Welcome to Friday, October 6, 2023, and National Noodle Day. Who doesn’t love noodles? My favorite are Szechuan style cold sesame noodles with peanut sauce (the BEST beginning for a Szechuanese meal):
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 6 Wikipedia page.
*Now this is truly a surprise: all of a sudden Joe Biden has decided to build new barriers along our border with Mexico, and barrier are what he campaigned against as President!
But facing a surge of migrants this year and sharp criticism even from some political allies, the Biden administration has backed away from its hard line on expanding the wall. The administration filed notice on Thursday that it was waiving more than 20 federal laws and regulations, including environmental ones, to build additional barriers along the Southern border.
With the shift, Mr. Biden finds himself helping to build a border wall that was one of the signature objectives of the Trump administration, even as he maintains that such barriers are ineffective in curbing unlawful entry from Mexico.
It is one of the starkest signs yet of the challenges Mr. Biden and his administration are wrestling with, as humanitarian crises across the world drive more migrants to the U.S. border while a deeply divided Congress leaves in place an outdated, dysfunctional immigration system.
News that the wall would be expanded broke as three members of Mr. Biden’s cabinet were traveling to Mexico for meetings with the country’s president on a host of issues, including migration and border security.
. . .One of the officials, Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said that easing the laws was necessary to expedite construction of sections of a border wall in South Texas, where thousands of migrants have been crossing the Rio Grande daily to reach U.S. soil.
“There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States,” said Mr. Mayorkas in a notice published in the Federal Register on Thursday, adding that waiving laws and other requirements was necessary to complete the work more quickly in Starr County, Texas.
Well, I don’t know what to think. The idea of a wall somehow revulses me, though I recognize that there’s a need to curb illegal immigration. But I also recognize that without barriers, people will swarm across the southern borders to an extent that will overwhelm American services. I also don’t like barriers because they kill people. I suppose I wish that a good bipartisan committee from both the House and Senate could iron out these problems, for Biden is just producing an unconsidered kneejerk solution to a problem that’s suddenly plaguing his administration. Can we have humane but regulated immigration without barriers? Beats me.
*The AP has a long article on “the nones,” usually defined as someone with no formal affiliation with a church (“nones” can still be religious, but also include atheists). The article discusses the phenomenon in various regions of the globe, including the U.S., the Middle East, South America, Nigeria, Japan, India, and Italy.
Reader Norman saved me the trouble of reading it all by providing a summary:
Here are nine articles, covering six countries and two regions. Each article is similar in structure in that they focus on various people who have either lost interest in organized religion or never had an interest. Disillusionment because of scandal or cynicism that religion is all about money are fairly common reasons for not belonging. Lots of people (sadly) hold to alternative beliefs, such as astrology.The articles have percentages sprinkled throughout, but I’m disappointed that there wasn’t a consistent methodology used across the countries and regions. I’d say that the piece—which is an entire website headed with links to the eight countries and regions—is more of a human-interest piece than anything else. It is far from a hard-hitting analysis. That said, I find it interesting that the Associated Press has even recognized the phenomenon.It’s interesting that the AP chose Israel for special treatment. The U.N. gives “special“ treatment to Israel, too, for reasons that are less than honorable.Sadly, according the article on the U.S., 79% of Americans believe in God and even the 43% who belong to no organized religion nonetheless believe in God or a higher power.
*There’s been political conflict between Turkey and the U.S., but we are allies in NATO. Now there appears to be just a tad of military conflict as well, as the U.S. appears to have shot down a Turkish military drone:
A U.S. jet fighter shot down a Turkish drone Thursday after it was deemed a threat to U.S. forces in northeast Syria, a person familiar with the episode said.
The episode comes as Turkey has been mounting air attacks against Kurdish militants it blames for a bombing attack in Ankara on Sunday.
There are roughly 900 U.S. troops based in Syria, who have been working with Kurdish-led fighters to battle Islamic State.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said that the drone didn’t belong to the Turkish armed forces.
But one American official described it as an armed Turkish drone and said that the U.S. was aware of that before it acted.
The U.S. aircraft that downed the drone, which was armed with air-to-ground munitions, was an F-16. The action was taken as American troops were conducting operations nearby, a U.S. official said.
. . .While Turkish drones frequently operate in Syria, the downing came after Turkey declared that Kurdish militant facilities in Iraq and Syria were legitimate military targets.
Turkey said that operatives tied to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or the PKK, had traveled from Syria to conduct Sunday’s attack. Since then, Turkey has been conducting cross-border airstrikes and raids in northern Iraq against suspected PKK positions.
