Eric Clapton argues that pharmaceutical advertising hypnotized him into getting the covid jab that did him in

January 25, 2022 • 9:00 am

The more Eric Clapton opens his gob about vaccination, the dumber he looks. He would be well advised to shut up and play his axe.  While there is a minute possibility that Clapton did indeed get sick from his injection, I suspect that if he is now chronically ill, it may well be due to something else. But even if it was the jab that did him in, he has no business trying to persuade the world to avoid vaccination against Covid.There are enough data on immediate side effects to show that he is a real outlier and not the norm.  And the idea that he was hypnotized into getting the jab. . . . well, I have no words.

See the tweet at the bottom for what is also my reaction.

Below is the first part of a two-part interview of Clapton by “The real music observer”, David Spuria. (A second part is promised.) This one is eighteen minutes long, and prompted the NY Post article below it.

The most bizarre part of this video is Clapton’s claim that he was manipulated by Big Pharma advertising into getting a covid jab. The notes below, which are from the interview, were reprinted in the Post.

Eric Clapton’s career “had almost gone anyway” until his campaign against conventional medicine took off.

The 76-year-old musician went on the Real Music Observer YouTube channel to discuss how his life has changed since reluctantly taking AstraZeneca’s therapy in 2021. Clapton has since become outspoken about his anti-vaccination stance.

He claimed that he’d been duped into getting the COVID-19 jab by subliminal messaging in pharmaceutical advertising — and urged others not to fall for it.

“Whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me,” he said, referring to the “mass formation hypnosis” conspiracy theory, which gained traction in 2021 as part of anti-vaccine propaganda. (In related circles, it’s also been called “mass formation psychosis.”)

Credited to Belgian psychologist Mattias Desmet, the theory essentially points to a sort of mind control that has taken over society, allowing for unscrupulous leaders to easily manipulate populations into, for example, accepting vaccines or wearing face masks.

“Then I started to realize there was really a memo, and a guy, Mattias Desmet [professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University in Belgium], talked about it,” Clapton continued. “And it’s great. The theory of mass formation hypnosis. And I could see it then. Once I kind of started to look for it, I saw it everywhere.”

JAC: That is known in the trade as “confirmation bias.”

Clapton recalled “seeing little things on YouTube which were like subliminal advertising,” he said.

His “preexisting condition”, which he claims caused him to get really sick after the jab, seems to be a bad back caused by a nerve inflammation. Well, perhaps. But to blame your taking the jab on subliminal manipulation—hypnosis, for crying out loud!—is risible.


More from The Post and the video, including his collaboration on anti-vax music with Van Morrison:

The former Cream guitarist also talked about his efforts with fellow British songwriter Van Morrison to speak up on behalf of other artists against vaccine requirements.

“My career had almost gone anyway. At the point where I spoke out, it had been almost 18 months since I’d kind of been forcibly retired,” he said, as pandemic restrictions shut down live events for months.

“I joined forces with Van and I got the tip Van was standing up to the measures and I thought, ‘Why is nobody else doing this?’ … so I contacted him.”

He said Morrison, 76, complained that he wasn’t “allowed” to freely object to vaccine requirements.

“I was mystified, I seemed to be the only person that found it exciting or even appropriate. I’m cut from a cloth where if you tell me I can’t do something, I really want to know why,” the “Cocaine” singer said.

He sounds calm and rational (the British accent helps), but what’s coming out of his mouth is nonsense. Now of course he has the right to say anything he wants, including his theory of “mass hypnosis”, but we can fault Clapton for trying to persuade others to avoid a preventive that has been shown to work. As he says, “I had a tool [his music], and I could do something about that” [i.e., promulgating his crazy views].

Click on the screenshot to read the Post article, though if you watch the 18-minute video above, you don’t really need to. 

I think this tweet is appropriate.

h/t: Barry

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

January 25, 2022 • 8:00 am

Note: Readers’ wildlife photos won’t be posted today as I am overwhelmed with work, esp. all the details needed to prepare for Antarctica. I hope to resume this tomorrow. In the meantime, please keep sending in your photos.

Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, January 25, 2022: National Irish Coffee Day. This is one adulterated coffee drink I like, especially on a chilly day, and if there’s a decent titer of hootch in the cup. Here’s a good one, and made with the proper spirits:

It’s also Burns Night (I recommend McSween’s nonvegetarian but not organ-containing haggis), Fluoride Day, and A Room of One’s Own Day, celebrating author Virginia Woolf, born on this day in 1882. Burns Night of course requires copious draughts of whiskey (or is it “whisky”?), but not Jameson’s, which is Irish.

News of the Day:

*The James Webb Space Telescope has reached its final destination, putting it in orbit around the Sun. So far everything has been “nominal,” so I’m quite pleased. It’s not over yet, though:

Several hurdles remain before the telescope begins its mission, including aligning the instrument’s mirrors and calibrating onboard instruments. Routine science operations are expected to start in about five months, according to NASA. With its 21.5-foot-wide golden main mirror and infrared sensors, the telescope is 100 times as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope and is designed to capture images of stars and galaxies as they were 13.5 billion years ago.

*The Legal News from reader Ken:

The Court granted certiorari in a number of cases yesterday. Included is Sackett v. EPA, in which it seems poised to gut the Clean Water Act. (The Court already has pending for consideration this term West Virginia v. EPA, a challenge to the federal government’s authority to regulate power plant emissions.)

Also included in yesterday’s cert grants are cases challenging race-conscious admission programs at Harvard and UNC–Chapel Hill.

The second case is of special interest to academics—indeed, everyone—because the court is poised to take on an issue on which it’s held steady on since the Bakke case in 1978: the use of race in making admissions decisions. That’s been seen as acceptable so long as “quotas” aren’t used. The rationale in Bakke was that diversity of a student body is an inherent good worth striving for, though I prefer affirmative action based on admissions as reparations. At any rate, it’s a complete mystery to me which way the court will decide (the hearing will be this fall, and the decision in perhaps a year):

The court said it would examine the admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, most probably in the term that begins in October. Lower courts found that both schools complied with Supreme Court precedents that said race may be used as one factor universities can consider in a wide-ranging evaluation of applicants.

. . . Subsequent Supreme Court rulings, in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger and in 2016 in Fisher v. University of Texas, continued to uphold the limited use of race-conscious admissions. However, the court in its 2016 opinion was closely divided, 4-3, and its membership has changed significantly. The author of that majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, has retired, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who also supported the opinion, died in 2020. President Donald Trump appointed their replacements.

But the slim Supreme Court majorities that decided Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003 and reaffirmed it in 2016 are gone, replaced by a much more conservative bloc. Challengers say the court should overturn those precedents and rule that considerations of race, which aid underrepresented Black and Hispanic students, violate federal law and the Constitution.

The Harvard case is about discrimination against those of Asian descent; that of UNC about discrimination against both Asians and whites. As I said, I favor affirmative action with a reparations basis, but I object to the kind of dissimulation given below (my emphasis):

Harvard describes race as a potential “tip,” or plus factor, that could influence a close decision if an applicant comes from an underrepresented group such as Black or Latino students. Harvard says race can only be a plus and is never a minus.

How can that be? In a zero-sum situation, when if one student gets in, another one doesn’t. You cannot have “only pluses” because every time you give a plus, somebody moves down the scale, in effect getting a “minus.”

*As Russia prepares to invade Ukraine (I have little doubt now), the U.S. has put 8500 troops on alert, ready to deploy as part of a NATO force to do—what? We’re already sending military equipment to Ukraine, but what are the troops supposed to do?

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said about 8,500 U.S.-based troops are being put on alert for possible deployment — not to Ukraine but to NATO territory in Eastern Europe as part of an alliance force meant to signal a unified commitment to deter any wider Putin aggression.

Ah, I see: we’re going to be part of a non-fighting virtue signal! Surely that will scare Putin—not! But it does show that the U.S. is more convinced than ever that Putin will sent his flying monkeys into Ukraine.

