Wednesday: Hili dialogue

December 7, 2022 • 6:45 am

Good morning on a Hump Day (“Kupros diena” in Lithuania): Wednesday, December 7, 2022. First, it’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and, for food, National Cotton Candy Day.

Here’s a 2½-minute video summarizing the attack and its igniting the U.S. entry into WWII.  We declared war on Germany on December 11, three days after the declaration against Japan.

It’s also Letter Writing Day, and, if you’re a Scientologist, Flag Base Day.  Are 

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 7 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*First, Kirstie Alley, the woman who replaced Diane (Shelley Long) on the t.v. show “Cheers,” died of cancer at the young age of 71.

*It’s not a criminal charge, but still an embarrassment and a rebuke to Trump: his real estate company was found guilty of criminal tax fraud, conspiracy and other counts: a total of 17 “guilty” verdicts. The organization gave a lot of illegal perks to its higher-ups:

Donald J. Trump’s family real estate business was convicted on Tuesday of tax fraud and other financial crimes, a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its “culture of fraud and deception.”

The conviction on all 17 counts, after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which led the case against two Trump Organization entities, had previously extracted a guilty plea from the architect of the scheme, Allen H. Weisselberg, the company’s long-serving chief financial officer. Mr. Weisselberg, one of the former president’s most loyal lieutenants, testified as the prosecution’s star witness, but never implicated Mr. Trump.

While prosecutors stopped short of indicting the former president, they invoked his name throughout the monthlong trial, telling jurors that he personally paid for some of the perks and even approved a crucial aspect of the scheme. The prosecution also sounded a drumbeat of damning evidence that spotlighted his company’s freewheeling culture, revealing that pervasive illegality unfolded under Mr. Trump’s nose for years.

The company’s conviction — coupled with the prosecution’s explosive claim at trial that Mr. Trump was “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud” — could now reverberate through the 2024 presidential race, providing early fodder for opponents and their attack ads.

But the maximum fine—chump change!

The conviction on charges of tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records is hardly a death sentence for the Trump Organization. The maximum penalty it faces is $1.62 million, a rounding error for Mr. Trump, who typically notched hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during his presidency.

*UPDATE for BELOW:  WARNOCK WINS!  Here’s the NYT tally, and it wasn’t even a real squeaker!:

And a few new words:

Senator Raphael Warnock’s win over Herschel Walker — his fifth victory in just over two years — proved that the Democratic surge in the Peach State two years ago was no Trump-era fluke, no one-off rebuke of an unpopular president. Georgia, with its storied civil rights history, booming Atlanta suburbs like Marietta and exploding ethnic diversity, is now officially contested ground, joining a narrow set of states that will select the next president.

Mr. Warnock’s race was the final marker for a 2024 presidential road map that political strategists, officials and politicians in both parties say will run largely through six states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The shrunken, shifted battlefield reflects a diversifying country remade by the polarizing politics of the Trump era. As white, working-class voters defected from Democrats, persuaded by Donald J. Trump’s populist cultural appeals and anti-elitist rhetoric, demographic changes opened up new presidential battlegrounds in the West and South.

That is not good for Mr. Trump, who lost all six of those states to President Biden two years ago, as he begins to plot his third presidential bid.

As I write this on Tuesday evening, they’re counting the votes in Georgia for the runoff Senatorial election. Who will it be. At 5 pm, with the polls closing in an hour, I predict Warnock the Democrat will win. He’d damn well better—his opponent is less than unworthy to sit in Congress. We’ll know the outcome tomorrow morning unless something weird happens. From the NYT:

Election Day voting in Georgia has so far gone smoothly as the race between Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, and Herschel Walker, his Republican challenger, comes to a close Tuesday under overcast skies.

Here’s what to know as the last race of the midterms is decided:

  • Counties could start reporting vote totals soon after the polls close at 7 p.m., but the secretary of state’s office said it would do a “sanity check” to make sure nothing looks irregular before posting results. It could take until 11 p.m. to determine the result, which will decide whether Democrats win an outright majority in the Senate, 51 seats to 49, or whether the chamber stays evenly divided. Just one seat could make a big difference.

  • Voters encountered few long waits, without the kinds of lines that marred early voting. Democratic election modelers believe Mr. Warnock may have built a lead as large as eight percentage points in early voting, which means Mr. Walker could need to win as much as 60 percent of the Election Day votes to catch up.

  • The runoff is a lose-lose situation for former President Donald J. Trump. If Mr. Warnock wins, candidates endorsed by Mr. Trump will have not only failed to reclaim the Senate for Republicans, but actually lost them a seat. If Mr. Walker wins, a big reason may be the decision to keep the former president out of Georgia during the runoff period.

Does it make a difference since, with Harris’s deciding vote, the Democrats already hold the Senate? Five Thirty Eight thinks so:

Unlike the 2021 iteration, this race won’t decide the balance of power in the Senate — Democrats have already won control of 50 seats, so with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, they have retained the Senate. But given the political diversity in the Democratic caucus and the way Senate committee memberships are distributed, the difference between 50 and 51 seats is significant.

And the fact that we’re again going to a runoff in Georgia is pretty notable. Two years after voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in almost three decades, the state’s political leaning remains very much in flux. Is Georgia a red state that will elect Republicans who speak out against former President Donald Trump, like Gov. Brian Kemp, but isn’t willing to elect Trump-aligned Republicans like Walker? Or is it a purple state that sees just enough split-ticket voting to affect the final outcomes?

*The gutsy Ukrainians continued to attack Russian military bases with drones, and successfully (this is the second day). The Russians are miffed, but in return they continue to pound Ukraine’s infrastructure. It’s going to be a long, cold winter in that beleaguered country:

Drones struck inside Russia’s border with Ukraine on Tuesday in the second day of attacks exposing the vulnerability of some of Moscow’s most important military sites, experts said.

Ukrainian officials did not formally confirm carrying out drone strikes inside Russia, and they have maintained ambiguity over previous high-profile attacks.

But Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia was likely to consider the attacks on Russian bases more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the border with Ukraine as “some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian authorities will “take the necessary measures” to enhance protection of key facilities. Russian bloggers who generally maintain contacts with officials in their country’s military criticized the lack of defensive measures.

A fire broke out at an airport in Russia’s southern Kursk region that borders Ukraine after a drone hit the facility, the region’s governor said Tuesday. In a second incident, an industrial plant 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Ukrainian border was also targeted by drones, which missed a fuel depot at the site, Russian independent media reported.

And more Russian war crimes on non-military targets:

In the aftermath, Russian troops carried out another wave of missile strikes on Ukrainian territory that struck homes and buildings and killed civilians, compounding damage done to power and other infrastructure over weeks of missile attacks.

Approximately half of households in the Kyiv region remain without electricity, the regional governor said Tuesday, while authorities in southern Odesa — which was hard hit Monday — say they have managed to restore power to hospitals and some vital services.

Who know which way this will go? I’d love to see Putin in the dock at the International Criminal Court in The Hague

*The World Cup results are wonky today. Have a look at this!

From the WaPo:

Morocco upset Spain in the World Cup’s round of 16 Tuesday in Doha, Qatar, reaching the first quarterfinal in the nation’s history with a 3-0 win in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw. Spain, the 2010 World Cup champion, dominated possession but was unable to break through against its disciplined opponent and failed to convert any of its three attempts against Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou in the shootout. The Atlas Lions are the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals since Ghana in 2010. Continue reading for highlights from the game.

And the highlights:

And The Oryx Test, predicting Spain’s winning of the World Cup, failed miserably. Damn antelopes!

But this is no surprise, though the absence of one player was:

By the fourth goal, even Cristiano Ronaldo, standing and clapping in front of the Portugal bench, could not complain. After the fifth, he only offered a wry smile. Portugal was in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, and for a day even he knew that was a story bigger than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo does not step out of the spotlight easily. Thirty-seven years old and newly unemployed, he has desperately wanted to make his mark at what is almost certainly his final World Cup. His performances in the group stage, though, had not matched his substantial legend, and so on Tuesday night his coach, Fernando Santos, somewhat ruthlessly turned the page.

Ronaldo was dropped from Portugal’s lineup for its game against Switzerland. Gonçalo Ramos, a 21-year-old striker from the Portuguese team Benfica, got the nod instead, earning his first start for Portugal and the unenviable job of replacing the most prolific scorer in his country’s history. In a little more than an hour, Ramos achieved an even more remarkable feat: He made an entire nation, and an entire World Cup, wonder why he hadn’t been starting over Ronaldo all along.

“Not in my biggest dreams,” Ramos said, “did I think about starting in the knockout phase.”

Imposing himself with a veteran’s cool and a gunslinger’s goal celebration, Ramos scored a 67-minute hat trick to power Portugal to a 6-1 victory over Switzerland, and to a date with Morocco in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

When I heard that Ronaldo didn’t play, I thought he’d been injured. But no—they gave him the boot! Oy!

The highlights:

*From the AP’s “oddities” section, we hear of an extraordinarily brave sheepdog who killed an entire pack of coyotes while defending his sheep.

A Georgia sheepdog is recovering at home two days after killing a pack of coyotes that attacked his owner’s flock of sheep, farmer John Wierwiller said.

Casper, a 20-month old Great Pyrenees from Decatur, fought off a pack of coyotes who were threatening Wierwiller’s sheep farm, he said. The fight lasted longer than half an hour, left eight coyotes dead and bloodied Casper, with skin and part of his tail torn off, Wierwiller told Atlanta’s WAGA-TV.

He scampered off but returned injured two days later after Wierwiller put out a call on social media.

“He was kinda looking at me like, ‘Boss, stop looking at how bad I look, just take care of me,’” Wierwiller said.

LifeLine Animal Project has raised more than $15,000 for the sheepdog’s hospital bills.

Though dogs rarely prevail like Casper, packs of coyotes attacking pets have grown somewhat common in rural and growing suburban areas that abut wildlands throughout the Untied States.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili insists on helping Andrzej:

A: Hili, not now.
Hili: Just now you need someone beside you whom you trust.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, nie teraz.
Hili: Właśnie teraz musisz mieć koło siebie kogoś komu ufasz.

And Paulina’s photo of baby Kulka. Look at that yawn! I’ve now made it my Twitter picture, which has long featured Hili. But Hili will return some time. . . .


I couldn’t resist putting this in; it’s from D. J. Grothe’s FB page and the caption is this:

Wowsa. During the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for the police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6, the families of the officers shake hands with Senator Chuck Schumer then walk past and snub Sen Mitch McConnell and Rep Kevin McCarthy.

I love it! Look at Mitch’s little wave as the last person snubs him.

From Barry. If you’re not of a certain age, you won’t get this:

From Nicole:

From Malcolm. How does this guy do it? He even uses his teeth!

From Masih, who thinks that the Iranian abolition of the “morality police” is fake news:

From Malcolm. Engels airbase is in Russia, and, as the BBC reports, this appears to be a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian missile-carrying bombers at the base:

John Cleese tweeted this, and I can’t believe that in all my years watching Monty Python, I never saw it. Greeks win!

Via Earthling (Ziya Tong):

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lasted at most two months in the camp:

Tweets from our own Dr. Cobb. This one is just in time for the holidays:

Matthew about to lecture on dinosaurs while wearing the appropriate “jumper”:

Ah, to see this again in Botany Pond!:

A stately goose parade in Denmark. But why?

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

December 6, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, December 6, 2022: National Gazpacho Day, honoring an underappreciated soup.

It’s also National Microwave Oven Day, National Pawnbrokers Day, National Trick Shot Day, and, in Canada, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.  Here are 100 minutes of trick shots in pool, many by the greats:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 6 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*If you listened to much of today’s Supreme Court hearing on the web designer vs. gay wedding case, you’ll have heard that the Court’s conservatives seemed sympathetic to the web designer who wouldn’t set up a website for a gay marriage. But there were a lot of “hypotheticals” asked to try to demarcate who could and couldn’t be refused service under different conditions. The web designer, Lorie Smith, says that being forced to make gay-themed websites would be “compelled speech,” violating the First Amendment. The NYT summary:

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed prepared on Monday to rule that a graphic designer in Colorado has a First Amendment right to refuse to create websites celebrating same-sex weddings based on her Christian faith despite a state law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.

But several justices leaning in that direction appeared to be searching for limiting principles so as not to upend all sorts of anti-discrimination laws.

They explored the difference between businesses engaged in expression and ones simply selling goods; the difference between a client’s message and that of the designer; the difference between discrimination against gay couples and compelling the creation of messages supporting same-sex marriage; and the difference between discrimination based on race and that based on sexual orientation.

The bottom line, though, seemed to be that the court would not require the designer to create customized websites celebrating same-sex marriage despite the state anti-discrimination law.

The court’s three liberal members expressed deep qualms about the damage a ruling in favor of the designer could do to efforts to combat discrimination.

The decision won’t come down until June, but if anybody wants to bet me that they’ll rule against the website designer, I’m on. It’s going to be a 6-3 decision, and a very long one, with, of course three dissents. I was wrong earlier today in couching this as a freedom-of-religion case, as if that were the only thing at stake, then the designer would have to serve gay customers. No, the case is about the First Amendment:

The precise question the justices agreed to decide in the new case is “whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”

That presumably wouldn’t apply to cakes, unless bakers are considered as “making statements” when concocting a gay wedding cake. Now what’s next: overruling the right to gay marriage enshrined in the Obergefell v. Hodges case? Thomas and his cronies are itching to do away with that right.

