Saturday: Hili dialogue

January 29, 2022 • 7:30 am

Welcome to Caturday, January 29, 2022: National Corn Chip Day. It’s also Curmudgeons Day, National Puzzle Day, Freethinkers Day (Thomas Paine was born on this day in 1737), and National Carnation Day, explained this way:

National Carnation Day—also known as Red Carnation Day, or simply as Carnation Day—is set aside to remember President William McKinley, who was born on today’s date, and who was known to be fond of carnations, often wearing one on his lapel.

Well, here is McKinley with one, but if you look at his other photos using a Google Image search, I don’t see any other carnations.

News of the Day:

*Afghanistan under the Taliban is collapsing in nearly every way possible: people are starving, food prices are skyrocketing, women are giving birth to underweight babies who die soon after birth, the economy is shrinking 20% per year, and, of course, the theocracy is still oppressing dissidents and women. People on the street are trying to sell their kidneys and even their children The U.S. has frozen $7 billion in assets, but is still trying to provide aid to the the people and not the government. That’s hard to do, as the Wall Street Journal points out.

“The world should understand that it is not only the Taliban living in Afghanistan. There are hundreds of thousands of innocent people,” said Sahib Khan.

Days earlier, Mr. Khan said he took his daughter, Laila, 3, to a square in central Kabul to sell her to a passerby. He hoped to get $200 to $300 for her, saying that anyone with that sort of money would be able to look after her better than he could. He didn’t find anyone able to pay.

“Who would want to sell their child? Poverty forces me. I need money to get through winter,” said Mr. Khan, who has four other children. “We can’t see any future. Everything is dark.”

There’s only one reason to sell a child in Afghanistan. . .

There are still American citizens stuck in the country, as well as many Afghanis who were promised passage to the U.S. because they helped U.S. troops. I don’t know any solutions, but any should involve the Taliban’s respects for human right.  But of course “human rights” and “Islamism” aren’t compatible.

*Has Putin’s gamble to invade Ukraine failed? Yes, says Yulia Latynina (an expert in Russian politics), in a NYT op-ed. That’s because, Latynina claims, the bare-chested Russian has got himself into an untenable situation:

Instead of trapping the United States, Mr. Putin has trapped himself. Caught between armed conflict and a humiliating retreat, he is now seeing his room for maneuver dwindling to nothing. He could invade and risk defeat, or he could pull back and have nothing to show for his brinkmanship. What happens next is unknown. But one thing is clear: Mr. Putin’s gamble has failed.

I don’t necessarily agree. What “armed conflict” will Putin face beyond fighting the Ukrainian military? For sure NATO members are not going to go to war with Russia. They can supply arms, but that’s about it. Also for sure, the Russian Army can ride roughshod over the Ukrainian military, regardless of the latter’s resolve. bravery, and weapons from NATO. I still think Russia will invade very soon, and I still hope I’m wrong.

*From reader Ken:

Osceola County, Florida, has canceled a seminar for history teachers on “the civil rights movement since 1896” because, apropos of no evidence at all, school administrators feared it might contain some mention of critical race theory.

The “seminar” was a talk, and the canceled speaker is steamed:

Michael Butler said Monday that he had been scheduled to give a presentation over the weekend before Osceola County teachers on the history of the U.S. civil rights movement since 1896 when he was notified that the seminar was canceled.

No one from school district asked to see the materials he was going to present, and the presentation had no reference to critical race theory, said Butler, a history professor at Flagler College in St. Augustine.

“I was shocked. There is a lot that bothers me about this,” Butler said in a phone interview. “I think that critical race theory is so nebulous that, for people who aren’t experts in the field, CRT is becoming a euphemism for Black history, and that is a shame. They aren’t the same.”

See also this report at NBC News. This is why laws banning the teaching of CRT are ludicrous, for they can be manipulated to political ends. Here they canceled what seems to be a worthwhile talk for teachers. In fact, the Left and Right both engage in conflating CRT with “black history”: the former to allow questionable aspects of “real” CRT to be snuck into the classroom, and the latter to ratchet back on teaching black history altogether (see yesterday morning’s post).

