Sunday: Hili dialogue

May 15, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on a dreary Sunday: May 15, 2022. National Chocolate Chip Day. If you use them, be sure they’re real chocolate and not called “chocolatey chips” (the word “chocolatey indicates, well, let’s use an example from Starbucks:

The FDA’s standard for sweet chocolate (that is, not milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, which both have different standards) is that it must contain “not less than 15 percent by weight of chocolate liquor.” Chocolate liquor is chocolatier-speak for liquid cocoa mass (for the booze version, it’s liqueur). Here, now, is the ingredient list for Starbucks’s chocolatey chips:

Confectionery Coating (Sugar, 100% RSPO Palm Kernel And Palm Oils, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla, Milk), Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Cookie Crumbs (Unbleached Unenriched Wheat Flour, Sugar, Palm And Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Chocolate Mass, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor), Chocolate Mass (2%), And Salt.

I am still deeply depressed from yesterday’s duck rescue. Though I still think it was the best course of action, the mother is grieving, and yesterday walked all around the patio for hours, quacking plaintively. That’s just what Dorothy did when Honey ducknapped her entire brood (but then Dorothy renested and ultimately had her own brood).

*Just another day in gun-loving America. Ten people were killed and three injured in a mass shooting in a Buffalo (New York) grocery store. The 18-year old suspect, white, is in custody, and there are suggestions that the wanton killing was an anti-black hate crime. That this kind of thing is regular news shows how sick our country is.  UPDATE: It’s pretty clear the guy had racist motives, as he drove from his white suburb to the black area of Buffalo where the supermarket was. The NYT now says this:

Shortly after Mr. Gendron was captured, a manifesto believed to have been posted online by the gunman emerged, riddled with racist, anti-immigrant views that claimed white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color. In the video that appeared to have been captured by the camera affixed to his helmet, an anti-Black racial slur can be seen on the barrel of his weapon.

According to the NBC News last night, the racial slur was the n-word.

*But let’s not forget the other mass shootings in the last few weeks: the AP tallies the carnage from mass shootings (not the usual individual homicides) in the last month excluding the Buffalo attack:  13 dead and dozens injured.  None of these, of course involved guns used in self-defense or to maintain a “well regulated Militia.”

*A good science piece in the NYT: recent in advances in implanting electrodes and microchips in the brains of largely paralyzed people, allowing them to control external devices with their minds. The accomplishment to date, even though this is new science, is remarkable.

*Surprise! Clarence Thomas, who never speaks from the bench, has declared that the leak of a tentative opinion in Roe v. Wade has undermined trust in the Supreme Court:

The leak of a draft opinion regarding abortion has turned the Supreme Court into a place “where you look over your shoulder,” Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday night, and it may have irreparably sundered trust at the institution.

“What happened at the court was tremendously bad,” Thomas said in a conversation with a former law clerk at a conference of conservative and libertarian thinkers in Dallas. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them. And then I wonder when they’re gone or destabilized, what we’re going to have as a country.”

It was second time in a week that Thomas has decried declining respect for “institutions”; he made similar remarks at a conference of judges and lawyers last week.

Perhaps the Justice might consider that declining respect for the Court has also rested largely on its explicit politicization, on the lies told by prospective conservative Justices during their hearings, and on the wonky decisions of a conservative court.

*Mo Dowd rarely says anything original in her NYT column these days (her schtick is being snarky), but at least she’s going after the religiousity of the Supreme Court (Dowd was raised Catholic):

During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called “People of Praise.”

The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women. Men, the group’s decision makers, “headed” their wives.

Justice Barrett said then that she would not impose her personal beliefs on the country. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion’ — and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” she said amicably. “It’s not the law of Amy. It’s the law of the American people.”

Of course Barrett lied, as did Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and it’s a shame that we can’t do squat about it. Dowd goes on:

Still, this Catholic feels an intense disquiet that Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or misshaping) the freedom and the future of millions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervor around the court, a churchly ethos that threatens to turn our whole country upside down.

I come from a family that hews to the Catholic dictates on abortion, and I respect the views of my relatives. But it’s hard for me to watch the church trying to control women’s sexuality after a shocking number of its own priests sexually assaulted children and teenagers for decades, and got recycled into other parishes, as the church covered up the whole scandal. It is also hard to see the church couch its anti-abortion position in the context of caring for women when it continues to keep women in subservient roles in the church.

