Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

August 16, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the start of a new week: Monday, August 16, 2021: National Rum Day. This is of course cultural appreciation, as fermented sugarcane drink is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts, and the beverage appeared in its modern form in the Caribbean in the 18th century. It’s also National Bratwurst Day, Cupcake Day (in Australia), where the proceeds from cupcake sales go to the RSPCA (Kiwis: is this the case?), National Roller Coaster Day, True Love Forever Day, National Airborne Day, and, in Palaua-de-Cerdagne, France, it’s a special holiday celebrating hot chocolate, Xicolatada.

News of the Day:

By the time you read this, Kabul will be almost entirely in the hands of the Taliban, and Americans will be fleeing home. I hope the Afghans who endangered themselves by helping U.S. forces can also get out, but it will be a precipitious exit. And now the inevitable darkness of Islamic theocracy descends on a country of good people.

I just read the updated NYT article. It’s even worse than before: two people have been killed at the airport, there is total chaos, and there’s this note:

Residents of Kabul began tearing down advertisements that showed women without head scarves for fear of upsetting the Taliban, whose ideology excludes women from much of public life.

Here’s Saigon West:

A NYT “guest essay” by Frederick Kagan asserts in the title, “Biden could have stopped the Taliban. He chose not to.” How could he have stopped them. By withdrawing troops during the slack season as well as maintaining a more continuous U.S. presence there in regional counterterrorism bases:

As U.S. military planners well know, the Afghan war has a seasonal pattern. The Taliban leadership retreats to bases, largely in Pakistan, every winter and then launches the group’s fighting season campaign in the spring, moving into high gear in the summer after the poppy harvest. At the very least, the United States should have continued to support the Afghans through this period to help them blunt the Taliban’s latest offensive and buy time to plan for a future devoid of American military assistance.

And we should have worried about the “optics”:

Sending additional troops into Afghanistan could have allowed the United States to carry out the withdrawal safely without severely disrupting military support.

No, none of this would have worked, for the Afghan army simply didn’t have a jones to destroy the Taliban. We would have been propping up the regime and the military forever.

Reader Scott sent me a link to an article, adding, “unfortunately, the article is from FOX but is accurately reporting on the nonsense.” What’s the nonsense? It this article:

I don’t quite get it. If you feed your infant via lactation, you are doing so through your breasts, whether you be a cis-woman or a transman. Why change the language? Likewise, what’s wrong with “breast milk”?

Vaccination or termination? As the Washington Post reports, a number of nurses and other staff at Winchester Valley Medical Center in Winchester, Virginia, have quit their jobs rather than obey their employer’s mandate that they get the coronavirus vaccination. Here’s a picture of some of the unemployed chowderheads.

And a quote:

“We are not ‘anti-vax,’ ” said Brittany Watson, a behavioral health nurse at the Winchester hospital, who started a group called the Valley Health Workers Association to rally others opposed to the vaccine mandate. “We’ve done all the vaccines that you get when you grow up — but those have been around for decades. But this one, there’s so much propaganda around it. It doesn’t make any sense.”


I enjoyed this NYT article on woolly mammoth tusks. (The species went extinct about 10,000 years ago, roughly when “civilization” began.) Though the substantive information the article reports is thin, the methodology was fascinating. Mammoth tusks have daily rings, and you can tell what a mammoth was eating by doing isotope analysis of shavings from the tusks. (The mammoth must be found where it actually lived.) What they discovered is that the mammoth, named Kik, ate grass (surprise!), but ate less as it got older, so it may have starved to death, perhaps because of tge unavailability of forage. Kik died at 28, characterized as “middle age for a mammoth”, and appeared to migrate seasonally, though how they deduced that isn’t told.

This is not really funny, and could have been worse, but yet is a new argument against having guns (click on screenshot from the AP site):

The skinny:

A Wisconsin woman accidentally shot a friend while using the laser sight on a handgun to play with a cat, authorities said.