*On that note, there’s a good op-ed in the NYT by Fiona Hill, a former intelligence agent with the Russian beat. Her piece is called “Putin has the U.S. right where he wants it,” and she makes a good case for her claim.  One excerpt:

Ukraine is both Russia’s target and a source of leverage against the United States. Over the last several months Mr. Putin has bogged the Biden administration down in endless tactical games that put the United States on the defensive. Russia moves forces to Ukraine’s borders, launches war games and ramps up the visceral commentary. In recent official documents, it demanded ironclad guarantees that Ukraine (and other former republics of the U.S.S.R.) will never become a member of NATO, that NATO pull back from positions taken after 1997, and also that America withdraw its own forces and weapons, including its nuclear missiles. Russian representatives assert that Moscow doesn’t “need peace at any cost” in Europe. Some Russian politicians even suggest the possibility of a pre-emptive strike against NATO targets to make sure that we know they are serious, and that we should meet Moscow’s demands.

*Books To Read Department: The NYT mentions that the books of a Nobel Laureate in Literature AND a Booker Prize winner, Olga Tokarczuk, are now being translated into English. And I’ll be sure to read one, perhaps starting with the Big One:

Her novels — they are often both pensive and mythic in tone — are slowly making their way into English. In addition to “Drive Your Plow,” these include the philosophical and often dazzling “Flights,” about travel and being between stations. It won the 2018 Man Booker International prize.

Tokarczuk’s most ambitious novel — the Swedish Academy called it her “magnum opus” — has long been said to be “The Books of Jacob,” first published in Poland in 2014. It’s here now. At nearly 1,000 pages, it is indeed magnum-size.

. .  Set in the mid-18th century, “The Books of Jacob” is about a charismatic self-proclaimed messiah, Jacob Frank, a young Jew who travels through the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires, attracting and repelling crowds and authorities in equal measure.

Frank is based on a real historical figure; the author has clearly done her research. Tokarczuk hews closely to the twists and turns of Frank’s fate as he converts to Islam and then to Catholicism and, along the way, becomes a proto-Zionist.

Convicted of heresy, he spends many years in prison. His ideas are important, as they say, if true.

To remark that “The Books of Jacob” is about the vexed wanderings of a cult leader, however, is akin to remarking that Thomas Pynchon’s “Mason & Dixon” is about two men who go for a walk.

“The Books of Jacob” is an unruly, overwhelming, vastly eccentric novel. It’s sophisticated and ribald and brimming with folk wit. It treats everything it bumps into at both face value and ad absurdum. It’s Chaucerian in its brio.

Okay, I’ll read it. But first I have to finish John McWhorter’s Woke Racism, which I got today via interlibrary loan.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 867,868, an increase of 2,083 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,624,686, an increase of about 9,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 25 includes:

  • 41 – After a night of negotiation, Claudius is accepted as Roman emperor by the Senate.
  • 1533 – Henry VIII of England secretly marries his second wife Anne Boleyn.

She was queen for three years and then beheaded for “adultery, incest, and treason.”, but the real reason is that she didn’t produce a son. Here’s a painting with the Wikipedia caption, “Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Édouard Cibot (1799–1877)”

  • 1585 – Walter Raleigh is knighted, shortly after renaming North America region “Virginia”, in honor of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, sometimes referred to as the “Virgin Queen”.
  • 1819 – University of Virginia chartered by Commonwealth of Virginia, with Thomas Jefferson one of its founders.

Here’s Jefferson’s gravesite, with the three accomplishments he was proudest of (this done at his behest). Note that “President of the United States” is not one one of them:

How many times have we heard this? But here’s a fancy version by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado:

  • 1890 – Nellie Bly completes her round-the-world journey in 72 days.
  • 1909 – Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra receives its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.
  • 1915 – Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

Here’s the 1876 patent issued to Bell for the telephone:

Here is a brief video with scenes from the first winter games:

  • 1945 – World War II: The Battle of the Bulge ends.
  • 1961 – In Washington, D.C., US President John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential television news conference.
  • 1971 – Charles Manson and four “Family” members (three of them female) are found guilty of the 1969 Tate–LaBianca murders.

The LA Times headline. Besides Manson, the guilty included Susan AtkinsPatricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten.  Krenwinkel and Van Houten are still in jail; the parole board granted Van Houten clemency, but the governor hasn’t signed her release.

Yeltsin was brought the briefcase with the orders to launch a nuclear attack, but the all-clear came at the last moment.

  • 1996 – Billy Bailey becomes the last person to be hanged in the United States.

Bailey could have chosen lethal injection but preferred hanging. His last meal was a well-done steak, a baked potato with sour cream and butter, buttered rolls, peas, and vanilla ice cream. Well done? That’s a capital crime in itself. Here’s Bailey:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1759 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet and songwriter (d. 1796)
  • 1874 – W. Somerset Maugham, British playwright, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1965)
  • 1882 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and critic (d. 1941)

Here’s a photo of Woolf and the only recording of her voice I could find.

  • 1900 – Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian-American geneticist and pioneer of evolutionary biology (d. 1975)

He was known as either “Doby” or “Dodek” to his students. I started out to be one, but he retired and so I got my Ph.D. with one of Doby’s earlier students, Dick Lewontin. That makes Dobzhansky my academic grandfather.

Here’s Lewontin in his office in 2009 with his photos of Doby and the next generation—moi—making the first ascent of Mount Lewontin without clothing:

  • 1949 – Paul Nurse, English geneticist and biologist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1981 – Alicia Keys, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress

Those who laid down their arms (and legs) on January 25 include

His “Adam and Eve” with strategically placed leaves. Note that they have navels!

  • 1640 – Robert Burton, English physician and scholar (b. 1577)
  • 1891 – Theo van Gogh, Art dealer, the brother of Vincent van Gogh (b. 1857)

Theo and Vincent are buried together in Auvers-sur-Oise, their graves entwined by Ivy. It’s well worth the short trip from Paris:

  • 1947 – Al Capone, American gangster and mob boss (b. 1899)
  • 1990 – Ava Gardner, American actress (b. 1922)

In my view, the world’s most beautiful woman–and if you look up “sultry” in the dictionary, you’ll see her photo:

The Flying Dutchwoman!

  • 2017 – Mary Tyler Moore, American actress and producer (b. 1936)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is preoccupied:

A: Can you come for a moment?
Hili: In a minute, I will just swallow something.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy możesz przyjść tu na chwilę?
Hili: Zaraz, tylko coś połknę.

And Kulka at the window, waiting for Spring:

From Divy.  This is certainly a joke, but the two face masks below are real and for sale:

From Malcolm who says, “Meanwhile in the box, Schrödinger’s cat plots its revenge.”

From Bruce:

Titania is back tweeting every few days or so. Here’s her latest. But what is Kirstie Alley doing there? Did I miss something?

A case of mimicry from Dom. Looks like a false head to me, and false heads have evolved because they induce the predator to peck at the wrong end, allowing the prey a better chance to escape. This false head, complete with fake eyes and antennae, is a good one.

From Ginger K. Saying “bad cat!” to the moggie is of course useless:

From Simon, who’s writing a grant proposal:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a lovely video:

An oddly colored “senior wren”. One explanation here, another below it.

Translation: “One of the most important life lessons we can teach our children is to be kind and respectful to others. Have a nice Sunday.”

Did I post this before? If so, it’s still beautiful.

Teachers push California student to undergo sexual transitioning

January 24, 2022 • 12:15 pm

I think all people of good will (except the ACLU) are on the same page with respect to transgender rights. That is, everyone, regardless of gender status, sex, or transitioning status, should be afforded moral or legal equality and treated with respect and civility. There are a few exceptions when that right conflicts with others (most notably in sports), but having such an attitude is not transphobic.

