Readers’ wildlife photographs

Time to think about sending me photos again; seven dollops a week really lowers the tank.  And if you’re reader Peter Ayling, please contact me, as I seem to have no copies of the photos you sent.

Today we have some lovely photos from reader Terry Milewski, who has appeared on this site before (see link below, which contains this video).

Retired Canadian journalist here – the one you blogged about a couple years back being snotty with a cabinet minister about Islamophobia. It seems you’re low on wildlife so, if it helps, help yourself to any of mine from our cottage on Lac Barnes in the woods of Val-des-Monts, Quebec.

They’re here and most are captioned with the right names, I think. Too many to e-mail but download at will if any take your fancy. You seem to be, um, OK for ducks but you’ll see a lot of loons, e.g….

(JAC: I’ve made a selection of photos from Terry’s Lac Barnes Wildlife site.)

…although L. Barnes is small and only supports one pair of loons at a time. Any second pair trying to settle in is driven off. See, we don’t take kindly to no strangers in these parts. Even so, only twice in the past seven years have any young loons survived to have their pictures taken.

You’ll see we also have herons, mergansers, sundry other ducks, hummingbirds, snakes and turtles of at least two flavours – Snapping (Chelydra serpentina) and Painted (Chrysemys picta.) Each laid eggs near the water this year. Plus, we have a variety of frogs, some burly beavers and a profusion of interesting insects.


Friday: Hili dialogue

It’s Friday, and the good news is that it’s not Friday the 13th, which we we narrowly missed. It’s Friday, December 14, 2018, with 11 days to go until Coynezaa. It’s National Bouillabaisse Day, but I trust you won’t be eating that stuff as it’s pure cultural appropriation. And it’s World Monkey Day, so celebrate these primate relatives. I have below:

Monkey 1&2:

Monkey 3&4:

On December 14, 1542, after the death of her father James V of Scotland, Princess Mary Stuart became Mary, Queen of Scots at the age of only one week. She reigned until 1567 and then was executed at age 44.

It was on this day in 1900 that quantum mechanics could be said to have begun: Max Planck presented the derivation of his law of black body radiation, to wit:

The central assumption behind his new derivation, presented to the DPG [Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft] on 14 December 1900, was the supposition, now known as the Planck postulate, that electromagnetic energy could be emitted only in quantized form, in other words, the energy could only be a multiple of an elementary unit:

where h is Planck’s constant, also known as Planck’s action quantum (introduced already in 1899), and ν is the frequency of the radiation.

On December 14, 1903, the Wright Brothers made their first attempt to fly the Wright Flyer airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The plane was in the air for 3 seconds but then stalled. The first successful flight, which lasted 12 seconds at about 7 miles per hour, took place three days later, and is regarded as the first powered flight by an airplane. (There were two more short flights that day.) And someone was there to take a picture of the first one!

(From Wikipedia): First flight of the Wright Flyer I, December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip.

On this day in 1911, Roald Amundsen and four of his men, as well as 16 dogs, became the first humans and canids to reach the South Pole. Here’s a photo of four of the humans (someone had to take the picture) looking at the Norwegian flag planted at the Pole. A month later, Scott and his men made it there, but they found that they were too late, and died of cold on the way back.

On this day in 1940, Plutonium (Pu-238) was isolated at Berkeley, California. 18 years later, a Soviet Antarctic Expedition became the first to reach the southern pole of inaccessibility. (That’s the place in Antarctica most distant from the edge of the continent.)  On December 14, 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, that the Commerce clause of the U.S. constitution could be used to enforce desegregation.

Exactly 8 years later, Eugene Cernan, during the Apollo 17 mission, became the last person to walk on the Moon. It’s amazing that we haven’t been back in 46 years! Finally, it was on this day in 2012 that the Sandy Hook (Connecticut) Elementary school shooting took place; 28 people died, including the shooter Adam Lanza (that figure includes his mother, whom he shot before he went to the school).

Notables born on this day include Tycho Brahe (1546), Edward Lawrie Tatum (1909; Nobel Laureate and one of the three profs who interviewed me when I applied to grad school at Rockefeller University), Spike Jones (1911), Raj Kapoor (1924) and Jane Birkin (1946).