*There’s still considerable doubt about whether Iran really is going to do away with the morality police, or eliminate the hijab requirement. The government has not confirmed the former, and the latter is a matter of pure speculation. What we do know is that more women are going without headscarves than ever before.

Confusion over the status of Iran’s religious police grew as state media cast doubt on reports the force had been shut down. Despite the uncertainty, it has appeared for weeks that enforcement of the strict dress code has been scaled back as more women walk the streets without wearing the required headscarf.

The mixed messages have raised speculation that Iran’s cleric-run leadership is considering concessions in an attempt to defuse widespread anti-government protests that are entering the third month. The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the religious police.

Monday marked the start of another three-day nationwide strike called by protesters. In Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, about a third of the shops were closed, witnesses said. In response, Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi ordered the arrest of anyone encouraging the strike or trying to intimidate shops into shutting down.

. . . On Saturday, Iran’s chief prosecutor, Mohamed Jafar Montazeri, said the religious police “had been closed,” in a report published by the semi-official news agency, ISNA. He was also quoted as saying that the government was reviewing the mandatory hijab law.

“We are working fast on the issue of hijab and we are doing our best to come up with a thoughtful solution to deal with this phenomenon that hurts everyone’s heart,” he said, without offering details.

But late Sunday, Arabic-language state outlet Al-Alam issued a report suggesting Montazeri’s comments had been misunderstood. The report said the religious police were not connected to the judiciary, to which Montazeri belongs. It underlined that no official has confirmed the closure of the religious police.

If you ask me (and you didn’t), I think the protestors are going to win on both counts: no more morality police and no mandatory hijab. Iran’s international reputation has suffered severely since the murder of Mahsa Amini. And women are openly flouting the law, apparently without punishment.

Still, for weeks, fewer morality police officers have been seen in Iranian cities. Across Tehran, It has become common to see women walking the city’s streets without wearing the hijab, particularly in wealthier areas — but also to a lesser extent in more traditional neighborhoods. At times, unveiled women walk past anti-riot police and Basiji forces.

The anti-government demonstrations have shown few signs of stopping despite a violent crackdown in which, according to rights groups, at least 471 people were killed. More than 18,200 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations.

Protesters say they are tired of decades of social and political repression, including the dress code. Women have played a leading role in protests, stripping off their headscarf.

*An article by Nicholas Wade in the City Journal gives more credibility to the hypothesis that the Covid-19 virus truly was a lab leak rather than an escapee from a Wuhan wet market. The linked article gives two pieces of evidence that the genome of the virus might have been altered by human intervention:

a). The SARS-CoV2 genome, some 30,000 nucleotide units in length, contains a 12-nucleotide insert, known as a furin cleavage site, which greatly enhances its infectivity. Closely related viruses frequently exchange genetic material, so it would be easy to see SARS-CoV2’s furin cleavage site as having a natural origin if any other viruses in its group possessed one. But none does. Hence Farzan’s perplexity and his inference that the furin site must have been engineered into the virus.

Well, that’s suggestive but not dispositive; natural selection could have favored an insertion and then DNA-code changes. But this one is the kicker:

b). Inside the anomaly of the furin cleavage site is another puzzle, also highly indicative of an engineered virus. The genetic code is universal but also loose enough to allow for spelling preferences that differ from one organism to another. So coronaviruses prefer one set of spellings and humans another. Six of the 12 nucleotides in the furin cleavage site, the sequence CGG-CGG, represent the human-preferred spelling. Indeed, this sequence, when in correct frame, is unknown in coronaviruses, raising the clear possibility that it came from a lab kit, not from nature.

Now that gets me perked up. The rest of the article discusses how American scientists were aware of these issues but kept pretty quiet about it, presumably not wanting to accuse the Chinese of either malfeasance (they would not deliberately release the virus in their own country), incompetence, or a plan to make a bioweapon that accidentally got out of the lab. I’m withholding judgment because the evidence goes back and forth in this one.

*Here are yesterday’s World Cup results in the knockout Round of 16. First, Croatia beat Japan, a team now headed home

The highlights: Japan scores 45 seconds in, Croatia ties at 1:17. In the shootout after play ended, the Croatian goalkeeper guessed right and stopped three Japanese shots, and Croatia slipped one in to win:

And. . .South Korea got mashed by Brazil but the score would have been even more lopsided without many saves by the Korean goalkeeper.

From CNN: 

Brazil is through to the quarterfinals after a convincing 4-1 victory over South Korea in the Round of 16.

The Seleção did the majority of its damage in the first half. Vinicius, Jr., Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta all found the back of the South Korean net during the first 45 minutes of action.

Despite the insurmountable deficit, the South Koreans came out in the second half and showed a lot of fight.

The video (the third goal for Brazil, involving head-juggling [1:55], is brilliant, as is the sole South Korean goal [4:07]):

*The Washington Post‘s Food Fascists are at it again with an article called “Ask a doctor: are salads actually good for you?” You know the answer: put more yucky stuff in them and leave out the tasty dressings, especially the bottled kind like ranch dressing.

To build a great salad, start with lettuce or leafy greens. It may surprise you to learn that the type of greens you choose doesn’t really matter that much. Compared to other greens, iceberg lettuce probably has the fewest nutrients, but pretty much all lettuces are low in vitamins and minerals. Dark leafy greens like spinach have more micronutrients, but the type of iron in spinach is poorly absorbed, and there’s plenty of oxalate, so be careful if you’re prone to kidney stones.

The main health benefit of lettuce and other greens in a salad is the fiber. Salads are usually packed with fiber, which is a nutrient — just not for you! Fiber is really food for the microbiomethe trillions of bacteria that live in your gut. Fiber is also the key to metabolic health. Bacteria in your gut turn fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which can regulate immune function and keep inflammation in check.

In other words, think of your salad as MEDICINE rather than food! It goes on, sadly:

But the healthiest salads include plenty of other good-for-you ingredients, such as antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals that are essential for your liver, which detoxify virtually all the environmental poisons that enter the body. To perform this magic trick, your liver needs these antioxidants.

For antioxidants, try chopped colorful vegetables (the darker, the better), chopped fresh fruits, herbs (fresh or dried) and spices. Then add proteins, like free-range eggs, pastured beef, fish, chicken, tofu, beans or lentils.

Well, it could have been worse: they could have said to put in ANCHOVIES! I don’t mind eggs, fruits, or chicken.  Then it gets worse again:

Bonus points go to kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts — cruciferous vegetables that can increase your body’s own natural production of antioxidants and stimulate the production of liver detoxification enzymes.

. . .Okay. Now let’s talk about salad dressings. To make a great homemade dressing, focus on ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, tahini, vinegar, Dijon, herbs, spices and citrus juices low in sugar (lemon, lime, grapefruit).

But the same can’t be said about most store-bought dressings. Store-bought versions are often made with canola and soybean oils, which are chock full of linoleic acid, an inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.

And OMG sometimes there’s sugar in bottled dressings. Look, I don’t mind people eating healthy, but when you start making food into a medicine, some of the joy goes out of life.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows her Jewish-cat pessimism:

Hili: If you want to be an optimist it’s your business.
A: And you?
Hili: I prefer to be careful.
In Polish:
Hili: Jeśli chcesz być optymistą to twoja sprawa.
Ja: A ty?
Hili: Ja wolę być ostrożna.


A cartoon sent by Stash Krod on FB. It’s a pretty accurate summary of every postgame sports interview ever done, and not just including soccer!

A winter snow globe from Nicole:

From David:

Two tweets from Masih. The new Iranian revolution is growing:

From Barry: inter-male competition in sexual selection (Darwin called it “the law of battle”):

From Malcolm, a fun way to lay bricks’ the reverse wave has a physical explanation:

From Luana, a true news story:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from His Eminence Professor Cobb. First, what is this kid doing?

The Whitechapel fatberg was a 130-ton, 250 m-long congealed mass of fat and other gunk found and removed from London’s sewers. There’s a commemorative manhole cover!

I may have posted this amazing murmuration of starlings before, but if so you get to see it again. It’s amazing, and a long video: 2¼ minutes. Watch it all!

Monday: Hili dialogue

December 5, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the first Monday in December—Monday, December 5, 2022. It’s National Comfort Food Day. The linked page shows mac ‘n’ cheese, a good comfort food, but I’d be hard pressed to pick just one. Here’s a thought: a giant BBQ beef rib from Black’s in Lockhart Texas, along with jalapeño cornbread, raw onion, sweet tea, bbq beans, potato salad, and banana pudding for dessert. Much, in fact, like this meal:

It’s also National Sachertorte Day, Day of the Ninja, National Blue Jeans Day, Krampusnacht, when the dreaded demon comes to punish bad children, Repeal Day (celebrating the end of Prohibition in 1933), and World Soil Day. 

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 5 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*This week the Supreme Court will take up a landmark case pitting religious freedom against gay rights. (Which do you think will win, LOL?) This issue was not decided in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in 2018, for the court basically punted after a baker refused, on religious grounds, to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. (The baker won, but only because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was found to be “not religiously neutral”. That was the punt.)  The new case is very similar to the old one, involving a graphic designer who refused to create a wedding website for a gay couple; and this time the Court will truly weigh gay rights versus religious freedom:

That controversy has now arrived, and the facts are indeed similar. A graphic designer named Lorie Smith, who works just a few miles from Mr. Phillips’s bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, has challenged the same Colorado law on the same grounds.

“He’s an artist,” Ms. Smith said of Mr. Phillips. “I’m also an artist. We shouldn’t be punished for creating consistently with our convictions.”

The basic arguments in the case, which will be argued before the Supreme Court on Monday, are as familiar as they are polarizing.

On one side are people who say the government should not force them to violate their principles to make a living. On the other are same-sex couples and others who say they are entitled to equal treatment from businesses open to the public.

Both sides say that the consequences of the court’s ruling could be enormous, though for different reasons. Ms. Smith’s supporters say a ruling for the state would allow the government to force all sorts of artists to state things at odds with their beliefs. Her opponents say a ruling in her favor would blow a hole through anti-discrimination laws and allow businesses engaged in expression to refuse service to, say, Black people or Muslims based on odious but sincerely held convictions.

After Cakeshop, Court had refused to hear appeals in several similar cases, but we have a new Court that decided to finally take the bull by the horns:

The decision to hear Ms. Smith’s case was probably driven by several factors: an increasingly assertive six-justice conservative supermajority, a sense that Ms. Smith’s designs were more likely to be expression protected by the First Amendment and the desire of at least some justices to undo or limit Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision establishing a right to same-sex marriage.

Anybody see a 6-3 decision coming in favor of the graphic designer? I can’t imagine it would even be 5-4.

*For once there’s seems to be good news out of Iran, but it may be bogus. According to the BBC, the country is disbanding its infamous “morality police” in view of ongoing protests that began when the morality cops beat Mahsa Amini to death for wearing her hijab in an improper manner. (h/t: Divy) However, the story seems a bit, well, weird. It’s uncorroborated and not very clear (see the bold emphasis I’ve put in below):

Iran’s morality police, which is tasked with enforcing the country’s Islamic dress code, is being disbanded, the country’s attorney general says.

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri’s comments, yet to be confirmed by other agencies, were made at an event on Sunday.

Iran has seen months of protests over the death of a young woman in custody.

Mahsa Amini had been detained by the morality police for allegedly breaking strict rules on head coverings.

Mr Montazeri was at a religious conference when he was asked if the morality police was being disbanded.

“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said.

Control of the force lies with the interior ministry and not with the judiciary.

Note that Montazeri is a member of the judiciary, and has no authority, and what does “shut down from where they were set up” mean? There’s no confirmation from government higher-ups.  It goes on:

On Saturday, Mr Montazeri also told the Iranian parliament the law that requires women to wear hijabs would be looked at.

Looked at!? Finally, the people don’t care; they’re honey badgers!

If confirmed, the scrapping of the morality police would be a concession but there are no guarantees it would be enough to halt the protests, which have seen demonstrators burn their head coverings.

“Just because the government has decided to dismantle morality police it doesn’t mean the protests are ending,” one Iranian woman told the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme.

“Even the government saying the hijab is a personal choice is not enough. People know Iran has no future with this government in power. We will see more people from different factions of Iranian society, moderate and traditional, coming out in support of women to get more of their rights back.”

Another woman said: “We, the protesters, don’t care about no hijab no more. We’ve been going out without it for the past 70 days.

It all smells fishy to me, and even Masih Alinejad says that it’s fake news. The video shows the morality police in action: do watch it to see how odious they are: 

*Who is “The man who neutered Trump“, as Michelle Cottle writes in a NYT op-ed? None other than Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia.  How did he neuter Trump? This way:

. . . some folks might have found it a tad curious to see Mr. Kemp hanging out in the store’s parking lot, hugging and mugging for the cameras with Herschel Walker, the Republican Party’s deeply problematic Senate nominee. The former football star is in a tick-tight runoff with the incumbent, Raphael Warnock, and Mr. Kemp was imploring the crowd to turn out for him in this Tuesday’s vote. “He will go and fight for those values that we believe in here in our state,” the governor insisted.

