Welcome to the formal beginning of another week: it’s Sunday, October 22, 2023, and National Nut Day. (I won’t name humans who fit this category, but simply say that cashews and macadamia nuts are the best species in the genus).
It’s also Clean Up the Earth Day, Eat a Pretzel Day, INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY, Fechner Day, celebrating the German philosopher, physicist, and psychologist who was neither born nor died on October 22, International Stuttering Awareness Day, and, in Australia, Wombat Day. In case you haven’t learned this yet, wombats are the only animal that makes cubic poop. Here’s a 6½-minute video on this phenomenon, as well as on other aspects of wombat biology:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 22 Wikipedia page.
Oh, I recorded an hour conversation with Richard Dawkins yesterday for his Substack site. It will be on YouTube soon or later, and I’ll let you know. I thought it went well, but we’ll see.
Police are investigating after a Detroit synagogue board president was found dead outside her home early Saturday.
Detroit police have not released the victim’s name, but the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue announced the death of synagogue Board President Samantha Woll just after 2 p.m. Saturday on Facebook.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the unexpected death of Samantha Woll, our Board President. At this point we do not have more information, but will share more when it becomes available. …
“May her memory be a blessing,” synagogue officials said.
She was stabbed multiple times. There’s no suspect nor a motive yet. A photo of Wolf:
*All sources report that humanitarian aid is now flowing into Gaza, albeit at a trickle for the present. The WSJ reports on the situation:
A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered Gaza for the first time since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas militants.
Egyptian officials said 20 trucks filled with medical supplies and some food and bottled water crossed into Gaza on Saturday morning before Egypt closed the border again. Citizens of the U.S. and other foreign countries stuck in Gaza weren’t able to enter Egypt, the officials said.
Humanitarian agencies warned that Saturday’s aid deliveries fell far short of what is needed to sustain Gaza’s more than two million residents, about half of whom have been displaced from their homes since the Israeli military began striking the enclave by air two weeks ago. Airstrikes continued on Saturday, including in southern Gaza, where civilians in the north had been told to move by the Israeli military.
The convoy that entered Gaza included four trucks from the World Health Organization, which the agency said carried trauma medicine and kits to treat as many as 1,200 injured people, as well as medication for 1,500 patients with chronic illnesses. The WHO said it also provided basic essential medicine and health supplies for 300,000 people for three months.
The United Nations Children’s Fund said the agency supplied some 44,000 bottles of water, enough for 22,000 people for one day. An inventory of the aid deliveries viewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter showed that the WHO shipments also included fabric used to wrap the dead for burial. Other trucks were filled with aid from the Egyptian Red Crescent and from Qatar.
I approve of this, but only if the supplies are guaranteed not to go to Hamas. Remember, the Hamas butchers who killed 200 Jews on October 7 were carrying UNICEF First Aid kits with them. Hamas may well have first dibs on medicine, and certainly on fuel. I don’t know how to police this, but it should be done given Hamas’s past expropriation of “humanitarian aid.”
*Al-Jazeera (yes, Al-Jazeera) reports that “French intel says Palestinian rocket likely cause of Gaza hospital blast.” (h/t Reese)
France’s military intelligence agency has concluded that a misfiring Palestinian rocket was the likely cause of the deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, as Israel and Palestinian officials trade blame over the blast.
The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM) said on Friday that an errant Palestinian rocket with an explosive charge of about 5kg was the likely cause of the blast and none of its intelligence pointed to an Israeli missile strike.
In a briefing to multiple news agencies, a senior French military official said the size of the explosion was consistent with rockets used by Palestinians and the impact crater was too small to have been caused by an Israeli missile.
The DRM did not offer an estimated death toll but said it was likely lower than the 471 fatalities reported by Palestinian officials, the news agencies reported.
The assessment was based on classified information, satellite imagery, intelligence shared by other countries and open-source information, including images showing light structural damage at the hospital and relatively few civilian belongings at the blast site.
French President Emmanuel Macron directed the DRM, which does not typically make its work public, to share its findings amid conflicting accounts of who carried out the attack.
Each independent assessment that it was a misfired terrorist rocket increases the Bayesian probability that that was indeed the case and that Israel was not responsible. But try getting the Arab states to believe that, or the Palestinians in the West Bank. They already have their minds made up. You can’t change the mind of a creationist or a flat-earther, and you can’t change the minds of Palestinians who blame Israel for the “attack.” They are impervious to facts.
*Nick Kristof shows his ignorance with an article in today’s NYT: “We must not kill Gazan children to try to protect Israel’s children.”
