Tuesday: Hili dialogue

May 24, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, May 24, 2022, and National Escargot Day. Not only is this cultural appropriation, but I cannot abide the ingestion of terrestrial molluscs. I have eaten one in my life, and that was enough. (Same with one bite of tripe.)

Things that happened on May 24 include:

  • 1607 – One hundred-five English settlers under the leadership of Captain Christopher Newport established the colony called Jamestown at the mouth of the James River on the Virginia coast, the first permanent English colony in America.
  • 1626 – Peter Minuit buys Manhattan.

It cost a more than the traditional lore claims, but it was still a terrific bargain (from Wikipedia):

A letter written by Dutch merchant Peter Schaghen to directors of the Dutch East India Company stated that Manhattan was purchased for “60 guilders worth of trade,”  an amount worth ~$1,143 U.S. dollars as of 2020.

  • 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from a committee room in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail,in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Morse was a well known portrait painter before he started messing with the telegraph. Here’s a photo followed by a self-portrait he created in 1812, when he was 21:

To me he looks like the famous American statesman John C. Calhoun:

Still the world’s most beautiful bridge:

  • 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field.
  • 1940 – Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.

This isn’t the first flight, but it’s an early one, with Sikorsky at the controls:

Here’s Trotsky’s house in Mexico City, which, as you can see, is surrounded by walls and guard towers. He knew Stalin was coming for him. Photographed by me in November, 2012:

  • 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.

LOL, this was great. A panel of almost all French judges tasted wines blind in two flights: White Burgundy vs. Chardonnay and Bordeaux vs. California Cabernet. In both categories an American wine finished first. Boy, were the French pissed off!

One French judge even demanded her ballot back! And of course there was much Gallic kvetching about the subjectivity of taste, possible day to day variation, and such. But one thing is solid: this tasting established that California could produce some world-class wines!

  • 1999 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicts Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.


*Ukraine’s first war-crimes trial of a Russian soldier has reached a speedy conclusion: the 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of pleaded guilty last week of killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian man. He broached the usual defense: he was only following orders, but that’s not a valid defense for committing a war crime. The WaPo said the soldier was “found guilty of premeditated murder and violating ‘the rules and customs of war’ under Ukraine’s criminal code.”

This of course means that the Russians will retaliate, and we’ll see a bunch of Ukrainians sent to the gulags (if gulags still exist).

*Well, where the U.S. stands on Taiwan vs. China may be a little bit clearer now, for President Biden has declared that if China invades Taiwan, the U.S. will defend Taiwan.

President Biden indicated on Monday that he would use military force to defend Taiwan if it were ever attacked by China, dispensing with the “strategic ambiguity” traditionally favored by American presidents and repeating even more unequivocally statements that his staff tried to walk back in the past.

At a news conference with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan during a visit to Tokyo, Mr. Biden suggested that he would be willing to go further on behalf of Taiwan than he has in helping Ukraine, where he has provided tens of billions of dollars in arms as well as intelligence assistance to help defeat Russian invaders but refused to send American troops.

Within a few minutes, however, the State Department walked back what Biden says, arguing that we have no treaty commitment to militarily defend Taiwan and that the U.S. position has been one of “strategic ambiguity.” Is Uncle Joe losing it?

*I’m not sure why Britain still has a House of Lords, but most of the hereditary peers were eliminated in 1999, leaving about 90 now. The thing is, hereditary peers are nearly always males, because, according to some British law or custom, nearly all hereditary titles can be passed to males. This has now been thrown into a kerfuffle because a transfemale, born a biological male, is contesting an election for one of those peerages. From the Times of London:(h/t Ginger K):

The House of Lords could shortly welcome its first trans peer and only female hereditary member.

Matilda Simon was this week given permission to contest the next by-election for one of the upper chamber’s remaining 92 hereditary seats.

If she wins, she will doubtless become the envy of peers’ daughters across the country, because the vast majority of titles may only be passed to a male heir.

I frankly don’t give a rat’s patootie, as the whole hereditary peerage thing does not belong in one of Britain’s governmental chambers, and who cares what gender a peer is?

*Princeton has fired well known classics Professor Joshua Katz, but it’s a messy situation that will ultimately wind up in the courts. I’ll just give the brief WSJ summary:

Princeton University’s board of trustees voted Monday to fire longtime classics professor Joshua Katz, adopting the president’s recommendation and finding that the faculty member failed to cooperate fully in a sexual-misconduct investigation.

Dr. Katz’s allies slammed the president’s recommendation last week to fire him, characterizing it as a politically motivated effort to silence the academic after he criticized the school’s antiracism initiatives. They said Dr. Katz’s comments in a 2020 essay didn’t align with what they described as Princeton’s liberal orthodoxy and therefore weren’t tolerated.