Talk about a postural shift. Throughout his re-election race, Mr. Kemp practiced scrupulous social distancing from his ticketmate.

. . . Which, honestly, was the only sensible course of action considering the freak show that has been Mr. Walker’s candidacy. Accusations of domestic abuseSemi-secret children? Allegations (which he denies) that he paid for abortions for multiple women? Making up stuff about his academic and business ventures? The guy has more baggage than a Kardashian on a round-the-world cruise. No candidate with a sense of self-preservation would want to get close to that hot mess. [JAC: great snark here!]

. . .Whatever happens with Mr. Walker, keep an eye on Mr. Kemp. The 59-year-old Georgia governor is positioning himself to be a major Republican player — one that, unlike so many in his party, is not a complete Trump chump.

If Mr. Kemp’s electoral victory over Stacey Abrams was decisive, besting her by more than seven percentage points, his psychological victory over Donald Trump was devastating, in ways you cannot measure in votes. Mr. Trump had targeted Mr. Kemp for defeat this year, after the governor refused to help him subvert the presidential election results in 2020. The former president put a lot of political capital on the line in his crusade against Mr. Kemp, only to get spanked once again in Georgia. The governor’s refusal to bow to Mr. Trump wound up burnishing his reputation across party lines, which served him well in the purplish state. In the general election last month, Mr. Kemp won 200,000 more votes than Mr. Walker did in his race.

. . . It’s all upside for Mr. Kemp. No one will seriously blame him if he can’t rescue a candidate as lousy as Mr. Walker, and he wins friends and influence within the party simply by trying. He also gets to wallow in his status as a separate, non-Trumpian power center. After all the abuse he has taken from Mr. Trump, the governor must on some level relish being asked to salvage the former president’s handpicked dud — even as the party made clear it did not want Mr. Trump anywhere near the Peach State this time.

And so Trump is figuratively neutered.

*Today’s World Cup results, and no surprises here. Poland managed to eke out one goal compared to France’s three, and poor Senegal didn’t score once against England.

England vs. Senegal via CNN:

The Three Lions triumphed over the Lions of Teranga in our second knockout round match of the day.

In the first half, late goals from Jordan Henderson in the 39th minute and Harry Kane in stoppage time gave England a 2-0 lead going into halftime. The Senegalese were reeling going into the break. And things didn’t get better when play resumed.

Twelve minutes into the second period, Bukayo Saka made it 3-0 England. It is the third goal of the tournament for the young forward.

England’s victory sets up a clash of the titans in the next round. They will face France in the quarterfinals next Saturday.

Here are the highlights; all three English goals are lovely:

And France over Poland:

Earlier in the day, Les Bleus easily dispatched Poland, 3-1. Kylian Mbappé scored twice for the French to take the lead in the tournament’s Golden Boot race (five goals).

The highlights, with that nice pair of goals by Mbappé.

*FInally, there’s a big week ahead for the Artemis-1/Orion Moon flyaround, the first test launch preparing for a Moon habitation and then a trip to Mars. Jim Batterson tells us what’s happening this week:

Today (Monday) and Sunday are days of final, critical Artemis-1/Orion maneuvers – The Artemis-1/Orion mission concludes this week, hopefully with continuing success, after a few key maneuvers to position the spacecraft for its trip back to Earth and for a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, followed by splashdown into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego, CA.

For the past several weeks, the spacecraft has consisted of two mated subunits: the Orion Crew Capsule and the Service Module, joined together.  The Crew Capsule is where the human crew will live in an oxygenated, shirtsleeve environment on future crewed missions. The Service Module provides internal power via its solar panels and the maneuvering thrust from its main rocket engine. There are also smaller thrusters to speed up, slow down, and orient the stack and they’ll continue to do so until it (the Service Module) separates from the Orion Crew Capsule just before the Crew Capsule re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere for the final stage of its return at noon on Sunday Dec 11.  At that point the capsule’s thermal shield, which has been covered by the Service Module since launch, will be exposed to absorb the heat from the friction of the Earth’s atmosphere until splashdown forty minutes later.

For WEIT readers interested in following events in real-time, here are some key times/events over the next week (all scheduled to be broadcast on NASA Live TV; all times are EST):

(Per NASA-published flight plan as of 1400EST Sunday)

Monday Dec 5

0900- NASA Live TV coverage begins for powered fly-by of moon event in which the spacecraft flies less than 80 miles above the lunar surface and fires its maneuvering rocket to kick it out of lunar orbit and into a trajectory for Earth.

1143 – Powered fly-by: rocket burn at 80 miles above lunar surface to leave lunar orbit into a return-to-Earth trajectory

Thursday Dec 8

1700 – NASA TV briefing to preview Sunday events for Orion’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown.

Sunday Dec 11

1100 – NASA TV coverage begins

Noon – Service Module and Crew Module separate

1203 – Crew module aligned with heat shield forward for re-entry into atmosphere

1240 – Splashdown! Followed by retrieval of Orion Capsule by recovery ships.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is a hunting and fain would lie down:

Hili: The situation is not clear.
A: I don’t understand.
Hili: Either there is something or there is nothing there.
In Polish:
Hili: Sytuacja jest niejasna.
Ja: Nie rozumiem.
Hili: Albo tam coś jest, albo tam nic nie ma.


From Dom, who sent a photo taken from yesterday’s Sunday Times. I suspect it’s mockery, but it’s funny mockery.

From Ginger K. (they forgot my dwarf, “Sleepless”):

From David:

Titania finally tweeted something, and I’ve seen equivalent sentiments by some Wokesters.  An excerpt from her article:

It is no exaggeration to say that Elon Musk’s annexation of Twitter is the most terrifying development in recent history. Only a fascist would seek to impose free speech on humanity. 

This is why there has been such a chorus of execration from left-wing commentators, celebrities and influencers. On the day that Musk seized control of Twitter, Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz noted that it was “like the gates of hell opened on this site tonight”. Charlie Warzel in The Atlantic wrote that there was “an apocalyptic feel to the ordeal”. 

But it was the Independent that really grasped the full gravity of this moment. Its headline read — “RIP Twitter, 2006-2022: Dead at the Hands of Elon Musk”. It is a testament to the cool-headed stoicism of left-wing journalists that they have managed not to overreact. 

Masih is tweeting up a storm; this one made me happy (not that I want the Shah back!)

From Luana: this is clearly a parody site, like Titania’s, but this is a good one:

From Malcom; parrots growing on trees!

From Ron, who says the data behind this graph come from Pew. Poor Poland!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. First (and I may have posted this recently), a girl befriends and raises a baby runner duck. Sound up:

I’m not sure where this comes from; perhaps a British reader will know:

And some British phrases translated into English:

They forgot: “A quite nice article”. Translation: “That article sucked!”

Sunday: Hili dialogue

December 4, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a frigid Chicago Sunday, December 4, 2022 and National Cookie Day. I will assert once again that British cookies, called “biscuits”, are better than American ones on average. Boasters, fig rolls (better than Fig Newtons), Jaffa cakes (but are they really biscuits?) cow biscuits, and, my favorite in the world, the first one, not easily obtained the U.S. (I used to use this internet site to find good biscuits, but they’ve turned it into a damn book!)

I love cow biscuits, too, flavored with malted milk. Great for dipping in coffee (or tea):

It’s also Cabernet Franc Day, Wear Brown Shoes Day, Wildlife Conservation Day, National Sock Day, and International Cheetah Day. Fun Cheetah Fact: this is the only species of felid that can’t retract its claws.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 4 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Don’t forget that the Georgia Senate race will be decided on Tuesday, with the odious Republican Herschel Walker in a dead heat with Raphael Warnock.  They’re both black, and so this, according to the NYT, should be a time of pride for Black Americans. But you know why it’s not: Walker may win!

The winner in Tuesday’s election will serve in an institution that has been overwhelmingly white throughout its history: Nearly 2,000 people have served in the U.S. Senate, and only 11 of them have been Black.

But a race that may seem like a triumph for Black political power has stirred a complicated mix of emotions for Ms. Davis and many other Black Georgians. Mr. Walker’s troubled candidacy has clouded their pride with suspicions, dismay, offense and even embarrassment.

In conversations with more than two dozen Black voters across Georgia, many said they did not see Mr. Walker, who has taken a conciliatory approach to matters of race, as representing the interests of Black people. Far more than a victory for racial representation, they cast the election in terms of now-familiar political stakes: a chance to keep a Republican backed by Donald Trump from gaining power and working to reverse policies they care about.

“It is a very historic moment,” said Ms. Davis, a supporter of Mr. Warnock. “But it is sort of like a bittersweet moment.” Sure, two Black men are running for Senate, she added, but many Black voters disagree with how Mr. Walker “views the nation and also other African American people.”

Yes, look at the data, which is disheartening (my bolding below

Polls suggest Ms. Davis’s views are widely held. A CNN poll released on Friday found Mr. Walker winning just 3 percent of Black voters, who make up about one-third of Georgia’s electorate. That is less support than Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, won when he defeated Stacey Abrams in the governor’s race last month, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of Georgia voters.

Those numbers do not spell the end of Mr. Walker’s bid. Mr. Warnock led Mr. Walker only narrowly among all voters in the CNN survey. A strong turnout among white Republicans across the state could lift Mr. Walker to victory.

3% of the black vote, and 30% of the voters are black. How can Walker possibly win? (I predict that he won’t, and I’m rarely wrong 🙂  Five Thirty Eight‘s aggregation of other site’s polls shows most polls going narrowly for Warnock, but a handful for Walker.  (If you want to see how either could win, read this.)

We already have two big-time Republican idiots in the House, and I don’t want another one in the Senate. Anybody care to bet me $25? I’m on for Warnock. If you’re sane and worried, you’ll take the bet, for if Warnock wins, you’ll be glad to hand me the dosh!

*Both the Washington Post and the Associated Press have stories on the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S., with the AP article saying that celebrities and social media trolls recently speaking out against Jews risks “normalizing” Jew hatred in America:

A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol, spread by a world-famous rapper, an NBA star and other prominent people, is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up the risk of violence in a country already experiencing a sharp increase in antisemitism.

Leaders of the Jewish community in the U.S. and extremism experts have been alarmed to see celebrities with massive followings spew antisemitic tropes in a way that has been taboo for decades. Some said it harkens back to a darker time in America when powerful people routinely spread conspiracy theories about Jews with impunity.

Former President Donald Trump hosted a Holocaust-denying white supremacist at Mar-a-Lago. The rapper Ye expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Neo-Nazi trolls are clamoring to return to Twitter as new CEO Elon Musk grants “amnesty” to suspended accounts.

“These are not fringe outliers sending emails from their parents garage or idiots no one has ever heard of. When influential mainstream cultural, political and even sports icons normalize hate speech, everyone needs to be very concerned,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, a leader in South Florida’s Jewish community.

Northwestern University history professor Peter Hayes, who specializes in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, said normalizing antisemitism is a “real possibility” when there is a “public discussion of things that used to be beneath contempt.”

“I’m very concerned about it,” Hayes said. “It’s one of the many ways in which America has to get a grip and stop toying with concepts and ideas that are potentially murderous.”

I’m not worried about being sent to a camp, or thinking about moving to Israel, but I am concerned that anti-Semitism is regarded as almost a normal way of thinking among progressive Leftists, who equate all Jews everywhere with Israel and its supposed “apartheid” policies. The situation is not helped by the UN passing as many resolutions against Israel as against all other countries in the world combined, including North Korea and Iran. That’s ridiculous. Still, terrorism against Jewish civilians, both here and in Israel, is minimized by nearly everyone but the Jews, and that’s worrying. I haven’t experienced much anti-Semitism in my lifetime, but the surge we’re seeing now is something that’s hard to believe

*Today’s World Cup results; we’re in the knockout round of 16 now: Argentina and the Netherlands stay but the U.S. and Australia go home:


For all of his accomplishments, and there are many, there was one thing Lionel Messi had never done at the World Cup: score a goal in an elimination game.

Now that he has done so — his first-half shot helped carry Argentina to a 2-1 victory over Australia on Saturday — he still has a chance at another first: Messi has never lifted the World Cup trophy.

That second one is still a ways away. But squint your eyes as Messi darted through the Australian defense at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday night and it still seems possible. For 90 minutes, Messi, 35, looked like the Messi who made his World Cup debut at 18 and has torn through club opponents across Europe for decades.

With the win, Argentina advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will face the Netherlands on Friday.

The highlights: Argentina’s goals are at 0:57 (a sweet one from Messi) and one from Alvarez at 2:47; Australia’s single goal is at 3:29.  I’m happy Messi got a score—the greatest soccer player of all time.

Team America went down at the hands of the Dutch, 3-1. As you can see even below, the Netherlands was more adept at handling the ball.

The Netherlands had been underwhelming during the group stages but showcased its quality and clinical edge on Saturday, with three well-taken goals from Memphis Depay, Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries.

Haji Wright pulled one back for the USMNT late in the second half with his team trailing 2-1, but any comeback hopes were snuffed out by Dumfries’ 81st minute goal to all but confirm the Dutch victory.

