Welcome to Friday, November 17, 2023, and National Bread Day. I’ll have a crusty baguette, please. An older one is below, when they used to be bigger. The average French adult eats half a baguette per day.
I am much cheered by the “Post a joke” thread yesterday, in which I asked readers to send in a good joke. There were 151 comments, most of them jokes and most of the jokes funny, with some hilarious. Thanks to all who contributed, and I urge you to read through the thread, as there are some good ones you’ll want in your armamentarium of humor.
It’s also International Students’ Day, Homemade Bread Day, National Baklava Day, celebrating the world’s finest pastry, International Happy Gose Day (celebrating the sour wheat beer), National Butter Day, and World Prematurity Day.
Here’s a plate of baklava and kataifi I had in Istanbul in 2008. Do you think I overdid it?
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 17 Wikipedia page.
*This morning’s NYT reports that the paper’s reporters had been taken to a tunnel beneath Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, but of course the reporters, willing to believe body counts and attacks reported by Hamas, are very dubious when it comes to what the tunnel was. (I wish they’d just be equally dubious about both sides!):
Almost 48 hours after entering Gaza’s largest medical complex, the Israeli military escorted New York Times journalists through a landscape of wartime destruction Thursday night to a stone-and-concrete shaft on its grounds with a staircase descending into the earth — evidence, it said, of a Hamas military facility under the hospital.
But Col. Elad Tsury, commander of Israel’s Seventh Brigade, said Israeli forces, fearing booby traps, had not ventured down the shaft at the hospital, Al-Shifa. He said it had been discovered earlier in the day under a pile of sand on the northern perimeter of the complex.
In the darkness, it was unclear where the shaft led or how deep it went, although the military said it had sent a drone down at least several meters. Electrical wiring was visible inside, along with a metal staircase.
The controlled visit will not settle the question of whether Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that rules Gaza, has been using Al-Shifa Hospital to hide weapons and command centers, as Israel has said.
The claim is central to Israel’s defense of the death toll caused by its military campaign in Gaza, which has killed more than 11,000 people, according to Gazan health officials. Israeli officials say that the extreme loss of life has been caused in part by Hamas’s decision to hide its military fortifications and command centers inside civilian infrastructure like Al-Shifa.
And the body of a second hostage has been found. Note how the NYT tells the reader that if Israel doesn’t find a lot of tunnels, it’s cooked:
The Israeli military has said that Hamas used a vast maze of tunnels underneath the hospital as a secret base, but since announcing early Wednesday that its troops had entered the grounds, the military has yet to present public documentation of such an extensive network. As the international community increasingly demands protections for civilians in Gaza, Israel is under pressure to demonstrate that the hospital — and the tunnel network it said it concealed — were important enough military targets to justify the immense cost in Palestinian lives.
Colonel Tsury acknowledged the pressure on Israel to show evidence of Hamas activity at the hospital, but said it might be days before troops descended the shaft. He added that soldiers were methodically searching the complex and had discovered weapons, explosives and computers, as well as the body of an Israeli hostage in a nearby building. (The military announced on Friday that soldiers had found a second hostage’s body in a building near Al-Shifa.)
*(From yesterday evening). The IDF is in its second day searching Al-Shifa hospital (there’s still firing in the area), and has found plenty of evidence that it was used by Hamas, but not so far a smoking gun that it was Hamas headquarters.
A day after it took control of the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, the Israeli military on Thursday afternoon was still searching the site that Israel has said concealed a secret Hamas base, and to bolster its case offered video of more weapons it said it had found there and what it described as a tunnel entrance.
The images presented by Israel from the hospital, Al-Shifa, in Gaza City, could not be independently verified, and still have not proven the existence of the sprawling Hamas operation that it said the hospital concealed.
But Israeli officials said the search was bound to be slow, citing the physical difficulties and the risks. They added that Hamas had plenty of warning that Israeli forces were coming and time to remove evidence. In an apparent attempt to rebuff skepticism of the evidence released thus far, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, said Thursday evening at a news briefing that troops were searching the hospitals, building by building, sometimes while under fire.
“This is a complex activity that needs time in order to most importantly ensure our forces’ security, and then operational success,” he said. “In Shifa, Rantisi, Al-Quds and other hospitals, we are finding Hamas activity aboveground and underneath it. This is no coincidence — this is Hamas’s method.”
