Happy Sabbath to all Christian humans and cats: it’s Sunday, June 4, 2023, and National Cheese Day (my favorite is Comté aged for three years—until it has a granular texture):
It’s also National Cognac Day, National Cancer Survivors’ Day, National Frozen Yogurt Day, Hug Your Cat Day, International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. and Memorials for the Tananmen Square Protests of 1989, which began to be suppressed on June 4.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 4 Wikipedia page.
First, some pictures of graduation (called “convocation” here). It was a glorious, sunny day for the rite. I don’t care who you are; if you’ve been through the ceremony, it does choke you up a bit to see these inchoate adults launched into the world. Here they are lined up ready to march into the quad before their parents and relatives:
Marching under the arch; my building is to the right. Note the gargoyles climbing up the arch:
Through Hull Gate and into the quad, which is set up with a big open tent under which the dignitaries sit:
Faculty waiting to march in after the students. These are faculty who didn’t get their Ph.Ds here, and are supposed to wear the cap and gown of the school where they got their doctorates (I don’t have one). Some of the foreign academic regalia are particularly attractive.
And the U of C faculty who graduated from here (mostly), wearing their maroon caps and gowns:
Faculty are traditionally marched in with bagpipes:
*In his eponymous website, Jonathan Turley discusses the new political-correctness kerfuffle in which John Cleese is embroiled. Cleese is definitely anti-woke, but is up against the Pecksniffs. They’re doing a stage version of “Life of Brian, and of course you know immediately what the problem is: it’s politically incorrect, mocking a lot of things considered taboo today. One bit in particular is problematic: (h/t Rosemary)
One of the favorite targets of the Monty Python troupe was political activists who lacked any humor or self-awareness. That was the thrust of scenes in Life of Brian involving Cleese’s character, Reg, the leader of the “People’s Front of Judea” who faced endless demands for countervailing causes — so many that the group never actually gets anything done beyond meetings.
In one scene, an activist named Stan announces that he wants to be a woman and have a baby:
Reg: “You want to have babies?!?!”
Stan: “It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.”
Reg: “But … you can’t HAVE babies!”
Stan: “Don’t you oppress me!”
Some actors reading the script urged that the scene be cut, and producers now face a dilemma after Cleese refused to drop it.
For the most part, the war on comedy is working. For nearly a decade, many leading comedians have avoided performing on college campuses because they simply have no material that will avoid triggering one group or another. Six out of ten students in a 2020 survey said offensive jokes can constitute hate speech.
Activists are converting much of the world into their own humorless, ticked-off image. It is hard to enrage others through identity politics if some comedian is making fun of different identities. So the message has become that there’s nothing funny about identity. Satire is now viewed by some as a vehicle for objectification, subjugation and alienation.
These are the modern versions of the Puritans and Victorians, imposing their own rigid demands on artists and writers to conform to their own social values.
When comedians become afraid to tackle subjects largely considered taboo, then the art loses its edge—and its ability to make us think. Imagine having to listen to Bob Hope forever!
*Over at The Weekly Dish, Sully is beefing about “The Unstoppability of Mass Migration.”
Or, of course, we could be living on the precipice of something much worse — a reactionary lurch toward authoritarianism fueled by native replacement and resentment. That’s what my reading of history and human nature inclines me to think. Replacement and resentment were the inchoate forces behind 2016; and some of the factors that made it happen — elite estrangement and the torrid pace of mass immigration — have only worsened since 2016. In Britain, the Tories could lose what’s left of any trust they once had — leading a far-right party to gain a serious foothold. In the US, Trump could soon seem like the beginning of something much darker. This week he renewed his pledge to ban birthright citizenship and described migrants as “some of the toughest, meanest people you’ll ever see,” arriving from “mental institutions” and “jails.” And he continues to froth at the mouth on Truth Social: “TITLE 42 EXPIRES NEXT WEEK. This date will go down in infamy!!!”
Immigration remains his strong card. A Gallup poll in February showed that public satisfaction over immigration had fallen six points in a year, down to 28 percent — “the lowest reading in a decade.” An AP poll that month found that 44 percent of Americans want immigration reduced and only 20 percent want more. And Biden is under water: 58 percent of voters in seven key battleground states disapprove of how he’s handled the issue, and another recent poll showed just 26 percent approval.