Further, any child contemplating transsexuality should be treated with respect by everyone, but not pushed to undergo transitioning. The proper course involves supportive (but not pushy) parents and friends, unbiased but empathic psychological counseling, and unbiased medical advice, which gives a full descriptions of the likely and possible outcomes of hormone therapy and surgery.  Then, if the young person still wants to transition (preferably after puberty), then have at it.

This holds for teachers in schools, of course. They can be supportive, but they have no right to push children into altering their gender.  One of the problems here, which the ACLU loves but which worries me, is this one from the AP article below (click on screenshot):

Under state and federal law, however, students have privacy rights that extend to sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Only in limited circumstances can a school notify a parent of their child’s sexual identity against their wishes.

“Outside of school, these students may similarly face potential hostility at home because of who they are,” said attorney Peter Renn of Lambda Legal. “For example, involuntarily outing a student as LGBTQ to their parents can very well lead to them getting kicked out of the home in some circumstances.”

This seems to me pretty reasonable, but I haven’t thought through it completely as it does conflict with parental “rights”. But this is all irrelevant in the case below, as the two teachers at issue actually set up a meeting to let the parents know that their daughter wanted to transition to the male gender. Read the AP report below (click on screenshot) for a case study about how schools should not deal with children undergoing gender dysphoria.

Jessica Konen is suing a California school district for pushing her daughter to become a transmale after already telling the daughter that she was “bisexual”. (Remember, there are tomboys who are often considered “bisexual” but don’t become lesbians or transmen.) The teachers apparently not only conspired to push Konen’s daughter towards transitioning, but then informed the mom about her daughter, blindsiding the mother in a set-up meeting.

The details:

A mother who claims teachers secretly manipulated her 11-year-old daughter into changing her gender identity and name has filed a legal case against a tiny California school district.

Spreckels Union School District was responsible for “extreme and outrageous conduct” that led the student on a path toward transitioning as a boy and drove a wedge between mother and child, according to the claim filed Wednesday by a conservative legal group.

Jessica Konen said two middle school teachers who ran the school’s Equality Club — later known as UBU (You Be You) — planted the seed that her daughter was bisexual in 6th grade and then introduced the idea she was transgender.

The legal claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — follows a dustup in the district last fall after the author of a book widely criticized as “anti-transgender” quoted the two teachers speaking at a conference about how to run an LGBTQ+ club in a conservative community.

. . . While Konen said her daughter had revealed she was bisexual [JAC: this bisexual identity was apparently instilled in the daughter by the teachers as well], the mother was unaware she was identifying as a boy until she was called to a meeting at the Buena Vista Middle School principal’s office in December 2019 when her daughter was in 7th grade.

She wasn’t told the purpose of the meeting until her daughter entered the room and sat across a table from her and teacher Lori Caldeira broke the news.

“I literally was caught off guard. I was blindsided,” Konen said. “I didn’t even know what to feel like because I didn’t even know where it came from.”

Konen said she began to cry.

She said her daughter was also caught by surprise. She had told teachers she wanted to notify her mom, but didn’t know they set the meeting up that day.

So the teachers not only pushed the girl to transition (see below), but also violated privacy rights by setting up this meeting. But it gets worse!

. . .When schools went to remote learning during the pandemic in March 2020, Konen said her daughter began returning to her “old self” and now uses her given name.

But it wasn’t until this fall that Konen began to question how her daughter got on the path to a different identity after the article by Abigail Shrier circulated around town.

In a leaked recording from a California Teachers Association conference, Caldeira and Kelly Baraki were quoted discussing how they kept meetings private and “stalked” students online for recruits.

“When we were doing our virtual learning — we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren’t doing school work,” Baraki said. “One of them was googling ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’ And we’re like, ‘Check.’ We’re going to invite that kid when we get back on campus.”

“Check”? How insensitive can you be? (The teachers’ names are Lori Caldiera and Kelly Baraki.)  Caldiera now clams the stalking comment was a joke, but I don’t believer her. These are woke teachers with agendas that are all “push, push, push kids to transition”.

Why they do this mystifies me. Teachers are not peers on social media seeking to validate their own decisions by urging others to follow them; teachers are supposed to care for the children. At any rate, both teachers have been placed on administrative leave, and the girl is reported as having voluntarily resumed her female name and is “returning to her old self.”  The mother is quoted:

Konen said her daughter is now doing well in high school.

“She still deals with confusion,” Konen said. “She feels like she can breathe, you know, like she doesn’t have pressure on her.”

The problem with the epidemic of transitioning, nearly all from the female to the male gender, is that those with some gender dysphoria, or even typical adolescent confusion, are pushed to transition rather than urged to go slowly and get proper medical and psychological counseling. As Bari Weiss reported on her Substack column, two specialists in transgender medicine, both transgender women, are jumping off the express train to transsexuality and urging more caution. (The bolding is mine):

Their allies in the media and Hollywood reported stories and created content that reaffirmed this orthodoxy. Anyone who dared disagree or depart from any of its core tenets, including young women who publicly detransitioned, were inevitably smeared as hateful and accused of harming children.

But that new orthodoxy has gone too far, according to two of the most prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine: Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on reality-television star Jazz Jennings; and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic.

In the course of their careers, both have seen thousands of patients. Both are board members of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the organization that sets the standards worldwide for transgender medical care. And both are transgender women.

Earlier this month, Anderson told me she submitted a co-authored op-ed to The New York Times warning that many transgender healthcare providers were treating kids recklessly. The Times passed, explaining it was “outside our coverage priorities right now.”

. . . in the last decade, watchful waiting has been supplanted by “affirmative care,” which assumes children do know what’s best. Affirmative care proponents urge doctors to corroborate their patients’ belief that they are trapped in the wrong body. The family is pressured to help the child transition to a new gender identity — sometimes having been told by doctors or activists that, if they don’t, their child may eventually commit suicide. From there, pressures build on parents to begin concrete medical steps to help children on their path to transitioning to the “right” body. That includes puberty blockers as a preliminary step. Typically, cross-sex hormones follow and then, if desired, gender surgery.

The NYT is reprehensible. Transsexuality is a big issue, and when two transsexual doctors who are experts in transexual medicine have something to say, the Times should publish it. But of course what these doctors say goes against The Narrative.

It’s worse than that, for the teachers weren’t even practicing “affirmative care” but deliberately pushing the girl towards transitioning. Who do they think they are? Are they experts in dealing with gender dysphoria?

Given their dereliction of duty towards their charges, both teachers should be fired.

A trigger warning for Nineteen Eighty-Four !

January 24, 2022 • 10:30 am

First of all, let’s get the title of Orwell’s book straight: it’s Nineteen Eighty-Fournot 1984. And that’s the way Orwell referred to it.

That out of the way, a British University has issued a trigger warning for that book. Click this screenshot from The Volokh Conspiracy, which mis-titles the book, to read Volokh’s take on this warning.

Volokh’s quotes are indented, while the Daily Fail quote is doubly indented. My thoughts are flush left.

Daily Mail (UK) (Chris Hastings) reports:

[S]taff at the University of Northampton have issued a trigger warning for George Orwell’s novel on the grounds that it contains ‘explicit material’ which some students may find ‘offensive and upsetting’.


The advice [was] revealed following a Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday….

[I]t is one of several literary works which have been flagged up to students at Northampton who are studying a module called Identity Under Construction. They are warned that the module ‘addresses challenging issues related to violence, gender, sexuality, class, race, abuses, sexual abuse, political ideas and offensive language’….

I think if individual faculty members want to warn students about particular books this way, they should be free to do so. And I actually support warning students generally about this—preferably in orientation, but perhaps even at the start of a class syllabus—precisely to remind them that studying the human experience at a university necessarily involves confronting the dark sides of humanity.

