Tuesday: Hili dialogue

April 19, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, April 19, 2022: National Rice Ball Day (“onigiri” in Japanese).  This site has a small kit that can help you make cat-shaped rice balls like these, including molds to cut out the seaweed pieces:

It’s also National Amaretto Day, National Garlic Day, Bicycle Day, and National Stress Awareness Day (I don’t need a reminder!)

Remember that I am leaving for two weeks on Friday, so posting is likely to be quite light; my Internet access is likely to be more limited than when I was in Antarctica.

Stuff that happened on April 19 include:

  • 1506 – The Lisbon Massacre begins, in which accused Jews are being slaughtered by Portuguese Catholics.

In fact, many of these “Jews” had been forcibly converted to Catholicism, so were known as “New Christians.” It didn’t matter: almost 2,000 of them were slaughtered.

  • 1770 – Captain James Cook, still holding the rank of lieutenant, sights the eastern coast of what is now Australia.

The date given may be one day early, as shown below:

She was just 15 when she was married, and here she is in a portrait from life painted when she was 13 (!) and an Archduchess. Not mind of the child in this picture!

  • 1927 – Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for her play Sex.

This was a supposedly terrible play, but it was extremely popular, and it’s a good example of an early Streisand effect. From Wikipedia:

There were 375 performances before the New York Police Department raided West and her company in February 1927. They were charged with obscenity, after 325,000 people had watched it, including members of the police department and their wives, judges of the criminal courts, and seven members of the district attorney’s staff. West was sentenced to 10 days in a workhouse on Roosevelt Island (known then as “Welfare Island”) and fined $500. The resulting publicity increased her national renown.

A poster for the play:

  • 1943 – Albert Hofmann deliberately doses himself with LSD for the first time, three days after having discovered its effects on April 16.
  • 1956 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.
  • 1971 – Charles Manson is sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment) for conspiracy in the Tate–LaBianca murders.

Here’s Manson’s first interview after his conviction, for 60 Minutes Australia. I can’t find the year, but the guy is clearly a loon. And yet, why is he the perennial poster boy for evil when there are others, like Putin, who more or less do what he did but kill so many more people? Could it be his scary looks and demeanor?

  • 1987 – The Simpsons first appear as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, first starting with “Good Night“.

Here’s “Good night”.

Here’s the building after the bombing. McVeigh was executed–the first federal execution in 38 years. Terry Nichols, his partner in crime, was sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences, and is serving them in ADX Florence in Colorado, the toughest prison in America. That’s hard time!

  • 2013 – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is killed in a shootout with police. His brother Dzhokhar is later captured hiding in a boat inside a backyard in the suburb of Watertown.

Notables born on this day were few, and include:

  • 1903 – Eliot Ness, American law enforcement agent (d. 1957)

Here’s Ness and his famous band of Department of Justice “Untouchables”. I used to watch the t.v. show about them starring Robert Stack, who didn’t look like Ness at all. The real Ness is on the extreme left below:

This is an iconic photo of Jayne Mansfield, eyed (below the eyes) by Sophia Loren; the story of the photo is here.

  • 1938 – Stanley Fish, American theorist, author, and scholar

Those who perished from the earth on April 19 include:

  • 1588 – Paolo Veronese, Italian painter (b. 1528)
  • 1824 – Lord Byron, English-Scottish poet and playwright (b. 1788)

Byron is buried in Nottingham; his grave is below. And he’s buried next to computer forbear Ada Lovelace, who was his only child! I had no idea they were related.

  • 1881 – Benjamin Disraeli, English journalist and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1804)
  • 1882 – Charles Darwin, English biologist and theorist (b. 1809)

This photo of Darwin was taken around 1854—5 years before he published his Big Book:

  • 1906 – Pierre Curie, French physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
  • 2012 – Levon Helm, American musician and actor (b. 1940)

Here’s my favorite performance of Helm, singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”(written by Robbie Robertson) in the 1978 “Last Waltz” concert. What a film!