And the U.S./Netherlands highlights. Game try, America. One U.S. goal at 3:55.

*A ship on its way to Antarctica from Chile had to return to port after it was struck hit a huge wave, one so big that it killed one person and injured four. But it didn’t wash anybody overboard: it was glass  (h/t: Gravelinspector):

The Norwegian-flagged Viking Polaris was caught in a storm as it sailed towards Ushuaia, Argentina on Tuesday.

The victim was a US women who died after being struck by shattered glass, Argentinian media report.

Viking said it was investigating the incident and offered its “deepest sympathies” to the passenger’s family.

“Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel,” the company added in a statement issued on Friday.

The company did not reveal the name and nationality of the passenger.

However, Argentine news agency Telam said the dead passenger was an American woman who “received blows from a glass surface that collapsed in the middle of the storm”.

The 202m (662ft) ship – which was completed this year – arrived in Argentina on Wednesday and had sustained “limited damage” after being struck by the wave, Viking said.

The company has decided to cancel its scheduled voyage, which would have seen the ship sail towards Antarctica from 5-17 December.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rogue waves can be double the size of surrounding waves. They often come unexpectedly from directions other than that of the prevailing wind.

I’ve experienced thirty-foot waves in the Drake Passage, but they weren’t even in that notorious stretch of water between the tip of South America and Antarctica. One big one knocked all the food off the tables in the dining room, and flung my chair back so I fell on the floor. But I never imagined that glass could be a danger!

*I haven’t read George Will in yonks, but he has an interesting piece in the November 30th Washington Post, “How racial preferences feed grasping grievance groups and grow ever more absurd“. He gives an instance of gaming the system created by DEI:

Until a few years ago, Robert Taylor, a business owner in Washington state, identified as White. Then he realized that his insurance business could benefit if it were classified as a minority enterprise. A DNA test purported to show him 4 percent sub-Saharan African. Lots of litigation later, a federal court said the state nevertheless could deny his minority status. Elsewhere, Steve Lynn had better luck in the racial lottery. His business qualified as a minority business enterprise because his ancestors were Sephardic Jews who fled Spain centuries ago, making him, in the government’s squint, Hispanic.

Damn! If I were a Sephardic Jew instead of an Ashkenazi, I could ride the gravy train, too! Anyway, Will mentions a book that might deserve a look:

This story-beyond-satire of government is recounted in Bernstein’s slender (185 pages) “Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classifications in America,” potentially 2022’s most consequential American book. It reveals the rickety foundations of today’s identity politics. And because it is distilled in an amicus brief he filed for the Supreme Court as it considers racial preferences in college admissions. The brief demonstrates that such preferences depend on irrational classifications that mock their users’ intellectual and moral pretenses.

. . .Furthermore, those inconvenient Asian Americans keep spoiling the progressive narrative: A New York Times story reported that Google offers “a stark glance at how Silicon Valley remains a white man’s world.” A few lines later, Bernstein notes, the Times stated that a third of Google’s American employees are Asian Americans.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej have a deep conversation while Szaron stands by and learns:

Hili: It’s astonishing.
A:What is so astonishing?
Hili: Everybody tries to be rational and the end effect is horrible.
A: You see, and some people are thanking their gods that they arranged everything so well.
In Polish:
Hili: Zdumiewające.
Ja: Co jest takie zdumiewające?
Hili: Wszyscy starają się być racjonalni, a efekt końcowy jest koszmarny.
Ja: No widzisz, a niektórzy dziękują swoim bogom, że tak dobrze to wszystko urządzili.


From Seth, The world made out of fried chicken:

From Merilee, a Scott Metzger cartoon:

From Diana (I don’t know who did the cartoon:

A tweet from Masih. The protests in Iran continue. . . .

From Britain’s National Rail via reader Malcolm:

From Ron; look at all these newish foods! (You can see an enlarged version here.)  Sticky toffee pudding is new? And apple crumble?

From Simon. Why are these geese circling a car?

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 1½ year old boy gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. First, some amazing surfing rays. Look at them turn around as they approach the beach!

I’m sure I’ve shown this before, but don’t mind if I show it again:

Mesmerizing Japanese craftsmanship. (sound up):

Saturday: Hili dialogue

December 3, 2022 • 6:45 am

Greetings on a CatSaturday, December 3, 2022: It’s National Peppermint Latte Day. Shoot me now! This vile “libation” instantiates Coyne’s Fifth Law: “All snacks ultimately evolve toward candy” (granola bars, fizzy water, and now lattes.)

No! Just no!

It’s also National Apple Pie Day, but then things go downhill, for it’s also National Green Bean Casserole Day and National Rhubarb Vodka Day (!!!) To top it off, it’s also National Earmuff Day, Let’s Hug Day, and International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The Google Doodle today doesn’t link to anything; it’s just holiday themed:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 3 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Well, Alex Jones has filed for bankruptcy after facing a bunch of civil suits for defamation in conjunction with the Sandy Hook shooting (he claimed it was a government plot to take away people’s guns). His fines are up to at least $1.5 billion.

The filing comes atop the bankruptcy filing by Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent company, in late July. The new filing could further delay payment of the damages to the families, who would need to seek payment through the bankruptcy courts alongside other creditors. But it could also force a greater degree of scrutiny on the finances of Mr. Jones’s empire.

For more than four years, Mr. Jones has stonewalled the courts on providing business records, financial information and other records in the Sandy Hook cases. In a separate lawsuit, the victims’ families have accused Mr. Jones of improperly siphoning assets from his business and channeling them to himself and his family. He will now ostensibly be required to reveal more about those assets.

“The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did,” said Chris Mattei, a lawyer for the families in the damages case in Connecticut. “The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.” In that case, in October, Mr. Jones was ordered to pay $1.4 billion. Two other cases were litigated in Texas.

*Over at Bari Weiss’s site, Nellie Bowles has her usual snarky but funny take on the news; this week’s is “TGIF: Protest Edition.”  A few excerpts.

→ Trump, Milo, Kanye, Fuentes: A rough collection of names for a rough item. Last week, our former President beclowned himself by hosting Kanye West and the white supremacist Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago for dinner. He claimed not to know who Fuentes was.

Add to this sick brew one Milo Yiannopoulous. Once a firebrand gay conservative, Milo has rebranded as a Christian nationalist selling Christian paraphernalia. Now he’s running Kanye West’s 2024 presidential campaign and gleefully joining in with the antisemitism, claiming Trump will lose because he has been “continuing to suck the boots of Jewish powers that be who hate Jesus Christ, hate our country, and see us as disposable cattle according to their ‘holy’ book.” It’s subtle, sure, but if you read it closely you pick up on the antisemitism.

On Thursday, Kanye West and Nick Fuentes went on Infowars. I think it’s worthwhile to see the rhetoric for yourself. You know things have gone off the rails when Alex Jones is the most sane person on a panel.

Be sure you listen to this one:

→ Stop trying to make me eat insects: Every single week there is a story from the mainstream press trying to convince me that I need to eat insects. This is a Davos-set obsession. The World Economic Forum has published literally hundreds of pieces like “5 Reasons Why Eating Insects Could Reduce Climate Change.” Steak, chicken, fish are all special treats that are bad for the environment, you see. And like private jets, these should be reserved only for Davos attendees, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Taylor Swift. For the good of the world, you and I should be eased into a bug-based diet. Last weekend’s installment comes from the Washington Post’s health section: “Salted ants. Ground crickets. Why you should try edible insects.” No.

It’s clear that Nellie isn’t big on soccer:

→ World Cup news. America is set to play the Netherlands Saturday. Thank you for coming to our Sports Section.

*I don’t often post on op-eds at the WSJ, and they’re predictably right wing. This one, however, says something that’s obvious but needs repeated emphasis: Roland Fryer‘s column “Disparity doesn’t necessarily imply racism.” Fryer is a black Professor of Economics at Harvard.  (h/t Luana)

Determined to show that income gaps were due to racism, Fryer eventually realized, using statistical analyses that they were instead due largely to differences in skills:

. . . Taken together, an honest review of the evidence suggests that current racial inequities are more a result of differences in skill than differences in treatment of those with the same skill.

I write this with some degree of trepidation, in part because I still have my grandmother in my ear [JAC: she really was the victim of personal and vitriolic racism] and in part because I am keenly aware of the harm in underestimating bias. But there is also a cost to overemphasizing its impact. A black kid who believes he will face daunting societal obstacles is likely to underinvest in trying to climb society’s rungs. Every black student in the country needs to know that his return on investment in education is, if anything, higher than for white students.

The solution is neither to stop fighting biased behavior nor to curb honest inquiry about race in America. We shouldn’t stop searching for and penalizing discriminatory employers, or trying to reduce racial differences in police brutality, or estimating whether the value of a home appraisal depends on the race of the homeowner, or reducing bias in bail decisions by using artificial intelligence. I could go on, like the conversations stuck to those slipcovers. The solution isn’t to look away from discrimination. It does exist. But we also can’t point at every gap in outcomes and instantly conclude it’s racism. Prejudice must be measured rigorously. Statistically. Disparity doesn’t necessarily imply racism. It may feel omnipresent, but it isn’t all-powerful. Skills matter most.

This should be obvious as an alternative (and now somewhat supported) explanation of “inequity,” defined as a disproportional representation of groups. But we all see inequities and pretend that they prove—prove—the existence of “systemic and structural racism”. Woe to they who say otherwise, for they’ll be tarred as “racists.” At least Fryer can’t be accused of that!

*Here are yesterday’s World Cup results and some footie news:

Uruguay was knocked out of the World Cup on Friday despite its win over Ghana, but players on the field turned their frustrations towards the officiating crew, grabbing at them as they angrily followed them into the tunnel.

Uruguay defeated Ghana 2-0 in the final Group H match before the Round of 16, but a win by South Korea over Portugal bumped them down to third place, eliminating them from the tournament.

As soon as the final whistle was blown, players from Uruguay’s bench swarmed the referees as they attempted to exit the pitch.

The highlights: Uruguay scores at 1:20 and 2:05, and you can see a bit of referee-swarming at the end. I’ve added a tweet below showing that:

South Korea moved on to the knockout stage for the first time since 2010, while Portugal moved on with its first group win since 2006.

From the NYT:

As Brazil’s reserves clashed with Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland played a game that included a paroxysm of goals and then a ruthless barren stretch taunted both teams. When it was over, Switzerland had won, 3-2, and advanced to the knockout stage, to a date Tuesday with the Group H winner Portugal. Serbia’s players crumpled to the turf in disappointment. Brazil faces South Korea on Monday.

Cameroon is the first African team ever to beat Brazil in a World Cup.

Here are the highlights of the Serbia/Switzerland game. The first goal for Switzerland (0:43) is excellent, following a short backward pass, and the second Serbian goal (1:54).

*You may have read that a man fell overboard from a Carnival Cruise ship last week and, after more than 12 hours, was actually rescued. How was that possible? The NYT recounts the incident and others like it, and discusses the protocol ships use when there’s a man or woman overboard.

The passenger, according to the Coast Guard, turned out to be James Grimes, 28, who had been traveling with his parents and siblings on the five-day cruise. His family had last seen him the night before, around 11 p.m.

But by 10:45 on Thanksgiving morning, when there was no sign of him, the family notified the crew, the Coast Guard said.

At 8:10 p.m., more than nine hours after his family reported him missing, a passing tanker spotted the man near the mouth of the Mississippi River and alerted the Coast Guard.

Rescuers found Mr. Grimes struggling in the water, waving frantically and trying to keep his head above the surface.

When the crew of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifted him out, he was in shock, had mild hypothermia and was extremely dehydrated, said Lt. Seth Gross, who managed the search and rescue operation for the Coast Guard. But he was alive and in stable condition.

Mr. Grimes, whose family described him as an exceptional swimmer, had treaded in 65- to 70-degree water for hours, withstanding rain, 20-knot winds and three- to five-foot waves in the Gulf of Mexico, where bull sharks and blacktip sharks are common, Coast Guard officials said.

It’s not clear how Grimes fell overboard (he clearly didn’t jump as a suicidal move). Was he inebriated? That seems to be a common way that people fall into the drink (pun intended)

. . . In 2019, 25 people fell overboard, and only nine of them were rescued, according to CLIA.

In February, a woman aboard the Carnival Valor jumped off the 10th deck of the ship while fleeing security officers who were trying to detain her after she had scuffled with them. Her body was never found.

In December 2016, a 22-year-old man fell off the 12th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after a night of heavy drinking. His parents sued the cruise line in federal court in Florida, but a jury decided in favor of Royal Caribbean.

Alcohol is a factor in at least 11 percent of falls from cruise ships, which often offer all-inclusive drink packages that encourage drinking onboard, said Ross Klein, a professor of social work at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who researches cruise safety.

The ending is all good except for this (my emphasis):

Lt. Gross said he called the man’s mother and stepfather to tell them he had been found.

When he told them their son was stable and being treated at a hospital in New Orleans, he heard them cheer and cry.

Ms. White [the passenger’s mom], who lives in Hampton, Va., and runs an anti-bullying organization, said she was flooded with relief when the ship announced that Mr. Grimes had been found alive.

That was nothing but God that he survived,” she said.

