Friday: Hili dialogue

April 2, 2021 • 7:00 am

Welcome to Friday, April 2, 2021, and it’s National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, honoring a sandwich that I eat at least half the days of the year.

As I’ll note shortly, I’ll be at Louis Mueller’s BBQ in Taylor, Texas, at 11 a.m. (opening time) today if any readers in the area want to say hello.

News of the Day:

The junta in Myanmar, having first killed a few hundred people, then tried to silence journalists, telling them not to use words like “coup” or “junta.” The reporters refused. Now the junta, after its coup, is on a full-fledged drive to squelch honest reporting:

Since then, the regime has arrested at least 56 journalists, outlawed online news outlets known for hard-edge reporting and crippled communications by cutting off mobile data service. Three photojournalists have been shot and wounded while taking photographs of the anti-coup demonstrations.

With professional journalists under pressure, many young people who came of age during a decade of social media and information sharing in Myanmar have jumped into the fray, calling themselves citizen journalists and risking their lives to help document the military’s brutality. They take photographs and videos with their phones and share them online when they get access. It is a role so common now they are known simply as “CJs.”

“They are targeting professional journalists so our country needs more CJs,” said Ma Thuzar Myat, one of the citizen journalists. “I know I might get killed at some point for taking a video record of what is happening. But I won’t step back.”

Thuzar Myat is only 21—a young but brave woman, and one who gave her name.

More mishigass about school renamings. According to Chicago’s ABC 7 news station, the Waukegan, Illinois Board of Education is considering renaming two of its middle schools, now named after Daniel Webster and Thomas Jefferson. Both were slaveholders. Instead, they proposed naming the schools after Barack and Michelle Obama. That’s okay, right?

Wrong! Obama is seen as an oppressor of immigrants:

“I will not be part of renaming a school after someone who did not and does not represent the undocumented community,” said District 60 school board member Edgar Castellanos. Castellanos said he came to the United States undocumented as a child.

There are other statements by Waukegan residents, and there was a demonstration by the Latino and Latina community outside the school against using the Obamas’ names.

Biden’s new initiatives, improving infrastructure, forgiving student loan debt, and so on, are going to require tax hikes. So far he’s said these will fall only on corporations and the “rich” (defined as making more than $400,000 per year), but, in a Washington Post op-ed, Catherine Rampell argues that, as in Sweden or Denmark, the middle class, which benefits from these initiatives, should also help fund them:

So while nearly every American would benefit from Biden’s ambitious investments, more than 95 percent of Americans are excluded from helping to foot the bill, according to Tax Policy Center fellow Leonard Burman.

Of course, Biden’s emphasis on corporations and the rich makes sense. Tax increases on these groups are popular (so long as “rich” means “someone making more money than me”). High-income individuals and big companies have also done very well in recent decades relative to the rest of the country — yet have enjoyed extremely generous tax breaks. They should pay more.

But even if these taxpayers pony up, there aren’t enough ultrarich people and megacorporations out there to fund the massive new economic investments and social services Democrats say they want, and claim they plan to actually pay for.

I do sense that a general tax increase is in the offing.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 552,593, an increase of 955 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll stands at 2,842,621, an increase of about 11,900.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s dialogue is enigmatic. Malgorzata explains:

Andrzej suggests that we stop deceiving ourselves. As deceiving oneself is so very, very common, and our brains are susceptible to self-deceit, Hili thinks that stopping it is a novel idea.

A: Let’s not kid ourselves.
Hili: Why not? This is a very novel idea.
In Polish:
Ja: Nie oszukujmy się.
Hili: Dlaczego? To jakaś bardzo nowa idea.

And little Kulka is climbing on the roof beams of the veranda again—exactly as Hili did when she was a kitten:

A meme from Barry:

And one from Nicole. I wonder if Bernie realized what a virus he was creating when he put on that puffy coat and mittens. And how long will we be seeing these memes? Until the younger generation dies out?

From Jean. I believe I’ve posted this before, but it’s duck season and so I’ll post it again:

From Titania: Gu’s post is a stunning example of The Elect’s confirmation bias:

An amazing and heartwarming tweet from Barry:

This thread characterizing birds’ traits based on their nests is fantastic. Here are a few tweets:

The tailorbird nest is astounding:

41 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. “The junta in Myanmar, having first killed a few hundred people, then tried to silence journalists, telling them not to use words like “coup” or “junta.””