But I personally think it’s a mistake to offer such book-by-book advice, precisely because it reinforces the presupposition that students in university literature, history, anthropology, law, etc. classes should by default expect nothing offensive, upsetting, or explicit, and are thus entitled to be warned as to departures from this norm. The history of humanity has been in large part the history of tyranny, mass murder, slavery, rape, racism, sexist oppression, and much more. (Thankfully, it hasn’t been only that, but many serious accounts, real or fictional, will include the evil as well as the good.)

Adults who study humanity should recognize that this is so. They should be prepared to deal with it at all times in their studies. Indeed, the more they want to fight such evils, the more they should be ready to deal with it without the need for trigger warnings or other supposed protections. And the institutions tasked with educating such adults ought to seek to inculcate such a perspective, as part of their educational function.

Yes, I agree with Volokh about the book-by-book warning; but I think that professors should always use a light finger on the trigger lest they infantilize students and make them think, as Volokh notes, that anything bad is “abnormal and traumatic.” Further, as studies have shown, trigger warnings don’t work—that is, they don’t reduce the trauma of students who say they are upset by material in a given genre. If anything —and this is like “implicit bias training”—they tend to have an effect opposite to what’s intended. Volokh gives the references to those studies in his article, and dp realize that the data are based on a handful of studies.

When I thought back on the novel, which I recently reread, I scratched my head about what part of its content would require a trigger warning. The furtive sex between Winston and Julia is not at all explicit. There’s a bit of violence when Winston gets caught and tortured, but even that isn’t very graphic.  Fortunately, the Daily Fail gives the trigger warning itself, which actually applies to a module of several works, one of which is Nineteen Eighty-Four.

From the Fail:

Now staff at the University of Northampton have issued a trigger warning for George Orwell’s novel on the grounds that it contains ‘explicit material’ which some students may find ‘offensive and upsetting’.

. . . Yet it is one of several literary works which have been flagged up to students at Northampton who are studying a module called Identity Under Construction. They are warned that the module ‘addresses challenging issues related to violence, gender, sexuality, class, race, abuses, sexual abuse, political ideas and offensive language’.

What is, exactly, “explicit material”? The violence and sex in Orwell’s book is largely implicit—described obliquely rather than graphically.

And for crying out loud: if you are offended by violence, class, race, political ideas, and so on, you should NOT be reading the newspaper! As for the other topics, you shouldn’t be reading serious literature at all.  Madame Bovary: “Warning: contains adultery, sex, and suicidal violence”.  You could use the same warning for Anna Karenina!  And violence, oy! There goes War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, and even the Bible. (Do they give trigger warnings in theology class?) Ulysses and anything by Henry Miller or Cormac McCarthy are of course out completely. In fact, I defy you to think of a great work of literature that wouldn’t require a trigger warning on any of the grounds above.  I just remembered The Great Gatsby, but of course that has death by auto accident, murder, and domestic violence.

There’s a common thread in much wokeness, one first brought up by Haidt and Lukianoff in their excellent book The Coddling of the American Mind, which suggests these three principles (they call them the “Great Untruths”) for understanding the behavior of modern young people:

  1. “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker”
  2. “Always trust your feelings”, and
  3. “Life is a battle between good people and evil people.”

It’s time to stop infantilizing people and treat them like adults. (One example: when we wrote our critique of the hit job on Ed Wilson published in Scientific American, several people warned us that we should go easy on the author—or even not criticize her views—because she was black. That outraged me, because if you believe in affirming the dignity of all people, you must treat the arguments of minorities as you would the arguments of anyone else: if you object to them, you do so strongly but civilly. To do otherwise is to be condescending, paternalistic, and, in fact, racist.)

But enough. Yes, professors can dispense trigger warnings if they want, but they should realize that there’s no evidence that they work, and that when they do so they are practicing the first Great Untruth. I don’t know how my generation got through college without mass trauma.

h/t: Anna

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 24, 2022 • 9:00 am

Today we’re featuring pictures of fungi by reader David Jorling. His notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. The identifications of many of the mushrooms are unknown or ambiguous, so fungus-friendly readers can help. Thanks!

At last, here are some photos I took of mushrooms while taking a walk through Tryon Creek State Park in Oregon last fall.  This park is located on the northern border of Lake Oswego, and there is a trailhead about 200 yards from my house.  The identifications I have listed below are from one of those fold-out laminated plant and wildlife guides that are purchased at the visitor center.  But my identifications should be taken with a grain of salt, as I cannot claim to have any expertise with respect to mushroom identification.

An Overhead shot of what I suspect are “Cluster Coincaps” which grow “In dense clumps on decaying conifer wood”.


I suspect these are “Cat’s Tongues“. (The foldout’s apostrophe, not mine.  I suspect all cats have only one).  The card said, “One surface has short teeth”.  I did not know that when I took the picture so I did not get close enough to inspect. The card also says it grows “On well-rotted wood” which is not the case here, but it is the whitest mushroom on the card and best matches the shape.

I think these are “Deadly Skullcaps” which grow “On wood, often in clusters”.  The card says they are “lethal little brown mushrooms”.

I think this is a “Turkeytail“, which grows “On decaying Hardwood” which appears to be the case here. Look closely and you can see raindrops on the undersides of the edges.

I am really not sure of the identity of the mushrooms in the next four photos, although “sex toys” come to mind for the first two.  These may be “Wine Slimecaps” but the caps don’t match the guide. The other possibility is “Matte Stickycaps”  which the guide says “grow under Douglas Firs”.  In this case, they are growing on one.  The caps match the texture of the caps in the photo, but the guide says they can be up to 51/2″ wide.  None of these came close.

This photo caused some delay in getting these to you.  I tried to magnify it but the result was always a bit out of focus.  Tough call on these.  Possibly “Fairy-ring  Mushroom” (which grows in grass” – but not here), or perhaps “Mower’s Mottlegill”, but the guide says they “grow in grassy areas like lawns”.   Does moss count?

I think this is a “Woodland Lepidella” although the texture of the cap doesn’t quite match.  The guide says it grows “on soil in conifer forests, clearings, and roadsides”, which was the case here.

Monday: Hili dialogue

January 24, 2022 • 7:30 am

Welcome to the the start of the “work” week: Monday, January 24, 2022. It’s National Peanut Butter Day, and it’s not too far off to say that “America runs on PB&J”, though that would infringe on “Dunkin’s” slogan.

Here’s Elvis’s version of the sandwich: peanut butter, bacon, and banana, with the sandwich fried in bacon fat. In an Elvis bio I read that one night he and the guys were sitting around at Graceland when Elvis got a hankering for his favorite version of this sandwich, made in a joint in Las Vegas. He and the guys got onto Elvis’s private plane and flew across the country to get their noms.

The recipe:

For the ingredients, you’ll need two slices of white bread, four strips of bacon, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and one sliced banana. First, fry up the bacon in a pan; while you’re doing that, spread peanut butter on one side of each piece of bread. When the bacon is done, remove it from the pan, but leave the grease.

Next, place the bread (peanut butter side up) into the pan, and place the banana slices and bacon on one piece of bread. When both pieces are toasted to your liking, put the sandwich together, give it one more flip in the pan, and press it down until the peanut butter starts to ooze.

It’s also National Edy’s Pie Patent Day (that’s the new and officially approved name of “Eskimo Pie”, though I would have preferred “Inuit Pie”), National Lobster Thermidor Day, Macintosh Computer Day (see below under 1984), Beer Can Appreciation Day, National Compliment Day, and Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day (is that like, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!”?).

News of the Day:

*The whole editorial board of the NYT has written this op-ed piece: “President Biden’s economy is failing the Big Mac test.” That uses as an index of well-being how many Big Macs your paycheck can buy. And the number is shrinking, though the NYT is careful to give an overall positive appraisal of Biden’s economic efforts and results. But there are still those big Macs (protip: they’re overpriced. Get two damn $1 hamburgers!):

Most Americans don’t share the administration’s sunny view of its economic record, and it is little mystery why: The average worker’s paycheck doesn’t buy as many hamburgers as it did last year. (Using hamburgers to measure inflation is a twist on The Economist magazine’s Big Mac Index, which tracks the price of the classic hamburger in different currencies.) The government’s Consumer Price Index rose by 7 percent in 2021, the biggest jump since 1982. Mr. Biden’s approval rating remains low, and poll after poll finds that Americans are not pleased with his handling of the economy. Nearly two-thirds say the administration is insufficiently focused on inflation, according to a recent CBS News poll. There are similar numbers in other recent polls.