Today’s NYT banner headline, like the reports on the NBC News last evening, are quite depressing (click to read):

The NYT news summary:

As Russia intensified its attack on eastern Ukraine, there were conflicting assessments on whether the offensive for control of the region had begun in earnest or the full brunt of it was yet to come.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, and other top officials said the long-dreaded “battle for Donbas” had begun, after Russia stepped up artillery and rocket attacks along the roughly 300-mile front and ground forces pushed forward. Other Ukrainian officials and some analysts said the actions appeared to be a prelude to a much larger assault on the region, which includes separatist areas that are claimed in full by Russia.

“The Russians are continuing to set the conditions for what they believe will be eventual success on the ground by putting in more forces, putting in more enablers, putting in more command-and-control capability for operations yet to come,” the Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, said.

Commentators on Russia’s state-run television have been pointing to the Donbas offensive as a potential turning point in the war, through which the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, could claim a semblance of victory by taking control of the region.

The last pocket of Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol appears to be holed up in the city’s the Azovstal steel plant. But there are reports of thousands of civilians in there, too. Ordered by the Russians to surrender, the soldiers refused, and it seems that destruction of both soldiers and civilians is in the offing.

The Big Russian Push is coming, and I fear any of our erstwhile optimism will be crushed. But of course I’d be delighted to be wrong.

Also depressing: Now the Ukrainians appear to be using “cluster munitions”, which are banned by international law, against the Russians. (Previously the Russians were accused of the same violation.) Of course they are using them against the military not (as the Russians did) against civilians, but they are aimed at villages containing Ukrainian civilians. This has still prompted criticism:

. . . The danger to civilians is no different under the barrels of Ukrainian artillery, as their forces desperately try to retake the parts of the country under Russian control.

“It’s not surprising, but it’s definitely dismaying to hear that evidence has emerged indicating that Ukraine may have used cluster munitions in this current conflict,” said Mary Wareham, advocacy director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch. “Cluster munitions are unacceptable weapons that are killing and maiming civilians across Ukraine.”

. . . But the Ukrainians’ decision to saturate their own village with a cluster munition that has the capacity to haphazardly kill innocent people underscores their strategic calculation: This is what they needed to do to retake their country, no matter the cost.

“No matter what the cost” could be an excuse for any war crime, though it’s not likely that the use of “cluster munitions” constitute such a crime. But the ethics of using them is contested.

*Elizabeth Warren has a NYT op-ed titled “There’s only one way the Democrats can win in November“, and titled inside as “Elizabeth Warren: Democrats can avoid disaster in November.”  We’re all eager to hear her and this is her “one way”:

Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change. To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.

Time is running short. We need to finalize a budget reconciliation deal, making giant corporations pay their share to fund vital investments in combating climate change and lowering costs for families, which can advance with only 50 Senate votes. Other priorities can be done with the president’s executive authority. It’s no secret that I believe we should abolish the filibuster. But if Republicans want to use it to block policies that Americans broadly support, we Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change. To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.

Her agenda also includes rooting out corruption in government, “stopping companies from jacking up prices to boost their profits,” make billionaires pay more taxes, using “some of those tax revenues to invest in clean energy, affordable child care, and universal pre-K”, canceling student loan debt, and lowering prescription drug prices. In other words, “it’s the economy, stupid”.  (But she suggestions more than “one thing”.) What are the chances even half of this will get done? I rate that close to zero, though many of these suggestions are useful (I’m not so sure whether the average American cares much about corruption in government.)

*The Washington Post reports that a federal judge has revoked the national mask mandate on airplanes and other forms of transportation.  (h/t Jean)

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida said the mandate exceeds the statutory authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal officials last week had extended the mask mandate for commercial flights and in other transportation settings, including on buses, ferries and subways, until at least May 3.

The transportation mandate was among the highest-profile mask requirements in the country, persisting after most school districts and other jurisdictions have allowed similar mandates to expire.

The judge overturned the rational that gave the government used to mandate masks:

In the decision, Mizelle, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said the CDC had relied on a 1944 law, the Public Health Service Act, to impose the mandate. But the government’s argument that it put the mask requirement in place for the purpose of “sanitation” falls short, Mizelle argued.

“Wearing a mask cleans nothing. At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance,” Mizelle wrote.