A criminal complaint charging the 19-year-old woman with negligent use of a weapon said she was visiting a Kenosha apartment on Tuesday afternoon where a 21-year-old man had brought a handgun.

The woman, who a witness said had been drinking, picked up the handgun, “turned on the laser sight and was pointing it at the floor to get the cat to chase it,” when the gun went off, the complaint filed Thursday said.

The man, who was standing in a doorway, was shot in the thigh, authorities said. He left and went into another apartment, where police found him after responding to a 911 call, the Kenosha News reported.

Do not try this at home. You could also shoot the cat!

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 621,228, an increase of 662 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,375,870, an increase of about 9,300 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on August 16 includes:

  • 1792 – Maximilien de Robespierre presents the petition of the Commune of Paris to the Legislative Assembly, which demanded the formation of a revolutionary tribunal.
  • 1858 – U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurates the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. However, a weak signal forces a shutdown of the service in a few weeks.
  • 1896 – Skookum Jim MasonGeorge Carmack and Dawson Charlie discover gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.

Here’s a famous picture from the Gold Rush, “Klondikers carrying supplies ascending the Chilkoot Pass, 1898.”

The 50th anniversary stamp, which is a nice one. Postage has increased elevenfold in the U.S. since 1966.

  • 1920 – The congress of the Communist Party of Bukhara opens. The congress would call for armed revolution.
  • 1927 – The Dole Air Race begins from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, during which six out of the eight participating planes crash or disappear.

Here are the planes waiting to take off. Only two made it to Hawaii; as Wikipedia notes, ” In all, before, during, and after the race, ten lives were lost and six airplanes were lost or damaged beyond repair.”

A diagram of the disasters:

And here it is! (The frog sounds like a duck.)

Here it is, and not a swimsuit in sight:

The walk-off (it lasted 7 years) was not just a strike, but a general protest against oppression and confiscation of lands of the indigenous people. Here’s the song, “From Little Things Big Things Grow“:

  • 2020 – The enormous August Complex fire in California is reported on this day. It burned more than one million acres of land.

Well, now we have the Dixie Fire, whose name is offensive and should be changed to “Big Fire.”

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1815 – John Bosco, Italian priest and educator (d. 1888)
  • 1862 – Amos Alonzo Stagg, American baseball player and coach (d. 1965)

Stagg coached for forty years at the University of Chicago (1892-1932), with two undefeated seasons, and our football field used to be named after him. Here he is in 1899:

  • 1888 – T. E. Lawrence, British colonel, diplomat, writer and archaeologist (d. 1935)

Here’s Lawrence with his allies, labeled “T.E. Lawrence (right) at Akaba with Damascene Nesib el Bekri (center), who was part of the original band that set forth to capture the strategic port.”

  • 1913 – Menachem Begin, Belarusian-Israeli politician, Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1992)
  • 1920 – Charles Bukowski, German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer (d. 1994)’

I think of Bukowski as a low-rent Hunter Thompson, but you have to hand it to him: he loved cats and even wrote a book about them, which I have and like. As for his other writing, I don’t care for it.

  • 1929 – Bill Evans, American pianist and composer (d. 1980)

Those whose life drew to an end  on August 16 include:

  • 1678 – Andrew Marvell, English poet and author (b. 1621)

Here’s Marvell’s best poem.

  • 1705 – Jacob Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician and theorist (b. 1654)
  • 1938 – Robert Johnson, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1911)
  • 1948 – Babe Ruth, American baseball player and coach (b. 1895)

The Bambino was always a natty dresser. Here he is with his daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens

Photo: New York Times
  • 1977 – Elvis Presley, American singer, guitarist, and actor (b. 1935)
  • 2002 – Abu Nidal, Palestinian terrorist leader (b. 1937)

Nidal, whose real name was Sabri Khalil al-Banna, was involved in all manner of odious terrorist plots. The founder of Fatah, his organizations were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. Here’s a rare photo of the man, who either committed suicide or was shot by Saddam Hussein’s minions in 2002.