In the end, though, this is not a critical editorial despite its title:

The White House finds itself in the position of a physician who has administered a successful course of treatment but who has neglected to prepare the patient for the side effects or to give the timeline for a full recovery. A lot of pain was averted, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that didn’t happen. The economic outlook is strong, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that haven’t happened yet. Right now, the pain of inflation is front and center for most.

It’ll be a sweltering day in Chicago in January when you hear that paper give a generally critical assessment of Biden. It’s like expecting Breibart to criticize Trump. Of course Biden is far, far better than Trump, but that’s not saying a lot. He’s still chained to the “progressive left”.

*One sign that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being taken seriously by the U.S. government:  the U.S. State Department has ordered some of its diplomats to leave the country, as well as all of the families of every diplomat:

Ukraine has been on the State Department’s highest travel advisory — Level 4: Do Not Travel — for months because of COVID-19. Last month, the embassy updated that warning to say, “Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine,” which “would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services” to Americans.

A State Department spokesperson said Saturday that the U.S. will not evacuate Americans like in the operation conducted out of Afghanistan last August.

“American citizens should not anticipate that there will be U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. Currently commercial flights are available to support departures,” the spokesperson said.

Yep, the families are going home on commercial airlines, which, booked at the last minute, will cost a pile. Another sign of how seriously we take the threat of Russia. I still say that invasion is imminent, and Russia will come out of this smelling like a rose.

*How can you not click on this headline from the BBC?

It’s not surprising, for who wouldn’t make a break for it if your job consisted entirely of rolling around on the floor and sucking up other people’s schmutz?  A summary:

A robot vacuum cleaner made a break for freedom after giving staff the slip at a Travelodge hotel.

The automated cleaner failed to stop at the front door of the hotel in Orchard Park in Cambridge on Thursday, and was still on the loose the following day.

Staff said it just kept going and “could be anywhere” while well-wishers on social media hoped the vacuum enjoyed its travels, as “it has no natural predators” in the wild.

It was found under a hedge on Friday.

Staff at the hotel posted the story of the robot vacuum’s great escape on social media, asking for it to be returned, if found.

“Today we had one of our new robot vacuums run for its life,” the assistant manager wrote.

I’d keep the thing chained to the wall until it shows it can behave better.

*The Washington Post reports that a 75 year old Frenchman, Jean-Jacques Savin, was attempting to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean— in winter, when he vanished. the Portuguese coast guard found his overturned boat near the Azores, and of course Monsieur Savin is most likely sleeping with the fishes.  A great pity, as the guy was older than I am, and I would never attempt such a feat. Here he is in the boat that he was set to row across the pond:

The guy had guts, as this wasn’t his first trip across the Atlantic solo:

Savin crossed the Atlantic in 2019, floating 2,930 miles in a bright orange barrel-shaped vessel. He celebrated his 72nd birthday on that trip, for which he had packed wine and foie gras. He also crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat, ascended Mount Blanc and swam four times across France’s Arcachon Bay.

A successful journey this time would have madeSavin the oldest person to row across the Atlantic solo, according to Guinness World Records. The current record holder is Graham Walters, a British man who made the tripin April 2020 at age 72.

The journey was slated to take about 100 days, but he sent out distress signals that triggered the search (the issue was that his desalinization system was kaput). All you can say is “au revoir, mon ami”, as he’d had his share of foie gras.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 865,867, an increase of 2,182 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,615,280, an increase of about 4,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 24 includes:

  • 41 – Claudius is proclaimed Roman emperor by the Praetorian Guard after they assassinate the previous emperor, his nephew Caligula.
  • 1536 – King Henry VIII of England suffers an accident while jousting, leading to a brain injury that historians say may have influenced his later erratic behaviour and possible impotence.

A report from Wikipedia:

Late in life, Henry became obese, with a waist measurement of 54 inches (140 cm), and had to be moved about with the help of mechanical devices. He was covered with painful, pus-filled boils and possibly suffered from gout. His obesity and other medical problems can be traced to the jousting accident in 1536 in which he suffered a leg wound. The accident reopened and aggravated an injury he had sustained years earlier, to the extent that his doctors found it difficult to treat. The chronic wound festered for the remainder of his life and became ulcerated, preventing him from maintaining the level of physical activity he had previously enjoyed. The jousting accident is also believed to have caused Henry’s mood swings, which may have had a dramatic effect on his personality and temperament.

Oy! Here he is with his 54 inch waist (portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger):

A poster, perhaps the one that inspired Joni Mitchell’s song:

  • 1857 – The University of Calcutta is formally founded as the first fully fledged university in South Asia.
  • 1908 – The first Boy Scout troop is organized in England by Robert Baden-Powell.
  • 1918 – The Gregorian calendar is introduced in Russia by decree of the Council of People’s Commissars effective February 14 (New Style).
  • 1933 – The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, changing the beginning and end of terms for all elected federal offices.
  • 1961 – Goldsboro B-52 crash: A bomber carrying two H-bombs breaks up in mid-air over North Carolina. The uranium core of one weapon remains lost.

Here’s a photo of workers trying to recover one of the bombs. It’s said that one of them came very close to detonating.

  • 1984 – Apple Computer places the Macintosh personal computer on sale in the United States.
  • 1989 – Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, with over 30 known victims, is executed by the electric chair at the Florida State Prison.

Here’s his mugshot for the arrest of murdering Kimberley Leach. Bundy killed at least 30 women, perhaps many more:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1670 – William Congreve, English playwright and poet (d. 1729)
  • 1712 – Frederick the Great, Prussian king (d. 1786)
  • 1917 – Ernest Borgnine, American actor (d. 2012)

In my view, Borgnine’s two greatest roles were in “From Here to Eternity” and “Marty”; he played completely opposite character types in these roles. Here’s the trailer from the first movie (1953). Borgnine, as the evil sergeant, appears at 2:32:

  • 1918 – Oral Roberts, American evangelist, founded Oral Roberts University and Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (d. 2009)
  • 1928 – Desmond Morris, English zoologist, ethologist, and painter
  • 1941 – Neil Diamond, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1941 – Aaron Neville, American singer

Here’s Neville singing what I think is his best song, in this case at “Live at Daryl’s House” (a great show):

  • 1943 – Sharon Tate, American model and actress (d. 1969)
  • 1947 – Warren Zevon, American singer-songwriter (d. 2003)
  • 1949 – John Belushi, American actor and screenwriter (d. 1982)

The two best comedians ever to appear on “Saturday Night Live”:

  • 1968 – Mary Lou Retton, American gymnast

Those who “passed” (I dislike that euphemism) on January 24 include:

He was Winston’s dad. Randolph died of syphilis at age 45, after scuppering a promising political career.

Note that Winston Churchill died on the same day as his father, exactly 70 years later.

  • 1989 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (b. 1946)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili needs a break from editing:

Hili: Nothing draws me to the computer. I may take a vacation today.
A: Have a rest. We will try to manage without you.
In Polish:
Hili: Zupełnie mnie mnie ciągnie do komputera, chyba zrobię sobie dziś urlop.
Ja. Odpocznij. Spróbujemy dać sobie radę bez ciebie.

From Animals in Art Through History, with the note:

It’s great playing in the snow!
Louis Wain (English, 1860-1939)
“The Tabby Toboggan Club”

Wain, was of course, mentally unstable, but his cat pictures are great:

A groaner from Bruce: (And a joke from me Q: Why did the crow sit on the telephone line? A: Because it wanted to make a long-distance caw.

