CaturSaturday, October 28, 2023, and cat shabbos, as well as National Chocolate Day, everyone’s favorite sweet. As of 2020, this is the world’s largest chocolate bar (I think the record still stands). Almost FIVE TONS of chocolate!
Armenian chocolate factory Grand Candy has created the world’s largest chocolate bar, weighing in at a grand total of 9,702 pounds (the previous record holder weighed a measly 7,890).
It’s also Wild Foods Day, Hug a Sheep Day (?), National Internal Medicine Day, Separation of Church and State Day (commemorating “the 1963 Supreme Court decision Abington School District v. Schempp, which ruled that school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional”), Statue of Liberty Day (it was dedicated on this day in 1886), International Animation Day (ASIFA)., Ohi Day, a national day in Greece. (It marks the day in 1940 when the Greek government supposedy used that word to reject Mussolini’s demand that Axis forces be allowed to enter Greece. In Greek, “όχι”, pronounced “ohi” with “i” like a long “e”, means “no”). Finally it’s the Anniversary of the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazis,
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 28 Wikipedia page.
*See my previous post: the ground war in Gaza has apparently begun.
The Israeli military launched an intense bombardment on the Gaza Strip on Friday evening, employing missiles fired from warplanes and artillery, Israeli officials said. The barrage came exactly three weeks after an incursion by Hamas that left 1,400 people dead in Israel and sparked a regional war.
Israeli leaders were deliberating how to conduct a ground invasion of Gaza with the aim of removing Hamas from power — and as diplomats conducted back-channel negotiations aimed at freeing some of the 229 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
The Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said in a news briefing that the Israeli ground forces were “expanding” their activity in the Gaza Strip on Friday night, but he did not announce a widely anticipated offensive, nor did he say that Israeli troops had entered Gaza. Israeli tanks have made temporary incursions into Gaza twice in the last two days.
Admiral Hagari confirmed that the Israeli Air Force had intensified its strikes on Gaza this evening, saying that they were targeting underground “terrorist infrastructure.” He also said that a major hospital in Gaza was being used by armed groups, an accusation that Hamas has denied.
I’m starting to think that the ground war in Israel will never materialize, which is supported by the second article above. But how can airstrikes alone eliminate Hamas? They can’t (see Andrew Sullivan’s piece alone.) NOTE: I WAS WRONG.
Saudi officials have firmly warned the United States in recent days that an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza could be catastrophic for the Middle East.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Armed Services Committee, was one of 10 senators who met last weekend with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
“The Saudi leadership was hopeful that a ground operation could be avoided for reasons of stability as well as the loss of life,” Mr. Blumenthal told The New York Times on Thursday. Saudi officials warned it would be “extremely harmful,” he said.
Senior Saudi officials have delivered even more forceful exhortations to their American counterparts in multiple conversations, raising their concerns that a ground invasion could turn into a disaster for the entire region, according to one Saudi official and a second person with knowledge of the discussions.
And of course a ground invasion will scupper the improved relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia that was in the offing right when Hamas started its butchery. There’s no clear resolution to this issue, which leads us to. . . .
*Andrew Sullivan’s weekly Substack piece, “For Israel, there are no good options,” which is depressing. Sullivan blames America for much of Israel’s dilemma:
At home, Israel’s supporters are engaging in a frenzy of defensive cancel culture. And that’s never pretty. If you’ve spent the last few years decrying woke intolerance, you might express some smidgen of hesitation before doxxing, hounding, firing and naming all those who have taken the side of the Palestinians in the current Hamas-Israel war.
. . . And on and on it went. A Jewish editor at a science journal was fired for retweeting an Onion article. A Berkeley law professor said he wants law firms to ask students “what organizations they belong to” before hiring them. He continued, “Ask if they support discriminatory bylaws or other acts and resolutions blaming Jews and Israelis for the Hamas massacre. If a student endorses hatred, it isn’t only your right but your duty not to hire him.”
. . . . this new burst of cancel culture from the Israel lobby is, of course, far from new. In some ways, Israel’s defenders were the original pioneers of cancel culture, and they are a kind of proof of its dangers. Deploying the smear of anti-Semitism against anyone critical of Israel’s policies has long been a time-honored tactic in the arsenal of the ADL, AIPAC, and much of the pro-Israel media. And it meant that a healthy, open debate about Israel was kept at bay.