  • 2003 – Idi Amin, Ugandan field marshal and politician, 3rd President of Uganda (b. 1928)

Another bad guy, Amin was a horrible despot and a murderer, responsible for the death of roughly half a million people. He died in Saudi Arabia, where he’d fled. Here’s a brief video about his history:

  • 2019 – Peter Fonda, American actor, director, and screenwriter. (b. 1940)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili’s being a watchcat:

A: What are you doing here?
Hili: I’m guarding the house.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz?
Hili: Pilnuję domu.

And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon is up to no good. (Malgorzata explains that “Polish words imply that Leon is not just thinking what to do next but what mischief to do next. I had no idea how to say it in English.”)

Leon: What to do?
In Polish: Co by tu zrobic?

And here is baby Kulka. Do you think she and Hili share genes?

From Stash Krod, a bad screwup in signage:

From Facebook via reader Lenora:

From Andrzej. The answers were already given!

From Masih. These women won’t be banned only from singing, but going to school and going without head coverings. That will start immediately. It’s all over for the women of Afghanistan—in fact, it’s all over for everyone who doesn’t want to be controlled by a medieval theocracy.

The Prez makes an overly optimistic assessment of Afghanistan:

From Barry, who was astounded that these creatures even exist (he should see a fennec!). The link takes you to the Wikipedia article on Otocyon megalotis), a denizen of the savannas in eastern and southern Africa.

From Ginger K. I wonder if people really did go to jail.

Is this goat incapacitated, or just weird? I suspect the latter. Translation from the Japanese: “Sometimes I forget to be a goat, probably because of my age.”

Seen from the Strip. But few must have seen it anyway, as they were all inside gambling (this was 1957):

Matthew’s a bit puzzled by this, since, he says, dogs greet each other by sniffing bums but don’t have a “goodbye” ceremony. But chimps and bonobos live in small groups, and so could reinforce solidarity and harmony by saying goodbye as well as hello.

Man, some kids have weird nightmares. My photo would be of a student on the way to a final exam but unable to find the room.

49 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. “…our football field used to be named after him.” Until they tore it down, and built a library! 😉

    1. “Themistocles, Thucydides,
      The Peloponnesian War,
      X squared, Y squared,
      Who for? What for?
      Who we gonna yell for?
      GO, MAROONS!”

  2. … Kabul will be almost entirely in the hands of the Taliban, and Americans will be fleeing home. I hope the Afghans who endangered themselves by helping U.S. forces can also get out, but it will be a precipitious exit.

    The question now is whether the end game will be more Saigon ’75 or Dien Bien Phu ’54. The evacuation of the remaining American troops and embassy workers, as well as all the Afghans who’ve put their lives at risk by working with them, will be at the sufferance of the Taliban, which has gained control of the mountains surrounding the Kabul airport and the airspace above it.

    Turns out the collapse of the Afghan armed forces over the past weeks makes ARVN seem like Patton’s Third Army heading to Bastogne by comparison.

    1. I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if the Taliban simply murdered most of the population of the city using the logic that anyone living there counts as a de facto collaborator.

    2. I hope we’d just let Afghans in danger go, without endless bureaucracy. Just put ’em on a plane and go. Those would be the translators, etc. But I don’t think that has happened for a heck of a lot of them, so they are pretty much doomed.

      1. Twitter was talking about those willing to take them the women/girls in. I am one of them. I certainly have the space. Have not found the organization yet that’s taken on the task to organize for those who may they be able to escape, I couldn’t help in any of our last wars, this one I can.

