Saturday: Hili dialogue

May 21, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good day on Cat Sabbath, Saturday, May 21, 2022—the day when dogs have to turn on the lights and the oven for the cats. It’s National Strawberries and Cream Day, which is kosher, but cats don’t like it. It’s also International Tea DaySaint Helena Day (celebrating the discovery of Saint Helena in 1502), and  World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.  

Saint Helena is remote, small (about 6 miles across) and used to be accessible only by an infrequent mailboat from Capetown. Now, however, it has an airport and flights from Joberg in December and April. Here’s how small the populated part is:

Stuff that happened on May 21 includes:

If you don’t know about this case, which involved two University of Chicago students killing a young boy just to see if they could get away with it, at least read the Wikipedia entry. It’s full of twists and turns, and involved local lawyer Clarence Darrow (whose place was a few blocks from where I live now), talking for over a day straight (and emphasizing determinism) to get the judge to sentence Leopold and Loeb to life in prison instead of execution.

Left to right: Loeb, Darrow, and Leopold:

  • 1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.

If you saw the 1976 Japanese movie 1976  In the Realm of the Sense, you’ll have sen a dramatization of Abe’s life as a prostitute. She served five years for strangling her lover and the ancillary snippings, but then became famous and sought-after. She finally wound up as a nun. Here’s a photo from 1935:

The “demon core” ultimately killed two men in accidents that made it go critical. It’s a long and painful way to die.

Here’s the sculpture with the damaged hand, nose, and eye.

The Pietà is also the only work Michelangelo ever signed. Here’s the signature, on Mary’s sash:

Here’s Williams on the last show with guests:

  • 2011 – Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this date.

Da Nooz:

*Yesterday a federal judge in Louisiana, ruling on behalf of a passel of Republican state attorneys, decided not to end Biden’s Title 42 bill that substantially restricted immigration at the U.S. southern border on the grounds of the pandemic. This restriction was set to expire Monday, but the judge decided that suspending the order would. . .

result in “immediate and irreparable harm” because of a projected increase in border crossings, overcrowded processing facilities and, in turn, greater costs to provide health care and education services.”

“The record reflects that – based on the government’s own predictions – that the Termination Order will result in an increase in daily border crossings and that this increase could be as large as a three-fold increase to 18,000 daily border crossings,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, the CDC’s own Termination Order acknowledges that the order ‘will lead to an increase in a number of non-citizens being processed in DHS facilities which could result in overcrowding in congregate settings.”

Regardless of whether you think extending the bill was wrong, there’s no doubt that immigration is out of control at the border. A substantial percentage of migrants enter illegally, for economic reasons rather than as refugees, and many simply disappear into the U.S. and never show up for their court dates. In April, over 234,000 migrants tried to cross the border, a figure not seen for 22 years. Democrats need a credible immigration policy, but what we hear are crickets. If they want open borders, which is what their actions seem to say, they should just say so, but that would be political suicide.

*It’s way, way too early to think about the death of Wokeism, much less its senescence, but there’s a heartening harbinger reported in both Variety and The Daily Fail. I’ll take Nellie Bowles’s summary from Bari Weiss’s TGIF column (also h/t Bill):

At the end of last week, Netflix updated its corporate culture memo, which now includes a jab at the company’s increasingly agitated Red Guard: “Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.” And this week Netflix made that decision for 150 people. The company framed the firings as “layoffs”—but 150 people doesn’t really make a dent for a company of 11,000 people. Those 150 happen to include, just by chance, some of the most Twitter-active social justice workers in the place. Netflix also announced it would cancel the upcoming animated film “Antiracist Baby,” based on the Ibram X. Kendi book.

Now, I am personally conflicted on this news. Of course I salute Netflix and Ted Sarandos for ousting anyone who tried to come between me and Dave Chapelle. On the other hand, the home screening of “Antiracist Baby: The Movie” was going to be the best party I’ve ever thrown, and Netflix stole that joy. So for TGIF, this news is a wash.