The result? The chilling of serious debate in the US and the prevention of any real American pressure on Israel — from George HW Bush to Barack Obama. This enabled the Jewish state’s worst instincts, entrenched and extended its indefensible settlements, and kept any possibility of a two-state solution out of reach. Yes, the Palestinians repeatedly choked at the prospect of a deal as well. They bear the lion’s share of responsibility. But the settler program, a war crime, was proof that Israel had moved way past sincerity on a two-state solution. And Washington was too weak to say no. And anyone who did was targeted for personal destruction in the Beltway.
You think anti-Semitism was kept at bay by policing the debate in this way? Look around you. As always, suppressing legitimate criticism means the debate went underground where the extremists flourish. The result, after decades of this dysfunction, is an Israel in the 21st century that is morally corrupted by brutal occupation, led by the extremist right, and now committed to causing thousands of collateral civilian Palestinian deaths in order to rid Gaza of a group Netanyahu only recently saw as a useful way to keep the Palestinians divided.
To put it bluntly, it’s not a good look. And the optics are worsening by the day. Tens of thousands of civilians in Gaza are now living in a terrifying blitz, as Israel pummels the strip with the most intense bombing this century. Whole neighborhoods have been turned into literal ash. Countless civilians have been buried under rubble. And the Gazans have nowhere truly safe to go; and they are being hit even in the south. This is a PR nightmare for Israel, as well as a moral catastrophe. And yes, you can argue that Hamas is truly responsible for the bombs; but the longer the carnage continues, and the gruesome images percolate around the world, the harder it will be to convince anyone else of this.
. . . I wish I had some sane idea of what happens now. We can only grieve for all those innocents trapped in this hell. All I can say is that if Israel continues to wage war in Gaza with this level of civilian casualties, and continues to expand its footprint on the West Bank this aggressively at the same time, and responds to Western requests to take a pause and think things through with anger and defiance, it will be hard to sustain Western support indefinitely.
Israel has every right to take out Hamas. But at what price? And for what future? These are tragic choices in a tragic place. That tragedy has many authors, but Israel’s American supporters are among them.
This is a good and thoughtful article, and makes some good points, as well as depressing me deeply. Look at that last paragraph. It’s hardly feasible for Israel to just stop bombing, not invade, and pull back to its borders. But then what? That will, in the long run, lead to continued terrorist assaults on Israel. But even with Hamas gone, those assaults will come from the West Bank. The only solution (given that the two-state solution is impossible) seems to be asking other Arab countries to force Palestine to be democratic and peaceful. But that too is impossible.
*As usual, I’ll steal items from Nellie Bowles’s Friday news summary at The Free Press, this week called “TGIF: It got worse.” But I’ll give just one rather than three, as it’s long:
→ Campus has fallen: Normally TGIF feels like whack-a-mole, in a fun way. The truly crazy things that the left and right do are rare enough, and we can visit them, laugh, and move along to the weekend. These days? It feels like walking through the aftermath of an earthquake. That’s especially true when it comes to American college campuses, which are now just smoking piles of rubble. Like, here’s where the library used to be and oh my god, we’ve lost the entire field of sociology. Which we have. Read on:
Nearly 2,000 sociologists signed a letter that Israel was committing “genocide” and anything Hamas does is justified by the “context.” The University of California, Berkeley Ethnic Studies Faculty Council released a statement condemning anyone who describes what Hamas did as “terrorism,” which is offensive. The student leader of a Wellesley residential house wrote to the entire dorm she oversees: “We firmly believe that there should be no space, no consideration, and no support for Zionism within the Wellesley College community.” Harvard launched a task force to help ensure the pro-Hamas protesters feel safe and can get jobs while also berating any Jews they might find. At George Washington University, students projected onto the side of the school library: GLORY TO OUR MARTYRS and FREE PALESTINE FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA. At Stanford, students are asking the school to pay for round-trip tickets for Muslim students to visit home: “Full round trip covered by University upon the signing of a ceasefire for students to visit their family and friends and grieve properly.” (Okay, fine, that one’s funny; just think of the Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine president calmly trying to explain preferred pronouns to a jihadi upon arrival. On second thought: TGIF will personally sponsor any queer activist who wants to fly to Iran. Honestly, I’m curious what would happen.)
At Cooper Union, pro-Hamas protesters chased a clutch of Jewish students into the library. Video from inside shows the young Jews standing, frightened, as the protesters pound on the doors. What exactly would they have done if they got in? Librarians reportedly offered to hide the students in the attic. The joke writes itself.
The protesters trying to ram through those doors to beat up the Jewish students might even be up for some extra credit. Professors are starting to offer it to anyone who joins a pro-Hamas protest.