*Here’s a prime example of why every university needs to abide by the University of Chicago’s own “Kalven Principle,” barring our school and its constituent units (e.g., departments) from making official statements on politics, ideology or morality. Such statements create a climate that chills speech, making people fearful of opposing “official” views. Now a look at this “Statement of Solidarity with Palestine” issued last May by the Asian-American Studies Department at UCLA (a public university).  It’s about as rabidly anti-Israel as it comes, and is guaranteed to make those department members who disagree fearful of opposing it.  Here’s the most appalling bit:

We condemn the exchange of military tactics and financial support between the United States and Israel, noting how U.S. counterinsurgency techniques and military equipment used during the Vietnam War were then extrapolated to the Occupied Territories; how the Israeli military’s policing of the apartheid wall dividing Jerusalem and isolating the West Bank has influenced the U.S.’s own brutal border security policies along the U.S.-Mexico border; and how Israel has too often upheld its support of Asian and Asian American individuals as proof of multicultural democracy, over and against the ethnic cleansing of Palestine via a process of “yellow-washing.”

Yellow-washing! That’s nearly identical to the accusation by anti-“Zionists” that when Israel mentions its liberal LGBTQ+ policies as evidence of nondiscrimination, anti-Semites say that this is just “pinkwashing.” No matter that in Palestine and other Arab states, you can be killed for being a homosexual. Such is the hypocrisy of the “progressive” Left.

The statement is hateful, untrue (“apartheid wall,” really? It’s there to keep terrorists from coming into Israel and killing Israelis). But the news is that two members of the University of California’s Board of Regents, Jonathan Sures and Sherry Lansing (the studio executive), have called this statement “inappropriate”, with Sures even broachin a Kalven-like possibility:

Sures said during the January 18 meeting regarding the AAS statement: “I don’t think it’s appropriate that people are allowed to use university websites to make political statements. So I’m wondering, are we going to address it? I think it’s wrong. I think it is a violation of policy.” He asked if the regents should look into forming a working group “to define the policy so we know where we stand on this particular issue.” Lansing echoed Sures’ concerns. “We do have a policy on antisemitism… and I think this violates that.”

Regardless, no department of any should be making such statements, whether they’re in favor of Palestine, Israel, Joe Biden, or Black Lives Matter—indeed, anything not relevant to the mission of the University. If you’re an academic, have a look at the Kalven Report and see if it doesn’t make sense.

*I’m constantly re-examining my views on affirmative action (I still favor a restricted form of it, though as the years go by it’s getting harder to justify), and so I read with interest John McWhorter’s views on the issue in his latest NYT column, “No, don’t end it. But for goodness’ sake, yes, time to mend it.” An excerpt, which explains why my view are getting harder to justify:

It’s not that I’m opposed utterly to affirmative action in the university context, admitting some students under different grade and test score standards than other students. I just think affirmative action should address economic disadvantage, not race or gender.

When affirmative action was put into practice around a half-century ago, with legalized segregation so recent, it was reasonable to think of being Black as a shorthand for being disadvantaged, whatever a Black person’s socioeconomic status was. In 1960, around half of Black people were poor. It was unheard-of for big corporations to have Black C.E.O.s; major universities, by and large, didn’t think of Black Americans as professor material; and even though we were only seven years from Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court, the idea of a Black president seemed like folly.

But things changed: The Black middle class grew considerably, and affirmative action is among the reasons. I think a mature America is now in a position to extend the moral sophistication of affirmative action to disadvantaged people of all races or ethnicities, especially since, as a whole, Black America would still benefit substantially.

The class-based system will still increase the desired racial diversity of universities, but  without the invidious accusations of “reverse racism.” And it seems less likely that students will suffer when told “you just got in because you’re poor or faced adversity,” than when told “you just got in because you’re black.”

McWhorter also takes up the argument that we’ll need to maintain affirmative action until there are no more racial inequities. He rejects that for two reasons, but you can read it for yourself.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 881,584, an increase of 2,529 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,669,541, an increase of about 10,900 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on January 29 include:

Here’s the publication with the editor’s introdution:


The last queen; she rule for just two years. Note, too, that she also wrote the well known  song “Aloha ʻOe“:

Her song (you can hear Elvis’s version of it here):

And they were: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Morgan Bulkeley. Bulkeley? He got in because he was President of the National League.

