was very ill.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a post that I retweeted:

From Dr. Cobb, a lion who wants to drink alone:

Matthew said, “You know this one but still . .  ” But no, I didn’t:


Dylan plays three days ago!

22 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1580 – Francis Drake finishes his circumnavigation of the Earth in Plymouth, England.

    1687 – Morean War: The Parthenon in Athens, used as a gunpowder depot by the Ottoman garrison, is partially destroyed after being bombarded during the Siege of the Acropolis by Venetian forces.

    1789 – George Washington appoints Thomas Jefferson the first United States Secretary of State.

    1905 – Albert Einstein publishes the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.

    1933 – As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.

    1942 – Holocaust: Senior SS official August Frank issues a memorandum detailing how Jews should be “evacuated”.

    1950 – Korean War: United Nations troops recapture Seoul from North Korean forces.

    1953 – Rationing of sugar in the United Kingdom ends.

    1959 – Typhoon Vera, the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in recorded history, makes landfall, killing 4,580 people and leaving nearly 1.6 million others homeless.

    1960 – In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

    1969 – Abbey Road, the last recorded album by The Beatles, is released.

    1973 – Concorde makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.

    1983 – Soviet Air Force officer Stanislav Petrov identifies a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike. [Phew, that was close!]

    2008 – Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy becomes first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.

    1641 – Nehemiah Grew, English plant anatomist and physiologist (d. 1712).

    1774 – Johnny Appleseed, American gardener and environmentalist (d. 1845).

    1849 – Ivan Pavlov, Russian physiologist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936).

    1876 – Edith Abbott, American economist, social worker, and author (d. 1957).

    1887 – Barnes Wallis, English scientist and engineer, invented the Bouncing bomb (d. 1979).

    1888 – T. S. Eliot, English poet, playwright, critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965).

    1898 – George Gershwin, American pianist and composer (d. 1937).

    1901 – George Raft, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1980).

    1907 – Anthony Blunt, English historian and spy (d. 1983). [He was considered to be the “fourth man” of the Cambridge Five, a group of Cambridge-educated spies who worked for the Soviet Union from some time in the 1930s to at least the early 1950s.]

    1927 – Robert Cade, American physician and educator, co-invented Gatorade (d. 2007).

    1930 – Joe Brown, English mountaineer and author (d. 2020).

    1939 – Ricky Tomlinson, English actor and screenwriter.

    1944 – Anne Robinson, English journalist and game show host.

    1945 – Bryan Ferry, English singer-songwriter.

    1946 – Andrea Dworkin, American activist and author (d. 2005).

    1948 – Olivia Newton-John, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2022).

    1956 – Linda Hamilton, American actress.

    1962 – Tracey Thorn, English singer-songwriter and writer.

    1981 – Serena Williams, American tennis player.

    1716 – Antoine Parent, French mathematician and theorist (b. 1666).

    1820 – Daniel Boone, American hunter and explorer (b. 1734).

    1846 – Thomas Clarkson, English abolitionist (b. 1760).

    1868 – August Ferdinand Möbius, German mathematician and astronomer (b. 1790).

    1902 – Levi Strauss, German-American businessman, founded Levi Strauss & Co. (b. 1829).

    1937 – Bessie Smith, American singer and actress (b. 1894).

    1945 – Béla Bartók, Hungarian pianist and composer (b. 1881).

    1947 – Hugh Lofting, English-American author and poet (b. 1886).

    1998 – Betty Carter, American singer (b. 1930).

    2003 – Shawn Lane, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer (b. 1963).

    2003 – Robert Palmer, English singer-songwriter (b. 1949).

    2008 – Paul Newman, American actor, director, producer, and businessman (b. 1925).

    2016 – Toughie, last known Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog (h. fl. 2005).

    2019 – Jacques Chirac, French politician, President of France (b. 1932).

    1. I would guess that George Washington later regretted his appointment as Secretary of State or his friendship with Congressman Madison. In either case he stopped all correspondence with both of them after leaving office and had nothing to do with them for good reason. So much for some of our founding fathers. That party thing really did make a difference. Whether he liked it or not George was more of a Hamilton Federalist and that is the right side of history.