Here’s Berkeley professor Victoria Huynh: “Hi everyone, We’re offering a field trip and/or extra credit opportunity: (1) Students can attend the national student walkout tomorrow against the settler-colonial occupation of Gaza (info attached below) OR (2) Students can watch a short documentary on Palestine and call/email your local California representative using this linktree. Doing so will either count as a field trip or an extra 5 points on the field trip category of your grade.” First of all: Who talks to college students about “field trips?” Anyway, UCLA professors are also offering extra credit for students who go to pro-Hamas rallies.
And after graduation, the future that awaits these students trying to ram through the doors also looks golden: here are some of the hundreds of academic job postings for roles in various normal-sounding departments that say they’re only looking for people who want to push for “decolonization.”
Sensing the vibes weren’t right, Columbia postponed its annual Giving Day, which usually raises tens of millions for the school. It’s really hard to shake down Jewish alumni when your faculty and students are also trying to do a pogrom. The list of donors who are pulling their gifts keeps growing: the latest is billionaire Leon Cooperman, who declared on television: “I think these kids at the colleges have shit for brains.”
Hats off to Marc Rowan and everyone who has finally realized that the only response here is to stop funding the Ivy Intifada. Write to email@example.com if you know of more. And to college students reading this: campus has fallen, you’re on your own, good luck!
Our campus, too, is now in trouble (see the second tweet below).
*YouTube will no longer let you watch videos without turning off your ad blockers. Here’s what I got when I clicked on YouTube this morning.
This ad-prominence has been reported widely, but see this piece at The Verge.
YouTube is throwing a major wrench into video playback for viewers who are using ad blockers. The company has confirmed to The Verge that it’s currently running “a small experiment globally that urges viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium.”
The statement comes after some people began noticing a new prompt warning that video playback could be cut off if YouTube detects repeated use of ad blocking tools. Android Authority earlier reported on those tests, which prevent viewers from watching more than three videos when an ad blocker is active.
“Ad blocker detection is not new, and other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers,” Google spokesperson Oluwa Falodun told The Verge by email. YouTube insists that users will receive multiple notifications urging them to cease using the tools — or, alternatively, subscribe to YouTube Premium — before any of their viewing is disrupted.
. . . These measures indicate that YouTube is hardening its stance against ad blockers, and it’s justifying the move by saying all of those ad spots are critical for creators to be compensated for their content — and for the platform to remain free. “YouTube’s ad-supported model supports a diverse ecosystem of creators, and provides billions of people globally access to content for free with ads,” the company’s statement says.
Yeah, yeah, I get it. YouTube is a for-profit organization, and they need ad money to keep going. But somehow I’m still peeved, thinking that I’m entitled to watch YouTube videos for free. I’m not, really—any more than I’m entitled to read a magazine for free (unless they let me). So why do I feel that this is unfair?
Three easypieces from the WSJ:
Some people are rethinking their candy quotas as costs rise. Prices for candy and gum jumped 7.5% in September compared with the same month last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. People have been navigating higher prices on many goods and services as the Federal Reserve struggles to tame inflation.
. . . Prices for cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, hit a multidecade high, rising 61% this year, financial services firm ING said.Persistent rain delayed cocoa harvesting in some top producers such as Ghana and Cameroon, hurting supplies, ING said.
Crystal Johnson is cutting back on Halloween candy this year because of sticker shock. After seeing that a bag of 155 mini chocolates cost $21.97 at a big-box store, Johnson said she plans to buy two bags instead of the five she usually gets. Last year, the bags were about $16, she said.
“You have to sit there and decide, ‘OK do I pay my water bill or do I go buy the amount of candy that I actually know I need,’” said Johnson, a stay-at-home mom in Crosby, Texas. “The water bill has to come first.”
“Is red wine better than white? The question is more controversial than you might think.” I was puzzled by this question for each has its own merits, its own best role to accompany food, and its own season to drink. Most wine drinkers say “red”, but some experts say “white”. I say, “it depends”.
Holly’s observation rings true historically as well as anecdotally. In “On Wine,” published in 1982, the English wine writer Gerald Asher noted that in 19th-century England, red wines were always served after the meal, with cheese, “when the ladies had withdrawn and there could be serious drinking.”
I was initially enraged to learn of this sexist arrangement. But then I reflected on what Selbach had said. Late in the evening, the presumably well-fueled men could only appreciate the “full brass” of a red; a white wine would be too subtle for them. To my mind, the loss was theirs. After all, white wine is a much better match with cheese—though perhaps that’s a pronouncement worthy of another poll.
And “You don’t need a new iPhone. You just need a new battery.” About time somebody sais this! I view those who buy a new iPhone each time it appears with the same disdain as I view those who buy a new car every couple of years. Wasted money!