*In a Washington Post op-ed, columnist J. J. McCullough argues that “If Queen Elizabeth can’t do her job, she should abdicate.” Now you’re probably thinking, “But she doesn’t have a job!” Not so. McCullough says this:

These days, she barely even travels the grounds of her home at Windsor Castle, having abstained from two back-to-back ceremonies last month at the palace chapel. Though she did make a 10-minute cameo at the opening of a new London subway line this week, she was a no-show at the state opening of the British Parliament a few days earlier — one of her most important duties and one she’s previously only skipped when pregnant.

It may seem cruel to be too judgmental of the queen’s increasingly rare and brief appearances — by my count, the tube thing is her first attendance at a public ceremony in about seven months (unless you count her presence at Westminster Abbey in March for her late husband’s memorial service) — given she recently celebrated her 96th birthday and is said to have the sort of limited capacities common among people of that age.

Yet the queen is not merely a kindly old lady whose decline we can passively observe with a mixture of sympathy and pity. She is a paid employee of the British state with a specific job to do, and if that job is now beyond her capacities, she should do what the rest of us are expected to when our employment becomes too onerous: retire.

I’m sure Prince Charles is thinking the same thing!

*The NYT shares a group of 13 text messages from dying covid patients to their loved ones. They’re hard to read (there’s also interpolated text and explanation), but I found them moving and ineffably sad.

*There is no end of advice from NYT columnists about how Democrats need to change their behavior if they’re to hold on to the Congress and the Presidency. From David Brooks, “How Democrats can win the morality wars.” It’s based on the arguable premise that Leftist morality is based on the Manichean view that their opponents are bad people and obdurate racists, while the Rightist morality adheres to norms: “American values.” What to do? Brooks’s advice involves:

  1. Give religion a bigger break insofar as “people of faith” should be exempt from some issues involving LGBTQ issues
  2. Become less vociferous on moral issues, such as ones involving transgender rights
  3. And this:

America needs institutions built on the “you are not your own” ethos to create social bonds that are more permanent than individual choice. It needs that ethos to counter the me-centric, narcissistic tendencies in our culture. It needs that ethos to preserve a sense of the sacred, the idea that there are some truths so transcendentally right that they are absolutely true in all circumstances.

Brooks is a bloviator. Does that make any sense to you? Well, I can understand the words, but it doesn’t seem like a great panacea to save the Democratic Party. Plus the editorial is boring. 

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is checking out the appetizers:

Hili: Starlings have colonized our garden.
A: They are feeding their nestlings now.
Hili: I know, I tried to take a closer look.
In Polish:
Hili: Szpaki skolonizowały nasz ogród.
Ja: Karmią teraz pisklęta.
Hili: Wiem, próbowałam to obejrzeć z bliska.

From Not Another Science Cat Page:


From Merilee. I hope you get this:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Ricky Gervais; a short take on believers:

Red pandas stand up when they fight to make themselves look larger:

From Ginger K.:

From Dom: the spider is parasitized itself and is thus doomed:

From Barry, who asks, “Is this any way to treat a Trump doll?” I think the answer is obvious:

Tweets from Matthew, who, like me, loves DodoLand because everything turns out fine. This rescue cat looks a lot like my late cat Teddy. Sound up.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

A mesmerizing video:

What are these pelicans up to? Often murmurations of starlings are thought to be anti-predator formations, but I don’t think pelicans have any avian predators.

I want one of these, and also one of those cups!

39 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Antiracist”

    The thing I reject about this terminology is the implicit, deliberate, personal confrontation.

    We do not need everyone confronting everyone else, rooting out personal imperfections. We need to have clear ideas, weighing evidence. I don’t go around confronting religionists – I do not want that.


  2. I shall not listen to the Washington Post telling us what to do with our monarch. You had your chance to come to that party and you fluffed it. Evidently they have no sense of irony.

    1. I’m reminded of Obama putting in an appearance in London to lecture citizens on how they should vote regarding Brexit. And also Mitt Romney standing on British soil giving his critique of the organization/management of the 2012 Olympics. Ah, American Exceptionalism.

    2. “She is a paid employee of the British state ” The writer might like to bone up on both constitutional and labour law if she is going to pontificate on such matters .

  3. The Queen won’t abdicate, and for a very simple reason. She considers her coronation oath to serve as monarch until her death to be inviolable. Whatever you think of oaths made on religious grounds, you have to admire her utter and complete devotion to duty. Besides, she blames her uncle’s abdication for the premature death of her father, so she is very unlikely to take that route herself.