  2. Another measure of stagflation – quality of newspaper articles. Over the past two weeks, I have read two reasonably long articles in the Washington Post on the NASA OSIRIS spacecraft: one about the mission a few days before planned return to Earth and the other covered the events of return itself through landing in the desert. I believe that both articles were written by bot software rather than human wetware. Both articles were at best mediocre in style….something that stood out to me as a regular reader of pretty tightly written wapo content. The first article even referred to the landing and sampling process at the asteroid as being “surprisingly difficult”. Surprisingly!? Every part of this mission was extremely difficult and anyone involved knows it…surprisingly is the type of word that a robot would proffer, and then if unchecked by a human editor, appear in print. The article on the landing itself ended with a lazy q&a format so amenable to bot answers.

    IF wapo and other outlets are shortchanging its readers in quality and accuracy of news articles by turning them over to machines, as I strongly suspect here, do we as consumers have any recourse? I have no interest in paying for a paper that provides unchecked word salads to me. Disagreeing with political or editorial positions is one thing and I will pay to have my mind stimulated. But substituting dumb machines for smart and talented human newstaff is unacceptable.

    1. Mea culpa. I meant to use “shrink” not “stag”, a carryover from the late 1970’s US economy. Useful and correct content shrinks.

    2. Particularly in science and technology journalism, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in quality. It’s pretty pathetic. Lots of flat out errors stuff, most sources saying more or less the same things (often wrong) like a high school peer group, shallow, seemingly more interested in shaping opinion than describing the science or technology. It often seems as if I have done more research in 30 minutes on the internet than the author of the article did.

      Case in point that seems right up your alley, as it were Jim, most all of the reporting about the FAA investigation into SpaceX’s first integrated Starship orbital test flight attempt. Nearly all reporting on it had it completely wrong, as if the FAA was performing the investigation and also dragging its feet. In reality, as is SOP with these types of activities, a plan for how a mishap investigation will be carried out, by the operator (SpaceX in this case), is required to be submitted by the operator (SpaceX) to the FAA as part of the launch license application.

      In other words, SpaceX was the one performing the investigation, SpaceX was the one that came up with the list of corrective actions required before another launch attempt and SpaceX was the one writing the report. The FAA merely oversees all this to ensure it’s done per the previously approved plan submitted to them by SpaceX, and then evaluates the report once they receive it.

      If I can find that out withing 30 minutes of rummaging around on the internet, why can’t the dozens (hundreds?) of journalists that wrote about it do at least that?

      1. Yep. It sure is fishy (lungfish aside). These articles show the exact behavior one would expect from a massive point connecting neural network of the 1990’s all gussied up and marketed to 21st century consumers under the specious claim of artificial intelligence. Are there still neutral and honest ombudsmen at the bigger media outlets?

  3. … the House G.O.P. has cycled through several leaders over the past decade and a half, none of them terribly old.

    This rando fact lends no support at all to Brian Beutler’s claim in his NYT op-ed that Republicans are more willing to replace their decrepit office holders with a younger generation.

    Kevin McCarthy’s two immediate past predecessors as Republican Speakers of the House, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, did not retire because of their ages. (Boehner was just a year older than McCarthy is now and Ryan was a dozen years younger than McCarthy is now when they retired.) Boehner and Ryan both quit the House Speakership — the second most powerful position in Washington, DC, and the next officeholder after the vice president in the line of succession to the presidency — not out of any concern for their ages, but out of frustration with dealing with the far right-wing fringe of their own Republican caucuses.

    Boehner and Ryan were both more adroit political operatives (and men of better character) than the spineless McCarthy, whose problems with his own far right fringe (which has grown even fringier and is loyal to their cult leader, Trump, and not at all to House Republican leadership) has grown only worse. McCarthy has a smaller majority margin in the House, and he essentially had to give away all the inherent authority of the Speakership to win that position after 15 ballots at the start of this term. McCarthy is easily the weakest House Speaker in the modern era. Witness his flailing around at the last minute in an attempt to avoid a government shutdown.

    1. All the obsession with age is kind of like the focus on polls. It is what lazy journalism is all about. You can’t do anything about it so move on. Some of the most vile people in the republican house are young. How about reading a book by someone who was there to see the republicans in action. Cassidy Hutchinson’s book, just out today would be a good place to start.