The judge was appointed by Trump and had clerked for Clarence Thomas. I’m flying Friday and will wear a mask out of caution, but I’m not sure whether the airlines can require them now

*If you want to read a juicy narrative of public-school book censorship, the Washington Post offers “Censorship battles’ new frontier: your public library.” It recounts a vigorous censorship battle in Llano County Texas, where I recently ate BBQ. One one side are the politicians and parents who want at least 60 books pulled off the shelves available to kids, and on the other are the heroic librarians. Here’s just one salvo in this battle involving Suzette Baker, a librarian in the district, who had previously refused to remove the 60 demonized books from her shelves:

Baker, who had been head librarian at the Kingsland branch for a year, continued to wage her own resistance. Inspired by a recent book-burning in Tennessee, she created a display in the library with banned titles like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and changed the letters on the variable message board out to front to say “We put the ‘lit’ in literature.” Milum told her to take down the display, then began ignoring her emails, she said.

On March 9, when Milum and the director of human resources appeared at the door of her library, Baker was ready. She knew she had caused waves. With a quaking voice, a visibly nervous Milum read Baker’s alleged offenses: “insubordination,” “creating a disturbance” and “allowing personal opinions to interfere with job duties and procedures.”

Baker was being fired.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, both Hili and Szaron don’t like the present and are going to look for a better “now.”

A: Where are you going?
Hili: To a better present.

In Polish:

Ja: Gdzie idziecie?
Hili: Do lepszej teraźniejszości.

And here is Karolina with Kulka.

Andrzej’s caption, “Lady with Kulka (in my chair).”

In Polish: Dama z Kulką (w moim fotelu).

From David:

More dietary advice, this time from Merilee:

And, since Chicago had a bit of snow this morning, here’s a Snowasaur from Peter:

From Titania, who’s found a case of liguistic hypocrisy:

The only good thing that would have accompanied the re-election of Trump is that we could still enjoy the parodies by Sarah Cooper. Now she’s apparently vanished, just like Vaugn Meader, who made a living imitating John F. Kennedy, went out of business when Kennedy was shot. Let’s have a late hurrah for Sarah (from Simon):

From my magical Twitter feed!

Two DEI experts started this fracas when they mistakenly reported a black Arizona DJ for wearing blackface (article here or at link below). After they were set straight and apologized, one of them doubled down by accusing the man of darkening his complexion anyway!

A lucky cygnet:

From Abe. These two tweets may not be violations of the First Amendment, but I don’t think it’s seemly for a President to proselytize his faith in public. Beyond that, he’s making untrue statements that come from faith.

He did issue a “happy Passover” tweet, and I’m sure there’s a Ramadan one somewhere in his thread. Still . . .

Tweets from Matthew. This first one he retweeted and damn, those things are fast!

The comments (ignore the “their”) suggest that this is an unexpected landslide caused by a detonation during mining operations:


24 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. This is from 2015, but still funny.

      It seems the Pope wants to discourage Catholics from trying to convert Jews. He leaves the associated question of salvation as a ‘divine mystery’:

      That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.

      In their struggle to deal with reality, they have made idiocy into a virtue.

      I did not read the entire document, but it seems that the salvation of the rest is not an unfathomable divine mystery.

    2. This is from 2015, but still funny.

      It seems the Pope wants to discourage Catholics from trying to convert Jews. He leaves the associated question of salvation as a ‘divine mystery’:

      That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.

      In their struggle to deal with reality, they have made idiocy into a virtue.

      I did not read the entire document, but it seems that the salvation of the rest is not an unfathomable divine mystery.

  1. Warren’s solution is to have Congress eliminate the filibuster to pass the entire Democratic party agenda in the next several months?

    That’s both too complicated and too nuclear. Also her list forgot a key political factor. Were I the dems, I would focus on (removing the filibuster for just) two pieces of legislation. (1) An economic stimulus package that reigns in inflation and prices, and (2) wait until SCOTUS tanks Roe, then pass a comprehensive women’s rights bill.

    Her list may include a lot of other things I agree with (and probably a few I don’t), but if the dems remove the filibuster they should do it in a limited and strategic fashion, and in my mind those two things are the ones that move the needle enough to make it worth it.