The acceptance of large-scale bombing of Gaza and of a ground invasion likely to begin soon suggests that Palestinian children are lesser victims, devalued by their association with Hamas and its history of terrorism. Consider that more than 1,500 children in Gaza have been killed, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, and around one-third of Gaza homes have been destroyed or damaged in just two weeks — and this is merely the softening-up before what is expected to be a much bloodier ground invasion.
Not a good start. First of all, he takes the Gaza Ministry of Health’s word, not mentioning that they are notorious liars. Second, the IDF does not consdier Palestinian children “lesser victims” than either Palestinian adults or Israeli children. The IDF operates by far more moral rules of war than does Hamas, and does what it can to save civilian lives, especially children. (For one thing, they know that their image depends on avoiding civilian deaths.) Here Kristof is being a dupe for Palestinian propaganda. But he goes on:
The United States speaks a good deal about principles, but I fear that President Biden has embedded a hierarchy of human life in official American policy. He expressed outrage at the massacres of Jews by Hamas, as he should have, but he has struggled to be equally clear about valuing Gazan lives. And it’s not always evident whether he is standing four-square with Israel as a country or with its failed prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime obstacle to peace.
He says he stands with ISRAEL, for crying out loud, and he has said that many times. In order to stand with Israel, Biden has to deal with Netanyahu. More fail from Kristof.
Here in Israel, because the Hamas attacks were so brutal and fit into a history of pogroms and Holocaust, they led to a resolve to wipe out Hamas even if this means a large human toll. “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist,” declared Giora Eiland, a former head of the Israeli National Security Council. “There is no other option for ensuring the security of the State of Israel.”
I think that view reflects a practical and moral miscalculation. While I would love to see the end of Hamas, it’s not feasible to eliminate radicalism in Gaza, and a ground invasion is more likely to feed extremism than to squelch it — at an unbearable cost in civilian lives.
Kristof needs to realize that this is a war, and children and adult civilians will die in the effort to wipe out Hamas. Given that Hamas isn’t like the Russian forces attacking Ukraine (something that Kristof doesn’t seem to know), Russian forces who do not use human shields, there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Now Kristof may have a point in his second paragraph; I myself wonder whether Hamas can be wiped out by ANY action of Israel. But what is Kristof’s solution. He has none, but says this again:
The best answer to this test is to try even in the face of provocation to cling to our values. That means that despite our biases, we try to uphold all lives as having equal value. If your ethics see some children as invaluable and others as disposable, that’s not moral clarity but moral myopia. We must not kill Gazan children to try to protect Israeli children.
Umm. . . trying not to kill civilians IS holding to our values, and Israel’s. But if Hamas puts children and civilians in harm’s way (doesn’t Kristof know that?), then children will be killed. All Israel can do is minimize that killing, and I hope and expect that they’ll do so. . But he has to realize two things. First, nobody is valuing Palestinian children’s lives less than Israeli children’s lives. Second, Hamas doesn’t value its own children’s lives very much, either. Why else would they put terrorists and bombs near schools, and tell Gazans not to flee to the south? Everyone knows that that advice was to guarantee that more civilians, including Palestinian children, will be killed.
*Women’s Voices reports that a trans male musician in California self-named “Precious Child” is calling for the murder of “women critical of gender ideology” (h/t Ann).
A trans-identified male musician in California is currently touring and performing songs calling for the murder of women critical of gender identity ideology. Precious Child, who previously involved himself in the Wi Spa controversy, utilizes graphic sexual and violent threats against “TERFs” in his music.
During his most recent performance at the Knockout Bar in San Francisco, Precious Child performed his song “TERF Killer,” riling the audience into chanting “kill a TERF today.”
TERF, an acronym standing for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” is often broadly applied to all women who oppose the belief that males should be able to self-identify as female for the purposes of access to women’s spaces.
In a video of the performance shared to his YouTube account, Precious Child can be seen chanting “kill a TERF today” while the accompanying music video is shown on a screen behind him. The video features images of bullets and of a knife stabbing into the air as the words “kill a TERF today” flash repeatedly across the screen.
Precious Child has a history of repeatedly threatening critics of gender ideology, with a particular focus reserved for females who oppose gender self-identification law.
Earlier this year, he released a music video for Pride month titled “VILENCE” [sic] which depicts masked trans activists posing threateningly with a variety of weapons – a sword, baseball bats, an axe, and Molotov cocktails – as he sings the refrain, “Show ’em the violence, or they will silence.”
