It’s positively tropical in Chicago today: Here’s the temperature in Fahrenheit, which is -17° C. With the wind, the temperature equivalent is -24° F, or -31° C. The flight out of Chicago have largely been canceled or delayed, but what do I care? I ain’t going nowhere.
Welcome to a special Christmas Eve
CatSaturday, December 24, 2022: National Eggnog Day. I cannot fathom why anybody drinks this stuff, for I’ve never had one I could stomach. But to each their own. . .
Here’s a guy who drank a GALLON of eggnog. It made him very ill.
It’s also Last-Minute Shopper’s Day (who is the one person implied by the apostrophe?), as well as Christmas Eve and its related observances: Aðfangadagskvöld, the day when the 13th and the last Yule Lad arrives to towns. (Iceland) Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian Americans), Juleaften (Denmark)/Julaften (Norway)/Julafton (Sweden) Nittel Nacht (certain Orthodox Jewish denominations), Nochebuena (Spain and Spanish-speaking countries), the Declaration of Christmas Peace (Old Great Square of Turku, Finland’s official Christmas City), and Wigilia (Poland).
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 24 Wikipedia page.
*The NYT has a quiz on whether which of 26 “problematic” terms you’d use (terms like “master bedroom” or “chestfeeding”). Take the quiz and then scroll down the article to see how you compare with other Americans. It turns out that Americans are far less fascistic about language than I supposed, once again giving us heart that wokeness is not as widespread as we think.
*The House’s January 6 panel just issued its final report, which I can’t be arsed to read, but it pins the lion’s share of the blame on the Orange Man. Just in time, too: another couple of weeks and there would be no committee:
Declaring that the central cause of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was “one man,” the House committee investigating the assault delivered its final report on Thursday, describing in extensive detail how former President Donald J. Trump had carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election” and offering recommendations for steps to assure nothing like it could happen again.
It revealed new evidence about Mr. Trump’s conduct, and recommended that Congress consider whether to bar Mr. Trump and his allies from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists.
“The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report said. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”
The release of the full report was the culmination of the panel’s 18-month inquiry and came three days after the committee voted to formally accuse Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. While the referrals do not compel federal prosecutors to take any action, they sent a powerful signal that a select committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.
The link above will take you to the full report, which is 814 pages long. I wasn’t aware that Congress could in fact bar Trump from another run for the Presidency, but the vote for that won’t go given that the next Congress will have a Republican-majority House, and unless there are Republicans willing to disenfranchise Trump as an insurrectionist, fuggedaboudit.
*The Washington Post has a list of 7 key findings of the report plus one list of issues unresolved. Here are two:
One of the most striking new revelations is a text message from a Trump aide, Robert Gabriel. At 2:49 p.m., as the Capitol was under siege, Gabriel texted, “Potus im sure is loving this.”
The text builds upon previously known evidence.
Shortly after Jan. 6, 2021, and amid Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) relayed that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had said Trump told McCarthy during the riot, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
White House aide Sarah Matthews has said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told her that Trump resisted calling on the rioters to be “peaceful” in a tweet. (In texts from the time and in later testimony to the committee, Trump aide Hope Hicks also said that, before Jan. 6, both she and White House lawyer Eric Herschmann called for Trump to preemptively urge peacefulness, but that Trump “refused.”)
White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has also testified that, amid a frantic effort to get Trump to act, she overheard chief of staff Mark Meadows telling White House counsel Pat Cipollone, “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.”
We’ve known that Trump and his allies pressured lawmakers and officials far and wide to help overturn the election results in key states. But the report lays out the vast scale of this effort.
It says, “President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results.”
What qualifies as “targeting” an official is, of course, subjective. But several officials indicate they felt the pressure.
*But there’s good news today, too! Reader Brian sent me a link to a BBC article that reports a swell advance in genetics that will prevent the deaths of millions of baby roosters: animals usually ground up alive when young because what the industry wants is chickens.