  2. I think the internet might have led you astray, Jerry. That appears to be a photo of the cast of The Untouchables. The two men with shotguns appear to be Robert Stack and Kennan Wynn (who appeared in two episodes), and the second from the right looks like cast regular Abel Fernandez. Since Ness died in ’57 and the show started in ’59, it seems unlikely that the indicated figure is Elliot Ness.

    I notice that everyone is citing the pedigree of the judge in the mask mandate case, rather than the opinion. We need to back away from the idea that all judges rule according to their politics, and not according to the law, or the judiciary will cease to be a barrier against private vengeance. Is it really so hard to believe that the CDC exceeded its authority?

    I defy anyone to look at this document from the Seattle Public Schools entitled “K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework,” and say that our schools are not in trouble.

    Finally, if you want to see cringe Easter, you should check out the videos of the Easter Bunny shepherding Joe Biden over the weekend. Sorry for the link to a conservative site, but CNN and the MSM don’t seem to be sharing. “Fact-check” incoming from the Ministry of Truth, no doubt.

    1. “I notice that everyone is citing the pedigree of the judge in the mask mandate case, rather than the opinion.”

      If her opinion is conveyed correctly in the post, then her pedigree most definitely comes to mind. She evidently feels that while the CDC may have the rightful ability to mandate sanitation measures for disease control, the ability of masks to sequester virus containing droplets does not equal “sanitation”. This is absurd to me – no sanitation procedure is 100% effective. Even a chemical agent like phenol has efficacy in the 90%+ range. Similar to the virus droplet filtration efficacy of masks. And virus droplets are how the disease is spread. Mandated mask use – if done correctly – on an airplane most definitely makes the plane more sanitary.

      1. The case turns on the the definition of sanitation, not on the effectiveness of masks in preventing transmission of Covid. The ruling might not be correct for all I know but it is not at all absurd.

        In the judge’s ruling, she says correctly that sanitation has no medical/public health meaning, — to me it’s sort of like “wholesome”: sounds good but doesn’t mean much. The ordinary lay meaning, therefore, applies: something akin to cleanliness but implying that you had to work harder because it was dirtier to begin with. The CDC’s authority to enforce sanitation in places like slaughterhouses and dairies (which I would have thought rested with the individual states, but no matter) is well established but in the ordinary meaning applies only to property and other physical objects: the floors, work surfaces, tools, equipment, and plumbing must be thoroughly cleaned of offal, blood, spilled milk, and rat droppings. Not the people working there or customers/buyers who might be admitted in the course of business.

        So yes, you might use phenol-containing detergents to scrub down a dairy to sanitize it but you can’t scrub the people or do anything else to them under the sanitation mandate. As a former hospital infection control practitioner, I can agree that this is the usual meaning of sanitation. There is no test to determine if something has been sanitized You tell the environmental partners to clean an operating room in such a manner and if they do it, it’s considered sanitized. It is not at all like disinfection, sterilization, and surgical asepsis which have strict scientific definitions and procedures to verify their achievement.

        Under a sanitation mandate, the airline could be required to sanitize all the tray tables, seat backs, arm rests, window sills, and the toilet vanities between flights. This we know now is a waste of effort, pandemic theatre. If a passenger had sneezed a big green goober onto the seat back, the airline would be expected to sanitize that area more thoroughly, with elbow grease, not just a spritz of alcohol. But, said the judge, the passenger cannot, under a sanitation mandate, be required to sanitize the airplane herself by being compelled to wear a mask to prevent deposition of snot droplets.

        The CDC also tried to justify the mask mandate under its quarantine authority. The judge held that this was limited to people (and animals) known or reasonably suspected to be infected with a contagious disease and could not be extended on a precautionary basis to the entire asymptomatic traveling public. The CDC did not show any other legislative authority beyond the sanitation and quarantine domains to impose mask mandates on the airlines and other transportation companies. They claimed an open-ended authority to exceed their mandate in the public interest but the judge didn’t buy it. (This might be appealed?)