      1. And a generation of recruits who almost all certainly have lost a person close to them to an American gun or drone.

  3. It is not clear what the hand wringing is on Afghanistan. We go into a place in which we have no national interest to implement a theory that we can bring liberal democracy to the ME at gun point. We stay 20 years and blow 2 trillion dollars and how many lives and discover that trying to bring liberal democracy at gun point in the ME doesn’t work. Handwriting has been on the wall for over a decade. Now, since we still have no national interest and our theory is demonstrably wrong, we can’t pull out because we will lose “credibility”. I guess China and Russia forgot all about that Vietnam business. War is about destroying the enemies willingness to fight. The Taliban are fighting for their own country and they are religious fanatics to boot. What is our story: OMG Raytheon is going to have a bad couple of quarterly earnings reports and they may trim their dividend?

    1. It worked in Japan. The difference is a couple hundred thousand soldiers and telling our enemies we plan to leave when we can, vs. dropping in almost a million soldiers and telling our enemies we’re going to set up a permanent military presence to stop any backsliding. Plus the Afghan economy is much more illegal-drug based; we would’ve had to do much more in terms of rebuilding their economy than we did in Japan, because we never got the rural Afghan areas to the point where growing poppies for fundamentalist drug lords *wasn’t* a better economic choice than the alternatives.

      1. In Japan, you had a state that from the 1860’s or so was devoted to rapidly industrializing and borrowing from anyone they could find to modernize the country. You had eighty years of modernization, industrialization, as well as effective government agencies and societal institutions. What happened in Japan was an American face lift on Japanese institutions (you ended up with one party rule for how many decades post “democracy”?)

        Afghanistan is basically in the Middle Ages still. Even Iraq, where there was a better shot, they never brought in enough troops in the first instance to maintain order, so you had massive looting and it undid 50 years in 6 months. Plus, they made the Ba’athists out to be the bad guys (instead of Hussein) so your competent administrators were unemployed, and your Shi’ite and ethnic extremists with no administrative knowledge or experience were placed in charge after the looting. Brilliant! At least, I’m sure that was how it was viewed in the eyes of Iranians.

        1. I agree. In addition to that, you have Pakistan which has been pretty friendly to the talibani and other islamists, allowing them to retreat to safety and then come back almost at will, with no loss of culture or reason to change. Moreover it’s very likely they were getting funded to resist, by Pakistanis, by maybe Iran, maybe others. In Japan, Imperial holdouts would’ve had nothing like that (some Japanese fled to Peru in fear that the US would kill them, but that’s not exactly a convenient location to mount a counter-attack from).

          So the Afghani case is much harder for a lot of reasons. But my point was we can bring democracy by force…it just takes a lot more resources and time than we were willing to put into Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan case would’ve probably taken more time and resources than even what we put into Japan.

      2. It is hard to find two more wildly divergent countries by any metric than Afghanistan and Japan.

        First – and perhaps foremost – Japan is not in in the thrall of a 1300 year old toxic monotheism glorifying all but koranic ignorance and dogma.
        Japan is/was also an educated, unified state of 2,000+ years old standing, not an artificial country of mountain people who have been throwing rocks into the next valley and blood feuding forever.
        Any comparison is impossible.

        NYC (formerly of Tokyo, never of Kabul)

    2. I was trying to think of a big difference between this war and Vietnam and there is not much. One would be, if you are old enough to remember, a very big dislike for the war in Vietnam. Especially after it dragged on and more and more were killed. By 1967, even earlier the demonstrations were very large. And it kept growing. Nothing like that for Afghanistan. You could hardly get the college kids to put down their phone for 5 minutes to think about it. Actually very few people gave a damn. So why the big difference on this? I can think of one word. The draft.

      1. The ends of both wars are eerily similar — the collapse of the central government that was corrupt; the seemingly instant dissolution of the national army; the betrayal of those that risked their lives to help us; trillions in today’s dollars wasted.

        “When will they ever learn?”

        1. I think we had well over half a million in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. It is just that count includes 4 or 5 times for one soldier in many cases.

          Having no skin in the game is the thing. The American people could care less what their government does with the money or their soldiers. If numbers dead was the thing they should have been protesting like hell throughout the civil war. Many people have no idea what day killed the most Americans. Some think Peril Harbor, some think 9/11. Not so – it was one day in the civil war.