Those who bought the farm on December 14 include George Washington (1799), Louis Agassiz (1873), John Harvey Kellogg (1852; yes, the cornflakes inventor), Lupe Vélez (1944), Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1953; please read The Yearling), Dinah Washington (1963), Walter Lippmann (1974), Roger Maris (1985), Andrei Sakharov (1989; Nobel Laureate), Myrna Loy (1993), Ahmet Ertegün (2006), Peter O’Toole (2013), and Bess Myerson (2014; the only Jewish woman to ever become Miss America). The New York Times quoted Susan Dworkin in the paper’s obituary, “In the Jewish community, she was the most famous pretty girl since Queen Esther”. That obituary also says this:

Ms. Myerson won the bathing suit preliminary contest wearing a white number stretched by her sister to fit her frame. She also won the talent event, playing Gershwin’s “Summertime” on the flute and excerpts from Grieg’s Concerto on the piano.

As the crown was set on her head, the announcer shouted, “Beauty with brains, that’s Miss America of 1945!”

Ms. Grant said: “When my mother walked down the runway, the Jews in the audience broke into a cheer. My mother looked out at them and saw them hug each other, and said to herself, ‘This victory is theirs.’ ”

But their pride was soon tempered by her encounters with anti-Semitism. Few sponsors, it turned out, wanted a Jewish Miss America to endorse their products. Certain country clubs and hotels barred her as she toured the country after the pageant. Appearances were canceled.

“I felt so rejected,” Ms. Myerson once said. “Here I was, chosen to represent American womanhood, and then America treated me like this.”

Cutting the tour short, she returned to New York, where she agreed to embark on a six-month lecture tour for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, speaking out against prejudice with a speech titled “You Can’t Be Beautiful and Hate.”

I suppose today those people would say they were “anti-Zionists”!

Here’s a one-minute clip showing Myerson’s crowning. Sadly, she fell on hard times, and in later life wound up being tried for federal crimes (she was acquitted), subject to domestic abuse, and pleading guilty to shoplifting.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is messing with Andrzej

Hili: Did you count these stones?
A: Of course not.
Hili: And you said that you are interested in hard facts.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy policzyłeś te kamienie?
Ja: Oczywiście, że nie.
Hili: A mówiłeś, że interesują cię tylko twarde fakty.

A tweet from Steve Stewart-Williams; very clever!

Tweets from Grania: The first is from comedian (and former President of the British Humanists, now Humanists UK) Shappi Khorsandi. She was almost scammed but made a nice cup of tea.

I heard this Virgin Galactic flight was successful: it went up 50-odd miles, to “the edge of space”, and landed successfully. The view was okay, but it wasn’t like you could see the whole Earth, or even much of its curvature. Now if you want to pay $250,000 for that experience, fine, but I wouldn’t give up that kind of dosh unless I was going to the ISS:

What is that cat doing in the ad?

This is the best thing I’ve seen all day:

Tweets from Matthew. The thread below is hilarious as the Brits respond to the NYT’s request as only they can:

The Guardian summed it up (click on screenshot):

A few more responses from Brits:

And to close, some street art:

More on the bogus distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

The more I think about it, the more I see most “anti-Zionists” as anti-Semites, though they fervently assert that they are not Jew-haters. The fact that they hold Israel to standards that apply to no other countries—indeed, that they don’t even mention with respect to other countries—combined with their adherence to BDS’s “one-state” goal, which will eliminate Israel as the state established by the UN, bespeaks to me something more than just political dissent from the policies of the Israeli government.

To me, the touchstone of whether someone is anti-Semitic with respect to “the problem” can be summed up with one question: “Do you favor a two-state solution, or one state with the ‘right of return’?” I go for the two-state solution, though it looks increasingly untenable for two reasons: neither side now seems to want it nor is moving towards it (though Palestinians historically rejected an Israeli offer of this at least five times), and because the Palestinians largely favor the destruction of Israel, with many also wanting the extirpation of its Jewish citizens.

Yes, Bret Stephens is a conservative (and also a never-Trumper), but I prefer to judge opinions without respect to their source. And this piece from today’s New York Times makes a lot of sense to me, though the Israel-haters will denigrate it.

You may be aware that Hezbollah has been digging tunnels under the Israel/Lebanon border, with the clear aim of invading Israel and killing its inhabitants. Israel is engaged in destroying those tunnels, though a stupidly outraged Lebanon says that they can’t destroy them by going underneath the border into Lebanon. The Palestinians in Gaza, of course, are constantly digging such tunnels as well, often using child labor. Does the Left decry this clear intention to invade Israel and kill its civilians? No, of course not.