And by a critical measure — official systemic discrimination in favor of non-whites and non-Asians across corporate America, government and academia, i.e. “equity” — things have gotten a lot worse from the perspective of the “deplorables.” Throw in truly bewildering cultural change — sex changes for children, abolishing all distinctions between men and women — and it’s as if the left is almost testing the conditions for a far-right revolt. Just read some Edsall, and you’ll get the picture.
This is the fear I’ve had since 2016 knocked me out of my complacency. And it’s a lot more intense today than it was a couple of years ago. Trump is a lot stronger, and Biden is somewhat weaker. Immigration is surging again. White nationalism is resurgent. Inflation still eats away at the ordinary American’s sense of security. The left elites are incorrigible — now targeting children for re-education in the core concepts of critical race, gender and queer theory. Target was selling girls’ swimsuits with a pocket for penis-tucking. Whose brilliant idea was that?
The result is a truly disturbing and metastasizing irrationalism on the right that only seems to get more unbounded over time — an irrationalism that really cannot be represented by anyone but the Great Orange Id of them all. That’s why he’s on the march again. That — and because his strongest issue keeps getting stronger.
The refusal of Democrats to say anything about restricting immigration is definitely hurting them given the data that twice as many Americans want less immigration than want more of it; and we’re all aware that immigrants are supposed to be fleeing persecution but are admitted for any reason, and that seems to be what the Dems want. What we need is bipartisan immigration reform, for and if both parties enact it, neither can really be blamed. Right now, the immigration issue is primarily hurting the Democrats and helping Trump., and Ceiling Cat help us if anything helps him.
*As the saying goes, “hoist with their own petard.” That’s what Brian told me when he sent me this BBC news item about Utah primary schools banning the Bible.
A school district in the US state of Utah has removed the Bible from elementary and middle schools for containing “vulgarity and violence”.
The move follows a complaint from a parent that the King James Bible has material unsuitable for children.
Utah’s Republican government passed a law in 2022 banning “pornographic or indecent” books from schools.
Most of the books that have been banned so far pertain to topics such as sexual orientation and identity.
. . . The Utah decision was made this week by the Davis School District north of Salt Lake City after a complaint filed in December 2022. Officials say they have already removed the seven or eight copies of the Bible they had on their shelves, noting that the text was never part of students’ curriculum.
. . .The committee did not elaborate on its reasoning or which passages contained “vulgarity or violence”.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper, the parent who complained said the King James Bible “has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition”, referring to the 2022 book-ban law.
It was only a matter of time!
*The train is the cheapest way to get around in India, but if you’ve ridden in any class lower than first (and I always travel second class), you can see why 288 people were killed in a three-way rail crash in India last week. The trains are old, overcrowded, (people often stand packed like sardines, or, if there’s room, sit or sleep on the floor), and they’re best avoided if you can find a decent bus. What happened in the state of Odisha is a terrible tragedy:
Rescuers worked with excavators to untangle crushed train cars on Saturday at the scene of India’s worst rail disaster in decades, as relatives of the victims searched for their loved ones at local hospitals and a makeshift mortuary in a nearby school.
At least 288 people were killed and more than 700 others injured in what officials in a preliminary government report described as a “three-way accident” involving two passenger trains and an idled freight train in the eastern state of Odisha. Officials said they were investigating signal failure as a possible cause of the crash.
The toll, exceptionally large even in a nation with a long history of deadly crashes, has renewed longstanding questions about safety problems in a system that transports more than eight billion passengers a year.
At least 17 cars of the two passenger trains had derailed, some so twisted in the subsequent collision that teams of rescue workers with dogs and cutting equipment were still laboring to recover the bodies. Together, the two passenger trains had been carrying at least 2,200 people, according to railway officials.
And, reading through the piece, I found what I suspected:
Survivors at two hospitals in Balasore said that many of the 288 people who died were packed shoulder to shoulder in three “general compartments,” coaches where passengers buy inexpensive tickets to travel without seats allotted to them and find themselves standing.“It was full of people,” said Sayel Ali, who was admitted to a hospital near the site of accident. “You could only see heads. When the accident happened, I couldn’t see anything. I don’t know how I reached the hospital.”
Not only that, but passengers will ride on the top of trains or hold onto the outside or even stand between cars. I once saw a train that was so covered with humans on the outside that it looked like a moving ball of people: the train itself was barely visible.
The suspected cause of the three-train crash was a signal failure.