From David. I’m allowed to post this because I’m a senior citizen an older adult:

God’s first tweet of the year:

From Masih. Can we spare a thought for the women of Afghanistan, blatantly lied to and now “disappeared” by the Taliban? This woman vanished after her arrest, shown here:

From Titania.

From Simon. I doubt that this headline is real . . .

Tweets from Mathew. Look how small these beetles are (just 0.4 mm)! There are more posts in the thread.

Seriously, an annelid that BRANCHES? This violates everything I know about biology. Somebody find out more!

As Matthew said in one of his contemplative moments, “If only the world were like The Dodo.” Absolutely!

That’s GEORGE MARTIN in case you don’t recognize him.

Google purifies its language

January 23, 2022 • 1:30 pm

Lawrence Krauss has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (note: this bit of the paper is largely right wing, not that Krauss is) that shows some ways the ever vigilant Google Squad is policing language. Click on the screenshot to read:

According to Krauss, the policing will work this way:

Google has created guidelines for “inclusive” language in software and documentation that describe how software should reflect the hypersensitive feelings of programmers who are immersed in woke culture and fixated on victimhood and offense. Apparently these guidelines will be enforced in the future in all new open-source projects, and the company will scrub earlier versions as well. Various other technology groups, including some at universities and professional associations, have developed their own guidelines. Microsoft recently introduced a feature for its popular Word software that can ferret out and replace noninclusive words and phrases.

He mentions some of the changes that aren’t offensive, like using “master/slave” for technology or “whitelist/blacklist” used in the usual ways, but there are some words whose offense isn’t so easily discerned:

“black box”
“senior citizen” (it is to be “older adults”)
“older version” (now to be “earlier version”)

and the all time champion:

“smartphone”.  What is that about? Is it offensive because other phone are dumb, and thus the term is ableist? No substitute has been prescribed. How about “meritocraticphone”?

“Quantum supremacy”, the point at which quantum computers exceed what conventional computers can do, is has been verboten for a while but to justify that is a stretch.

Krauss gives two reasons why this Orwellian revision of language is bad: it’s a waste of time and it makes language less colorful. But I think it’s bad for a more important reason: it reflects a policing of our whole society by a gang of Medium Brothers (as opposed to Big Brothers), and it stifles dissent. It’s the most obvious sign of how the authoritarian Pecksniffs are trying to force society to talk and think their way.

Here’s a dumbphone, which is offended by the iPhone 13:

More from New Zealand, a nation whose science is circling the drain

January 23, 2022 • 12:00 pm

I’ve written a lot about New Zealand lately, in particular the schools’ and government’s attempt to force the teaching of “indigenous ways of knowing” (mātauranga Māori) into the science classroom as a system coequal in value with modern science. That means not only equal classroom time, but equal respect, treating indigenous ways of knowing as complementary if not identical to “scientific truth”. Note that I’m not dismissing the value of mātauranga Māori (henceforth “MM”) in some spheres, even science. For MM contains “practical knowledge”, like how to catch eels, that could conceivably be inserted into science courses.

And of course MM s the worldview of the indigenous people, and thus an important part of the history and tradition of New Zealand. It thus deserves to be taught in anthropology or sociology classes. But the science within MM is precious little compared with the larger titer of myth, legend, superstition, theology, and morality that are essential to MM. This other stuff is not a “way of knowing” and thus cannot be taught in science classes. Note as well that MM is also explicitly creationist. Do Kiwis really want to confuse students by telling them that Māori creation myths are just as “scientific” as is biological evolution?  Teaching MM as science is just as fraught as teaching any indigenous “way of knowing” as science: it’s a pathway that leads inevitably to the degeneration of science education in a country.

If you want to see what’s in store for New Zealand’s secondary schools and universities, have a read of the brochure below (click on screenshot to get a free copy), which is the University of Auckland’s “five year and ten year plans” for where it wants to go vis-à-vis education and reputation. I’ve read it twice, and have concluded four things:

a. There’s no “there” there: it’s all a bunch of chirpy aspirations about making the University a world thought leader, but without any tangible steps for doing so. I’ve rarely read a “plan” so devoid of content.

b. It’s abysmally written and loaded with Māori words that you can’t understand unless you’re fluent in the language (have a look, for instance, at the title).

c. It’s basically a plan for handing over half the curriculum and its planning to Māori, including teaching MM, though they constitute only 16.5% of the New Zealand population (Asians are 15.3%).

d. There is nothing at all about science in the plan except this lame quote from the “research and innovation page” of aspirations:

Be a research partner of choice for industry, policymakers and community organisations.

• Review promotion and reward systems to appropriately recognise the value of a range of research endeavours.

• Upskill and build capability of staff and students in research impact, engagement and science communication.

(“Upskill”? Is that a word.?) At any rate, you get the sense from the above of what’s in this screed: a lot of fine-sounding words without any substance. In fact, the one mention of science I’ve just quoted is the ONLY time that word is used in the entire 28-page vision statement, while the words “mātauranga Māori” are used six times. That’s way more than “coequal”!

The sole mention of science:

One of six mentions of MM:

And what kind of vision plan says nothing about science education?

The deep-sixing of modern science in NZ is pretty much a done deal, as the Ardern government has decided that the initial agreement between the “Crown” (settlers) and the Māori—embodied in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, known in Māori as “Te Tiriti”) should be interpreted as meaning that  Māori should ultimately get not just equity (since they’re a minority of Kiwis), but extra equity: half of the money and half of the power.

Now pushback by minority groups everywhere is largely about power, which is fine because oppression is a withdrawal of power. But my reading of the government’s push is that power is to be apportioned to indigenous people so that they get at least half the say in everything.

It’s as if the government of the U.S. decided that Native Americans got not only half the research funding for science, but half the say in teaching their “way of knowing” in science classes. This just won’t do, as times have moved on. MM rarely changes, and most of it cannot be falsified, while science steams its way forward. This is not to say that Māori shouldn’t have more power than they do already (I can’t speak to that), but that the government of New Zealand apparently is so ridden with guilt that it’s ready to hand over its science and its universities—not to mention its dosh—to Māori or to anybody who claims Māori ancestry.

The money issue had escaped my mind until I read the article below, which appears at a reputable website (Point of Order) and was written by a reputable journalist, Graham Adams. His point is that the drive to establish hegemony of MM has as a main goal the acquisition of money for Māori-centric research (I know of examples of this, but they’re quite trivial)—in fact, half of all money allocated for research. If you want to hurt scientific progress in New Zealand, that’s a good way to do it. One can of course—and should—try to interest Māori in modern scientific endeavors, but that’s not what Adams is talking about.

An excerpt (my emphasis):

The incendiary stoush was sparked last July by seven eminent professors stating in a letter to the Listener that indigenous knowledge is not science and therefore does not warrant inclusion in the NCEA syllabus as being equal to science.

Yet in the five months since the letter was published, virtually no one among those opposing the professors has argued convincingly that mātauranga Māori is scientific (even if some small elements of it could be called proto-science or pre-science).

On the face of it, the debate by now should have been declared a clear win for the professors and their supporters.   In rebuttal, their principal critics — including the Royal Society NZ, Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater, the Tertiary Education Union and prominent Covid commentators Drs Siouxsie Wiles and Shaun Hendy — have not gone beyond asserting that  mātauranga Māori is a valuable and unique system of knowledge that is complementary to science.

This view is not contentious in the slightest — and was explicitly endorsed by the professors themselves in their letter.

So, if most everyone agrees that mātauranga Māori is mostly not science but is nevertheless a worthwhile and complementary form of knowledge, the obvious solution to the standoff over including it in the NCEA curriculum would be to teach it as a component of, say, social studies. But not as part of the science syllabus.

That way, you’d think, everyone wins — Māori knowledge would be taught in secondary schools, and the argument over whether it is sufficiently scientific would vanish.