. . . “It’s a bold step by the U.S. It’s not every day that the U.S. takes down another NATO member’s drone,” said Charles Lister, director of the Syria counterterrorism programs at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. “This should only be read as an American message to Ankara to quit. But I don’t think the message will be received that way. Turkey sees the PKK as an existential threat, and they will continue to press on this issue.”
The PKK took responsibility for the recent suicide attack on Ankara that wounded two police officers, but the Turkish response has been massive. Yes, the PKK is a terrorist organization in Turkey, and they have the right to go after it. But since the drone may have harmed American troops, we also had the right to take it down. In the end, though I’m no fan of theocratic and despotic Turkish regime, this won’t hurt U.S./Turkish relations.
*In a piece called “An overdue lesson on antiracism,” NYT op-ed columnist Pamela Paul lectures us on the meaning of Ibram Kendi’s downfall. She goes pretty easy on Kendi, I must say and, like McWhorter (see yesterday’s post) tends to blame society, which thrust the man into a position he couldn’t handle. She does criticize his wonky views in How to Be an Antiracist, though, and that’s something for the NYT:
Among the book’s central tenets is that everyone must choose between his approach, which he called “antiracism,” and racism itself. It would no longer be enough for an individual or organization to simply be “not racist,” which Kendi called a “mask for racism” — they must instead be actively “antiracist,” applying a strict lens of racism to their every thought and action, and in fields wholly unrelated to race, in order to escape deliberate or inadvertent racist thinking and behavior. “What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what — not who — we are,” Kendi wrote.
Kendi’s antiracism prescription meant that universities, corporations and nonprofits would need to remove all policies that weren’t overtly antiracist. In the Boston University English department’s playwriting M.F.A. program, for example, reading assignments had to come from “50 percent diverse-identifying and marginalized writers,” and writers of “white or Eurocentric lineage” had to be taught through “an actively antiracist lens.” Antiracism also requires a commitment to other positions, including active opposition to sexism, homophobia, colorism, ethnocentrism, nativism, cultural prejudice and any class biases that supposedly harm Black lives. To deviate from any of this is to be racist. Either you’re with us or you’re against us.
Yet, as the psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt pointed out, Kendi’s dichotomy is “incorrect from a social-science perspective because there are obviously many other remedies,” including ones that address social, economic and cultural disparities through a fairer distribution of resources.
When a Minneapolis police officer murdered Floyd in May 2020, Kendi’s book, with its propitious, here-is-what-you-must-do-now title, became the bible for anyone newly committed to the cause of racial justice. Schools and companies made it required reading. So many campuses made it their class read, all-school read or community read that the publisher created a full set of reading and teaching guides for them. (Employees at the publishing house, Penguin Random House, were told to read it as the first “true companywide read” to begin “antiracism training mandatory for all employees.”) Universities used Kendi’s antiracist framework as the basis by which applicants’ required diversity statements would be judged.
. . .In short, a person can oppose racism on firm ethical or philosophical or pragmatic grounds without embracing Kendi’s conception of antiracism. No organization can expect all employees or students to adhere to a single view on how to combat racism.
. . . In the meantime, the best that could come out of this particular reckoning would be a more nuanced and open-minded conversation around racism and a commitment to more diverse visions of how to address it.
Somehow I think that Paul, who used to have more fire, is being easier on Kendi than she feels. (After all, the man promulgated ideas that were both ridiculous and divisive.) If I were uncharitable, I would have given her column an allitative title: “Pamela Paul Pulls Her Punches.”
Here’s a new 7-minute bit of the discussion between Glenn Loury and John McWhorter on whether one should feel Schadenfreude about Kendi’s downfall. They get into it pretty hard, though of course they don’t raise their voices. McWhorter even accuses Loury of “not applying his full mental capacities to understanding Kendi,” which is kind of like calling Loury stupid. But Loury gets one in at McWhorter by accusing the NYT of corruption, noting that McWhorter, oof course, can’t talk about that. And that’s true.
*The new Nature shows us what Earth’s continents will look like in 250 million years.
Earth is currently thought to be in the middle of a supercontinent cycle1 as its present-day continents drift. The last supercontinent, Pangaea, broke apart about 200 million years ago. The next, dubbed Pangaea Ultima, is expected to form at the equator in about 250 million years, as the Atlantic Ocean shrinks and a merged Afro-Eurasian continent crashes into the Americas.