    Sort of reminds me of the NYT prohibiting words like “riot” and “looting” and “civil unrest” from their reporting last summer.

  2. I too go through many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches although I do have some standards with this. The peanut butter is Skippy, the jelly Smucker’s, simply fruit, seedless blackberry and a good sourdough bread. Who knew it could get so technical.

    1. That sounds great! Too bad all of those ingredients are off my (low-carb) eating plan! I do miss the carbs; but I resist, I resist. As I say: I save my empty calories for alcohol. Seems like a better rate of return. 🙂

    2. My kid and I like FROG jam (fig, raspberry, orange, ginger). He also likes TOE jam (tangerine, orange, elderberry), but the last jar we bought was a bit too runny for my tastes.

    3. “Simply fruit” is the only type of Smucker’s jam I buy nowadays. The best jam I’ve tasted is made by a farm in the San Francisco bay area called Frog Hollow but it’s too expensive for me to buy regularly.

    1. Presumably they were in the US illegally. So my sympathy is limited. What we should be doing is supporting improvements in the countries of origin, not cutting donations like the UK is.

      1. ‘What we should be doing is supporting improvements in the countries of origin’: absolutely yes. But don’t be surprised – much of the Hispanic community remembers Obama negatively. Deportations scare entire neighborhoods, legal residents and citizens get detained. A politician deporting people, playing with peoples’ lives, to gain some advantage against the other party. Yes, other presidents before and after him did this. But he turned up the volume. And the U.S.A. exported gangs to central America.

        1. Our War on Drugs is behind all that – we’ve wrecked many countries with that disaster. The rise of gangs (started in prisons with the WoD in the 70s and 80s, exacerbated by deportations in the 90s+) totally included in that toll.

          And if BLM really cared about racial justice they wouldn’t be “carrying pictures of Chairman Mao”, they’d be protesting the WoD and working on votes for the non-racist, less-prohibitionist party.

          D.A., J.D. (fmr criminal defense atty – drug court, Queens & Manhattan)

      2. I’m British and you’re absolutely right. These people are willing to spend weeks in a shipping container, walk for hundreds of miles or cross the open ocean in a rubber dinghy. It should be obvious that nothing we can do to them is worse than what they are fleeing from.

      3. Yes yes yes! There is a notion of “assumption of risk” that comes with illegal entry.

        As a legal immigrant and now citizen I get a bit steamed at The Wokerati making it look like illegal immigrants were just pulled off the American streets for doing nothing wrong (dreamers excepted).
        And yes, also, the solution is “at source” – like ending our War on Drugs which has contributed greatly to wrecking the countries they come from.


  3. Catherine Rampell argues that, as in Sweden or Denmark, the middle class, which benefits from these initiatives, should also help fund them

    No argument with that in principle, but I think the counter-argument against a general tax hike in this particular case would be: it’s ahistorical and ignores the fact that the wealthy have been given numerous past tax breaks which the middle class hasn’t got. Or put another way, the middle class is already pulling more than their weight on past, present, and future benefits, while the rich are pulling less than their weight, so it makes sense in this time and place to adjust taxes on the wealthy.

    1. I would agree with your comment. At some point we all will need to pay more for benefits we get. I wonder how he came up with the $400,000 as the bottom of the taxation plan. I think the salary of the president just might be $400,000. However, based on Biden’s tax records he makes much more than that. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that $400,000 per year is not exactly middle class. If it is I am much poorer than I thought. And is that gross income or taxable? Can make a hell of a difference.

      1. AIUI, they’re talking $400k gross, and no that’s not intended to imply middle class but rather wealthy. “Will only increase taxes on those making $400k or more” is part of this administration’s “will not increase middle class taxes” spiel. From a brief googling, what I could find says that about the top 3% of USAians make over 250k/yr. The middle of the income distribution in the US is around $50-60k.

        1. Just another note on our terrible tax system. They operate under the idea that middle class or poorer people do not give much of anything to charities. This must be so because they give them no way to deduct it from taxes. So only the rich get the advantage of deducting charities via the Schedule A. Those who do not reach schedule A, sorry about that.