However, a simple accommodation of this kind was never going to be possible because the NCEA syllabus is merely the tip of a large iceberg of policies to recast our entire science education system — from schools to universities to research institutes — as an equal endeavour between Māori and non-Māori in which mātauranga Māori is everywhere accorded the same status as science.

And thats the rub, because “status” includes money.


The NCEA syllabus represents just one small step in fulfilling a much wider co-governance programme based on a radical view of the Treaty as a 50:50 partnership between Maori and the Crown. For that reason, advocates of incorporating Maori knowledge into the science curriculum cannot afford to concede even an inch of ground to the professors and their supporters lest their stealthy revolution be undermined.

In short, the push to promote indigenous knowledge cannot be allowed to fail at any level for fear it will fail at every level.

The project to gain parity for mātauranga Māori throughout science education and funding is detailed in Te Pūtahitangi, A Tiriti-led Science-Policy Approach for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Published last April, it can be seen as a companion to the revolutionary ethno-nationalist report He Puapua and shows how a radical overhaul of the education system could, or should, be implemented.

This overhaul in fact gives more than equity to Māori when it comes to funding, for their research quality gets weighted 2.5 times as heavily as does research from non-Māori. This is likely to translate into big differences in research funding.  Not even in the U.S. will the NSF and NIH prioritize grants and research evaluations based on ethnicity. The NIH tried to do that, but stopped the practice when it became public and was seen as unfair. One possibility is to fund only projects that involve Māori scientists. But since there’s a paucity of Māori scientists, the NZ initiative is, I think, likely to shake out as “no funding except for projects that combine modern science with MM.”

While the University of Auckland touts how wonderful it is and how much of a world-class research institute it will be, it and the NZ government is simultaneously ensuring that the research quality and reputation of the entire country will go into the dumper. And it’s largely done out of guilt, for equity alone simply cannot justify these actions. Robin DiAngelo would make a pile in New Zealand!

In the next installment (not for a while), I’ll give some examples of MM “ways of knowing” that have been touted as scientific.

To the Democrats: How not to lose

January 23, 2022 • 10:00 am

The title above doesn’t refer to my advice, because I’m not a political pundit. Rather, it refers to the two articles below that I read in succession, finding their messages nearly identical.  One is from a liberal and the other from a right-centrist, but they’re both concerned with an issue that we often discuss here: political division that hurts the Dems.

Yet their topics aren’t so concerned so much with “How can we bash the Republicans so they lose?” as a question I consider more important and tractable, “How can Democrats act so we don’t lose?” For as the Youngkin victory in Virginia and the narrow Biden victory across America demonstrates, not to mention Biden’s plummeting approval rating, the Democrats are doing something wrong. It’s in our power to help fix that; it’s not in our power to affect Republican behavior, which is beyond the pale.

The first piece is from the Substack site “The Liberal Patriot,” and is by Ruy Teixeira, a political scientist, commentator, and Democrat. Click the screenshot to read, and I do recommend you read this one (it’s not too long if you’re lazy):

The second one is Andrew Sullivan’s latest piece (free, but subscribe if you read him often), and I refer to his main piece from Friday. Click to read:

Teixeira makes five points about what we Democrats should  be doing.  In fact, all of his points, as well as Sullivan’s, boil down to this advice: stop catering to the extreme Left and start dealing with issues that really matter to the “average” American. That has also been the message of James Carville, though nobody seems to be listening. You can’t have your “Progressivism” and your electoral victories, too.

There’s no doubt that the Democratic follies have played into GOP hands; you can’t blame everything on Sinema and Manchin.  Anyway, I’ll put Texeira’s points in my own words in bold below. All quotes from the two writers are indented; mine are flush left.

1.) Concentrating on higher voter turnout is not a knockout win for Democrats.

The 2020 election presented a pretty darn stark choice to voters. And it was indeed a high turnout election. The problem: everyone’s turnout went up, including among groups the left would have preferred stayed home. The net result of higher turnout did not significantly boost Democratic fortunes; if anything Republicans may have a benefitted a bit more from the higher levels of turnout.

2.) Emphasizing the issues of “systemic racism” and trying to mobilize people of color as the key to victory isn’t a great strategy. 

In the 2020 election, running against Donald Trump (Donald Trump!) and in the wake of a social upheaval after George Floyd’s murder that associated the Democratic party closely with a left stance on the centrality of “systemic racism” to pretty much every policy issue…the Democrats actually lost ground among nonwhite voters. They lost 7 margin points from their 2016 margin among black voters and a stunning 16 points from their 2016 margin among Hispanics (Catalist two party vote) The black share of voters in 2020 was actually slightly smaller than the black share in 2016 because, while black turnout did go up, it did not go up as much as other groups. Overall, nonwhite voters contributed less to Biden’s margin over Trump in 2020 than they did to Clinton’s margin over Trump in 2016.

So much for the assumption that the key to mobilizing nonwhites is highlighting their status as “people of color” suffering from systemic racism as the left stresses. That was tried in the 2020 election and it did not work. Nor has anything happened since 2020 that makes that approach look any better. The 2021 elections saw significant attrition of Democratic support among Hispanics and Asians and 2021 polling data indicated weakening support among nonwhites—particularly Hispanics, where the drift away from the Democrats is unmistakable.

The left’s recommended approach here is clearly not paying dividends. It should be discarded.

3.) Pushing “cultural leftism” won’t help the Democrats. I try to make this point repeatedly: the ultra-Left’s views are not congenial to the voters we need to win the election. It’s better to win than to tout pie-in-the-sky issues and programs that the average Joe and Jill (not the elite ones) don’t care about. For example:

The left in the Democratic party insists that cultural leftism is central to consolidating the “rising American electorate” that will power the Democratic party to dominance in an increasingly multicultural, multiracial America. It is a feature they say, not a bug, of current Democratic practice.

But in the process, the left has managed to associate the Democratic party with a series of views on crime, immigration, policing, schooling, free speech and of course race and gender that are quite far from those of the median voter. That’s a success for the left but the hard reality is that it’s an electoral liability for the Democratic party. From time to time Democratic politicians like Biden try to dissociate themselves from super-unpopular ideas like defunding the police but the voices of cultural leftism within the party are still more deferred to than opposed. These voices are further amplified by Democratic-leaning media and nonprofits, as well as within the Democratic party infrastructure itself, all of which are thoroughly dominated by cultural leftism. In an era when a party’s national brand increasingly defines state and even local electoral contests, Democratic candidates have a very hard time shaking these cultural left associations.

That’s a huge problem because the median voter simply does not share the outlook embodied by  cultural leftism.

As crime rises, the “defund the police” campaign—stupid to begin with, at least couched that way—has become an albatross around our necks. So has the Democrats’ apparent desire for open borders—or at least their failure to address immigration.  Yes, I push favor speech, but come election time, you can leave those issues for later. The average voter cares about a. the economy, b. the economy, c. how the economy is affecting their lives, and d. the economy, e. schooling for their kids, f. the economy, g. the pandemic.

Although Biden was elected on a platform to “bring America together”, that’s not what he’s done. Part of his failure rests on the recalcitrant Republicans (Synema and Manchin are irrelevant here, as even getting them on Biden’s side won’t “bring America together”), but a lot of it has involved Biden’s own surrender to the Woke Left. Every time he caves to the “progressives,” he moves centrists to the Right. And don’t think they don’t notice Biden’s failure to distance himself from the Squad and their acolytes.

4.) We won’t win by arguing that Republican victories mean the end of our democracy.  Because of January 6, many people, even on this site, have taken the view that the very existence and persistence of our democracy absolutely depends on Democrats winning, for, people say, all Republicans are toned-down versions of the Q-Anon shaman. As Teixera argues:

Another key link in the left theory of the case is the assumption that voters will, if the messaging is loud enough, necessarily agree with the Democrats on the nature and extent of the current threat to democracy posed by the Republican party and therefore the need to vote Democratic. The January 6th events, especially, are continually cited as an ironclad justification for rejecting the Republicans. This approach is being repeatedly put to the test and repeatedly failing.