The moral? No matter what, all batteries degrade—just at different speeds. You can try to manage heat, skip unnecessary charging, save fast charging for when you need it most, and try other battery-preserving tricks. But I’ve got a dog and two kids to take care of! Am I supposed to coddle my iPhone’s battery, too?
Fortunately, replacement batteries are way cheaper than new iPhones. And they’re better for the environment.
. . .Most people in need of a new iPhone battery should go to Apple or an authorized repair shop. If only so you can continue to monitor your battery health—and repeat this fun cycle of cycles all over again.
When should you replace your battery? When it’s down to 80% power, which you can check at the “battery health” settings on your “settings” panel. Mine is still 93% after two years, so I’m good to go (I conserve battery use in a variety of ways). I would recommend having Apple change the battery for you at an Apple store; it’s not much more expensive than other fixes, and the batteries are better.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej show some humility.
Hili: Are we always wrong?A: No, but often enough to be worried.
Hili: Czy zawsze jesteśmy w błędzie?Ja: Nie, ale wystarczająco często, żeby się tym niepokoić.
A Halloween cat outfit from Bad Cat Clothing:
From Jesus of the Day:
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0. These people need to see their doctor!
From Masih: the consequences of not wearing a hijab. The regime forced this hijab-less doctor to apologize. (Amol is a city in northern Iran). Why aren’t Western feminists condemning the Iranian regime constantly?
I call on doctors worldwide: Let us not remain silent about this injustice. Dr. Fatemeh RajaeiRad, honored as Amol’s top physician, courageously stepped onto the stage without the mandatory hijab. Today, she’s being penalized, her medical license suspended, simply for defying a… pic.twitter.com/XCe1QWsC7D
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 27, 2023
As far as I’ve been able to find out (and there are videos), this complaint, originally by two Jewish students, is true. They were shouted down by the Students for Justice in Palestine. And a gazillion other students and alumns have signed on to the open letter to our admin (here). What SVP did is apparently a violation of our Free Speech principles, and I hope our administration does something about it. We’re already slipping in the free-speech ratings of colleges.
Read the details
At @UChicago, my alma mater, there was an Israel rally that was planned, booked a space, and cleared the right to demonstrate in advance, notifying SJP leadership, which agreed not to interrupt. The rally was disrupted by SJP.
Instead of doing her job, the Dean-on-Call, Shevy…
— shira (@shiraeis) October 26, 2023
And Titania tweeted again! The article shown is real, and you can see it here.
While I do understand that straight men are simple creatures, they really do need to learn how to control themselves around beautiful women. pic.twitter.com/zx9hjlm24w
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) October 27, 2023
If you are a university donor, this is a key moment. You're seeing the bad fruit of 2 related things:
1. Years of faculty searches that have been explicitly ideological & partisan, prizing & hiring for the illiberal radicalism on display in the Kendi debacle & Hamas-praise alike. pic.twitter.com/UlPXGGbKgm
— David Decosimo (@DavidDecosimo) October 24, 2023
From Malcolm, a cat with a second language! (It grew up with d*gs).
Our young gang members learn a second language at an early age.
🔊🔊 SOUND ON Please 🔊🔊
🎥 Tiktok ellalandy2 pic.twitter.com/pZyUvkjP0z
— The Six 'Stinky' Cats Gang (@SixStinkyCats) October 26, 2023
I couldn’t help posting this from the Babbling Beaver. As usual, the story has a kernel of truth (click the photo or go here), but is given a snarky spin. Don’t blame me—blame the laws of physics:
Harvard Creates Task Force to Help Bigoted Students Sad for Being Exposed as Bigots https://t.co/UftteHV1Xe
— Marc Thiessen 🇺🇸❤️🇺🇦🇹🇼🇮🇱 (@marcthiessen) October 26, 2023
Jez thinks this kid could be the next Messi. His accuracy is fantastic, but I want to see him dribble!
Little big player.pic.twitter.com/P4tU61WQFv
— Figen (@TheFigen_) October 26, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Dutch Jewish boy gassed upon arrival, age 3:
28 October 1938 | Dutch Jewish boy Rudi René Hond was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 28, 2023
And a lone tweet from Matthew, who has gone off Twitter but sent me some lovely ostracods a while back:
Ostracods are fab creatures, some species are drought resistant, others can live in hot spring streams in 49C heat + they can be found in all kinds of water from puddles to the deep sea, some even living in damp leaf litter!
Amazing little crustaceans!@BBCSpringwatch pic.twitter.com/nLQZ73egcQ
— Pond man (@PondManUK) July 9, 2023