. . . The explosive nature of Alito’s draft opinion on Roe has brought to the fore how radical the majority on the court is, willing to make women fit with their zealous worldview — a view most Americans reject. It has also shown how radical Republicans are; although after pushing for this result for decades, because it made a good political weapon, they are now pretending it’s no big deal. We will all have to live with the catastrophic results of their zealotry.

*The NYT has a big article on whether being rich makes you happier (yes, but with diminishing returns), and on which endeavors do make people happy. The article says those results are obvious, but not so much to me:

 So what do three million happiness data points tell us?

The activities that make people happiest include sex, exercise and gardening. People get a big happiness boost from being with a romantic partner or friends but not from other people, like colleagues, children or acquaintances. Weather plays only a small role in happiness, except that people get a hearty mood boost on extraordinary days, such as those above 75 degrees and sunny. People are consistently happier when they are out in nature, particularly near a body of water, particularly when the scenery is beautiful.

Well, yes, but fulfilling work does, too (apparently most people don’t have that):

Dr. MacKerron and the economist Alex Bryson found that work is the second-most-miserable activity; of 40 activities, only being sick in bed makes people less happy than working. The economist Steven Levitt found that when people are uncertain whether to quit a job, they can be nudged to quit. And when they quit, they report increased happiness months later.

Social media is not reported as a big source of happiness, but neither is other media. I can speak only for myself, but reading good books is an immense source of happiness to me. So it goes.

*A world record has been set for the sale of a single photograph (below): Man Ray’s 1924 photograph of the nude back of his girlfriend with violin markings on her back, a photo called Le Violon d’Ingres.” (Photo from Christie’s):

How much did it go for? $12.4 million at Christie’s, well over the $5-$7 million pre-auction estimate and the record for any photograph at auction. I’m not a big fan of this photo. Even though it’s clever; I’d rather have a good Cartier-Bresson hanging on my wall any day. Getting the cleverness takes two seconds, but there are depths and depths in some of Cartier-Bresson’s photos.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is using the hedge as a metaphor for change in the world.

Hili: I can see a change.
A: Where?
Hili: In the hedge.
In Polish:
Hili: Dostrzegam jakąś zmianę.
Ja: Gdzie?
Hili: W żywopłocie.
And at Malgorzata and Andrze’s, the wisteria is blooming spectacularly:

Kulka (photo by Paulina):

From Jesus of the Day:


A dog race derailed by a real rabbit running across the track (h/t Stash Krod).

From Simon, who says, correctly, “No cat ever did this”:

No cat ever did this, either? WHO’S a good boy?

Via Merilee. Look at that face!

A tweet from Paul; the musician is Ukrainian musician and activist Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the song is called “Everything will be all right”, and the English translation of the lyrics is here.

From Ginger K:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew: Life is stranger than fiction:

I turned the sound up only to hear the crustacean equivalent of a Rickroll:

I wonder what she fed them:

I don’t get this. Were the Russians stealing it?

32 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Perhaps the Justice might consider that declining respect for the Court has also rested largely on its explicit politicization, on the lies told by prospective conservative Justices during their hearings, and on the wonky decisions of a conservative court.”
    AND maybe a particular Supreme Court’s Justice’s wife being a political activist nut-job, while not recusing himself when her activities are pertinent to cases before the SC.

    1. Yeah, that’s ‘tremendously bad,’ too. Seems like Clarence may be trying to divert attention from his own issues.

      The leak of Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe involved a severe breach of trust by someone. But it’s not like giving the public a peek at an opinion five or six weeks before the opinion’s due for release put national security at risk. SCOTUS tends to be a bit fetishistic about the confidentiality of what’s happening behind the curtain.

  2. I guess we are all allowed our own sources of happiness. For me it’s music, and depending on the time of day it might be rock, blues, classical or opera. It’s not even really about the piece of music, but a direct connection between the sound and my thalamus. I can even get off on CBC Music’s afternoon programme ‘About Time’ in which they play unpopular music, because they think the music was unfairly judged to be wretched, the composers being indigenous, or women or black. (It’s actually a very cheeky thing to do, broadcasting unpopular music at taxpayers’ expense because we should be made to listen to it. Can’t see it working at a commercial station.) But even that dreck works for me. I just like sound, I guess.