          1. That’s a reflection of Trump’s increase in the standard deduction (which I approve of). You can always itemize and deduct your charitable giving; it’s just not worth doing any more for most people.

      2. $400K/year clearly puts you in the top 5% in the USA.
        But everyone thinks they are middle class.

        And where you live makes a huge difference. A middle-class income in Vinita, OK won’t get you very far in San Francisco or NYC.

        1. Yeah I was going to add a line or two about location. For sure, the $50-60k average won’t let a school teacher, policeman, or the like live where they work, if where they work is S.F., Manattan, or the like. There’s a number of places in the U.S. where 50k barely covers your rent and where you’d be laughed out of the bank if you tried to get a mortgage.

  4. Instead, they proposed naming the schools after Barack and Michelle Obama. That’s okay, right?
    Wrong! Obama is seen as an oppressor of immigrants:

    Not as well-known as Heinlein’s TANSTAFFL (“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”), this time I think Niven’s TANJ (There Ain;t No Justice”) fits.

    Both lines come from the 1960s, time of boundless optimism and good weather – at least in people’s memories.

  5. And how long will we be seeing these memes? Until the younger generation dies out?

    Until several years after people have forgotten the original source. Sources.
    Bernie without Schnorbitz? What is the world coming to?

  6. I first heard the line about Jesus giving up his weekend from Julia Sweeney of Saturday Night Live fame. Just to give credit where it’s due,

  7. For bird nest enthusiasts, I would recommend the lovely episode of the nature documentary Animal Homes: Nests. Nests are simply amazing.

  8. I’d be really surprised if Daniel Webster owned slaves. He was a 19th century Massachusetts Whig who opposed slavery, but tried to conciliate the South, especially during the Mexican American War. (He opposed most of the Mexican cession.) He died before the Civil War, so there’s no way to be sure how secession would have changed his views on conciliation.


    1. No mention of Webster holding slaves in the Wiki. Not that it’s authoritative; but indicative.

      They probably hate him for trying to compromise with the southerners and being part of the 1850 compromise measure (including the stronger Fugitive Slave Act).

  9. Yay, another PBJ sandwich fan!

    I don’t eat nearly as many as Jerry, but they never fail to excite me as they are so damned good.
    One of nature’s Perfect Foods.

    My son has a peanut allergy so we’ve stuck with SunButter for many years – made from roasted sunseeds. Thank goodness this doesn’t actually taste like a pale imitation of peanut butter, but is actually a fantastically satisfying item itself. I’ve even used it to make PBJ filled chocolate “peanut butter cups.”

    But my son was away for several months so I switched in “real” peanut butter, in this case Kraft and Jiffy, childhood favorites. I did try some “peanuts only” healthier peanut butters but, sorry, they just don’t do it for me. It’s a child-hood comfort food thing.

    My only issue is that when a nut-butter is in the house I find reasons to put it on everything and it’s addictive, so if I have to lose any weight it’s one of the things that I stop shopping for. But, fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often and I enjoy lots of the stuff.

  10. Get the US the same Gini coefficient as Sweden or Denmark, and I will jump at the opportunity to help pay for this program. (Actually, I would anyway, but I can understand how left wing politicians aren’t particularly eager about broadening the tax base without doing anything about income.)

  11. Is jelly the same thing as we Brits would call jam? If so, PB&J sounds utterly revolting to me. It’s my opinion that bread should never be in the vicinity of sweet things.

    1. Bread has no boss and will never be stopped. it can withstand the vicinity of sweet, savory, bitter and even vile. Try stopping it and you will have wasted your life. Bread and sweet is as natural as bread and bitter. This is an unwritten law of bread food. The bible is stupid, but it got the bread part right.

    2. Growing up in Australia PB&J (yes, “jam”) was something they ate on Sesame St and Americans ate.

      We always had trusty Vegemite.
      If you’re ever bored — try feeding Vegemite to an American and see what happens…

  12. Maybe the latest school renaming controversy will convince the authorities to let those schools keep their names. The schools could even justify the decision as a teachable moment.

  13. Ah HA!! I predicted the tweet to which Titania reacts….and IIRC, I was smacked down for it!

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