Israeli researchers say they have developed gene-edited hens that lay eggs from which only female chicks hatch.
The breakthrough could prevent the slaughter of billions of male chickens each year, which are culled because they don’t lay eggs.
The female chicks, and the eggs they lay when they mature, have no trace of the original genetic alteration
Animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming, has backed the research.
Dr Yuval Cinnamon from the Volcani institute near Tel Aviv, who is the project’s chief scientist, told BBC News that the development of what he calls the ”Golda hen” will have a huge impact on animal welfare in the poultry industry.
“I am very happy that we have developed a system that I think can truly revolutionise the industry, first of all for the benefit of the chickens but also for all of us, because this is an issue that affects every person on the planet,” he said.
The scientists have gene edited DNA into the Golda hens that can stop the development of any male embryos in eggs that they lay. The DNA is activated when the eggs are exposed to blue light for several hours.
Female chick embryos are unaffected by the blue light and develop normally. The chicks have no additional genetic material inside them nor do the eggs they lay, according to Dr Cinnamon.
The way they do this is clever: since female chickens are ZW and males ZZ (in birds ,the heterogametic sex is female), they gene-edited the Z chromosome in a way that if blue light is shown on the embryo, it aborts. You then cross a ZZ male that has no modified Zs with a WZ* female with the modified Z. The offspring will be either Z*Z males or WZ females. Blue light shined on the eggs kill the males, leaving only the WZ females, which are female and don’t have the genetically modified Z, since they get their Z from the fathers. Ergo, the chickens are not genetically modified so that the pusillanious people afraid of GMO foods can eat the chicken with impunity. And they don’t have to grind up newborn roosters, as they just don’t get born.
*The NYT is still touting religious fiction in its op-ed column, this time a piece called “Why Jesus loved friendship,” by Peter Wehner, a conservative whom Wikipedia describes as “He is a vice president and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a conservative think tank, and a fellow at the Trinity Forum, a nonprofit Christian organization.” Here’s what he tells us, all of course based on what the New Testament says:
The humanity of Jesus manifests itself in his moments of grief, agony, anger, frustration, joy and compassion. But one particular aspect of that humanity that has long intrigued me is his professed friendship with the rest of us.
In the New Testament, this point is made emphatically in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John. The context is Jesus’ discourse with his disciples, in which he tells them that as God the father has loved him, so he loves them. His command to his disciples is that they love one another. Jesus then says this: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you.”
. . .The concept of a vulnerable God, meek and lowly in heart, was almost unfathomable to many at the time, and for many people it still is. But a vulnerable God is an essential part of the Christian story. We see it in Jesus’ life, from his birth in a manger to his weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus to the anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he was betrayed on the night before his crucifixion. Jesus was accompanied by three of his closest friends — Peter, John and James — whom he asked to stay awake and pray with him. (They failed, with Jesus finding them sleeping, “exhausted from sorrow.”)
Renée Notkin, a co-pastor of Union Church in Seattle, in explaining the friendship verses in John, told me that Jesus’ words “Love one another as I have loved you” are essential to understanding what Jesus meant. Among other things, a proper understanding of friendship radically changes our perspective on how we are to live in community.
Of course this is all exegesis of a single book that we know to be wrong, and Wehner has no more evidence for God or a divine Jesus than we do for Bigfoot. But there will never be an end to this kind of Biblical exegesis, and once again we see a guy, purportedly possessed of neurons, spouting complete nonsense because it makes him feel good.
John Swinton, an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland and a professor at the University of Aberdeen, calls this shift from servant to friend a “profound act of renaming.”
*And there’s a new survey of 2,000 Americans (by Motel 6, for crying out loud) whose results are summarized here. It turns out that the idea of a wonderful family holiday reunion isn’t as great as we thought:
A survey of 2,000 Americans who are traveling to visit family for the holidays found respondents can spend an average of three hours and 54 minutes with their family before needing a moment to themselves.