  3. That Venn diagram is pretty clever, although the Ornithorhynchus ‘beak’ is very different from a duck’s bill: it is a sophisticated electrolocation organ (no pun about the organ instrument intended).
    That Stowaway video is so extremely funny because of the comment. Apart from that it is just weirdly funny.
    We surmise the washing machine was looted, since it is kinda improbable there was a washing machine just standing all alone in the middle of a field when a shot down helicopter (note the ‘p’ of ‘pter’, which means ‘wing’, is not silent*) accidentally fell on it. I think it is solid proof the Russian troops are looting, which -IIRC- is forbidden by the Geneva Convention.

    *Note, I think ‘apoptosis’ should be pronounced ‘apoptosis’, not ‘apohtosis’ as some, such as Nick Lane (one of my favoured authors) contend. My Greek friends, however do not concur with the silent ‘p’, which one is it?

    1. When the shooting starts, the looting stops.

      I agree with pronouncing both p’s in apoptosis. Ph (as in philosophy) is a single blended phoneme like our th and ch. But what about ps as in psychology? By analogy with pter, psyche ought to be p’siki but English doesn’t normally allow stand-alone consonant sounds. We even stick e’s on the ends of words like little and able so they look right. Axolotl brings us up short. Maybe we should just trust our ear and pronounce the p when it is natural to as in a combined form like apoptosis and parapsilosis but not try to for common words when the p would come out as a vowel-less consonant. If I insist on p’terodactyl I should spell it peterodactyl. Note para-psychology, silent second p. If the hyphen is ever dropped, as eventually happens, and parapsychology becomes just another word for nonsense, the p will become pronounced (and the first y will be like i in fit.)

      There is a medical word ptosis that is more often written than spoken. Most times in my hearing the speaker makes a half-hearted attempt to sound the p. An unfamiliar word with a silent first letter is challenging to decode. Without the p you rummage through your memory looking for low-frequency words beginning with t.

      1. I accept the ‘p’ (in the ‘pt’ or ‘ps’ combination) is silent at the beginning of a word in English, like psychology, psoriasis, pterosaur or ptosis, but within a word it is not, helicopter (screw-wing) being a prime example.
        Apopsi kanume bam, not apohosi kanume bam (a renowned Rebetica song).

      2. As a teenager I had 2 axolotls in an aquarium. To my shame I don’t really remember what happened to them. I think they died after some years, long after I left my parental house. I’m 100% sure my mother took good care of them. I haven’t a clue about the lifespan of axolotls, so maybe it was not neglect -my mother would not allow that- that did them in.

    2. We surmise the washing machine was looted …

      The Russians have been coveting those kinds of appliances ever since the American National Exhibition in Moscow in the summer of ’59 — the one where Nikita Khrushchev and (then-VP) Richard Nixon held their impromptu “kitchen debate.”

      1. Ken (in my head your surname remains ‘kuketch’, although you told us you prefer ‘kukek’, but I can’t help), although I’m pretty sure looting is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, is it considered a ‘war crime’?
        If so the Russians have about 500.000 tons of warcrime on their backs, the estimated amount of grain looted from Ukraine.
        Coveting things is not considered attenuating in looting, I’d think, but maybe you can enlighten us here.

        1. Somehow, maybe just instinctively, I do not think that washing machine was meant to repair military equipment, but I maybe mistaken, of course.

  4. Some great stuff in today’s Hili – including the clever and generous d*gs.

    According to the UK government, Russia has lost one third of the ground forces that it deployed into Ukraine, which is staggering if true. It certainly appears that the Russians have been driven out of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.

    I saw somewhere that the Ukrainian military believe that they will have won the major battles by August and that the war will largely be over by the end of this year. Of course, their estimates are likely to be optimistic but 90 days into the war they are doing much better than most analysts predicted.

    1. To be fair, not just did the Ukrainians do much better than expected, but the Russians put up a dismal performance that no-one expected either in February.
      I give some credence to the Ukrainian defence minister estimating this war will be over by the end of the year, or at least Russian forces kicked out of Ukraine by then. Especially if NATO can keep up supporting the Ukrainians with serious equipment.
      And I predict Putin will not last in power much longer than that.