*Tennessee reently passed America’s first “anti-drag” law, which, according to the AP,
. . . would have banned adult cabaret performances from public property or anywhere minors might be present. Performers who broke the law risked being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a repeat offense.
Just that description makes me worry that this law violates the First Amendment, and, indeed a judge—one appointed by Trump—ruled the law unconstitutional.
Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law designed to place strict limits on drag shows is unconstitutional, a federal judge says.
The law is both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement,” according to the ruling late Friday by U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
“There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is ‘obscene’ in the vernacular, and material that is ‘obscene’ under the law,” Parker said.
“Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,” he said.
. . .[Judge] Parker used the example of a female performer wearing an Elvis Presley costume and mimicking the iconic musician who could be at risk of punishment under the drag law because they would be considered a “male impersonator.”
Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theater company, filed a complaint in March, saying the law would negatively impact them because they produce “drag-centric performances, comedy sketches, and plays” with no age restrictions.
“This win represents a triumph over hate,” the theater company said in a statement Saturday, adding that the ruling affirmed their First Amendment rights as artists.
This one’s headed to the Supreme Court for sure. Although I wouldn’t characterize parents who worry about the effect of “sexually explicit” performances on young kids as riddled by “hate” (a word used too often), I do think the law as written is indeed unconstitutionally vague. We’ll see what the conservative Supreme Court does with it—if it agrees to handle an appeal.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enigmatic again. I asked Malgorzata what Hili meant, and got this reply:
Elephants are always in somebody else’s room, not in ours. I think she meant it as a version of Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. But who knows with Hili?
Hili: An elephant in the room.A: Our room?Hili: No, the neighbour’s.
Hili: Słoń w salonie.Ja: W naszym?Hili: Nie, u sąsiadów.
And a photo of baby Kulka:
A bad spelling mistake from America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:
From Masih. I don’t understand Parsi, but I know that “freedom” is ɑzɑˈd̪i, and that’s what you hear
Crying “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom !” in the eighth month of nationwide protests in Iran.
Many protesters in #Zahedan have come to the streets and are chanting slogans against the government. The revolution of #WomanLifeFreedom continues.#MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/i9jT7sF6G6
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 2, 2023
Matt Walsh doesn’t seem to be an amiable human being, but he’s calm and knows how to ask questions. (He’s also a diehard conservative.) But the 1.25 hour movie in the tweet below, “What is a Woman?” is worth watching. The documentary was originally banned on Twitter as “hate speech,” for Walsh goes around asking various people (including Masai), “What is a woman?” He doesn’t get many answers, mainly because the Leftish people he talks to don’t want to define “woman” in a way that excludes trans women. Many wind up saying that “a woman is anybody who identifies as a woman.” But that kind of definition is recursive, and doesn’t work very well. (Try it with any other noun.)
It’s the movie they really don’t want you to see: #WhatIsAWoman?
Watch the explosive documentary starring @MattWalshBlog FREE on Twitter for 24 hrs. pic.twitter.com/qDi7thCNid
— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) June 2, 2023
From Malcolm, cats being cats:
Cats being…cats pic.twitter.com/t6Vyq38gGh
— Cat (@CatLoverCult) January 12, 2023
An adorable baby seal getting swimming lessons from humans:
baby seal swim training pic.twitter.com/Vh5TdH0WZ0
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) June 3, 2023
From the Auschwitz memorial, a Polish athlete who died of “exhaustion” in the camp:
4 or 5 June 1944 | Bronisław Czech (prisoner no. 349) died of exhaustion in the infirmary at #Auschwitz. One of the most important Polish skiers of the interwar period, 24-time Polish champion, 3-time Olympian, mountain-climber & rescuer, glider pilot https://t.co/JW0KwlQtpa pic.twitter.com/c9fwWamT75
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 4, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. The first one is beautiful:
I had to stop and rub my eyes at this view; it felt as if I’d fallen into a dream. The last golden light drifted down through the trees and this beautiful horse lifted his head to watch me pass. I wouldn't have been wholly shocked if he’d casually spread wings and flown off. pic.twitter.com/nQA1DnFRKN
— peaklass (@peaklass1) June 3, 2023
A not-too-great magic trick:
— NO CONTEXT HUMANS 👤 (@HumansNoContext) June 2, 2023
Cat pwned by a duck:
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) June 2, 2023