Since invading Gaza 20 days ago, Israel has presented Al-Shifa as one of its primary targets, saying it sits atop a network of subterranean fortifications installed by Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controlled the entire territory until the invasion began. Hamas and the hospital leadership have denied the accusations.
You can almost see the glee in the eyes of the NYT editors that the evidence of Hamas activity isn’t yet overwhelming. But we’ll have to see; it’s early days.
*In fact, they also found the body of one hostage and what appears to be a tunnel [see above; they’ve now found a second dead hostage]:
Israeli soldiers have recovered the body of one of the hostages kidnapped during the Hamas-led attack on Israel last month from a building next to the Al-Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, the Israeli military said on Thursday night.
The body of Yehudit Weiss, 65, a resident of Be’eri, a kibbutz near the border with Gaza, was found by troops who in recent days have taken control of much of the hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, and were searching within and beneath it. Israeli officials say the hospital complex hosts major Hamas facilities, some in underground bunkers, a claim rejected by Hamas and hospital officials.
The BBC adds that Weiss was a cancer patient, and I can see the scenario now: detractors will say she died of cancer after Hamas brought her to the hospital for treatment! At any rate, it’s sad. Her husband, Shmulik had been killed in the October 7 attack, and she died alone in the hands of Hamas.
There’s also evidence of at least one tunnel discovered on hospital grounds, first in this video below. . .
Breaking: The IDF released footage of a terror tunnel on the grounds of the Shifa Hospital.
— Israel ישראל 🇮🇱 (@Israel) November 16, 2023
. . . and in a Guardian article that we have to take with a grain of salt because it appeared, mysteriously disappeared, and now is only archived. From that version we had this:
The Israeli military said late on Thursday that it uncovered a Hamas tunnel shaft and a vehicle with weapons at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital complex.“In the Shifa hospital, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops found an operational tunnel shaft and a vehicle containing a large number of weapons,” the military said.It made videos and photographs of the tunnel shaft and weapons public, but no independent verification was possible.
*The NYT reports that a movie critical of Israel has been canceled at Hunter College out of “safety concerns”. I haven’t seen it, but you don’t have to to realize that this is a violation of freedom of speech and an unconscionable suppression of people’s right to hear views they might not like. (Hunter College is a public school.)
Hunter College this week abruptly pulled a screening of a documentary film critical of Israel, creating a backlash from faculty members and students who have charged the New York school’s administration with undermining academic freedom.
The documentary, “Israelism,” investigates what it calls the uncritical love of the Jewish state inculcated in American Jews, through the stories of two young Jews who travel to Israel and the West Bank. There they encounter a different reality from the one they said they learned at their religious day schools and summer camps.
Since its release in February, “Israelism” has won several prizes, including sharing an audience award at the prominent San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. It has had dozens of screenings at universities and community spaces, including some sponsored by campus Jewish groups and Jewish studies departments.
The schedule included a screening at Hunter on Tuesday, organized by the school’s film and media department, which was to be followed by a conversation with one of the directors, Erin Axelman, and one of the film’s protagonists.
But that morning, Hunter’s interim president, Ann Kirschner, announced that the scheduled screening had been canceled because of safety concerns.
“The first priority of Hunter College is to ensure the safety of our learning community,” Kirschner said in a statement posted online. “We seek constructive dialogue that avoids targeting any students, faculty or staff based on their identity: the essence of bigotry. In the current climate, we seek to balance our commitment to free speech and academic freedom with the danger of antisemitic and divisive rhetoric.”
That is arrant bullpucky. This is the “I believe in free speech but. . . .” argument, and it’s idiotic to say that you have to balance free speech and academic freedom against “antisemitic and divisive rhetoric”. Free speech is essential for creating divisive rhetoric, even if it’s antisemitic, anti-Islamic, or whatever. As for “safety”, it’s up to Hunter to guarantee that there will be no violence. Just send in the campus cops or security. Hunter students have a right to see the film. (I note that there’s only one review and no rating on “Rotten Tomatoes.” President Kirschner needs a lesson in the First Amendment.