      On a side note, I think Ukraine may just compromise on the Crimea. It is basically Russian, it was Russian after Stalin ‘deported’ the tartars, and was ‘given’ to Ukraine by Khrushchev, a Ukrainian himself, in the fifties. At that time Ukraine and Russia were part of the USSR, so it did nmot have such importance.

  5. None of these, of course involved guns used in self-defense or to maintain a “well regulated Militia.”

    Of course not; they were crimes. No one sees fit to mention that at the same times tens of millions of gun owners did nothing wrong. And, if we’re all fired up about the inviolate judgement of the Supreme Court, let’s remember that Heller clearly ruled that the Second Amendment included the right to possess arms for self-defense.

    1. Since 2000 I do not really consider the SC as an impartial body. The decision to donate the election to baby Bush, despite good evidence he lost in Florida, and hence the US, by the Rehnquist court (many think Scalia was the chief for some reason or other), lost all credibility as an impartial body.
      I think Heller was a big mistake, as was Citizens United.
      I’m not a USian, but if I were I’d like to wipe my butt with the SC decisions since 2000.
      And the present SC is not highly likely to change my jaundiced opinion of the SC as a horrible joke.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear you’re depressed over the mother duck, Jerry. You did the best you could.

    Would the rehab place be willing to invest some effort in trapping the mother? It would be tricky because they would have to use a couple of the babies in a small pet carrier inside a big enough trap, to lure the mother into the trap. The babies have to be kept separate so as to avoid inadvertent injury from the mother’s flailing. Alternatively, the pet carrier could be put in a closed off space like the same patio, and wait for the mother to enter the space, but in this case the rehab/wildlife people would have to catch the mother by hand or net!

    1. We do that when one of our barns or porches gets infiltrated by families of raccoons or foxes. Sometimes it takes a bit of work, but I would feel terrible if I were not able to keep them all together. I always release them in a nice spot near the river, a few miles away.
      As for the ducks, I feel sorry for the mother, but the welfare of the ducklings is the first priority. Ducks are apparently not difficult to hand raise, they sell them at the feed store for the FFA kids.

      1. Yes, you’re absolutely right, Max. it’s quite a lot of work to trap a mother duck. There’s an interesting article on some people trapping a whole family of Mallards that were in their swimming pool! It’s great that the ducklings will thrive where they now are. (I had to look up FFA! 🙂 Good to know.)

  7. No Supreme Court nominee is ever going to say “I hereby pledge to always uphold Roe v. Wade, both in letter and in spirit, for as long as I serve on the Court, so help me stare decisis“. There’s a point to be made about the kabuki theater we have to go through these hearings, where we get Senators basically asking “How are you going to decide this major controversy?” and the nominee can’t politically give their views. But what are the rules for weasel-worded lawyer replies? They say “It’s a precedent”, which is true, but not the same as “I will never change that precedent”.
    It seems to me to be focusing too much outrage on the wrong aspect of the whole process, in the wrong context.

  8. Had to laugh at the failed d*g race.
    Years ago, my brother adopted a “retired” greyhound racer….still in its prime. Apparently, once they discover they can just turn around and catch the fake rabbit before it passes, they are ruined as racers!

  9. Ukrainian musician and activist Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s performance of “Everything Will Be All Right” reminds me a little of The Gipsy King’s Spanish (Spanish guitars and, in part, Spanish language) cover of “Hotel California” — the one the Coen brothers’ musical curator, T Bone Burnett, put over the scene of “The Jesus” bowling in The Big Lebowski. (The in-joke there, of course, being that The Dude “hate[s] the fucking Eagles.”)

    And the Chernobyl power station background could pass for a Kubrick set from 2001.

  10. Although I love that brilliant expression on the cat’s face in “my cat getting ready to hear about my day”, I strongly suspect is is photoshopped. That ‘resting paw’ in particular does not appear kosher.

  11. To be absolutely fair to the Russians (not a phrase I ever expected to write), the official name of their latest ICBM is the RS-28 Sarmat. “Satan II” is the colloquial name for the NATO designation SS-X-29 or 30. I doubt if even the wicked, bloodstained Patriarch Kirill would have shaken holy water over something that his own Government called Satan.

Leave a Reply