    3. If you want to defeat your enemy, you can either destroy their means of making war, or you can destroy their will to make war. Everybody knows that doing the latter is easy with the USA: just send a few of their soldiers home in body bags.

      Incidentally, this is not a new idea. The Japanese in 1941 thought that, if they could spin out a war long enough, the Americans would eventually give up and negotiate a peace that would allow them to keep a lot of their conquests. Unfortunately, they made the mistake of attacking Pearl Harbor which was probably one of the few things they could have done to ensure the American will stayed strong enough to defeat them.

      1. Don’t think the number of casualties has much to do with it. During Vietnam the U.S. army was all about body count. Because they had no strategy the daily body count became the thing. The will to continue the circus was to refuse to face up to the stupidity of the war in the first place. Vietnam was exactly like we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. We had a fake beginning in Vietnam (Gulf of Tonkin). In Afghanistan we pretended it was a continued war on Terrorism, also a fake reason with no meaning or justification. To think WWII was fought in any comparison to these modern conflicts is just mistaken. The Japanese thought we had started the war by cutting off their oil in the far east. That was their reason for Pearl Harbor.

        1. I disagree with your comment about a ‘fake beginning.’ The real beginning was pretty clear-cut: the Taliban hosted OBL and al-Qaeda, let them set up their training camps, etc. We went into Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda, destroy the training camps, and make the point that we won’t allow any nation to harbor such non-governmental hostiles; won’t let any nation function as a base for international terrorism (…aimed at us). To say: governments who nevertheless do this will be held responsible for what such terrorists do.

          That all fits under ‘just war’ for me. But did destroying al-Qaeda require a 20-year nation-building effort? And did it justify going into Iraq? No, probably not to both.

  4. As far as chestfeeding goes, it really makes no sense except for activists’ assertion over the language that describes a woman’s function. Men have breasts whether we lactate or not. We have nipples. But because breasts are more commonly associated with women, their role must be erased.

    It’s misogyny. And maddening that they keep on winning, and that people are so willing to cede the language that is clearly understood.

    1. “Chest” is a fairly random way to describe a specific area with a specific function. Where do the woke think the milk will come from? Just anywhere? A new meaning perhaps to “Doc! I’m having chest pains!”

  5. The walk-off (it lasted 7 years) was not just a strike, but a general protest against oppression and confiscation of lands of the indigenous people. Here’s the song, “From Little Things Big Things Grow“ …

    The melody of “From Little things Big Things Grow” sounds a bit like “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” which Dylan in turn borrowed from a 16th century Scottish balled “Mary Hamilton” (recorded in 1960 by Joan Baez).

  6. I can’t even estimate the number of times I’ve quoted or paraphrased the opening line of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” The poem is very similar in character to Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young”. And I’ve always suspected that Pink Floyd were giving a nod to the last 2 lines of the poem in the opening of the second verse of “Time.” I may be reading too much into it, but anyway, I love that poem.

  7. Not sure how a University of Chicago professor can refer to Amos Alonso Stagg as a baseball player and coach. I guess we can refer to Jerry Coyne as a blogger.

    1. Although Stagg was more famous as a football coach, he was the head baseball coach at UC for two decades (and the head basketball coach for one).

        1. yes, well he coached football from 1890 to 1958. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in its inaugural class. I don’t think there is any comparison, even if he did invent the batting cage. They did not name the baseball field for him.

    2. I didn’t refer to Stagg as a baseball player and coach; I reproduced Wikipedia’s characterization.

      Are you deliberately trying to piss me off, or are you just clueless? A lot of your comments like this, I see, should be directed at Wikipedia, not me. So knock it off, capiche?