According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents will hit a point where they need time away from the crowd. They can be creative in their ways of escaping — 1 in 4 has hidden in a relative’s house to take a moment alone, while 37 percent have gone so far as to make an excuse and leave the house altogether.
The survey was commissioned by Motel 6 and conducted by OnePoll. It examined the delicate balance between wanting to spend time with family and also needing a bit of space.
The average respondent is staying with family for 3 1/2 days this holiday season –- but the sleeping arrangements might be one reason they’re not staying longer. When hosting family, nearly 40 percent say finding sleeping arrangements is one of the most stressful parts of preparing for guests.
Respondents report an average of two people will end up sleeping on something other than a bed this holiday season.
When staying with family, the top concerns were found to be a lack of privacy (22 percent), family getting on your nerves (20 percent), and drama between family members (20 percent). That’s in addition to feeling like they’re imposing (19 percent) and having the house be too loud or busy (18 percent).
I guess I should be grateful to Ceiling Cat that I’m spending Coynezaa alone (not by choice), but it’s still a bummer.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are squabbling over food again:
Szaron: She is going to eat from my bowl again.A: Usually you are eating from her bowl.Szaron: And so it should be.
Szaron: Znowu będzie jadła z mojej miski.Ja: Zazwyczaj to ty wyjadasz jej jedzenie.Szaron: I tak powinno być.
Here’s a photo of Hili as a baby (she’s now a dowager of ten):
And Christmas wishes from Mietek:
Mietek: Let’s be merry and rejoice!
From The Catspotting Society:
Lagniappe from FB:
A tweet of God on Mastodon:
Masih hasn’t added a new tweet in English, but here’s a substitute:
I will be the political godfather of Reza Norouzi.
He is in prison in Iran and has been transferred to an unknown location, at risk of execution.
He demonstrated for his basic rights and freedom, for “woman, life, freedom”.
Be his voice. pic.twitter.com/Zi5a4gwSDF
— Wim Van der Donckt (@vanderdoncktwim) December 20, 2022
This is the future the atheists want pic.twitter.com/ge3LDAUDW1
— Pastor Alex (@PastorAlexLove) December 22, 2022
From Malcolm: Zelensky at Bahmut:
No high-ranking Russian general dared to enter Donetsk Oblast in months. Shoigu stayed far from the front, and Putin, the bunker king, is nowhere seen near the front, nor at (real) combat troops.
President Zelensky arrived at the most battled city in this whole war. #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/dOdsglIPlo
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) December 20, 2022
Dan Dennett doesn’t tweet much, but here he notes his appearance on the show “Closer to Truth” on “What is Philosophy of Science?” with other philosophers.
Kuhn is a good interviewer, who does his homework and asks excellent questions.https://t.co/MGqFrpkVFh
— Daniel Dennett (@danieldennett) December 16, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man shot after a month in the camp:
24 December 1907 | A Pole, Jerzy Sztylerowicz, was born in Puławy. A clerk.
In #Auschwitz from 25 April 1942.
He was shot in the camp on 27 May 1942. pic.twitter.com/dribtOQS4Z
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 24, 2022
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first is the weather done by a sports reporter:
This is what you get when you ask the sports guy to come in to cover a blizzard in the morning show. pic.twitter.com/h0RL9tVQqg
— Mark Woodley (@MarkWoodleyTV) December 22, 2022
Crikey, didn’t medieval artists ever LOOK at the animals they drew? This bat has 12 hands, when in fact each wing is one hand with five fingers. Oy!
bat, france, 14th century pic.twitter.com/NvCM19MMrM
— weird medieval guys (@WeirdMedieval) December 22, 2022
I wish I had a dollar for every turtle hatching here!
BREAKING: Giant South American river turtles are hatching on the border of Brasil-Bolivia. From massive nesting event in September. Incredible footage from our local partners Ecovale. @wcsbrasil1 pic.twitter.com/mW20LIrido
— WCS (@TheWCS) December 22, 2022