*Quelle horreur! The Washington Post reports that beloved music idol Buffy Sainte-Marie, whom I always thought was Canadian and has always represented herself as a Native American, is not only a U.S. American, but may not even be a Indigenous Person. Wikipedia says this:
Sainte-Marie was born at the New England Sanitarium and Hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts, to parents Albert Santamaria and Winifred Irene Santamaria, née Kendrick. The Santamarias were an American couple from Wakefield, Massachusetts. Her father’s parents were born in Italy while her mother was of English ancestry.Her family changed their surname from Santamaria to Sainte-Marie due to anti-Italian sentiment following the Second World War.
So that’s not new, but what is are claims that she’s distorted her past. From the WaPo:
. . . a new report [from the CBC] hascast doubt on her claim to Indigenous ancestry, unleashing waves of emotions — shock,denial, grief, anger — among Indigenous people here and reviving fraught conversations about what it means to identify as Indigenous in Canada.
“It’s a little bit like an earthquake ripped through the Indigenous community,” said Jean Teillet, an Indigenous rights lawyer in British Columbia and the author of an 86-page report commissioned by the University of Saskatchewan on Indigenous identity fraud and how to detect and deter it.
Good said she’dheard whispers last year that Sainte-Marie might not actually be Indigenous but dismissed the idea as incredible. Then she saw the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. investigation.
“So many people are going to just feel so destroyed,” she thought.
. . . Sainte-Marie, 82, has said she was born on the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan and adoptedas an infant by a White family in Massachusetts. She has claimed she was reunited with members of her Piapot family as an adult and adopted into their community in accordance with Cree law
. . . The CBC based its investigation on public records and interviews, including with estranged family members. A Massachusetts birth certificate says she was born Beverly Jean Santamaria to Albert and Winifred Santamaria — the parents she said adopted her. They hadItalian and English ancestry.
The investigation documented shifting statements that Sainte-Marie hasprovided on her origins, including articles from early in her career in which she was described variously as American Indian, then Algonquin, then Mi’kmaq and then Cree — a sign, analysts said, that a person might be faking their identity.
The Elizabeth Warren of Canada—if she is from Canada! Oh well, she’s 82 and the years when it might have mattered more, when she’d perform dressed in Native American-style garb, are long gone. I found the CBC report that started all the fracas here. And Wikipedia, which seems convinced that she’s a fraud, shows what they say is her birth certificate (click to enlarge):
Here’s her best song, which I always thought was written by the guy who made it famous, Donovan. Nope, Buffy wrote “Universal Soldier.“
*A $10 million baseball card? Yep, if it’s the rookie card for Babe Ruth. The Wall Street Journal discusses some very rare and valuable baseball cards. (I used to collect them when I was a kid, and I wish I had that collection now!) Author Jason Gay visited the displayed card (below) when it was up for sale (it’s not yet sold):
In the card, he looked young. He was young–19 years old. The card is from 1914, when Ruth wasn’t far removed from his time at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. He’s a rookie for his hometown Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league outfit with the International League. Everyone knows The Babe began as a pitcher, but it’s right there on the card, in all caps: RUTH PITCHER.
. . . But even I knew this Ruth card was valuable, extraordinary, worth a visit. If I wanted confirmation, I needed only to look at the armed guard sitting on a stool next to its display case. Other guards lurked around, I was told. This card was precious cargo, protected like a Picasso, making a brief pit stop at its former home, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, before being auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder.
The auction began Wednesday. Within hours, bidding for the Babe rookie had hit $5.25 million. The sale, which is being run by Robert Edward Auctions and lasts through Dec. 3, has lofty expectations. That $5.25 million bid may be a speed bump on the way to eight figures.
Here it is. Note that he started his career as a pitcher, and he was a great pitcher. After that he moved to the outfield and became a legendary slugger. His superb performance in both pitching and batting is why many consider the Bambino the greatest baseball player of all time.
Here’s the card that holds the current record: the rookie card of Mickey Mantle, which must be very rare in this condition:
Could this Ruth rookie top the all-time amount paid for a baseball card, which was the $12.6 million last year for a close-to-flawless 1952 Mickey Mantle card?
“We think the record is within striking distance,” Brian Dwyer, the president of Robert Edward Auctions, told me at the Ruth Museum.