And the tunnels are the starting point for Stephens’s column.

While I see a clear distinction between critics of the Israelis government (hell, many of them are Israelis) and anti-Semites, I don’t see such a distinction between “anti-Zionists” and anti-Semites. In fact, I think “anti-Zionist” has become a euphemism for anti-Semite, a name that it’s respectable to bear even though it has darker meanings. Stephens explains why (my emphasis):

All this is to say that Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way than, say, readers of The New York Review of Books [JAC: See this absurd article from the Jew-hating NYRB]: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. It’s somewhat like the difference between discussing the effects of Marxism-Leninism in an undergraduate seminar at Reed College, circa 2018 — and experiencing them at closer range in West Berlin, circa 1961.

Actually, it’s worse than that, since the Soviets merely wanted to dominate or conquer their enemies and seize their property, not wipe them off the map and end their lives. Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state — details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it.

Note the distinction: Anti-Zionists are not advocating the reform of a state, as Japan was reformed after 1945. Nor are they calling for the adjustment of a state’s borders, as Canada’s border with the United States was periodically adjusted in the 19th century. They’re not talking about the birth of a separate state, either, as South Sudan was born out of Sudan in 2011. And they’re certainly not championing the partition of a multiethnic state into ethnically homogenous components, as Yugoslavia was partitioned after 1991.

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell. [JAC: I refuse to believe that Hill was ignorant of the meaning of his words.]

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: To be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

As an addendum: have a look at this totally misleading tweet by the Guardian:

Note the implicit moral equating of dead Palestinians and Israelis in the headline. But the reality is very different (quotes from the Guardian):

The killed Israelis:

A Palestinian has shot dead two Israelis and wounded at least two others at a bus stop in the West Bank, after Israeli forces killed two Palestinians suspected of involvement in earlier attacks.

“A Palestinian opened fire at a bus stop killing 2 Israelis, severely injuring 1 & injuring others at Asaf Junction, north of Jerusalem,” the Israeli military said on Twitter on Thursday. An army spokesperson was unable to confirm reports that the assailant had targeted Israeli soldiers.

The killed Palestinians: both were suspects in terrorist murders whom the IDF was trying to arrest; the Palestinians were both killed after they opened fire on the arresting officers.

Those killings by Israeli forces followed recent attacks that claimed the lives of three Israelis; after one of these attacks, a baby also died in hospital three days later: the infant had been delivered prematurely by caesarean section to a woman wounded in the shooting.

One of the Palestinians was Salah Barghouti, a 29-year-old accused of shooting at Israelis on Sunday at a bus stop near the Ofra settlement. That attack wounded seven people including a woman who was seven months pregnant. [JAC: Note that they don’t mention that he opened fire on those trying to arrest him.]

Doctors performed an emergency caesarean in an attempt to save the unborn child, but he died on Wednesday. His mother remains in hospital in a serious condition.

The other Palestinian killed by Israeli forces overnight had been suspected of shooting two Israelis dead two months ago. Ashraf Naalwa, 23, was killed when forces tried to arrest him near Nablus, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said.

You can read more about this phony moral equivalence here. Here’s Hamas gloating about the wounding of the pregnant woman and the death of her fetus. If you’re supporting the Palestinians, this is the kind of thing you must swallow. And remember, the concept of martyrdom is not a one-off among Palestinians: it’s the warp and weft that binds their attitude towards Israel. If you think a “one state” solution is viable in view of this pervasive attitude, you’re, well, I won’t use bad language.

Canada repeals its blasphemy law

Thanks to several humanist groups, the Canadian blasphemy law, which hasn’t been much used, has just been repealed. As reported by Humanists UK, the bill passed the Canadian Parliament two days ago and now “awaits royal assent”. (Those ties to the UK still irk me. Why the hell does the Queen have to certify this?)


The repeal followed an e-petition by humanist groups across Canada which called for an end to Section 296. The petition gained 7,400 signatures.In response, the Canadian Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, confirmed that repeal of the blasphemy law was being considered as part of a wider package of justice reform, and in 2017 the Government introduced the Bill to repeal the law.

. . . Canada will be the latest country to repeal its blasphemy laws, following France, Malta, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark. Ireland is also set to repeal its law following a referendum on the matter in October. Legislation is also being advanced to repeal blasphemy laws in Spain and New Zealand.

Who says that humanist groups can’t accomplish anything?