  8. We still have troops in South Korea, Japan, Colombia, Turkey, Italy, Bahrain and many other countries. We had fewer casualties in Afghanistan in the last year than in training accidents at Camp Pendleton. So we could have stayed longer, and we certainly could have NOT announced a terminal date of abandonment. Who negotiates that way? “If you do not agree with us we will just walk away and abandon our allies.”

    1. This is like the argument by Bret Stephens in the NYT this morning. I disagree with a lot what he writes, but his argument about staying in Afghanistan to provide surveillance & air support at low cost and with few casualties is convincing. He also points out that Afghanistan can now aspire to destabilize Pakistan (rather than the other way around for the last 20 years) and acquire its nukes. IDK anything about that prospect – t sounds like a good reason to have stayed. Plus the misogyny and murder.

      1. Surveillance? Don’t we have spy satellites for that? Further, the US was providing air support when the Taliban over-ran the Afghanis:

        Yes, we could have stayed there forever, but we left because it was expensive and there was no point in being in Afghanistan. (You can make a better case for why we should have stayed in Vietnam.) Further, if misogyny and murder bothered our foreign policy establishment, we wouldn’t be in bed with the House of Saud. How are things going in Yemen by the way?

      2. It’s possible but I think unlikely. While the official federal Pakistan line was to support the U.S., local ‘on the ground’ Pakistan regularly provided aid and support to Islamists. I expect the Taliban will see them more as allies than targets.

      3. I doubt the Taliban will get anywhere near Pak’s nukes. From what I understand possession and use of nukes – their command and control mechanisms both human and tech – is an extremely complicated business. Further, if extremists there were to be able to get at the atomic toys they would have already (Haqqani Network, for eg is one of dozens of berserk medieval fanatic groups already in Pakistan since the mid 1980s and the criminal Pres. Zia al Haq.)

        They almost certainly will (continue to) destabilize Pakistan and that’s a worry b/c it is already pretty much a failed state.

  9. Dixie was one of Old Abe’s favorite songs, so he said. At the White House on April 10, 1865, President Lincoln announced, not without humor, “I have always thought ‘Dixie’ one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it…I now request the band to favor me with its performance.” The lyrics are not racist, jingoistic, or political, at least after the first stanza.
    Original lyrics:

  10. So many things going on today!

    Re: Afghanistan. It’s so very sad. I’ve been thinking alot about the 2006 album Yell Fire (listen to Time to Come Home and Light Up Your Lighter) which is about our presence in the ME. From 2006. That could have been written today.

    The Army recruiters in the parking lot
    Hustling kids there jugglin’ pot
    Listen young man, listen to my plan
    Gonna make you money, gonna make you a man
    Bom, bom, here? s what you get
    An M-6 and a Kevlar vest
    You might come home with one less leg
    But this thing will surely keep a bullet out of your chest
    So come on come on, sign up, come on
    This one? s nothing like Vietnam
    Except for the bullets, except for the bombs
    Except for the youth that’s gone

    I had dinner with my friend the communist last night, and his take was basically that Afghanistan has been fighting a war against the US for 20 years, and they won yesterday.

    I mentioned a bit ago that I was headed for an Alaskan vacation at the end of July – so I was pleased to see the item about Chilkoot Pass. I was staying in the Chilkoot Valley with my friend, a 5th generation local whose ancestors came up during the gold rush. It was amazing and beautiful and now I definitely want to move there.

  11. I’m not a huge Bukowski fan, either, but I think his poem “Beans with Garlic” is good:

    Beans with Garlic: Charles Bukowski

    this is important enough:
    to get your feelings down,
    it is better than shaving
    or cooking beans with garlic.
    it is the little we can do
    this small bravery of knowledge
    and there is of course
    madness and terror too
    in knowing
    that some part of you
    wound up like a clock
    can never be wound again
    once it stops.
    but now
    there’s a ticking under your shirt
    and you whirl the beans with a spoon,
    one love dead, one love departed
    another love. .

    ah! as many loves as beans
    yes, count them now
    sad, sad
    your feelings boiling over flame,
    get this down.

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