No, it wasn’t God, it was the man’s determination AND the help of many searchers. A nonexistent god had nothing to do with it.

*Reader Jim “Bat” Batterson favors us with an update on the Artemis-1 mission, now about to leave the Moon to return to Earth, splashing down on December 11:

Two days ago (Thursday Dec 1), at 4:54 PM EST, a 105-second thruster burn from its main engine kicked the Orion capsule and support module (which carries the main maneuvering engine that will be jettisoned just before it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere) out of its distant retrograde orbit of the Moon, beginning its return to Earth.

This took it out of its lunar orbit that extended to 40,000 miles above the lunar surface and into a trajectory that will pass 71 miles above the lunar surface on Monday, December 5. Then a second firing of its engine will kick it out of lunar orbit altogether, beginning the final stage of its return to Earth. The capsule is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.  I do not have the schedule of exact times for the Monday maneuver at the Moon or the maneuvering on approach to Earth for re-entry on December 11, but I’ll pass those times on when I see them.  The exact timing likely depends on how the big Dec 5 maneuver and follow-up small correction maneuvers go.

I expect readers might want to watch the return preparations and splashdown on December 11.

During last night’s presser, and in press releases, NASA has said that everything has gone better than expected—to the point where they added additional objectives to further stress-test some of the systems during the distant retrograde orbit over the past week.  Fingers still crossed!

I’ve asked Jim to give us more commentary when the splashdown takes place.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili dilates upon reverse evolution. She’s right, too!

Hili: Evolution is retreating.
A: Why do you think so?
Hili: Humans have stopped talking and are starting to tweet again.
In Polish:
Hili: Ewolucja się cofa.
Ja: Dlaczego tak sądzisz?
Hili: Ludzie przestają mówić i znów zaczynają ćwierkać.

. . . and Baby Kulka asleep on the dresser:


From Bruce:

A Gary Larson Far Side cartoon contributed by Stash Krod:

Yet another Far Side cartoon, this one sent in by Thomas:

A tweet from Masih:

Hanukah is coming, and Simon shows us that it’s has a different atmosphere this year (note that the Tweeter is a urologist):

From Barry: a rant by comedian Trae Crowder. The subject is in the title; sound up.

From Luana. No, biological sex is real—and binary.  This person mixes up sex and gender, and is apparently ignorant of gamete-size disparities.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: Two women. First, one who survived Auschwitz:

And one who did not.

Tweets from the estimable Professor Cobb. First, a new book, and look at the table of contents. Matthew says, “Looks interesting thought some seem straw men to me, and who decides what a “myth” is anyway?”

Some genetic and biogeographic data on the evolution of canids and their ecological novelty. Watch the ten-minute video.


Yes, it’s silly, but some of the jokes are good. They’d never show stuff like this today!

Friday: Hili dialogue

December 2, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the first Friday in December: December 2, 2022, and National Fritter Day. I like corn (a little syrup on it doesn’t hurt) as a savory, and apple fritters as a treat.

Luscious corn fritters

It’s also Business of Popping Corn Day (the license for the company that eventually created commercial popcorn machines was granted on this day in 1885, Bartender Appreciation Day, Faux Fur Friday (actually, wearing faux fur might encourage people to wear the real thing), National Mutt Day, Safety Razor Day, and International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 2 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Congress, in charge of regulating interstate commerce, has the power to avert the impending railroad strike since it could substantial economic damage. The House passed the bill two days ago, but it looked dicier in the Senate. However, yesterday the Senate also passed the bill, which forces a settlement on terms agreed on by negotiators but not labor itself. It now goes to Biden, who will sign it.

The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to impose a labor agreement between rail companies and their workers who have been locked in a stubborn stalemate, moving with uncommon speed to avert a potential holiday season rail strike that would jeopardize shipping across the country.

Passage of the measure cleared it to be signed by President Biden, who just days ago made a personal appeal for Congress to act to impose a labor agreement his administration helped negotiate earlier this year, but which had failed to resolve the dispute. He was expected to sign it quickly, racing to stave off any economic fallout that could come from a work stoppage in the coming days.

It was the first time since the 1990s that Congress has used its power under the Constitution’s commerce clause, which allows it to regulate interstate commerce, to intervene in a national rail labor dispute.

The action came a day after the House overwhelmingly approved the measure, which would force the companies and their workers to abide by the tentative agreement reached in September. It would include a 24-percent increase in wages over five years, more schedule flexibility and one additional paid day off. Several rail unions had rejected it because it lacked paid leave time.

Progressive Democrats wanted to add that paid leave time, and Republicans a “cooling off period”, but both failed. The final vote was 80-15, and so truly bipartisan:

Senate Democrats, under pressure from progressives to insist on the additional compensated time off for workers, tried and failed to push through a House-passed measure to add seven days of paid medical leave to the agreement. It was defeated 52-43, failing to secure the necessary 60 votes needed to pass.

And Republicans failed to win adoption of their proposal to extend the Dec. 9 negotiation deadline by 60 days, to provide a cooling-off period and avoid congressional intervention in the dispute. It failed on a vote of 70-25.

Ultimately, a broad bipartisan group set aside reservations about inserting Congress into the labor dispute and backed the agreement that the Biden administration negotiated. The vote was 80-15, with Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, voting “present.”

*Now here’s a misguided op-ed in the WaPo by Ellie Geranmayeh, a “senior policy fellow and deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations.” This chowderhead thinks we can still prevent Iran from getting the bomb, as she writes in “We still need a nuclear deal with Tehran. Protests won’t change that.

Last month, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran said that nuclear talks with Tehran were unlikely to continue anytime soon. “If these negotiations are not happening, it’s because of Iran’s position and everything that has happened since [September],” said Robert Malley, citing Iran’s crackdown on protests, its transfer of drones to Russia and its continuing imprisonment of American citizens.

His comments, which echoed a widespread unease with Iran in the West, are understandable. And yet none of the issues he cited changes the grim reality that Iran is now just days away from having enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb — and that the international community is doing nothing to stop it. Unless that changes, the world is headed inexorably for a new nuclear crisis. A revised diplomatic track still represents the most effective pathway forward.

Iran’s relations with the West have hit rock-bottom after almost two years of failed negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. That impasse has been compounded by Tehran’s repressive response to the wave of protests that began in September, which has reportedly left more than 400 dead and thousands imprisoned.

“Failed negotiations” is a redundancy when it refers to trying to talk Iran out of its bomb. She continues:

The International Atomic Energy Agency recently passed yet another in a series of resolutions reprimanding Iran for its lack of cooperation with the agency. This censure is the right move, but it doesn’t fix the larger problem. Iran responded to the IAEA’s rebuke by restarting high-level enrichment of uranium at its underground Fordow nuclear site — something that it is expressly prohibited from doing under the original nuclear deal. Iranian officials have also claimed that they plan to install more advanced centrifuges, which would significantly enhance Iran’s capabilities to produce nuclear weapons. The current trajectory is certain to leave the agency, the United States and Europe in a near-total blackout as Iran marches toward becoming a nuclear threshold state.

Give me a break! Iran wants a nuclear weapon, and it’s always been on the path to get one. I’m stupefied that Geranmayeh, an “expert”, thinks we can stop the juggernaut by negotiating with Iran.

*Today’s World cup scores and commentary from CNN: Japan and Spain advance, while the German team, beating Costa Rica 4-2, is out and has to go back to Deutschland.

We have a final at Al Bayt Stadium, with Germany winning 4-2.

The Germans roared back in the second half and scored two late goals for a commanding victory. But to no avail.

Ultimately, the action determining whether Germany could advance to the Round of 16 was taking place in the other Group E match, where Japan defeated Spain 2-1, assuring both those teams will advance.

Japan beating Spain has to be an upset. From the NYT:

It was an incredible match.

Spain had expectedly dominated the ball in the first half, keeping Japan on the chase and then, striker Alvaro Morata had secured the opening goal for Spain early in the match too.

But Japan stood up a phenomenal campaign against La Roja Fuera, getting two goals one after the other in the 48th and 51st minutes. Spain was just unable to reply throughout the second half.

The Blue Samurai’s triumphant advance to the Round of 16 atop Group E is especially spectacular give the stats: the team only had possession of the ball for less than 20% of the entire match, and lesser attempted shots at the Spanish goal too.

Spain also squeaked through to the knockout round as Costa Rica failed to defeat Germany.

Five minutes of highlights for aficionados. Spain goal at 0:42 ; Japan goals at 2:04 and 2:31,

And Costa Rica loses to Germany. Though Germany won, Deutschland ist am ende. Likewise with Costa Rica—both gone.

*From the BBC via Malcolm: kitten hitches 250-mile ride on a lorry engine. Look at this lovely kitty, currently named “Yorkie”:

Yorkie had an adventure:

The owner of a kitten which is thought to have hitched a 250 mile (400km) ride under the bonnet of a lorry is being sought by the RSPCA.

The black and white cat was discovered when an Asda truck, which had travelled from Southampton, delivered to a supermarket in Liscard, Merseyside.

The RSPCA said: “He arrived covered in oil and very frightened but thankfully otherwise unscathed.”

Nicknamed Yorkie, the charity is urging his owner to get in touch.

He has been scanned to see if he was micro-chipped – which would have shown details of his owner – but unfortunately no chip was found.

The RSPCA said: “We can’t imagine how frightened he must have been travelling down the M6 at 60mph next to a big noisy engine.

“Poor Little Yorkie has had quite a journey and we are really keen to find his owners.
Protip: Check under your “bonnet” (aka “hood”) before you drive off, especially in winter. And if “Yorkie” were a true Yorkshire cat, he’d say to other cats: “You think YOU had it bad in winter: I had to keep warm by riding on the engine of a lorry to Merseyside!”

*The Associated Press has a large collection of what it considers its best photos of 2022, though the year isn’t over yet. Here are a few with their captions, but click to enlarge them. There are 153 photos–go see them all!

Bodies are lowered into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022, as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)


A resident wounded in a Russian attack lies in an ambulance before being taken to a hospital in Kherson, Ukraine, on Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)


A teacher dries out books at a school that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian in La Coloma, in the province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Mahtab, an 8-year-old Hazara Shiite student, poses for a photo in her classroom at the Abdul Rahim Shaheed School in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 23, 2022, days after a bombing attack at the school. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Relatives and friends attend the funeral ceremony for 4-year-old Liza, who was killed by a Russian attack along with 22 others, in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, on July 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s on the roof of the veranda and wants to get into the lodgers’ flat. She asks Szaron for a favor.

Hili: Can you let me in?
Szaron: No, but Paulina will surely do it when she puts her camera away.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Czy możesz mnie wpuścić?
Szaron: Nie, ale jak Paulina odłoży aparat to pewnie cię wpuści.


From Reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe: The first page of his Advent calendar, “Christmas in the Donbas”:

From Merilee:

From Malcolm: A kid who, amazingly young, produces great art out of wire:

The two people I “follow” on Twitter for humor (and by “follow” I mean “go and look at their feeds”) have gone largely silent: The Tweet of God and Titania McGrath. And so we begin with Masih, who runs not a funny site but a passionate and compassionate one, fighting for the civil rights of Iranians, especially women:

From Simon and Smith Powell: a Biblical AI song about ducks, and it’s not half bad. Amazing what computers can do!

From Malcolm; what a lovely way to show the Earth’s rotation!

From Barry, who says “this cat proves to be a surprisingly competent piano player”. Sound up, of course, and click on “Watch on Twitter”:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a Norwegian Jew marched to his death.

And some tweets from Manchester Uni’s renowned Professor Cobb.  Speaking of ducks, here’s some convergent evolution.

From the ScienceNews summary:

Natovenator polydontus may be the first known nonbird dinosaur to have possessed a streamlined body comparable to that of modern diving birds, researchers report December 1 in Communications BiologyNatovenator and other closely related dinosaurs may have been swimming predators, the researchers say, challenging the popular notion that all dinos were landlubbers.

Natovenator was small like a duck and probably used its forelimbs when swimming, says Yuong-Nam Lee, a vertebrate paleontologist at Seoul National University in South Korea. “We think that Natovenator lived in shallow water and ate small fish,” he says.

Of this census of Jews in England and Wales, Matthew says, ”

Surprised it is so few. I had never thought about it but I suppose I would have guessed around a million. Not sure why.

I love this one:

Thursday: Hili dialogue

December 1, 2022 • 6:45 am

Well, welcome to The Winter Month: it’s Thursday, and the first day of December, 2022, National Fried Pie Day. Do not dismiss these hand-held pies—a staple of Southern cooking in the U.S.— they’re the perfect one-person finish to a BBQ meal. Peach is best.

And it’s three food months in one. Sadly, Egg Nog and fruitcakes are not usually welcome.

National Pear Month
National Egg Nog Month
National Fruit Cake Month

It’s also Eat a Red Apple Day (I prefer green Granny Smiths), National Pie Day, Rosa Parks Day (remembering the day in 1955 when she wouldn’t give up her bus seat to a white man), Wear A Dress DayMilitary Abolition Day in Costa Rica—a country without any military service, and  World AIDS Day.