Now this law hasn’t been much used, like most blasphemy laws in Western countries; but it’s offensive and potentially dangerous to have offense criminalized, even if only on the books. Here’s Canada’s law that was just repealed (click on screenshot to see it on the site:

Note, though, that this is just “blasphemous libel,” which Wikipedia characterizes for Canada as “the publication of material which exposes the Christian religion to scurrility, vilification, ridicule, and contempt, and the material must have the tendency to shock and outrage the feelings of Christians.” I’m not sure if you can still blaspheme other faiths!

And note that Canada retains numerous hate speech laws, with many of the provinces having one or another version of laws that criminalize publication of material promulgating hatred involving the usual factors. Here, for example, is the one from Manitoba:

Manitoba’s The Human Rights Code allows an adjudicator to order inter alia that a respondent pay damages for injury to dignity, feelings or self-respect in an amount that the adjudicator considers “just and appropriate”, and to pay a penalty or exemplary damages (up to $2000 in the case of an individual respondent; up to $10,000 in any other case) if malice or recklessness is involved. Manitoba’s Code is unique in having an “analogous grounds” provision. Complaints can be based not only on the listed grounds (such as sex, age, national origin, etc.), but also on grounds analogous to the listed ones. For example, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission currently accepts complaints based on gender identity.

These aren’t the same thing as blasphemous libel, so the humanists and free-speech advocates still have a lot of work to do.


h/t: Grania

Titiania McGrath suspended from Twitter, then returns in glory and defiance

You may be aware of Titania McGrath, apparently the reincarnation of Godfrey Elfwick. Both Titania and Godfrey trolled the Authoritarian Left by pretending to be social justice warriors and mocking the extremes of that ideology. In fact, both Titania and Godfrey were so convincing that their tweets were taken seriously by some SJWs, and non-SJW liberals like Sam Harris.

As we know, there’s no distance between reality and satire when you’re dealing with the Authoritarian Left. When they start calling out General Tso’s Chicken (not even a real Chinese dish) for being inappropriately cooked and a case of cultural appropriation, then you know you’ve entered the twilight zone. And so there was a gaping niche that Godfrey and then Titania sought to fill.

After “Godfrey” published a spoof piece in 2016 that fooled the Guardian, and then spewed a bunch of tweets that were considered offensive (as I said, there’s no humor on the Regressive Left), he was finally banned by Twitter last year.

After a period of quiescence, however, an Elfwick clone appeared in the form of the magnificent Titania McGrath (see his/her/their/zir/its Twitter feed).  Here are a few of Titania’s recent tweets:

Titania was notable for his/her/their/zir/its poetry, and produced some magnificent specimens of lyrical and appropriately angry Social Justice Poems. Here’s one:But then Titania was also banned from Twitter. It didn’t last long:

And her reappearance on Twitter was celebrated in the Spectator by none other than. . . Godfrey Elfwick! (Click on screenshot). Clearly, the Spectator is in on the joke.

Now Claire Lehmann, who’s also in on the joke, has enlisted Titania to recount her Twitter Troubles on Quillette. It’s pure McGrath, as you can tell from the title (click on screenshot):

If you’re not familiar with hir, here’s how it begins:

My name is Titania McGrath. I am a radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice, and armed peaceful protest. In April of this year, I decided to become more industrious on social media. I was inspired by other activists who had made use of their online platforms in order to spread their message and explain to people why they are wrong about everything.

This week the powers-that-be at Twitter hit my account with a “permanent suspension” (a semantic contradiction, but then I suppose bigots aren’t known for their grammatical prowess). This was the latest in a series of suspensions, all of which were imposed because I had been too woke. The final straw appeared to be a tweet in which I informed my followers that I would be attending a pro-Brexit march so that I could punch a few UKIP supporters in the name of tolerance.

. . . and the ending:

Unfortunately, those who fight for the progressive cause are continually bombarded by alt-right trolls who like to engage in a form of harassment known as “debate.” Only a few days before my suspension, a misogynist referred to me as “shrill and humourless.”  As I was quick to point out, humour is a patriarchal construct. This is why it has been so gratifying to see the success of our current wave of feminist comedians, those brave women who are subverting the genre by ensuring that it doesn’t make anyone laugh.

Do not pity me. As a woman in a heteronormative patriarchal world I am accustomed to males like Jack Dorsey attempting to keep me silent. In my absence from Twitter, I took the opportunity to spend some time at a resort in Val d’Isère, where I could relax and contemplate my oppression. I even managed to write a book which I have entitled Woke: A Guide to Social Justice. I did want to call it My Struggle, but that title was already taken apparently.