It didn’t work in Virginia in 2021. And it’s not generally working with voters as a whole. As the strenuously nonpartisan election analyst Kyle Kondik notes on Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

A year after Jan. 6 and nearly a year into Joe Biden’s presidency, the Republican political position appears strong — just as one might expect heading into a midterm with an unpopular president in the White House, and arguably unhampered by Jan. 6.

This brings us to my own point: the Dems are making a huge fuss about voter registration, saying that if you favor the new state laws (granted, they’re largely racist initiatives designed by Republicans to keep minorities from voting), you’re no different from George Wallace or Lester Maddox.  Well, I don’t feel that way. I don’t like the laws and I understand why they’re being passed, but, as Andrew Sullivan says, it’s not election fraud that’s a concern for most Americans (that’s why Biden shouldn’t have broached it during last week’s presser), but election subversion. In other words,  voter-registration laws, to the average American, are nowhere near as important as what happened in the Capitol on January 6.  And those laws will not facilitate such insurrections. Trump’s re-election will.


More to the point, laws — like that recently passed in Georgia — are far from the nightmares that Dems have described, and contain some expansion of access to voting. Georgians, and Americans in general, overwhelmingly support voter ID laws, for example. Such laws poll strongly even among allegedly disenfranchised African-Americans — whose turnout in 2012, following a wave of ID laws, actually exceeded whites’ in the re-election of a black president. In fact, the normalization of ID in everyday life has only increased during the past year of vax-card requirements — a policy pushed by Democrats.

And Biden did something truly dumb this week: he cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election in November now that his proposal for a federal overhaul has failed: “I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit.” No sitting president should do this, ever. But when one party is still insisting that the entire election system was rigged last time in a massive conspiracy to overturn a landslide victory for Trump, the other party absolutely needs to draw a sharp line. Biden fatefully blurred that distinction, and took the public focus off the real danger: not voter suppression but election subversion, of the kind we are now discovering Trump, Giuliani and many others plotted during the transition period. Reforming the Electoral Count Act could, in fact, help lower the likelihood of a repeat of last time. And if the Dems had made that their centerpiece, they would have kept the legitimacy argument and kept the focus on Trump’s astonishing contempt for the rules of the republic.

Back to Teixeira:

5.) The Democrats are making a mistake assuming that their razor-thin victory in 2020 gave them a mandate to completely transform America:

Any reasonably clear-eyed look at the election strongly indicated that Biden was elected to get the country back to normal by containing the covid pandemic and fixing the economy. But the need to barrel ahead with transformation was pushed consistently by the Democratic party left—pushed in fact to the point of collapse in 2021.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill was held up for months as the House’s Progressive Caucus refused to vote for it unless a truly transformational Build Back Better bill could be elaborated. .

. . . And one might add, exposing the left’s lack of understanding of what the American people most wanted, which was very simply the return of normality not transformation. While the Democratic Congress wasted months in arcane negotiations about bill structure, what programs it would and would not cover and how many trillions of dollars it all would cost, ordinary voters were trying to cope with the Delta wave and the emergence of supply and inflation problems in the economy. As they became increasingly unhappy with the Biden administration and increasingly unsure just when things would finally get back to normal, the endless, confusing negotiations went on.

Most of these points ring true to me, and I’d say I’m the average left-centrist registered Democrat.  It’s mystified me why my party spends all its time arguing about voter-registration laws that the average American doesn’t care about, or engage in Wokeist shenanigans that are repugnant to those on the center. Biden needs to get out more–seriously. As Sullivan proposes, he should sit behind a mirror every week while a focus group of average Americans beef about their worries.

Teixeira doesn’t really offer a solution for Democrats, but Sullivan does, giving a series of things “that can hurt Trump”.

Here’s what hurts Trump. Biden doing sensible deals with Manchin and Sinema on tangible areas of agreement, instead of castigating and alienating them. Insisting that our election system is, in fact, solid and legitimate. Celebrating the re-opening of schools. Firing the heads of the CDC and FDA, after their appalling performance during Covid. And imagine if Biden had given a tub-thumping speech last week not on why it’s still 1964 in America, but on why he is appalled by the soaring murder rates in many cities, especially in poor and minority neighborhoods, and opposes the catastrophic soft-on-crime policies Democrat DAs are promoting around the country. Go visit the NYPD with Mayor Adams. Work with Romney on childcare assistance. Head to San Francisco to support Mayor Breed’s attempt to rein in anarchy. Now that would hurt Trump.

Biden also seems incapable of grappling with the cultural leftism — from critical race theory to the replacement of biological sex with subjective gender — that is increasingly defining the Democrats as a party. He’s just absent, distant, irrelevant on these issues, even as they have shown to be deeply unpopular and deeply divisive. Has he said anything about education and the rights of parents, a burgeoning issue for many suburban voters? Not that I’ve noticed. Meanwhile his party becomes more and more associated with the teachers’ unions, whose refusal to teach children in person for two years is now legendary.

His capitulation to the cultural left — from federal funds for abortion to “equity” across the federal government — is puzzling. . .

Indeed it is. I am not sure about firing the heads of the CDC and FDA, as they were operating in a constantly moving empirical landscape. But I believe with every fiber of my being that doubling down on culturally leftist issues is not going to help us keep Congress this fall or the Presidency in 2024.

One more quote from Sullivan, well, because it’s there:

His silence on all these things [cultural leftist tenets] offers a chance for a future pivot, of course, to remind us that he was once Barack Obama’s vice president, and not merely Ibram Kendi’s tool. But he’s as cowed by these fanatics as the rest of his party. And I doubt he hears a smidgen of criticism of wokeness from his advisers. I mean he appointed Susan Rice to impose it on the entire federal workforce. All he hears, I suspect, is that opponents of wokeness are just racist, transphobic bigots.

Maybe a huge Republican wave this November will force Biden to recalibrate, as happened with Bill Clinton. But Biden, one is increasingly reminded, is a party man, and his party has moved so far to the left in the past five years there is no way he can pull a Sister Souljah moment without splitting the Democrats in two.

So he may well become a transitional figure like Jimmy Carter — a response to a criminal president, as Carter was, but too isolated, partisan and controlled by left interest groups to build a coalition for the future. Instead, a growing backlash including many Latinos, black voters, a slice of Asian-Americans, and suburban parents could create a viable and resilient multiracial coalition for the center right. We just have to pray that Trump is not the man who leads it.


h/t: cesar

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 23, 2022 • 9:00 am

Today is Sunday, and that means it’s John Avise Bird Photos Day.  And, as usual, the photos have a theme. John’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

No, this post is not about Covid variants— I think we’ve all heard more than enough about those darn viruses!  Instead, it’s about Corvid birds (family Corvidae), of which about 20 species (including jays, crows, and magpies) can be found in North America.   Corvids are bold, inquisitive, intelligent, and often beautiful birds that can be among a region’s most conspicuous avifaunal elements.  The state where I took each photo is indicated in parentheses.

Island Scrub-Jay, Aphelocoma insularis (California, Santa Cruz Island):

Florida Scrub-Jay, Amphelocoma coerulescens (Florida):

California Scrub-Jay, Amphelocoma californica (California):

Mexican Jay, Aphelocoma ultramarina (Arizona):

Steller’s Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri (Wyoming):

Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata (Florida):

Green Jay, Cyanocorax yncas (Texas):

Canada Jay, Perisoreus canadensis (Wyoming):

Brown Jay, Cyanocorax morio (Texas):

Black-billed Magpie, Pica hudsonia (Wyoming):

Clark’s Nutcracker, Nucifraga columbiana (Colorado):

Common Raven, Corvus corax (Wyoming):

Common Raven, headshot (Wyoming):

American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos (California):

Flock of American Crows (a Corvid outbreak):