Today’s Google Doodle is an animated video-gamelike cartoon honoring the life and achievement of Gerald “Jerry” Lawson, whose 82nd birthday would be today had he not died in 2011.  As Wikipedia notes, he was one of the first black game developer and

. . . was an American electronic engineer. He is known for his work in designing the Fairchild Channel F video game console as well as leading the team that pioneered the commercial video game cartridge. He was thus dubbed the “father of the videogame cartridge” according to Black Enterprise magazine in 1982. He left Fairchild and founded the game company Video-Soft.

When you click the Doodle (as below), you see a series of video games that you can play, and which also tell you about Lawson’s life.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 1 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*According to the NYT, the House Democratic leader, who is the Speaker of the House when Dems are in the majority, has been an octagenerian for three decades. Starting in January, though the Democratic House leader will be a Minority Leader, and won’t be Nancy Pelosi, who gave way to younger blood. Yesterday House Democrats elected as their next-term Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York: the first black Congressperson to hold that spot. Two other younger folks were also elected, and, as the NYT notes, this is the first time there’s been “a trio of top leaders that includes no white men.”

In a display of unity after midterm elections in which they lost the House but had a stronger than expected showing, Democrats skipped a vote and by acclamation elected Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York to be minority leader, making him the first Black person to hold the top spot. Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts was elected as whip, the lead vote counter for House Democrats, and Representative Pete Aguilar of California as the chairman of the party caucus, in charge of messaging.

Mr. Jeffries, 52, Ms. Clark, 59 and Mr. Aguilar, 43, who for years have positioned themselves as an unofficial joint slate of candidates and have patiently waited their turn, ran unopposed after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who has led the party for two decades, announced this month that she would step aside, paving the way for fresher faces at the top of her party.

. . . The mood was jovial on Wednesday inside the ornate committee hearing room across from the Capitol where Democrats met to elect their new leaders.

“We want Petey Pie!” lawmakers chanted as they nominated Mr. Aguilar, using a nickname his grandmother gave him, according to two people in the room.

Oy! “Petey Pie”?  My own “Petey Pie” is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whom I’d like to see as the next Democratic candidate for President.

*This may be a first, though I’ve probably missed antecedents. A group of current and former students at Yale have sued the University, alleging that there was systemic mental ableism (my term) against students with psychological difficulties:

Current and former Yale students sued the university Wednesday, accusing the school of systematically discriminating against students with mental health problems and pressuring them to withdraw.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status from the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, includes accounts by two current students, three former students and an alumni group representing several dozen others. In the court filing, students described being visited in the hospital after Yale officials learned of suicide attempts or other mental health problems and being warned that if they didn’t leave the school voluntarily, the university could kick them out involuntarily.

In a statement, Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said, “The university is confident that our policies comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Nonetheless, we have been working on policy changes that are responsive to students’ emotional and financial wellbeing.”

In the lawsuit, one international student — Hannah Neves, who was hospitalized in 2020 after a suicide attempt — recounted being visited by three Yale administrators and resisting their pressure to withdraw, according to the lawsuit.

While she was still in the hospital, administrators withdrew her involuntarily. Once she was discharged, Yale authorities told her she could retrieve her possessions only with a police escort. When she asked about saying goodbye to her friends, university administrators told her “she could only do so off campus” because she was no longer allowed on Yale property.

Yes, I know this happens at other places, and it’s reprehensible. I’m not sure under what circumstances a student with mental health issues can be asked to leave a campus, or even kicked out. In one case here, a student withdrew after he had a psychotic break and went on a rampage, attacking cars and ultimately threatening police with a mental rod (he was shot in the . In those circumstances, the continued presence of a student on campus could endanger others, so it’s in the University’s self interest to let them go. But to visit someone in the hospital and threaten them with expulsion is absolutely heartless. In such circumstances the school should muster all its mental-health resources

*Well, this is going to cause some trouble. According to the AP, Egypt has asked Britain to return the Rosetta Stone, which resides in the British Museum (near the Elgin Marbles, bits of the Parthenon that were removed by a British Lord and which Greece wants back). The stone dates from 196 BC and, because it has the same inscription in hieroglyphics, Demotic, and ancient Greek. The latter two, already known, helped decipher the former

The inscriptions on the dark grey granite slab became the seminal breakthrough in deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics after it was taken from Egypt by forces of the British empire in 1801.

Now, as Britain’s largest museum marks the 200-year anniversary of the decipherment of hieroglyphics, thousands of Egyptians are demanding the stone’s return.

’’The British Museum’s holding of the stone is a symbol of Western cultural violence against Egypt,” said Monica Hanna, dean at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, and organizer of one of two petitions calling for the stone’s return.

The acquisition of the Rosetta Stone was tied up in the imperial battles between Britain and France. After Napoleon Bonaparte’s military occupation of Egypt, French scientists uncovered the stone in 1799 in the northern town of Rashid, known by the French as Rosetta. When British forces defeated the French in Egypt, the stone and over a dozen other antiquities were handed over to the British under the terms of an 1801 surrender deal between the generals of the two sides.

Curiously, the Egyptian government itself hasn’t asked for the relic’s return:

Hanna’s petition, with 4,200 signatures, says the stone was seized illegally and constitutes a “spoil of war.” The claim is echoed in a near identical petition by Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former minister for antiquities affairs, which has more than 100,000 signatures. Hawass argues that Egypt had no say in the 1801 agreement.

The British Museum refutes this. In a statement, the Museum said the 1801 treaty includes the signature of a representative of Egypt. It refers to an Ottoman admiral who fought alongside the British against the French. The Ottoman sultan in Istanbul was nominally the ruler of Egypt at the time of Napoleon’s invasion.

The Museum also said Egypt’s government has not submitted a request for its return. It added that there are 28 known copies of the same engraved decree and 21 of them remain in Egypt.

There’s no way the British Museum is going to give that back, just like they’re hanging onto the Ellgin Marbles (I think Christopher Hitchens wrote a book urging their return). Likewise, if the Egyptians have a case at all, I think the stone should be returned. But it’s a huge attraction for the British Museum, and I think that will be telling.

Here’s the stone, with the same inscription in 3 scripts.

Rosetta Stone

*Here are today’s World Cup results:

From the NYT:

It was the last group-stage match for Argentina on Wednesday, which meant it could have been the last time Lionel Messi feinted defenders, slashed into an open channel and fooled a bemused goalkeeper at the World Cup while wearing the crest of his beloved nation. It is not the most appealing topic back home, but this is, apparently, Messi’s fifth and final World Cup, and whether he departs without holding aloft the tournament’s golden trophy will not detract from his legacy as one of the best ever to play — but it could leave him hollow and searching.

Messi’s World Cup will continue for another game at least, and very possibly more. Argentina has, with every game, revealed itself a formidable contender, swatting away an opening loss to Saudi Arabia to beat Mexico and then thwart Poland on Wednesday in a 2-0 victory before a pulsating legion of fans at Stadium 974.

Below: the highlights of Argentina vs Poland. Goals are at 2:20 and 3:20. The Polish goalkeeper did a great job with saves, even keeping Messi from scoring on a penalty kick. No goals for Lionel this time, but Argentina proceeds to the knockout stage.

Tunisia beat France but is still out of the World Cup:

As World Cup drama goes, it was a remarkable couple of minutes. A last stand by Tunisia. A late goal by France. A lead lost. A result overturned. And then a video review, and it all flipped back in a moment.

And none of it mattered.

Tunisia went out of the World Cup on Wednesday in the strangest of circumstances: victors over France, 1-0, when a late French equalizer was disallowed 12 minutes into second-half injury time, but already eliminated a few minutes earlier by Australia’s 1-0 victory against Denmark.

As for the Aussie victory over Denmark:

Australia’s moment was a rare soccer success for its men’s team: The first time it has advanced to the knockout round since 2006, which was the only previous time it survived the group stage.

Its goal came in a blur: Breaking out after a Denmark attack fizzled, Mathew Leckie took a pass near the center circle, swept around a Danish defender and sent a low shot past Denmark’s diving goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel.

Here are the highlights of that game; Leckie’s wonderful goal is at 2:26.

*Trump’s tax returns are finally in the hands of Congress—the House Ways and Means Committee has six years of returns.

“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a Treasury spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court declined last week to intervene after courts said the House had power to request the returns from the IRS.

The committee, led by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, had sought six years of Trump’s tax records, primarily from the time he served as president. That included records about both Trump personally and several of his corporate entities.

The documents are not expected to be immediately released to the public.

Neal said Wednesday that Democrats would meet as a caucus to discuss how to handle the tax returns and get legal advice on how to proceed. Such a meeting, though, hasn’t been scheduled yet, he said.

The congressman declined to say if they would release any of the returns publicly. “The next step is to have a meeting of the Democratic caucus,” he said.

But it’s too late to do anything about the returns, for that committee will be in the hands of Republicans in January. And it’s not clear whether they’ll release the results so we can get the skinny on whether there’s anything dubious about them, or, as some say, whether Trump paid no taxes in recent years because he lost more money than he made.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili encounters Szaron upstairs at the lodgers’. It’s not a happy meeting:

Hili: How did you get there?
Szaron: Paulina invited me in for a feast.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Jak się tam dostałeś?
Szaron: Paulina mnie zaprosiła na ucztę.
           (Zdjęcie: Paulina)


Another man cheats on his girlfriend. The result:

From David:

From Jesus of the Day:

God is busy writing poetry at Mastodon, and Titania hasn’t tweeted in a while. But, circumstances being what they are in Iran, Masih Alinejad has plenty to say, e.g.:

From Barry: a nice man helps a scared deer cross the road. Apparently this is the way to pick up a deer!

From Luana: a very bizarre story, one that appears to be true:


From Malcolm, cats being cats (I may have posted this before):

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman who lived a few months (look at how they shaved the heads of incoming prisoners. The hair was saved by the Germans and used to make mattresses:

Tweets from Matthew. Herbert Tobias was a German photographer, and one of the first famous people in Germany to die of AIDS:

From Matthew: good sportsmanship as an American soccer player hugs an Iranian player after the Americans won:

TimeTree is your friend. Look up the divergence time (“relatedness”) of any pair of species:

Life in DodoLand is always peaches and cream. Here’s a tale about how a little girl rescued and raised a Runner Duck. Sound up:

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

November 30, 2022 • 6:45 am

Greetings! It’s a Hump Day again (“Ngày bướu” in Vietnamese): Wednesday, November 30, 2022. Tomorrow it will be December. But today is National Mousse Day. Here’s a chocolate moose:

It’s also National Personal Space Day, Choose Women Wednesday (celebrating empowering women in business), National Mason Jar Day (celebrating the day John Landis Mason patented the jar in 1858), National Methamphetamine Awareness Day (a good day to start watching “Breaking Bad”), and, in Scotland, Saint Andrew’s Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 30 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The railway workers’ unions have been fruitlessly negotiating with railroad management for two years, and a strike had become imminent. Now, according to Nancy Pelosi, Congress is set to to pass a bill that will avert a potentially disastrous strike (think supply chain) but by giving the unions a lot of what they want. And yes, Congress can do this:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said that House lawmakers will take up legislation on Wednesday to stop a nationwide strike by railroad workers, saying Congress needs to intervene to prevent devastating job losses.

In a press conference, Mrs. Pelosi said that the House will aim to quickly pass legislation that accepts the original labor union agreement negotiated by Biden administration officials plus additional railway worker benefits added from subsequent negotiations.

“I don’t like going against the ability of unions to strike, but weighing the equities, we must avoid a strike. Jobs will be lost, even union jobs will be lost, water will not be safe, product will not be going to market,” she said Tuesday after meeting with President Biden and congressional leaders of both parties at the White House. “That must be avoided.”

. . .Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress can make both sides accept an agreement that their members have voted down. Lawmakers also can order negotiations to continue and delay the strike deadline for a certain period, or they can send the dispute to outside arbitrators.

Any House-approved legislation would also need passage in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said at Tuesday’s press conference that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) have agreed to work together quickly for the legislation to pass the Senate.

The unions don’t like it (they wanted the issue to play out normally), and neither do some Republicans and Democrats in the House. But when push comes to shove, the Democrats will fall into line, and the bill will also pass the Senate given that both Chuck Schumer and Mitch “Tortuga” McConnell have said they’ll work together to ensure passage. Bipartisanship in the cause of union-busting!

*Here’s bipartisanship to protect LGBTQ rights. The Senate voted yesterday to legalize same-sex marriage, which is already legal countrywide, but needed a law to protect it from the dark intentions of Clarence Thomas, who alluded in the abortion-bill hearings to gay rights being in danger as well. And the vote was bipartisan: 61-36 to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act:

The 61-to-36 vote put the bill on track to become law in the final weeks before Republicans assume the majority in the House of Representatives at the start of the new Congress in January. It marked one of the final major legislative achievements for Democrats before Republicans shift the focus in the House to conducting investigations of President Biden’s administration and family members.

The bill must now win final approval by the House in a vote expected as soon as next week, which would clear it for Mr. Biden, who said he looked forward to signing it alongside the bipartisan coalition that helped shepherd it through the Senate.

In a statement, the president said the vote reaffirmed “a fundamental truth: Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”

There was little question that the bill’s embrace in the Senate, where proponents had a breakthrough this month in drawing a dozen Republican supporters and overcoming a filibuster, gave it the momentum required to become law.