Phew. Here’s why the Ruth card–held for generations by its original owners, a Baltimore family, until it was sold privately in 2021 to an unknown buyer for an undisclosed amount–is such a big deal:
One, it’s the first known card depicting the towering lefty slugger. The card, which was part of a promotion by a local newspaper, the Baltimore News, is extremely scarce: There are only 10 of them known, and one hasn’t hit the market in more than a decade. This one is in good shape: it’s been given a grade of VG 3, the VG “very good,” from the grading agency SGC.
But also: It’s the Babe! This is a charismatic cultural figure with a reach far beyond sports; who once justified making a salary higher than President Hoover by saying, “Why not? I had a better year.”
One more famous rarity: a Honus Wagner card (it’s a family story that when Wagner was young he’d practice throwing baseballs against the side of my great-great (I don’t know how many greats)-grandmother’s outhouse; they both lived near Pittsburgh.
A major Ruth sale would place this card in a collectible trinity with the ’52 Mantle and another iconic card: the “T-206” Honus Wagner, which pops up for sale now and again. In 2011, a group of Baltimore-area nuns auctioned off a T-206 they’d received from the donation of an estate; that card sold for $262,000. More recently, a T-206 Wagner sold for $7.25 million.
Why are prices soaring? “This is an opportunity to park money away in something that historically has shown it’s not going to go down in value,” said Dwyer.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is thinking too much for a cat:
A: What are you doing?Hili: I’m thinking, and it’s detrimental to my mental health.
Ja: Co robisz?Hili: Myślę, a to nie jest dobre dla zdrowia psychicznego.
From Pati: (I feel like duck #2):
From a list of funny menu translations. I’ll pass on the chicken.
From Stephen via All You Can Eat. Although Archie McPhee is a funny-stuff store, I’m sure these are real. I’d eat one, but clams aren’t kosher (thank Ceiling Cat!). There’s a whole variety you can get, including gravy, sour cream and onion, mac and cheese, hot dog, pickle, and sardine. Oy!
From Masih, a nine-year old Iranian boy killed in a protest. His mom protected his body:
Today marks the anniversary of Kian Pirfalak, a nine-year-old boy shot and killed by an agent of the Islamic regime. His mother, fearing suppressors would steal his body, kept her son in ice overnight. She too faced house arrest. Kian dreamed of being an engineer at @Tesla, but… pic.twitter.com/9QKuseAB0K
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 16, 2023
From Colin Wright, the distortion of biological sex (defined in all plants and animals as based on relative gamete size) to satisfy the needs of ideologues for nature to mirror their politics:
Woke activists have hijacked our scientific and medical institutions, allowing them to give a veneer of scientific legitimacy to their pseudoscientific view of sex. Then they just cite themselves to justify editing Wikipedia to reflect this pseudoscience under the guise of making… pic.twitter.com/Q9besZq9Gk
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) November 15, 2023
From Barry. Do dogs do “direct registering” too?
Cats have a precise method of walking called ‘direct registering’.
Their hind paws fall inside the place of their forepaws, minimizing noise and visible tracks, while ensuring more stable footing.. pic.twitter.com/vLwCLx15od
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) November 15, 2023
From Jez; I probably published this before, but it’s worth seeing again. This is one smart moggy!
This cat has very clear logic. I m shocked pic.twitter.com/CDAhccumFE
— place where cat shouldn't be (@catshouldnt) October 19, 2023
From Orli, a real letter signed by real academics, which explicitly justifies the butchery of Hamas on October 7. Just read the highlighted bits.
Deranged is putting it mildly. It's hard to believe any sane person would sign this letter. Many none did. https://t.co/YaojJ7Nafv
— David Bernstein (@ProfDBernstein) October 20, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a boy gassed upon arrival, age 9:
17 November 1934 | A German Jewish boy, Gert Loewenstein, was born in Aken. He emigrated to The Netherlands.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 17, 2023
TWO tweets from Matthew! I can hardly bear the joy! The first shows a snow leopard becoming aware of the observer:
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) November 16, 2023
Matthew says, “This is amazing on so many levels.” It truly is: it’s astounding what AI can do:
David Attenborough is now narrating my life
— Charlie Holtz (@charliebholtz) November 15, 2023