      1. I also find it remarkable that while all the focus is on Biden’s age and age related foibles, the media never highlights Trump’s truly messed up mishaps of late. He confused Biden with Obama twice in one sentence, said Biden was going to start WW2, confused Jeb and George Bush…saying that Jeb got us into the Middle East. He also recently wrote that Joint Chief Mark Milley should be executed for him deescalating tensions between China and the US since Trump was scarring the Chinese after he lost the 2020 election. The fact that Trump continues to incite violence and is confusing recent events that he was directly involved in doesn’t seem to faze the media. But Biden taking the shorter Air-force One stairs is somehow sky-is-falling news. Can you imagine what the media would do if Biden called for the execution of a US general or confused who his recent adversaries were on multiple occasions…like confusing Trump with Bush twice in one sentence without correcting himself? I can tell you they wouldn’t ignore it. What passes for American journalism nowadays is a serious threat to our Democracy: both siding everything, ignoring Trump’s mental decline while highlighting Biden’s, framing the GOP as an actual political party with real ideas and not a personality cult bent on Trump’s revenge and reckoning, putting access before integrity, never fact checking even when they know the interviewee is a pathological liar, and when lied to, there is never or very little push back. It is beyond infuriating, especially since the malpractice is so apparent.

        1. Well said. I couldn’t agree more. It’s incredibly frustrating how the media is normalizing the violent incitement posted by Trump and his cult members like Paul Gosar, who was also advocating for the death of the ‘Sodomy-Promoting Traitor’ Gen. Mark Milley. Can you imagine if Obama had said something even close to that? How would the Republicans would react? There would be howls of outrage that would reach outer space. This is all worse than a Twilight Zone episode. It’s pure insanity and the media just blows it all off as a normal day in Trumpworld–or what I call Bizzaro World.

  4. Re screw tops, the downside is that that in my experience the wine doesn’t bottle age as it does with corks. I cellared some screw top zin for eight years and it tasted just like it did on the day I bought its brother. Very good, but it hadn’t matured or changed at all, which was disappointing.

    1. A factor which may or may not stir the hearts of wine lovers is the fact that the production of natural corks in Spain and Portugal helps to maintain a gloriously rich ecosystem that includes some of Europe’s rarest bird and mammal species such as Iberian lynx and Imperial Eagle as well as countless invertebrates.

  5. I first noticed shrinkflation many years ago b/c of the toilet paper. “They” forgot to include the makers of the roll-holders in the scheme. I put a new roll on and noticed how much space there was . Still had an old roll so put them next to each other and took a picture – about a 20% reduction in paper. Didn’t bother me b/c my aholeness is fairly small.
    The unintended consequence of shrinkflation is more plastic pollution. Costs consumers more dollars and pollutes more. Everyone loses except the big A__holes.

    1. In the 50’s some engineer or some such worked out that making a toothpaste tube’s hole bigger would increase profits by X. X looked good and they did it. It worked! Don’t know if this is apocryphal, but just adds another dimension to this consumer/company profit relationship based on waste.

      I just did a quick google and it appears the veracity is sound.

  6. Maybe the Democrats should run Methuselah the lungfish. She’s old but, unlike Biden, she isn’t showing her age.

    I’m voting for Biden if he runs, but I’m a fan of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Here’s a humble recommendation for Whitmer:

    Hold a press conference or arrange to be interviewed by a major media outlet. State that you love your job as the governor of Michigan. But—and here is the important part—indicate that you would consider serving as President if you were called to do so. That’s it. Respectfully (to Biden) float the balloon and see what happens. The statement would create a media sensation. If there’s enough of a groundswell for her to run, maybe Biden would agree to defer to her. Biden, too, knows that his age is a massive liability and that he risks handing the Presidency to Trump. Biden does not want the re-election of Donald Trump to be his legacy.

    I’m no Cueball (nickname for Democratic strategist James Carville), but I would love it if Whitmer would give it a try.

    1. I’ve been thinking about Cueball recently and his statement, “In the Democratic Party, everyone wants to be in policy; no one wants to be in sales.”

  7. I’m afraid that the Democratic party is committing suicide. If Trump gets back in, we
    will see “enabling laws” that effectively crush democracy. In Texas it’s clear that the
    in-power GOP finds elections annoying and unnecessary and is trying to make sure
    that they won’t need them in the future.

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