I am a healer, a weaver of dreams. I have been put on this earth to defend minorities and fight for social justice. My work is not about ego. It is so much bigger than me. So please make sure you spread the word about my new book so that as many copies as possible can be sold.

Titania is a breath of fresh air in the toxic atmosphere produced by entitled Leftists.  And now, it seems (and only seems, as this may be another joke), that Ms./Mr./Womnyx McGrath has a book in the offing. He/she/zir/its announces it below, and it’s even listed on Amazon UK, scheduled for release in early March of next year (details, of course, are very scanty). Is it for real? Who knows? But it should be required summer reading for all students who are about to start college.

Readers’ wildlife

Reader Tom Carrolan found snowy owls (Bubo scandiacus)! Some of his pictures of eagles will appear next week.

Up in Northern NY surveying Rough-legged Hawks, but…

[JAC: The first one’s either a female or a youngster, as they are flecked with brown, but males are nearly pure white, and you see one in the second photo]

Tom sent this one a few days ago with the caption “Happy Owlidays”:

Reader Peter Jones sent some black swan photos from Australia:

I am not sure if the black swans in Oz (Cygnus atratususe “counter-current heat exchange” in their feet. But, recently I was over in Victoria and at one of its small port towns, Williamstown, on Port Phillip Bay (almost 35 times the size of the more famous Sydney Harbour). A bit of history, the Confederate raider ship, CSS Shenandoah, docked in Williamstown for repairs on January 25, 1865.
The water is pretty cold and I saw these swans standing, sort of asleep, at the water’s edge. I called over to one to ask if they were indeed benefitting from “counter-current heat exchange”. As you can see, in the second image, it indicated they had evolved an even better idea. They were standing on only one leg and automagically reduced heat loss by 50%! [JAC: I can’t see the legs]

Thursday: Hili Dialogue

Preliminary note for newbies: The cat below is pronounced”Hee-Lee”, with long “e”s, not “Hilly”.

Good morning on Thursday, December 13, 2018, with 12 shopping days left until Coynezaa. It’s National Cocoa Day, but didn’t we have that yesterday? YES! Someone screwed up, so we have to drink cocoa on two straight days. Well, I can think of worse things, like having to read Reza Aslan one day in a row.

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot below to see it) is a series of seven sequential drawings that celebrate the Geminid Meteor Shower that will take place tonight and Friday. Every December Earth is approached by an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, a 3-mile-wide rocky body that leaves a trail of debris. It’s this debris, incinerating as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, that produces the often-spectacular meteor shower.  The best time to see the meteors will be before dawn and after moonset tomorrow—Friday.  (You can see more details about the shower and Doodle here). Maybe some readers can take photos for us.

It’s not much of a day in history. On this day in 1577, the Mallard Captain Sir Francis Drake, on orders from Queen Elizabeth I, set out from Plymouth, England to circumnavigate the Earth. It took three years, and he was the second expedition to succeed—and the first in which the captain survived.  (Do you know the first expedition?) Here’s Drake’s route:

On December 13, 1642, Abel Tasman became the first European to see New Zealand. Then we skip three centuries to December 13, 1943, when the Nazis created the Massacre of Kalavryta by German forces occupying Greece. More than 500 Greeks—all the males in that town—were shot in reprisal for guerrillas killing German soldiers.  On this day in 1949, the Israeli Knesset moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem.

On this day in 1971, “Jane Roe” (real name Norma McCorvey) filed a lawsuit against the Dallas County Attorney, Henry Wade for the right to have an abortion. Texas law at that time allowed abortion only to save the life of the mother, but also winked at women getting abortions after rape or incest. McCorvey came by her fetus the usual way. This, of course, resulted in the case of Roe v Wade, decided in 1973 by a 7-2 vote of the Supreme Court.

Finally, and I remember this, it was on December 13, 2001 that the Indian Parliament building, the Sansad Bhavan, was attacked by terrorists. Fourteen people were killed, including five terrorists, six Delhi police, 2 Parliament security guards, and a gardener.  Since then security at the Sansad Bhavan has increased tremendously, and I couldn’t even approach the building on my last several visits to Delhi.

Notables born on this day include Heinrich Heine (1797), Alvin C. York (1887), Bill Vukovich (1918), Dick Van Dyke (1925; still with us at 93), and Taylor Swift (1989).

Those who expired on December 13 include Donatello (1466), Alexander Selkirk (1721, the model for Robinson Crusoe), Samuel Johnson (1784), Wassily Kandinsky (1944), Grandma Moses (1961), Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1992) and Zal Yanovsky (2002).

Some artwork from those who died on this day:

Donatello (David):

Wassily Kandinsky, one of my favorite painters (“Swinging”):

Grandma Moses (“Christmas”):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej picked up Hili for a cuddle and then took a selfie. (Remember, the cat is “Hee-Lee”

A: Do I disturb you?
Hili: Just a bit.
In Polish:
Ja: Nie przeszkadzam ci?
Hili: Tylko troszkę.

In London, readers Laurie and Gethyn, the staff of the coffee-drinking cat Theo, are worried because he scratched himself furiously until he drew blood. They took him to the vet and provide the narrative below. I’m a fan of Theo, so please spare a thought for him and his staff:

We originally thought he caught fleas at the vet; and before we knew it, he had scratched his head and shoulder until there were open wounds on each.  They proceed with treating him as if for an allergy and gave him  steroids and put him in the collar.  His head is better; but, he was still able to reach his shoulder and injured it more.  That’s why the medical sweater.  The Dermatologist will determine if it’s allergies or something skin-related.  But if there are no answers forthcoming, they will have to admit him for tests.

Poor guy! Look at that get up (admittedly, it’s Christmas-colored):

A photo I found on Facebook:

Science presenter Ziya Tong found this cool demonstration of close-up magic. Be sure to watch the trick:

Tweets from Grania. First, the satirist Titania McGrath comments obliquely about the British-Russian comedian asked to sign a “behavioural agreement” so as not to offend any University of London students:

Oops—wrong green!

What goes around comes around, and Michael Cohen’s going away for three years:

It seems that Artists of Yore couldn’t draw sloths any better than they could draw cats. This thing has a head the size of a ping-pong ball on a body the size of a German Shepherd, and a human face as well:

I’m pretty sure that back in those days they put rocks in the snowballs:

A friendly sea lion. Note that it has external ears so it’s a sea lion rather than a seal. (I remember that because “sea lion” has more letters than “seal”, and has an extra body part, too.)

Tweets from Matthew. The first is real population-genetics history: Motoo Kimura was instrumental in developing and popularizing the “neutral theory” of evolution, positing that many variant alleles did not differ in their contribution to fitness and so were not subject to natural selection. Lewontin, of course, was my advisor, and the two papers at issue (Lewontin & Hubby 1966) were about the large amount of genetic variation at genes that coded for soluble proteins, variation that Kimura undoubtedly wanted to analyze with his neutral theory. Steve Orzack was a friend a fellow grad student at Dick’s lab at Harvard when I was there. (Graham Coop is a population geneticist at UC Davis.)

Predation. The strength of this wasp, when it flies away with its orthopteran at the end, is stunning. Translations of the Japanese welcome.

Another peaceful encounter with orcas. Matthew’s comment:

“Mum and two youngsters – presumably Mum thought the swimmer might be a baby whale in difficulty, hence the non-bitey interest. Many stories of cetaceans saving drowning sailors.”

Science writer Matt Shipman points out the unfair lack of interest in insects of many biology textbooks:


Otter cries for treats

This is the instantiation of “nom nom nom”: a hungry otter getting treats. There is no YouTube information on this, nor do you need any:

My interview for the San Francisco Review of Books

As always, I can’t bear to listen to—or, in this case, read—interviews I’ve given.

This one was given a while back to the editors of the San Francisco Review of Books, and as I talked to them on Skype, it slowly dawned on me that they seemed pretty conservative, and were asking me questions about how well I aligned with conservatism. (It’s easy for a critic of liberal excesses to be seen as a conservative!). I’m not sure this is the case, and I won’t read the interview to find out what happened, but here’s the link (click on screenshot) if you’re interested.

Tablet investigates the Women’s March

I’ve published a fair number of pieces (see here) criticizing the leadership of the Women’s March (WM), including Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez—three of the four co-chairs—for cozying up to Louis Farrakhan, a bigot, a misogynist, a racist, and a homophobe. There have even been accusations, whose truth isn’t yet known, that the WM used Farrakhan’s security, the “Fruit of Islam” as their own security, which would be an unacceptable financial tie that would in part explain the attraction of Mallory et al. to the loony Farrakhan and his obscene views.

But lately there have been an increasing number of dissenters among women, some of whom were big guns in the original Women’s Marches. First, actors Alyssa Milano and then Debra Messing separated themselves from the WM, asking the leaders to decry Farrakhan and stop being anti-Semitic (the article below reports that the leaders are indeed anti-Semites). Then the think tank of Germany’s Social Democratic Party—one of that nation’s two major political parties—rescinded its Humanitarian Award to the Women’s March because of Sarsour’s anti-Semitism.

Now various city-based WM’s that aren’t really under the aegis of the “Women’s March, Inc.” are breaking away, and even suing the main organization for claiming exclusive use of the brand “Women’s March” and preventing others from using it. Teresa Shook, one of the WM’s creators, and Mercy Morganfield, a black woman who was past president of the Washington D.C. Women’s March (she’s also the daughter of Muddy Waters!), have both denounced the four co-presidents of WM Inc. for financial improprieties, anti-Semitism, and bullying.

The Tablet article is very long, and to my mind throws a bit too much mud at the WM in an attempt to show its flaws/ (They cite Anthony Bourdain, for crying out loud!) But the piece does raise a number of disturbing issues about the WM, and it’s very thoroughly researched. If you have any interest in the WM, have a read (click on screenshot):

 A story in The American Conservative characterized the Tablet piece as a “blockbuster about how left-wing Jew-hating crazies infiltrated the leadership cadre of the Women’s March from the beginning.”  That’s a pretty strong accusation, but, if the Tablet report is correct, it’s close to the truth.  Here are some specific issues in the article (indented text are quotes from Tablet):

1.) The antisemitism that persisted among the leaders of the WM. The first quote refers to a 2016 meeting of seven organizers of the WM in New York:

According to several sources, it was there—in the first hours of the first meeting for what would become the Women’s March—that something happened that was so shameful to many of those who witnessed it, they chose to bury it like a family secret. Almost two years would pass before anyone present would speak about it.

It was there that, as the women were opening up about their backgrounds and personal investments in creating a resistance movement to Trump, Perez and Mallory allegedly first asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade. These are canards popularized by The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jewsa book published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam—“the bible of the new anti-Semitism,” according to Henry Louis Gates Jr., who noted in 1992: “Among significant sectors of the black community, this brief has become a credo of a new philosophy of black self-affirmation.”

. . . None of the other women in attendance would speak openly to Tablet about the meeting, but multiple sources with knowledge of what happened confirmed the story.

More anti-Semitism surfaced after the first, and wildly successful, march:

At the end of January, according to multiple sources, there was an official debriefing at Mallory’s apartment. In attendance were Mallory, Evvie Harmon, Breanne Butler, Vanessa Wruble, Cassady Fendlay, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour. They should have been basking in the afterglow of their massive success, but—according to Harmon—the air was thick with conflict. “We sat in that room for hours,” Harmon told Tablet recently. “Tamika told us that the problem was that there were five white women in the room and only three women of color, and that she didn’t trust white women. Especially white women from the South. At that point, I kind of tuned out because I was so used to hearing this type of talk from Tamika. But then I noticed the energy in the room changed. I suddenly realized that Tamika and Carmen were facing Vanessa, who was sitting on a couch, and berating her—but it wasn’t about her being white. It was about her being Jewish. ‘Your people this, your people that.’ I was raised in the South and the language that was used is language that I’m very used to hearing in rural South Carolina. Just instead of against black people, against Jewish people. They even said to her ‘your people hold all the wealth.’ You could hear a pin drop. It was awful.”

There’s more, but read for yourself.

2.) Financial opaqueness of the WM, and failure to release legally open documents to other WM chapters or the press. This is complicated, and I won’t give quotes. It revolves around the lack of clarity of how much the WM organizers are getting paid, its legal status as either a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organization, and the lack of clarity about its entanglement with a sponsoring but much less money-accruing organization, the “Gathering for Justice.”

3.) The use of Farrakhan-sponsored security for the WM. This is unclear but seems likely. Already in 2015 Linda Sarsour emitted this tweet showing the Fruit of Islam (FOI), the “muscle” of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan’s church:

But there are accusations that the FoI is being used now, and about that we have hearsay but no absolute confirmation. If this is the case, it’s a serious conflict of interest for the Women’s March, as they’re using the muscle of an organization that opposes everything the WM is supposed to stand for. Here’s what Tablet says:

It was around this time [March 29, 2018] that Morganfield says she first heard that Nation of Islam members were acting as security detail and drivers for the co-chairs. “Bob [Bland] called me secretly and said, ‘Mercy, they have been in bed with the Nation of Islam since day one: They do all of our security,’” Morganfield told Tablet.

Two other sources, with direct knowledge of the time, also claimed that security and the drivers for the co-chairs were members of the Nation of Islam.


Responding to a query last month from Tablet contributor John-Paul Pagano, the group sent an emailed reply that read, in part: “Women’s March has no financial ties or relationship with the Nation of Islam. … Our senior leadership has been subject to extreme threats of violence. For their safety, we engaged licensed security firms as needed for credible threats. For legal and moral reasons, we do not ask for the religious affiliations of vendors, consultants, or employees at any level.”

Statements by Sarsour tell a different story. In a Facebook post from Sept. 30, 2017, Sarsour writes about an incident in which she was harassed in New York’s Penn Station. “What breaks my heart to pieces is that I don’t even feel safe in my own city,” she laments before offering a word of gratitude to her security detail: “thank you to the brothers who keep me safe so I can continue to do what I do.”

“She needs to be surrounded by FOI!” a Facebook user wrote in the comments under the post.

“I usually am brother,” Sarsour replied.

It’s not just financial entanglement at stake here. It’s about a movement that stands for women’s equality and the rights of minorities using muscle from a racist, homophobic, and misogynistic organization—in other words, arrant hypocrisy. It should be easy to find this out, but nobody has, at least not to my satisfaction.

4.) The seizure of power by the co-Presidents not for social justice, but for their own esteem and personal ambition. Plus the deflecting of criticism of the WM by dismissing female detractors as “white women”. 

When Morganfield tries to sum up how and why it all went wrong, she sees the downfall of the Women’s March in a hunger for fleeting recognition and publicity that eclipsed the movement’s real political power. “The reason I joined the Women’s March is because I believe women could truly be the most powerful voting bloc this country has ever seen,” Morganfield said. “The problem with the Women’s March is that in order to stay in the news, they had to be like ambulance chasers: They chased every issue that could get them media coverage. That’s not strategy; that’s tactics.” Nor is she holding out hope that critical media attention will prove any more beneficial to the co-chairs than the adulation they received early on. “The response that gives them the most sympathy is ‘This is white women trying to come out against women of color,’” said Morganfield. “The context is always, ‘the white media are trying to bring down women of color.’ And in this case, they’ll probably say it’s white Jewish women, which of course discounts the fact that there are black Jews. There’s somewhere close to 300,000 black Jews! What about them? It’s just divisiveness.’”

For her part, Wruble agrees—and has pivoted her energy to a new organization devoted to women’s activism, called March On. “At March On, we approach things from a bottom-up rather than a top-down way. We take the lead from local organizers, and we understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to organizing. Our organizers come from all walks of life and backgrounds. We’re diverse and intersectional in ways that people often don’t think about. Many women in red states, for example, couldn’t follow an organizing playbook crafted out of D.C. or New York City. The red states couldn’t participate, for example, in a general ‘women’s strike’—people would lose their jobs.”

. . . Morganfield doesn’t want to see disillusionment turn into cynicism. She’s hoping that those who felt inspired will continue to do so—and find ways to effect real and lasting female-driven change in American society. “This needs to be a blip in our radar,” she said. “We don’t have to call it the Women’s March. I think we still have an opportunity to pull this together. But it can’t be the Jewish women’s movement or Black womens’ or White womens’ or the Spanish women’s movement. We just need women voting together.”

If you haven’t yet recognized the overweening ambition and self-aggrandizement of Linda Sarsour, then you’ve been blind. The Tablet article makes it clear that Mallory, Perez, and even Bland have been infected by the same love of power and attention. That, plus their cozying up to the Nation of Islam and their palpable anti-Semitism, should do the Women’s March in, or at least mandate new leadership. The question is whether American feminists are “woke” enough to allow good judgement to override an unwarranted admiration for the anti-Semitic women of color chosen to be the faces of the Women’s March.

UPDATE: Reader Kelly, in the comments below, mentions this video from a center-leftist that talks about the Table article. If you don’t want to read it, the post above and this video will get you up to speed, though not full speed:

h/t: Grania