There were 17; to see them, go here and look for  the names in the green boxes.

The original cube was made of wood (below), with the colors added later. The record for solving it is 4.22 sec. (video below):

The governor for six years, Blago was sentenced to 14 years but served only eight. Here’s his mugshot:

Notables born on this day include:

The original cover of the pamphlet:

  • 1843 – William McKinley, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 25th President of the United States (d. 1901)
  • 1880 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter (d. 1946)

Here’s some of Fields’ funniest lines:

I’m more interested in Koo’s wife, Oei Hui-lan,who was a fashion plate famous for combining traditional Chinese and modern dress:

  • 1923 – Paddy Chayefsky, American author and screenwriter (d. 1981)
  • 1939 – Germaine Greer, Australian journalist and author
  • 1954 – Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host, actress, and producer, founded Harpo Productions
  • 1960 – Greg Louganis, American diver and author
  • 1970 – Heather Graham, American actress

Rollergirl! Young and older:

Those who boxed on January 28 include:

Here’s Lear with the caption: “Lear in 1887, a year before his death. His arm was bent as he was holding his cat, Foss, who leapt away. “(Remember “The Owl and the Pussycat”? That was Lear’s poem. 

Sisley’s “The Cat” (1870):

A famous can-can dancer and model (her real name was Louise Weber, with “La Goulue meaning “the gourmand”), here’s she is in a photo and then in her most famous depiction, in a poster by Toulouse-Lautrec:

  • 1934 – Fritz Haber, Polish-German chemist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1868)
  • 1956 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and critic (b. 1880)

One of my favorite masters of prose, Mencken was never without his cigar. Here he is at work:

I always show this photo of my dad (right) with Alan Ladd on the Acropolis, taken during the filming of the movie “Boy on a Dolphin” (1957). He was stationed in Athens with our family at the time, and the Army helped the film procure jeeps and gasoline. Dad also got to hang around with Sophia Loren, another star of the movie.

His famous farewell. But who was “Mrs. Calabash”? It turns out it was his pet name for his first wife, who died young.

  • 2008 – Margaret Truman, American singer and author (b. 1924)
  • 2015 – Rod McKuen, American singer-songwriter and poet (b. 1933)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili evinces a disdain (which I share) for podcasts:

Hili: What are podcasts?
A: Meowing into the microphone.
Hili: That’s not for me.
In Polish:
Hili: Co to są podkasty?
Ja: Miauczenie przed mikrofonem.
Hili: To nie dla mnie.

And a free picture of Leon:

From Only Duck Memes:

From Bruce:

From the ever popular Dover (NH) Public Library, which combines humor and erudition:


From Titania:

From Barry, about the saddest photo I know about ocean pollution. The caption:

A seahorse clutches a discarded cotton swab to ride the oceans currents near Sumbawa Island, Indonesia. “It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it,” wrote photographer Justin Hofman. “What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage.”  PHOTOGRAPH BY JUSTIN HOFMAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Go see the other photos at the site, which gives a number of favorite Nat. Geo. pictures that appeared on Instagram. The photo of the human face transplant will stun you.


From Ginger K:

Tweets from Matthew. First, from Bat World Sanctuary, a video of a Mexican free-tailed bat noisily chowing down on mealworms. Sound up.

I didn’t know that starlings could mimic this well! Sound up, of course.

I may have posted this before, but if the cat wants to go inside so badly, LET IT IN!

Ostriches on the loose!

29 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Afghanistan under the Taliban is collapsing in nearly every way possible […] I don’t know any solutions”

    I thought “COEXIST” bumper stickers would help – no? Its all very simple. Kum-bah-ya, kum-ba-yah — let’s hold hands everybody. And you there, cover yourself up. Its creeping secularism, the fall from that golden era.

    But nothing to do with religion, of course.

    Kum-ba-ya, kum-ba-ya

  2. the Russian Army can ride roughshod over the Ukrainian military

    No they can’t. The Ukrainian military is now very well equipped and very motivated to defend their own country. The Russian military has been starved of money for years and consists mainly of conscripts who don’t care about Putin’s empire building aspirations.