Just think of all the interchange of flora and fauna that will take place then! But WAIT! That can’t happen because the earth won’t be a viable place for most life at that time:
Up to 92% of Earth could be uninhabitable to mammals in 250 million years, researchers predict. The planet’s landmasses are expected to form a supercontinent, driving volcanism and increases to carbon dioxide levels that will leave most of its land barren.
“It does seem like life is going to have a bit more of a hard time in the future,” says Hannah Davies, a geologist at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. “It’s a bit depressing.”
A bit? It’s not just us who will be gone (though believe me, we’ll take over all the habitable parts of the globe), but nearly all plants and animals, who simply can’t find suitable habitat. Bye, bye, penguins!
Have a look at the temperatures then:
But wait! There’s more:
Modelling the climate of the new supercontinent, described on 25 September in Nature Geoscience Alexander Farnsworth at the University of Bristol, UK, and his colleagues found that much of Pangaea Ultima will experience temperatures of higher than 40 °C, making it uninhabitable to most mammalian life. As they merge together and then drift apart, the continents will drive volcanic activity that “spews huge amounts of CO2 up into the atmosphere”, says Farnsworth, and that will heat up the planet.
Regions in the middle of the supercontinent, far from the oceans, would turn into deserts that are unliveable “expect for very specialized mammals”, says Farnsworth. The lack of moisture would also diminish the amount of silica that is washed into the oceans, which usually removes CO2 from the atmosphere.
In a worst-case scenario, in which CO2 levels reach 1,120 parts per million, more than double current levels, just 8% of the planet’s surface — coastal and polar regions — would be habitable to most mammalian life, compared with about 66% today.
Well, hominins have been here for only about six million years, which is 1/40th of the time we’re talking about, but those poor plants and animals! Oy!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we have a nice photo of Hili pondering:
Hili: I think I should go there.A: Do you see something interesting?Hili: No. I’m consulting my intuition.
Hili: Sądzę, że powinnam tam pójść.Ja: Widzisz coś ciekawego?Hili: Nie, konsultuję się z moją intuicją.
And Leon has returned with a monologue!
Leon: I announce the opening of the pillow-house season (In Polish: “Ogłaszam otwarcie sezonu poduszkowo- domowego.”)
From Merilee, an anxious burgler (cat burglar?)”
From Stephen. This is a real headline; more on an upcoming Caturday:
From a list of “hilarious wedding announcements” I found somewhere on the Internet:
From Masih; another girl beaten nearly to death by the Iranian morality police for wearing a hijab improperly. She may well die—in a manner similar to Mahsa Amini.
My heart is broken. Right on the first anniversary of the murder of #MahsaAmini in the hand of morality police, this horrifying images, emerging of #ArmitaGaravand, the 16 year old girl who is in a coma in Iran after a reported confrontation with the morality police in Tehran.… pic.twitter.com/P14YmA15ZC
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 3, 2023
A long satirical story by Titania (be sure to click “show more”):
For my birthday this year, I answered an advert on Gumtree for a 10-day deluxe Vipassanā retreat.
I called the number and was put through to 'Graham'. I asked where the retreat was based. “Doncaster, near Hull” he told me, and informed me the train tickets were not included, in…
— Jarvis Dupont (@JarvisDupont) October 3, 2023
From Colin. If you click on the picture, you’ll see that the Transgender World Cup Swimming Races were canceled because nobody wanted to compete:
But I was told that trans athletes "just wanted to play!"
No, it was clear all along that this was never about simply being "included" in sports. They want the sports to "affirm" their cross-sex identities. A separate "trans" category doesn't do that.https://t.co/MNYDJuJUdg
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) October 4, 2023
From Simon, who says of the second tweet, “not even pumpkin spiced”:
Oh sweetie, you're corrupt and belong in jail… pic.twitter.com/vQ602L3tby
— photoframd (@photoframd) October 2, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, an escapee who didn’t make it:
5 October 1923 | A Pole, Edward Galiński, was born in Więckowice.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 5, 2023
Tweets from Doctor Cobb. First, the wonders of natural selection, with mimicry involving color, behavior, and position of arms:
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
The mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is known to adopt different poses to mimic several different animals, including lionfish, sea snakes, and flatfish. They can also change colour like other octopuses.#OCTOtober pic.twitter.com/TEZmBoWG0L
— Cephalopods Daily (@CephalopodToday) October 4, 2023
Sound MUST be up!:
In case you're wondering what it's like to weigh a Penguin. pic.twitter.com/Vkm6U8algi
— B&S (@_B___S) October 4, 2023
And receipts are FREE!
When your cat prefers the receipt over the toys you bought.. 😂 pic.twitter.com/z5y8bTUYcW
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) September 29, 2023