One kicker, though:

The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. It prohibits states from denying the validity of an out-of-state marriage based on sex, race or ethnicity. But in a condition that Republican backers insisted upon, it would guarantee that religious organizations would not be required to provide any goods or services for the celebration of any marriage, and could not lose tax-exempt status or other benefits for refusing to recognize same-sex unions.

No more gay wedding cakes in the South. . . . .

*Here are the World Cup results from yesterday (see below for more0:

In the ideologically big match, the US beat Iran by just one goal (at the cost of a valuable player), but now the Iranians are out and must go home, and right into Evin Prison. Seriously, though, will they face punishment for their tiny show of resistance to the regime?

The job for the United States soccer team was simple, really: Win.

The stakes and the stage and the politics all made things harder going in to their game against Iran on Tuesday night at the World Cup. The own goal by their own federation’s social media team, the Iranians’ great umbrage at the perceived insult to their flag, the chatter and the threats and the intrigue all added to the spice of the matchup. But the task, at its heart, left no room for nuance at all: If United States wanted to keep playing in this tournament, it had to beat Iran on Tuesday night.

And so it did.

The price of victory may be a high one: Christian Pulisic, perhaps the Americans’ brightest star and the scorer of its only goal in a 1-0 victory, was forced from the game at halftime with an abdominal injury sustained when he crashed into Iran’s goalkeeper finishing his goal.

Highlights of that game: The sole U.S. goal, a nice one, is at 1:20. There’s another U.S. goal that was nullified by an offside call. Had this game tied, the U.S. would have been out of the Cup.


England won Group B after a 3-0 victory over Wales, which was eliminated. The U.S. needed a win and nothing less against Iran, and it got it, by a 1-0 score. The U.S. will face the Netherlands in the round of 16 on Saturday while England will meet Senegal on Sunday.

Here are the England/Wales highlights. England advances to the knockout round; Wales goes home after the rout:

Four years after missing the World Cup completely, the Netherlands beat Qatar 2-0 on Tuesday at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, to top Group A and advance to the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! It’s all over at Al Bayt Stadium, where the Netherlands have won with the bare minimum of fuss. They advance to the last 16 of the tournament while Qatar become the first host nation in World Cup history to go out of their own tournament without winning a single point.


The sight of a couple of Ecuador players slumped face-down on the turf sobbing uncontrollably tells you all you need to know. Senegal have held on to beat the South American side 2-1 and advance to the Round of 16, where they will face England if Gareth Southgate’s side finish top of Group B tonight.


*Dog kills man: a report from the Torygraph via reader Christopher. This is a weird report out of Turkey. It’s not dog bites man, but dog KILLS man.

A man in Turkey has been reportedly shot and killed by his own dog on a hunting trip after the pet stepped on the trigger of his shotgun.

Ozgur Gevrekogulu, 32, died in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Samsun last weekend.

Local police originally took one of his hunting companions into custody, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Mr Gevrekoglu was loading equipment into the boot of his car after the trip to the Kizlan Plateau when his dog jumped on the back of a friend, stepping on the trigger of a shotgun, the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.

The 32-year-old hunter, who reportedly became a father just two weeks earlier, died from a bullet wound in his stomach before paramedics arrived at the scene.

This is the deceased with a dog, but probably not the killer dog. They should have taken the d*g into custody instead of one of Gevrekogulu’s hunting companions.  But it’s really sad: he had a newborn kid.

*John McWhorter’s NYT column this week (is he producing just one a week now?) is called “Harvard, Herschel Walker, and ‘Tokenism‘”, and he sees both Walker’s candidacy and affirmatvie action as “tokenism”: the advancement of a black person because of skin color rather than merit. A few quotes:

Our theoretically enlightened idea these days is that using skin color as a major, and often decisive, factor in job hiring and school admissions is to be on the side of the angels. We euphemize this as being about the value of diverseness and people’s life experiences. This happened when we — by which I mean specifically but not exclusively Black people — shifted from demanding that we be allowed to show our best to demanding that the standards be changed for us.

. . . When the Supreme Court outlaws affirmative action in higher education admissions, as it almost certainly will, it will eliminate a decades-long program of tokenism. I’ve written that I support socioeconomic preferences and that I understand why racial ones were necessary for a generation or so. But for those who have a hard time getting past the idea that it’s eternally unfair to subject nonwhite students to equal competition unless they are from Asia, I suggest a mental exercise: Whenever you think or talk about racial preferences, substitute “racial tokenism.”

As for Walker, McWhorter does not go gentle:

At the same time, Republicans, despite generally deriding affirmative action and tokenism as leftist sins, are reveling in tokenism in supporting Walker’s run for Senate and are actually pretending to take him seriously. But to revile lowering standards on the basis of race requires reviling Walker’s very candidacy; to have an instinctive revulsion against tokenism requires the same.

There’s no point in my listing Walker’s copious ethical lapses. Terrible people can occasionally be good leaders. With him, the principal issue is his utter lack of qualification for the office. Walker in the Senate would be like Buddy Hackett in the United Nations. It is true that Republicans have also offered some less than admirably qualified white people for high office. But George W. Bush was one thing, with his “working hard to put food on your family.” Walker’s smilingly sheepish third-grade nonsense in response to even basic questions about the issues of the day is another.

I’m with McWhorter on both socioeconomic rather than racial affirmative action, and of course anybody with more than a handful of neurons knows what an idiot Walker is. If he wins, I will be both upset and even angrier at Republicans, who put this mushbrain up for election.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s pissed off because she didn’t get the right noms Look at that face! I had to make it my profile picture on Twitter.

Hili: You bought the cheap cat food again.
A: They had only this one in the shop.
Hili: Order it on the Internet.
In Polish:
Hili: Znowu kupiłeś tanią karmę.
Ja; Innej w sklepie nie było.
Hili: Zamów przez Internet.


A multiple groaner from David:

From Malcolm: a pas de deux with a border collie:

More Revenge from a Wronged Woman:

From Masih: Three videos in one:

From Barry, who says this is “uncalled for.” Indeed, octopuses are turning out to be nasty pieces of work, even throwing sand at each other:

From Simon. I have no idea why it ended the way it does:

A groaner from Malcolm:

A tweet from Ron, who notes,

“Here’s a new clue for the prevalence of religiosity. It turns out to be inversely correlated to the distance from the Pacific Ocean (I calculated Pearson’s r = -0.796). Who would have guessed that?”

From Luana; a paper that’s worth reading by Buss and von Hippel, which you can find here. It’s curious but not surprising that these people accept Darwinian evolution of the body, but not of the mind (aka evolutionary psychology).   It explains the widespread rejection of evolutionary psychology as a whole.

From the Auschwitz Memorial. I’m guessing that husband and wife were separated before they were gassed, so they didn’t even get to be together as they died.

Tweets from Matthew.  First, another “notice the errors” picture. The answer is in the thread (enlarge photo first). Find all 12!

The first biography of Darwin, published in 1882, very soon after his death, is now online:

Tuesday: Hili dialogue

November 29, 2022 • 6:45 am

Good morning on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, November 29, 2022: National Chocolates Day (note the plural). I will recommend once again See’s Candies as the source of the best American chocolates, regardless of price; they’re better than overprice brands like Godiva. Look at this box!

It’s also National Lemon Creme Pie Day (what is “creme”?), Giving Tuesday (you’re supposed to give to others after the frenzy of materialism on Black Friday and Cyber Monday), Throw out Your Leftovers Day, and, in Liberia, William Tubman’s Birthday (Tubman, President of country from 1944-1971, has been called “the father of modern Liberia”). 

Today’s footie-themed Google Doodle (click on screenshot) leads to the daily schedule of the World Cup in Qatar. Today Ecuador plays Sengal, Netherlands plays Qatar, Wales plays England,  and Iran plays the U.S. (see below for more on that).

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 29 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The protests against lockdowns in China, which have become protests against the government, but this has caused anxiety among the protestors, who know very well what happens to protestors, especially political ones, in China. Here’s the ambivalence at a large protest in Beijing:

“We don’t want lockdowns, we want freedom!” the protesters shouted as they wound westward through one of the city’s neatly manicured embassy districts, where a Four Seasons hotel stands alongside humble shops selling traditional breakfast crepes. “Freedom of the press! Freedom of publishing!”

It was an extraordinary scene, rarely seen anywhere in China, let alone the capital, under Xi Jinping, the country’s authoritarian leader. But the elation of the moment was laced with anxiety about what, exactly, was happening. When some people began shouting explicitly political slogans, others urged them to remain more narrowly focused on opposing Covid controls. Even what to call the event depended on who and when you asked — was it a protest? Or just a vigil?

The uncertainty mirrored the broader uncertainty of this moment, a potential turning point for not only China’s zero Covid strategy but also Mr. Xi’s rigid grip on the country he leads. In recent days, protests have erupted across China, from western Urumqi, where the fire broke out, to Shanghai in the east. The excesses of the coronavirus restrictions have united people like no other cause in decades. But in a country where dissent is quickly smothered, and most people have never had the chance to protest, many were unsure what to ask for, let alone what could actually happen.

I doubt that Xi is in danger. This is not like the protests in Iran, where the government has a lot more to lose by coming down hard on the protestors. Ergo I think the Iranian government is in much more peril than the one in China—but I’m a biologist, not a pundit. What do I know?

*You may have heard the Trump pulled yet another boner by hosting a dinner attended not only by the anti-Semitic Kanye West, but West’s guest, white supremacist Nick Fuentes, who’s also an anti-Semite. Talk about optics—there’s even an account of the dinner in Wikipedia! Here’s what it says in part:

In late November 2022, Fuentes and Kanye West (who had recently announced his own candidacy for the 2024 presidential election) visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago. West said that Trump was “really impressed with Nick Fuentes”.  Trump released a statement that after contacting him earlier in the week to arrange the visit, West “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about”, with whom Trump dined, and that “the dinner was quick and uneventful”. Trump refused to repudiate Fuentes or the meeting.

According to reporter Hugo Lowell:

Donald Trump repeatedly refused to disavow the outspoken antisemite and white supremacist Nick Fuentes after they spoke over dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort, rejecting the advice from advisers over fears he might alienate a section of his base, two people familiar with the situation said. The former US president was urged publicly and privately to denounce Fuentes in the aftermath of the dinner, which included the performer Ye, previously known as Kanye West, who has also recently been propagating antisemitic remarks.

It’s so bad that even the conservative Wall Street Journal’s editors wrote an op-ed yesterday: “Donald Trump’s Bad Dinner Guests.” An excerpt:

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is barely two weeks old, and already it has his trademarks of bad company and bad judgment. Both were on display Tuesday evening when he hosted the rapper Kanye West (who now goes by Ye) and some comrades for dinner at Mar-a-Lago. One of the hangers-on was 24-year-old Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who mocks the Holocaust.

Mr. Trump claims that Mr. West had asked to see him and brought along Mr. Fuentes. The former President says he didn’t know who Mr. Fuentes is, but both Mr. West and Mr. Fuentes have said since the meeting that Mr. Trump was impressed with Mr. Fuentes’s political insight. That may be because sources on hand for the dinner have leaked to reporters that Mr. Fuentes flattered Mr. Trump. Nothing goes further at Mar-a-Lago than flattery.

Others have lambasted Mr. Trump for hosting Mr. Fuentes, including David Friedman, who was ambassador to Israel during the Trump Presidency. Mr. Trump’s failure to vet visitors is an example of his usual lack of organization and discipline, especially given that Mr. West has also been spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

But worse is that Mr. Trump hasn’t admitted his mistake in hosting the men or distanced himself from the odious views of Mr. Fuentes. Instead Mr. Trump portrays himself as an innocent who was taken advantage of by Mr. West. This is also all-too-typical of Mr. Trump’s behavior as President. He usually ducked responsibility and never did manage to denounce the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, or others who have resorted to divisive racial politics, or even violence as on Jan. 6, 2021.

If the Trumpster’s lost the Wall Street Journal, he’s lost the nomination.

*Here are yesterday’s World Cup results. Brazil’s victory over Switzerland takes that favored team into the knockout round, and Portugal’s victory over Uruguay does the same.

Below is a video of the highlights of Brazil’s win over Switzerland. Brazil’s one goal is at 3:51, after an earlier Brazilian goal was nullified after an offside call.

Casemiro scored the 83rd-minute winner as Brazil clinched its spot in the knockout round with a 1-0 victory over Switzerland at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar.

The strike capped a clever combination as Vinícius Júnior collected the ball on the left flank and picked out Rodrygo, whose one-time flick at the top of the box fell into the path of Casemiro. Hitting a one-time half-volley, the Manchester United midfielder fired past Swiss keeper Yann Sommer to give Brazil the late lead.

Brazil triumphed despite missing star forward Neymar and defender Danilo with ankle injuries. Both players are expected to miss the rest of the group stage.

And here are  5 minutes of highlights of Portugal’s victory over Uruguay. The greedy diva Ronaldo acted as if he headed the ball into the net for the first goal, but the tape showed he never touched the ball. That was at 2:04 below—you can see his perfidy clearly. The second goal for Portugal is a penalty score at 4:35.