I was asked what I thought of this. My response is that this tests the limits of free speech, but if speech like this isn’t defended, then no speech can be defended. Given that Precious Child didn’t threaten any specific people, nor (as far as I can see) create predictable and imminent violence, his speech is legal. But if violence does occur at one of his concerts, all bets are off for him, now and into the future.
*Finally, the Language Police are still here, though they’re waning since the Zeitgeist is that all previous “errors” are okay. The WaPo describes some of the holdouts in its article, “Meet some people willing to fight for correct grammar usage.” There are some examples—people after my own heart:
Matt LeBlanc of Fort Wayne, Ind., fights a different battle. “From your space there on Mount Apostrophe, it’s my hope that you can see me entrenched on a nearby embankment: Mount Fewer,” he wrote.
Matt described Mount Fewer as a “shady, leafy place that in recent years has been overrun with Less vermin. The Less threaten to make extinct the Fewer who for eons have lived simple, earnest lives dedicated to accurate portrayals of amounts and counts that are not absolute.
“Like the humble apostrophe, use of ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ is not that hard — and that is why incorrect use of either makes me cringe.”
The District’s Peggy Robin is a brave warrior in the “I/me” army, trying to stamp out the usage of “for so-and-so and I” when it should instead be “for so-and-so and me.”
Peggy insists it shouldn’t be hard.
“You don’t need to know a thing about the nominative case vs. the objective case,” she wrote. “You discover which one is right simply by removing the other person and listening to what it sounds like. Example: ‘It’s good for you and I to speak up.’ Remove the ‘you,’ and now listen: You would never say ‘It’s good for I.’”
And here’s a grammar Pecksniff who WON1
As far as I know, Kathy Dean isn’t a Cockney. She lives in Daphne, Ala., where, several years ago, she passed a property company billboard on her afternoon commute. She can’t recall the exact wording, but the text included an “it’s” that should have been an “its.”
Wrote Kathy: “I tried to ignore it, but it’s like trying to ignore the car wreck along the side of the road. I wouldn’t — I couldn’t — let it go. I had to take action.”
Kathy called the company and left a message on its answering machine along the lines of: “How can I trust your real estate firm to handle the details of a home sale when you can’t even get your billboard right?”
She included a long-winded lesson on proper “its” usage.
Wrote Kathy: “A few weeks later, the billboard had been updated with the correct ‘its.’ This is my grammar victory story. It’s a win for its, one billboard at a time.”
Of course the implicit threat involving the firm’s competence might have helped!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej had insomnia last night (so did I!):
Hili: You got up late today.A: Because I had a sleepless night.
Hili: Późno dziś wstałeś.Ja: Bo miałem bezsenną noc.
From Merilee, bullknitters:
From Jesus of the Day:
From The Absurd Sign Project, food for cats!
From Masih, a note about the Sakharov Prize, awarded for “individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought.” It went to Mahsa Amini, but, sadly, it’s a postmortem award, for last year she was beaten to death by the Iranian “morality police” for not wearing her hijab properly.
The Sakharov Prize is a powerful reminder of Europe's commitment to freedom.
It goes today to Mahsa Amini and to all Iranian women who are courageously fighting for their rights. pic.twitter.com/TIkkbCwEDe
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 19, 2023
From Anna, an 8-minute bit by Bill Maher about why going to college “make you stupid”:
If ignorance is a disease, Harvard Yard is the Wuhan wet market. pic.twitter.com/BKDBUZbcZm
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 21, 2023
From Barry. First, one I think I showed recently, but you’ll have to see again because the second tweet is linked to it (I haven’t learned how to separate linked tweets yet.)
As for the second, why is momma duckling doing this? Is she teaching her brood how to evade predators (this is how they do it):
Biological Mom Playing hide and seek with kids.😊 pic.twitter.com/90ZEGH1fu3
— Ravi Rana (@RaviRRana) October 19, 2023
From Jez, a tender moment:
a language that doesn't need a word pic.twitter.com/cUOg1LZEBX
— place where cat shouldn't be (@catshouldnt) October 20, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman, age 43, was gassed upon arrival:
22 October 1901 | A Czech Jewish woman, Irena Blochová, was born in Ostrava.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 22, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb (we’re down to two per day now that he’s gone off Twitter. Soon there will be one, and then none. . . .
Hats off to the notoriously difficult to join Huddersfield Astronomical Society! pic.twitter.com/ElqF07uoyo
— Tony Wade (@Tony_Wades) July 17, 2023
A game try (and perhaps a try for game):
Stunt cat (in training). pic.twitter.com/TpeWYKinX9
— cats with jobs 🛠 (@CatWorkers) August 26, 2023