    1. If I were in Charles’ shoes, I would definitely consider skipping a generation. Otherwise, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine we are doomed to have a geriatric head of state forever, or at least until we get rid of the monarchy to shut the republicans up.

      1. And set such a wretched precedent? “Oh, little George looks so gay, let’s skip him”?

        Let us not miss the obvious question we believers in selection, both natural and unnatural, ought to be asking ourselves: how is that monarchy appears to have selected for longevity?

        (And yes, I do understand how it may have happened by chance alone. Or maybe, as Travis says, ‘Godditit’.)

        1. The first point is irrelevant. There’s no reason why Charles abdicating because of his age would have any bearing on a future gay monarch.

          The answer to your second point is that the Royal Family gets the best medical care money can buy. Having said that, it’s not really that unusual to live into your 90’s these days in the UK.

      2. I dunno, monarchy promoting a gerontocracy? -or at least a pro forma geriatric head of State? The US has been pretty well into that for the past 8 years, I’d say, China has a long tradition of geriatric leaders, and Putin is also not exactly a spring chicken.
        I don’t think one can blame monarchy per se, the UK is a specific case: it is obvious Lizzy thinks her son is an idiot, unfit to be king.

        1. The difference between the UK and those other states is that the British head of state (i.e. the monarch) is constitutional. They don’t have anything to do with running the country, but the job is still pretty arduous. If I were in Charles position at his age, I would not be looking forward to it.

  4. Happy that Neflix is putting its subscribers over the censorious employees. I certainly do not want the the protestor who screamed “REPENT, MOTHERF*CKERS!” to be the one choosing what should watch or not watch. (And I can live with their disapproval just fine.)

  5. I am pretty sure the pelicans are circling to gain height in a thermal; most thermal long birds sharing a thermal go round the same way; it reduces the risk of collisions.

  6. Brooks is a bloviator. Does that make any sense to you? Well, I can understand the words, but it doesn’t seem like a great panacea to save the Democratic Party. Plus the editorial is boring.

    Boring is Brooks’s beat.

    Matt Taibbi has been as good at taking apart the Brooksian oeuvre as he has The Times‘ other resident bloviator and sloppy stylist, Thomas Friedman.

    1. Do you think court rulings could stand a bit of spicing up as a carrot to get more people interested in reading them?

      Interacting with some 5th graders yesterday, I read a few headlines from my hard-copy NYT. I asked them if they kept up at all with the news. With a fair amount of vehemence several simultaneously replied, “NO!!” I asked if they had any concern about events in the world possibly having a negative effect on them. “No!” I asked if any watched the news on television. One responded, “NO, BORING!”

      Several were aware of Ukraine, but little doubt they new little more than the name itself. (I wanted to ask, but didn’t, whether they might have a few crumbs of interest in the news if they themselves lived in Ukraine.)

      One student responded, “I’m a child.”

      (What a handy excuse, rationalization. A bit of a manipulative statement. Perhaps I’m expecting too much, “the bigotry of low expections” notwithstanding.)

      I asked her at what point one is no longer a child. No response. I uttered a couple sentences regarding the timeline of prefrontal cortex development, in some people not complete until age 25, that perhaps they had seen evidence of that in the behavior of certain young adults.

      What with such indifference, lack of intellectual curiosity, no wonder it’s like pulling teeth to get some of them to do their work. Perhaps all the curriculum should be presented to them via Minecraft, video games, etc.

      1. Filippo- how disheartening😿I guess I’m glad I’m retired from teaching, though did mostly love it at the time. I was talking to my mechanic the other day while getting my snow tires removed and his wife, a second-grade teacher, is taking a leave of absence for the rest of the school year mainly because of a kid who was stabbing other kids with pencils and the principal’s ONLY response was to suggest putting all the kids back on tablets!!! After two years of mostly that at home🙀 The mechanic’s 9th grade daughter says they get almost nothing done in class because the boys are such unruly jerks after 2 years at home. They are still acting like 7th-graders. Covid has certainly not helped the whole situation. I’m hoping that things get better before my 6-yr.-old granddaughters get much farther in school. So far okay. But the lack of curiosity is probably the most depressing, probably like a lot of their parents’. Thankfully my little girls are very curious and enthusiastic – so far…

        1. My youngest (13) mentioned today that her class regularly watches the BBC’s Newsround bulletin (a short TV news roundup aimed at children). One of the kids is a refugee from Ukraine and comments whenever Putin comes on screen (apparently the teacher did check that this girl was happy for the daily news programme to be shown).