University administrators have said there was ample reason to dismiss the professor and that politics played no role in the decision.

Dr. Katz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. His lawyer, Samantha Harris, said last week that a past relationship with a student had already been adjudicated and that the university was condemning the professor for his political beliefs.

Katz had been fully punished a while back for his relationship with the student (always a transgression), and if you’ve followed the case, it’s hard to conclude anything but that Katz was fired for opposing Princeton DEI’s initiatives. (See also Brian Leiter’s report here.) And that’s why the case will go to court.

UPDATE: I was just informed that, in the op-ed section of the WSJ, Katz has a piece called “Princeton fed me to the Cancel Culture mob.” A small excerpt:

For better or worse, I was the first on campus to articulate some of these opinions, publicly criticizing a number of “antiracist” demands, some of them clearly racist and illegal, that hundreds of my colleagues had signed on to in an open letter to the administration in early July 2020.

While I stand by my words to this day, even in the immediate aftermath of the faculty letter, few of my colleagues gave signs of standing by theirs. But as they go about their merry destructive way, I live with the tremendous backlash against me, which has never ceased. It was during a fleeting and illusory lull in late July 2020—after Princeton’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, who had initially condemned me, stated that what I had written was protected speech after all—that I rashly suggested all was well.

So what did I get wrong? There are at least five things of which I was unaware. . .

*A self-contained news report from reader Ken:

And yet, with their “Don’t Say Gay” bills, the Religious Right would have you believe that the greater risk is posed by gay teachers “grooming” school kids.

*If you’re a fan of advances in animal behavior, you’ll want to read this new Wall Street Journal article, “The Year’s Nuttiest Discovery: Stingrays Do Math.” Yep, they can add or subtract, so long as the numbers are five or smaller. (Do they have a concept of negative numbers?) I haven’t yet read the paper, but the article adds some lagniappe about other recent discoveries, including the dubious one I wrote about recently suggesting that cats recognize the names of other cats they live with. And here’s another:

Imagine their chagrin when word came in that almost simultaneously—this is the honest, unvarnished truth—a group of researchers in Australia had published a study in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution proving that honeybees could learn to distinguish between odd and even numbers. Heretofore it had been assumed that only human beings were capable of doing this. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What’s more, because honeybees have tiny brains that are vastly outstripped by our species, the study strongly suggests that human beings may not be anywhere as smart as they think they are. Take that, cat guys!

I haven’t read that study, either, but I’d like to know how they reached that conclusion with honeybees.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has displaced Andrzej:

A: You are sitting on my keyboard.
Hili: But I don’t have my own.
In Polish:
Ja: Siedzisz na mojej klawiaturze.
Hili: Przecież swojej nie mam.

Now this is a weird one! (h/t: Tom)

Do your thing son from FunnyAnimals


From Meanwhile in Canada:

From somewhere on Facebook:

From Divy: There are four men in this photo. Can you find the hidden one? Answer below the fold.

A LOL from reader Paul. Be sure to watch all the way through.

From Simon: Anne Applebaum’s take on Putin. Have a look at her linked article in The Atlantic.

From Thomas; I may have posted a similar tweet before, but with a different photo:

From Barry:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a very nice man!

I don’t understand this. Did everyone really contribute to the project?

Mallard ducklings. We have none so far this year, and it makes everyone at the Pond sad.

Two ways to help our friends the animals.  Help turtles cross the road!

And it takes a special kind of person to feed watermelon to a slug:

Click “read more” to see the hidden person from the picture above:

The man’s in camouflage garb; I’ve outlined his arm in red.

42 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. … National Escargot Day.

    I love ’em. Best Father’s Day meal I ever had was nothing but snails. My wife had given my older (and then only) son, who was about 4 at the time, a credit card to take me out to dinner. We went to a restaurant where I had tended bar on weekends during 1L (and where the manager was a buddy who still gave me the old employee discount).

    We ordered our meals, and started with an escargot appetizer. As soon as we’d eaten the last one, the kid turns to me and says, “More snails, Daddy!” I caught the attention of the waitress, who was also an old friend, told her to box up our entrées to take home and bring us all the snails the little boy could eat, along with a couple baskets of bread to soak up the garlic butter, a kiddie cocktail for him, and a bottle of flinty Fumé Blanc for me, to cut through the butter. We must’ve eaten at least a half dozen orders before the kid finally said “Uncle!”

    1. I’ve eaten snails in many concoctions, but nothing beats garlic butter. I can agree there, although I prefer a light red Burgundy to the whites.
      Snails themselves prefer beer, which kills them. Used beer to get rid of slugs and garden snails, very effective

  2. If anyone has access to Amazon Prime videos, their series Inventions That Shook The World includes the Sikorsky story with real footage, cut together with dramatic sections – really important story.

    1. The invention of the telegraph was a truly revolutionary moment. For the first time in human history information could be transmitted thousands of miles almost instantaneously, infinitely faster than the horse or ship. During this time period, the railroad became ubiquitous, meaning that the shipment of goods was no longer dependent on the excruciatingly slow and expensive land transportation or transport by water. And, of course, what previously could take weeks to travel from point A to point B could now take place in a matter of days. Also, let us not forget the steamboat was invented in the early 19th century. A person born in 1810 and died in 1860 saw the world transformed with profound economic, political, and social consequences, arguably more so than any other time — past or present.

      1. And a person born in 1810 who did not die in childhood or young adulthood of infectious diseases or farming accidents could expect to see 1880 or, with a little luck, 1890. Imagine that.

      2. I was always amazed by my maternal grandmother, who was born in 1899. She lived from the times we used only horse drawn carriages, to cars, to airplanes to spaceships. 🙂 Mindboggling to me. 🙂

        1. My grandfather was born in 1872, same year as Vaughan Williams & Bertrand Russell, & he died in the cold December of 1962…

          His mother was born in 1840, & lost her parents to cholera asa child. His grandfather on his father’s side was about 6 at the time of the Battle of Waterloo.

    1. As are all even-digit palindromic numerals in base 10 (making 11 the only palindromic prime with even digits ~ there exist of course an infinite number of odd-digit palprimes).

      That’s a whole heapin’ helpin’ of authors, though. Rabelaisian list, maybe?

      1. ABCD is div 11 if the difference between (A+C) and (B+D)= 0 or 11.

        Likewise, for ABCDEF, and so on, the difference being between the sum of every other digit with the remaining digits.

        It is easier to do than to write in a tiny comment window.

        There’s a fun calculator pattern based on 11 too. Basically, type out four points of a square, is the idea.

  3. 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.

    There was a 2008 feature film about it, Bottle Shock. Didn’t do all that well at the box office or with the critics, but I kinda liked it. Any movie with Alan Rickman and Dennis Farina can’t be all bad.

    1. On my first flight to the USA in 1969 I was seated next to a Professional American who lectured me on the superiority of wines from the USA. I worked for three weeks in LA and I asked a friend I made there who owned a small vineyard about this. His comment was that the relative consistency of Californian weather allowed fine-tuning of grape cultivation, which produced more consistently good wines, but that the variable summers in France were occasionally right for really great vintages.

      1. Sounds plausible, Richard.

        I once had half a case of Opus One — the joint venture of Chateau Rothschild and Robert Mondavi to make a Bordeaux-style wine in Napa Valley. (Got it from my bestie the teaching chef, who owned his own restaurant at the time and bought some for the place’s cellar. I pestered him till he parted with half a case.) He bought it when it first came out around the mid-’80s, before the price went through the roof. I drank mine around the mid-’90s, and it was delicious.

      2. Having lived in Northern California and vacationed in the Mosel region to visit a family member living there, our collective opinion was that California was producing wines as good as Europe, with the qualifications that (a) the local varietals can obviously be different, and (b) the equivalent of a $5-10 bottle of wine in Mosel would cost you $20 or more coming out of California.

      3. As far as price/quality goes. I think that South African wines beat the French or Californian ones- and the NZ or Argentinian ones, basically all competitors.
        I drink nice wine at less than 3 USD a bottle and exceptional wines at 8 to 15 USD a bottle.
        I’m sure there must be lousy wines in SA, but I haven’t met one yet.

    2. I’ve seen Bottle Shock, which is a nice little movie (and features the Sticks McGhee song, “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee”). I googled to remind myself of the name, and saw that there is what appears to be a documentary coming out this year called, wait for it, The Judgement of Paris, featuring many of the principals.

    1. Given it’s current inactivity (and along similar lines) I’m not sure why the US still has a senate!

        1. What is there about the “lower” house that attracts the more passionate? (Philistinic?) I gather that at least a few ideologues wish for state legislatures to again select senators.

  4. I did some brief googling on the 8,770 author paper. Didn’t find much on why it has so many authors, other than the fact that it’s coming out of the CERN supercollider and they regularly publish huge collaborations. I believe earlier Higgs papers made news for huge author lists too – first beating out the Human Genome Project at 2-3k authors, then making news again at 5k authors, and now this. So whomever they are including, it seems to becoming a regular CERN policy to do it.

    1. This paper comes from data from the ATLAS experiment, which is a huge detector at CERN involving a collaboration of thousands of people to develop, design, construct and run. One can then argue that all such people made a contribution to the resulting scientific papers.

  5. Peter Minuit’s 1626 purchase of Manhattan might not have been such a terrific bargain.

    According to the Wikipedia article on Manhattan, “Historians James and Michelle Nevius revisited the issue in 2014, suggesting that using the prices of beer and brandy as monetary equivalencies, the price Minuit paid would have the purchasing power of somewhere between $2,600 and $15,600 in current dollars”.

    Let’s take the average of those two numbers and say that Manhattan was bought for today’s equivalent of $9,100.

    The same Wikipedia article says that “Manhattan real estate is among the most expensive in the world, with the value of Manhattan Island, including real estate, estimated to exceed US$3 trillion in 2013”.

    396 years have passed since the purchase. If you’d been the seller of Manhattan, and had since been able to get an annual return of 5.1% on the $9,100 (not a terribly difficult task), by my calculation you would now have more than the $3 trillion you’d need to buy your former land plus all the real estate that has since been build on it by other people.

  6. I’m not sure why Britain still has a House of Lords …

    A while ago, Richard Dawkins expressed his delight at having bishops of the Church of England serve in the House of Lords. He seemed very happy. I’ve never seen him happier. If they get rid of the House of Lords, Dawkins will be devastated, and they will have to find another way of infusing the wisdom of Christ into government; if they don’t, the country will go off the rails. Until they have places in parliament reserved for the bishops, they should hang on to the House of Lords.

    1. Are you quite sure? The only position that RD has taken on the House of Lords that I can find is that the Bishops’ automatic places should be abolished, and that members should be elected from the various non-religious elite professions: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2013/may/10/richard-dawkins-house-of-lords

      This is of course open to objections of its own, as the article points out. The question is whether the UK needs a second chamber at all. Given the incompetence of the House of Commons in scrutinising legislation and looking at issues through non-party lenses, the answer is ‘yes’. The preferred option for some of us is a fully elected chamber, but elected on different procedures than the Commons. But this is not the appropriate place to go into details!

  7. “And yet, with their ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills, the Religious Right would have you believe that the greater risk is posed by gay teachers “grooming” school kids.”

    Objection! 😊As much as I respect you, Ken, I have to call you on this bit of sophistry. The fact that child abuse is obviously wrong says nothing about the rightness or wrongness of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, nor does it help clarify anything in an already confusing piece of legislation. You can do better than this.

    1. The trope that the Left is full of pedophiles has become an obsession with the conspiracy minded Right. See, e.g., here. (You may recall the obsessive questioning of newly confirmed SCOTUS appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson regarding her sentencing in kiddie porn cases by Republican senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley at her recent senate judiciary committee confirmation hearings. You may also recall the bizarre conspiracy theories about the pedophilia ring in the Comet Ping-Pong pizzeria’s non-existent basement that made the far-right rounds during the 2016 presidential campaign — including the claim that the risotto recipe in the emails the Russians hacked from John Podesta contained coded references to this pedophilia ring, leading an extremist to fire shots from an assault rifle into the Washington, DC, business )

      How this bizarre obsession with pedophiliac “grooming” is playing out with regard to gay teachers in Florida public schools in light of the state’s newly enacted “Don’t Say Gay” law — which allows vigilante parents to collect bounties for snitching out such teachers — was set out in an article I forwarded to our host that he wrote about in this past Sunday’s Hili dialogue.

      Objection overruled, counselor. 🙂

  8. No offense to Mr. Calhoun, but IMHO, he has some seriously crazy eyes. Mr. Morse, not so much. Just those stereotypical, intense, artist’s eyes. 🙂

  9. “Same with one bite of tripe” – the description of his landlady’s tripe business at the beginning of George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier would be enough to put anyone off for life.

    1. Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, set in the Chicago stockyards, put a lot of people of the time (1906) off meat, full stop. Including then-president Teddy Roosevelt.

  10. “1607 – One hundred-five English settlers under the leadership of Captain Christopher Newport established the colony called Jamestown at the mouth of the James River on the Virginia coast, the first permanent English colony in America” – I visited Jamestown on my only trip to the States (in the early ’70s). It was extremely depressing and I assume the only reason for going there was some connection with Charles Dickens since it was my Dickens-obsessed mother who are insisted that we go. Whatever she was expecting, we didn’t find it.

  11. “I frankly don’t give a rat’s patootie, as the whole hereditary peerage thing does not belong in one of Britain’s governmental chambers, and who cares what gender a peer is?” – in a world in which we are continually told that “transwomen are women” it’s interesting to see that a transwoman is very happy to cash in on “her” male privilege when it suits them. Her older sister, who would have inherited the title, estate, and cash if they went to the oldest child, doubtless gives a rat’s patootie. In another case, the current holder of an aristocratic title is annoyed that on his death his daughters will lose out to his own younger brother who is officially next in line.

    The whole aristocracy is nonsense, but there’s a lot of prestige, money, and influence at stake. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was rushed through and the unintended consequences are now causing problems (unrelated to hereditary titles). But the (mostly) male members of the House of Lords made sure that they found the time to build in an exemption for securing their own vested interests.

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