        The ruling does not anywhere address the scientific question as to whether masks add anything to the HEPA-filtered air handling already done on airliners. It just agreed with the plaintiffs’ case that the mask mandate exceeded the CDC’s legislated authority to sanitize and quarantine and was accordingly quashed.

    2. The guy on the far right of the Untouchables photo looks like Bill Williams. The guy in the middle is out of costume.

  3. 1971 – Charles Manson is sentenced to death (later commuted to life imprisonment) for conspiracy in the Tate–LaBianca murders.

    Some would mark the ’69 Tate-LaBianca murders at the end of “The Sixties.” (Others might say that came with the 1970 shooting of four students at Kent State during a protest over Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, or might pick some other, similar date.)

    What’s come to loom in the public consciousness as “The Sixties” (in the US, anyway) didn’t actually start until around 1964, after the JFK assassination, maybe with The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February or with Kesey and the Pranksters’ cross-country bus trip that summer to the NY World’s Fair.

    Anyway you cut it, the whole thing lasted only about a half-dozen years, peaking with the 1967 “Summer of Love” in The Haight.

  4. Here’s my favorite performance of Helm, singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” …

    I think my favorite vocal performance by Levon came on “Up On Cripple Creek,” although I really like how he took the first verse on “The Weight,” too. Here’s the version of that tune the boys did with The Staple Singers, circa the Last Waltz concert:

  5. Unfortunately neither Russia nor Ukraine have actually agreed to ban the use of cluster munitions. About 110 states have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions with another 15 which have signed but not ratified. So, legally, they aren’t using banned munitions.

    There is one other notable non-signee: the US.

    1. Good catch.

      Fortunately, no country will be foolish enough agree to a Convention that bans a weapon that is useful to it, is necessary to its battle doctrine, and, crucially, is in use by its likely or actual enemies. In the case of the United States, those likely enemies are Russia (and its puppet states), China, Iran, and North Korea, which have not signed. Some countries the U.S. considers friendly or allied, like Israel (an “accession”, but not a signatory), South Korea, Turkey, Finland, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia have not signed. Noteworthy is that no country save Norway that borders Russia, China, or North Korea has signed, but all countries that border the United States, or share the North American continent with it save Cuba (another “accession”), have been comfortable signing. Most of the majority-Muslim nations of northern Africa and the Middle East have not signed, excepting Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority, or whatever it calls itself now.

      Canada, Japan, Australia, and most western European countries have signed, secure in the knowledge that if the use of cluster munitions ever becomes necessary in a conflict they find themselves involved in, they can count on the United States to do the dirty work. A loophole in the Convention allows signatory states to cooperate in military operations with non-signatory states without being considered legally complicit in their use by their non-signatory ally. (Wikipedia credits Canada for this clever piece of statecraft.)

      Cluster munitions are defined in such a way that a munition that is designed to land in more than one piece is not necessarily a weapon prohibited to signatories under the Convention. Wikipedia gives some examples.

      Editorial note: the Convention, like that governing land mines, was conceived at a time when it appeared that existential wars between peer states was obsolete. The USSR was gone and China was dormant. Banning these weapons that did have a nasty tendency to maim civilian children playing with them long after conflict ended seemed like a cost-free gesture that would tie the hands of only those countries seen to have a track record of beating up on their small neighbours. Those countries, though, refused to sign and so the Convention is largely meaningless virtue signaling. Ukraine, locked in an existential war that it was supposed to lose, is surely glad it did not sign. Anything that can frustrate the Russian advance is now justified. If it had chemical weapons, and could weather any likely Russian escalation, now would be the time to use them without compunction on those Russian forces concentrating for their coming offensive in the south-east.

    2. Came here to point this out.

      However, the intentional use of cluster munitions against civilians is a war crime.

  6. We could use a cadre of librarians across the country like Suzette Baker of the Kingsland branch of the Llano County, TX library.

  7. I’ve never watched The Last Waltz, but I’ve seen some clips and what strikes me is just how amazing the production is. The video and audio quality is so good, it looks like it could have been filmed yesterday. (The concert segments, at least.)

    1. Directed by Martin Scorsese and filmed by cinematographer Michael Chapman (who was also the director of photography for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull). Could there any wonder the production values are so good?

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