Bruno Fernandes scored a pair of goals to help Portugal avenge its round of 16 loss to Uruguay in the 2018 World Cup and clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a 2-0 win at Lusail Stadium.

Fernandes, who had two assists in his team’s 3-2 win over Ghana Thursday, gave Portugal the lead in the 54th minute. The Manchester United midfielder sent a cross into the box that sailed just over the head of leaping teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who was originally credited with the goal, and into the back of the net. Fernandes put the game away by converting a penalty in the 93rd minute after a VAR review determined Uruguay’s José María Giménez had committed a handball in the box.

I have no predictions now, but maybe we’ll have a contest at a later stage.

*Meanwhile, today sees a politically fraught match: Iran plays the United States. Things are different now as Americans are starting to realize how odious the Iranian theocracy really is. And, as I reported yesterday, the Iranians are ticked off at U.S. soccer for its social media post that showed the Iranian flag missing its crucial symbol of religious authority.

When players representing Iran and the United States take the field at the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, millions of fans will be dissecting every move — not just passes, fouls and headers, but also whether the Iranian players sing the national anthem, celebrate any goals or speak about the protests shaking their country.

The game has become yet another front line in the conflict between the two longtime geopolitical foes as Iran battles protests at home in one of the most significant challenges the Islamic Republic has faced since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power. And this time, it is all playing out under the glaring lights of the most watched event in the world.

. . . Now the main question is what Team Melli, as Iran’s squad is affectionately known to fans around the world, will do with its next turn on the field: Please the government that sponsors it by keeping strictly to sports, or win the hearts of the opposition on the streets. Whatever it does, winning or holding the United States to a draw, either of which will advance them to the next round, will put Iran’s domestic strife in front of a huge global audience for at least a few days longer.

“This is why U.S.A. versus Iran is going to be the most significant and politically charged match in the history of the World Cup,” said Omid Djalili, an Iranian-British actor and comedian who has closely tracked the team, combining a fan’s passion with an activist’s fervor.

He insisted this was no hyperbole: “The further they get in the tournament, the more interest there will be in these protests,” he said of the Iranians. “The regime can spin this any way they want — the globe will see what’s going on.”

My prediction: the U.S. will win. The Iranians will then go home, with players who mouthed but did not sing their national anthem facing punishment.

*Finally, Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano, and forming the Big Island of Hawaii, has started erupting, and the state is telling island residents to prepare for debris and ashfall.

The eruption of Mauna Loa wasn’t immediately threatening towns, but officials told residents to be ready for worse.

Many weren’t living there when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago. The U.S. Geological Survey warned the roughly 200,000 people on the Big Island that an eruption “can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

A lava flow could even reach the town of Hilo, one of my favorite places on the Big Island:

An eruption from the northeast could send lava toward the county seat of Hilo or other towns in East Hawaii but it could take the lava weeks or months to reach populated areas. It’s possible the eruption may later shift to a rift zone on the southwest flank. Lava emerging from this area could reach nearby communities in hours or days.

“We don’t want to try and second-guess the volcano,” Hon said. “We have to let it actually show us what it’s going to do and then we inform people of what is happening ASAP.”

This is nature dwarfing and overpowering humans again. Mauna Loa built the island, and is still building it since the Big Island is the youngest one, the latest bit of crust to move over the volcano-producing fissure. Good luck, Hawaii!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s on the windowsill looking in at Malgorzata and Andrzej working.

A: What are you doing here?
Hili: I’m supervising.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz?
Hili: Nadzoruję.


From Jesus of the Day:

Another cheated-on girlfriend takes revenge:

From Malcolm: the Guinness-certified World’s Oldest Cat

God is still writing poetry over at Mastodon; maybe he’s becoming a full-time poet.

From Masih. So much for the hijab being a “choice”! Sound up.

Richard Dawkins on transgender Jesus:

All is can say about this tweet, sent by reader Malcolm, is “OMG!”. Be sure to watch the time-lapse video:

From Jeremy:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:  The boy murdered because, though he could have been sent to the camp, he asked to stay with his sister, who was gassed upon arrival.

Tweets from Matthew. First, sexual selection in action.

The answer, for two of the photos, is in the thread:

Here’s a real moth lover (a form of Lepidopterist):


Monday: Hili dialogue

November 28, 2022 • 6:45 am

Good morning at the top o’ the work week: Monday, November 28, 2022, and National French Toast Day.  It should be known, though, as ROMAN TOAST since Wikipedia says this:

The earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 1st century CE, where it is described as simply aliter dulcia ‘another sweet dish’. The recipe says to “Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] fry in oil, cover with honey and serve”

This was one of my childhood favorites that my mom would make if I was a good boy. I haven’t had it in ages. Here’s a photo and a recipe.

It’s also Turkey Leftover Day, Red Planet Day, honoring the first vehicle to fly by Mars, the Mariner 4, launched on this day in 1964. And it’s Letter Writing Day (when’s the last time you wrote a real letter to a friend or loved one (cards don’t count)?

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 28 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Led by students (as in Iran), Chinese people are protesting en masse against their government—in China’s case its draconian lockdown policy. The trigger was a fire in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjian Province, which killed ten people; the protestors claim that because of the lockdown policy, firefighters couldn’t get close to the blaze (one source said that the building doors were locked).  The protests are country-wide, and have morphed from criticism of the lockdown to criticism of the government and its Party leaders:

Protests erupted in cities and on campuses across China this weekend as frustrated and outraged citizens took to the streets in a stunning wave of demonstrations against the government’s “zero covid” policy and the leaders enforcing it.

Residents in Shanghai, China’s most populous city, came together Saturday night and early Sunday, calling for the end of pandemic lockdowns and chanting, “We want freedom!” and “Unlock Xinjiang, unlock all of China!” according to witnesses at the event. In even more extraordinary scenes of public anger aimed at the government’s top leader, a group of protesters there chanted, “Xi Jinping, step down!” and “Communist Party, step down!”

“There were people everywhere,” said Chen, a 29-year-old Shanghai resident who arrived at the vigil around 2 a.m. Sunday. “At first people were yelling to lift the lockdown in Xinjiang, and then it became ‘Xi Jinping, step down, Communist Party step down!’” he said, giving only his surname because of security concerns.

. . .Such demonstrations are extremely rare in China, where authorities move quickly to stamp out all forms of dissent. Authorities are especially wary of protests at universities, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 that spread across the country and ended in a bloody crackdown and massacre around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

At Communication University of China in Nanjing, posters mocking “zero covid” were taken down on Saturday, prompting one student to stand for hours holding a blank piece of paper in protest. Hundreds of students joined in solidarity.

Some placed flowers on the ground to honor the fire victims and chanted, “Rest in peace.” Others sang the Chinese national anthem as well as the left-wing anthem “The Internationale.” They shouted, “Long live the people!”

For example:

*The World Cup results for today (click to enlarge):

Germany, behind by one goal, pulled even with Spain via an 83rd-minute strike by Niclas Füllkrug to achieve a tie. Had they lost, they would have had to go home. Here’s a short video of that game’s highlights:

The 2-0 win of Morocco over Belgium was totally unexpected, and led to riots breaking out in both Belgium and the Netherlands. Some highlights:

Here are the highlights from Costa Rica’s 1-0 victory over Japan:

*According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Soccer foundation found itself in hot water after making a social-media post intended to show support to those protesting the Iranian regime. Here’s what they posted (it’s now gone):

What’s the issue here? Well, look at the Iranian flag emblem.  It’s missing something, for here’s what the flag normally looks like:

Ergo the issue:

With the U.S. and Iran set to play a high-stakes match in the World Cup here on Tuesday, the U.S. soccer federation took to social media to make what it said was a statement of support for protesters inside Iran: an altered version of the Iranian flag.

Then, Sunday afternoon, the team deleted the post, which wasn’t run past U.S. players or coaches and inflamed tensions with the Iranians ahead of a decisive showdown on the field.

The federation’s action had resulted in an Iranian soccer official calling for a FIFA investigation and disciplinary action against the Americans, just two days before a match the U.S. must win in order to advance.

The post from the U.S. team’s Instagram account, dated two days ago, depicted the Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The emblem, four curves with a sword between them, represents “there is no God but Allah,” which is part of the Islamic declaration of faith.

. . .A spokesman for U.S. soccer had said the post was a one-time showing of support for the protestors. The team’s players and coaches were not consulted on the posting, the spokesman said, adding that the plan was to show their support in one post and then revert back to using the country’s official flag. 

The spokesman said the decision to remove the post came after more internal conversations on the matter.

The Iranian semiofficial ISNA news agency said the U.S. decision to remove the emblem went against FIFA regulations and that the violation of those rules should lead to a fine or ban.

And no beer, either!

*This is a good decision: Whole Foods has decided to stop selling Maine lobsters. And even if you don’t care about the death of lobsters, realize that they did it not to save lobsters, but to save whales:

Environmental groups are once again at odds with politicians and fishermen in New England in the wake of a decision by high-end retail giant Whole Foods to stop selling Maine lobster.

Whole Foods recently said that it will stop selling lobster from the Gulf of Maine at hundreds of its stores around the country. The company cited decisions by a pair of sustainability organizations to take away their endorsements of the U.S. lobster fishing industry.

The organizations, Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch, both cited concerns about risks to rare North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear. Entanglement in gear is one of the biggest threats to the whales.

The decision by Whole Foods was an “important action to protect the highly endangered” whale, said Virginia Carter, an associate with the Save America’s Wildlife Campaign at Environment America Research & Policy Center.

Other organizations like Seafood Watch have also put lobster fishing on the red list, and for the same reason: danger to whales. Doesn’t anybody care about teh crustaceans?

Maine, of course, doesn’t like this:

The company’s decision to stop selling lobster drew immediate criticism in Maine, which is home to the U.S.’s largest lobster fishing industry. The state’s Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and its four-member congressional delegation said in a statement that Marine Stewardship Council’s decision to suspend its certification of Gulf of Maine lobster came despite years of stewardship and protection of whales by Maine fishermen.

“Despite this, the Marine Stewardship Council, with retailers following suit, wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science,” Mills and the delegation said.

Well, what does SCIENCE say about this? I have no idea.

*Pamela Paul’s NYT columns are always worth reading, though of course some are better than others. This week she takes on pop culture: “Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and the reality of imperfection” Paul’s thesis is that the Zeitgeist has made many women lay claim to mental illness (not that they don’t have it), even if they’re hugely successful like Gomez and Swift.

By most measures, Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift are remarkable women. Intelligent and capable, they’ve succeeded through innate talent, hard and sustained work, ambition and vision. Both are the kind of mega pop stars who inspire convulsions of adulation and tears. Crowds surge and part in their presence. They’re graced with a radiance that seems almost exclusive to celebrities, with skin so incandescent it needs no filter.

But they are not perfect. Nor, importantly, do they pretend to be. A recent Apple TV+ documentary, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” offers an unsparing portrait of Gomez, now 30, and her experiences with bipolar disorder, lupus, anxiety and psychosis. On her latest album, “Midnights,” Taylor Swift, 32, sings about her depression working the graveyard shift, about ending up in crisis. “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me / It’s me, hi, everybody agrees, everybody agrees,” goes the song “Anti-Hero.” “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby / And I’m a monster.”

This combination of external flawlessness and emotional vulnerability feels like a feature particular to contemporary female pop stardom. On one screen we see impeccable glam, expertly choreographed and costumed performances and startling displays of luxury. On the other screen, admissions of anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks and sleeplessness.

Paul implies, but doesn’t state, that mental health issues have increased significantly more for young girls than for young boys, but that is indeed the case.  (If this is at all connected with gender dysphoria, then it might also help explain the much higher number of biological girls wanting to become transsexual than do biological boys). The important question is why the sex difference? Now that would have been an interesting column. Instead, the ending is rather lame:

It may be that each generation gets a slate of pop stars attuned to its own aspirations and insecurities. Young women may be able to better relate to today’s pop stars — for better and for worse.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s resting in the wood basket.

A: I’m going to fetch wood.
Hili: Leave this basket alone.
In Polish:
A: Idę po drewno.
Hili: Ten kosz zostaw w spokoju.


A message from a woman whose boyfriend (presumably the car’s owner) cheated on her.

From David:

From Don:

Over at Mastodon, whose “roars” I can’t embed here, God is writing poetry—this time a pretty good imitation of Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night“:

Two tweets from Masih.  Do read the WaPo article linked in the first one.

And I can’t really decry this; it’s a form of civil disobedience and nobody is injured:

From Nick Christakis via reader cesar. A trigger warning for evolution in a science museum, for crying out loud!

From Malcolm. The Iranian football team is already in trouble for not singing the national anthem in its first game (they did in the second, for they know what would happen if they persisted and then returned home). But here, a few days ago, the team captain empathizes with the Iranian protestors.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a fantastic example of camouflage, one in which both the morphology and behavior of the caterpillar has evolved.  Look how it walks along the leaf vein! UPDATE: I learned that this is the caterpillar of the common baron butterfly, Euthalia aconthea (h/t Luana). 

Note the little butt shake at the end. Someone on Twitter asked me why don’t bats just hang right-side up and pee normally, like birds do? I answered, but try to think of the answer yourself:

And a lovely dappled deer. Its color will make it more visible to hunters and predators, so I hope it’ll be okay: