Saturday, December 2, 2023

I'm just resting my ey- good morning!

I always love to learn random little facts. I feel like having a large corpus of facts is great. It helps with crosswords, for example. One thing that I think makes you smarter at random facts, the crossword, and at writing, is reading. Today's learning is about chinstrap penguins. As much as I hate to say it, it does come from The Economist. More on why they have been pissing me off later. 

Like ducks, chinstrap penguins can sleep with either their whole brain or with just one hemisphere at a time. (Data from the gps trackers also confirmed that they can sleep in the middle of the ocean.) But whereas ducks, like most animals, sleep in long chunks, the researchers discovered that, on land, the penguins were nodding off for just a handful of seconds at a time, hundreds of times an hour. The average length of a nap was around four seconds; 72% of them lasted fewer than ten seconds.

 This is insane! Chinstrap penguins sleep thousands of times a day, but only sleep for four seconds each time (on average). It is unclear if they do this when they are not nesting. However, this is super cool. Humans do this too, when we are super tired. "Nesting" human parents (i.e. those with babies) definitely empathize. Subhanallah though. The authors of the research point out that this may be due to the environmental risks chinstrap penguins deal with. They can be attacked by predators, or even by their own fellow penguins. So they sleep like this to ensure they can be vigilant at all times.

If penguins are anything like humans, this probably means they hate their lives when they are nesting and are perpetually tired. However, we don't know if these penguins feel rested with their "staccato sleep patterns." Hopefully these penguins do get rest. I would personally feel a little sad if I knew that every single nesting penguin is perpetually tired. 

I hate The Economist a lot. They really grind my gears. However, they do a lot of great analysis, which is unfortunate for me. Anyway, a complete piece of garbage they recently put out was their leader, "What does Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy have to teach the world?" A "leader" is just an opinion piece that The Economist places in the front of the magazine. Usually it seems like they pick topics based on which would annoy me most. 
Mr Kissinger’s many critics hold him responsible for an orgy of killing in Cambodia and Bangladesh in the 1970s, as well as for helping topple elected governments. He retorted that everything had to be subordinate to peace between America and the Soviet Union. The idea that he was acting out of necessity is a sweeping and unknowable claim. However, as the world’s reaction to Israel’s strikes on Gaza shows, his readiness to sacrifice human life in the search for stability would probably be seen as intolerable today.

Yeah, well, guess what, Economist editorial board. It is bad that people died. It is bad the Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy led to the deaths of almost 6 million people. We don't know what the world would look like if Kissinger didn't fly around the world, circumventing democratic procedures, selling weapons to dictators, and approving the murder of millions. We do know what he did. And guess what, when you pile up the bodies, it looks bad, because it is. I plan to write a letter to The  Economist about this disgusting article they published. 

This Rolling Stone obituary was fitting: "Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies." Jamelle Bouie, my favorite NYT Opinion columnist, and perhaps the only one I actually like, wrote this domestic policy angle: "Kissinger’s Dirty Work Abroad Hurt America at Home, Too." From the Financial Times, this piece feigned nuance, but ultimately is an incredibly damning overview: "The many legends of Henry Kissinger." From that piece:

What did Kissinger value? Nobody in today’s America could emulate such a career path. He was an academic prodigy, and an entrepreneurial statesman, who spent the second half of his life monetising his brand. He could have spoken truth to power. He chose to massage both.

Kissinger was undeniably a genius. His 383-page undergraduate honors thesis at Harvard created a (mythological) "Kissinger Rule," which says that theses should remain under 150 pages to pass defense. His ascension from refugee, to academic, to probably the world's most pre-eminent "statesman" is extremely impressive and certainly unreplicable. But what did Kissinger do with it? What did he use the gifts he was given to do? To me, it seems like he used to ingratiate himself and the upper class. Kissinger is meeting his Lord right now.

وَٱلَّذِينَ كَسَبُوا۟ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِ جَزَآءُ سَيِّئَةٍۭ بِمِثْلِهَا وَتَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌۭ ۖ مَّا لَهُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ مِنْ عَاصِمٍۢ ۖ كَأَنَّمَآ أُغْشِيَتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ قِطَعًۭا مِّنَ ٱلَّيْلِ مُظْلِمًا ۚ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ ٢٧

As for those who commit evil, the reward of an evil deed is its equivalent. Humiliation will cover them—with no one to protect them from Allah—as if their faces were covered with patches of the night’s deep darkness. It is they who will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever. (Yunus 10:27)