    If Russia invades the Ukraine, it will be a very long drawn out messy affair and Russia can’t afford that. The sanctions are already hurting its economy quite badly and more sanctions will make it worse. Don’t forget Russia has about the same GDP as Texas. It’s not rich.

    1. Putin is running out of gas. His big plan all along has been to divide and win. Divide Nato, divide the Ukrainians and cause chaos in the U.S. Doing a full on invasion is not the plan and the pain on Putin will be great. He needs to go home and try something else. His big dream of a new Soviet Union is not working out. If he was going to go full on into Ukraine he should have done so with Trump, his puppet.

    2. I am not sure how easy a Russian victory would turn out to be. In a recent interview of a US general and a Senator who went to an outlying location to coordinate aid and support, both agreed that Russia could definitely win and install a puppet government, but they would also suffer significant losses.
      But I think an even more pressing problem for Putin would be keeping Ukraine in whatever fashion he imagines. There would be ongoing guerrilla warfare and general mayhem. Keeping order would be untenable.

    3. I’ve been wondering how much domestic opposition Putin would have if he started a shooting war? Bloodless triumphs are one thing, but his domestic opposition has been vocal of recent years.

  3. Among the notables born on the 29th of January: Anton Chekhov and Abdus Salam.

    And Katharine Ross! I’ve seen Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Graduate, and The Stepford Wives.

  4. I have to say I had never heard the terms “pokerish” or “fugitive poetry,” and had to look both up. Pokerish means “that elicits a vague fear, dread, or awe.” Fugitive poetry, or fugitive verses, seems to refer to newspaper poetry.

  5. 2002 – In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of evil, in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

    Here’s the moment Bushie’s brain trust hit upon that phrase, as recreated in Oliver Stone’s film W:

  6. 2008 – Margaret Truman, American singer and author (b. 1924)

    Harry’s daughter. You can read a letter he wrote as president threatening to punch out a critic who’d given her singing an unfavorable review here.

    1. Guess Spotify won’t know what it’s got till it’s gone.

      Joni & Neil — good for the Canadian contingent!

  7. Did anyone watch Bill Maher’s show last night? He acknowledged that he got a lot of pushback on his COVID commentary on last week’s show. He then seemed to double-down on it with two guests that have no apparent epidemiology cred. Has Maher jumped the shark? Say it ain’t so!

  8. Thanks for the video of Jimmy Durante, surely one of the most beloved entertainers of all time. Others had more talent, but I can’t think of anyone who got more mileage out of what he had to work with. His “Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey” routine with Eddie Jackson, who died later in the same year, was a classic.

    1. Don’t take me too seriously, but—beloved in U.S. and maybe Salerno, perhaps. But elsewhere? A shame, since ‘Inka Dinka Doo’ rises almost to the level of Beethoven’s symphonies. But I’m a musical snob.

      I did enjoy the comment about Yoko’s music threatening to JOIN Spotify if they don’t get rid of that dangerous lying asshole Covid killer.

  9. Not to mention “Inka Dinka Doo”. And I understand all you have to do is mention his name in Sheboygan.

    Or as Cole Porter put it in “You’re the Top”:

    You’re a rose
    You’re Inferno’s Dante
    You’re the nose
    On the great Durante

  10. The limericks of Edward Lear
    Are a great disappointment, I fear
    You’d hope they’d be fine
    With a stunning last line
    But alas, not those by Edward Lear

  11. i gather that Yulia Latynina can’t be bothered to say whether Russia has a legitimate security interest in not having NATO or any other Pact at its borders, what with the USSR having lost (a mininum of?) 20,000,000 citizens in WW II. Is it NATO or rather G (Global)ATO? The dissolution of the USSR apparently was not enough for the prevaricating, calculating U.S.

    I pledge allegiance to my Exceptional tribe, the United States of Amuricuh . . . .

    1. I can now see, from the present 70 million Drumpf fans, why it was impossible for U.S. politics to push hard to make the human species safer from thermonuclear destruction back in about 1990, when the opportunity was obvious to anyone that treating Russia decently was in the general interest.

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