          (FWIW, the topic came up when we were discussing history homework about the Nazi’s remilitarization of the Rhineland and I mentioned the parallels with Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014. A stitch in time saves nine, as they say.)

        2. My 2 youngest ones, 11 and 8, are basically interested in rugby and soccer, and to a lesser degree cricket. The 11 year old one is, however, somewhat interested in and worried about the war in Ukraine too. And he thinks Trump is ‘bad’ and ‘not cool’ for some reason or other. And both are interested in animals, eg. they think a Jaguar killing a Caiman, or electric eels or honeybadgers, are fascinating. There still is hope.

          1. Great that they like animals🐾🐾😻
            My middle granddaughter kissed an alpaca on the mouth a couple of years ago when she was 4.

      2. Do you think court rulings could stand a bit of spicing up as a carrot to get more people interested in reading them?

        Absolutely. Court opinions, especially those of SCOTUS, tend to be much too long and cluttered, with way too many footnotes,* usually offered up for no better reason than to score points against another justice’s dissenting or concurring opinion.

        There have been some excellent writers on the Court (Robert Jackson and Louis Brandeis come to mind, and Antonin Scalia — though I often disagreed with him — could be a clever writer, too, especially in his early years, before his conservatism curdled into a quest to do battle against his perceived enemies). And some of the current justices are capable of turning out the occasional brisk opinion. But most judicial opinions are essentially unreadable by laymen (and drudgery for lawyers).
        *My attitude toward footnotes is the same as my attitude toward having the front doorbell ring while in the midst of a midafternoon tryst in an upstairs bedroom: I’m willing to make the trip downstairs to find out what you’ve got to say, but it damn well better be worth the interruption — as I hope this one was. 🙂

  7. America needs institutions built on the “you are not your own” ethos to create social bonds that are more permanent than individual choice. It needs that ethos to counter the me-centric, narcissistic tendencies in our culture. It needs that ethos to preserve a sense of the sacred, the idea that there are some truths so transcendentally right that they are absolutely true in all circumstances.

    This advice falls flat when you realize he’s giving it to counteract a different group of sacred truths designed to create social bonds. Asking Democrats to become “less vociferous on moral issues” while simultaneously telling them to adopt the conviction that “there are some truths so transcendentally right” that they can’t be questioned doesn’t seem very helpful.

  8. Homer, on not going to church (The Simpsons, Episode 9F01, “Homer the Heretic”):

    But Marge, what if we chose the wrong religion? Each week we just make God madder and madder.

  9. A few weeks ago, Jerry posted about a video by Farheed Zakaria stating that our current political divide is due to secularism. I believe he’s confused an effect as a cause. I argue that the political divide is due to the Tech Revolution, PC’s, smart phones, games, etc., where some people embraced the Revolution, and some were left behind. The left behind are causing the divide. I also point out something similar happened with the Industrial Revolution in 17th Century England.

  10. “…decided not to end Biden’s Title 42 bill that substantially restricted immigration.”

    That would be Trump’s Title 42 bill.

    One reason there would be a large influx of people seeking asylum is because there is a two-year backlog caused by Title 42. The backlog will continue to grow, so I guess Title 42 is here to stay based on the judge’s logic. The drug cartels love it, though. They have thousands upon thousands of desperate people they can rob, exploit, recruit, murder and rape.

    1. Title 42 doesn’t solve the problem, the would be refugees or immigrants are not documented, there is not much to discourage them from trying again and again, especially the bad eggs.
      Title 42 should not be ditched, but be replaced by a better system.

  11. “I’m sure Prince Charles is thinking the same thing!” – indeed! It’s been a running joke for many years, not least in Private Eye‘s pseudo soap opera column Heir of Sorrows in which Charles misinterprets a current news story as being about the long-awaited death of his mother, with embarrassing results.

  12. “Squaring the circle” has gotten a whole new meaning now, such clever, cool objects!

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