Thursday: Hili Dialogue

June 2, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on June 2, 2022, a Thursday and National Rocky Road Day (the candy, not the ice cream flavor). Real Rocky Road looks like this: a form of fudge with nuts and marshmallow:


It’s also International Sex Workers Day. 

The video below from YouTube: “She’s America’s Highest Paid (Legal) Sex Worker”.  She made $1.2 million last year, but half goes to the Chicken Ranch.

From the YouTube notes:

Chicken Ranch in Nevada is one of the few licensed brothels in the country. It is also where Alice Little, the most successful legal sex worker in the United States works.

. . . In a candid interview, Alice talks about how her childhood was free of stigma, her 90-hour work weeks, what she will and won’t do in her job, the fetishes people come to her with, and ultimately, what she loves about her work: the connections she makes with people.

Stuff that happened on June 2 include:

The sack of Rome (reproduction)
  • 1098 – First Crusade: The first Siege of Antioch ends as Crusader forces take the city; the second siege began five days later.
  • 1692 – Bridget Bishop is the first person to be tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts; she was found guilty and later hanged.
  • 1896 – Guglielmo Marconi applies for a patent for his wireless telegraph.

Here’s an early transmitter of Marconi (he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909):

(From Wikipedia): Marconi’s first transmitter incorporating a monopole antenna. It consisted of an elevated copper sheet (top) connected to a Righi spark gap (left) powered by an induction coil (center) with a telegraph key (right) to switch it on and off to spell out text messages in Morse code.
  • 1953 – The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey becomes the first British coronation and one of the first major international events to be televised.

Here’s a nice BBC documentary using the words of Elizabeth:

  • 1997 – In Denver, Timothy McVeigh is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people died. He was executed four years later.

McVeigh’s last meal before he was put to death by lethal injection was two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The concept of a “last meal” has always puzzled me, but I guess it’s to afford the doomed man a last bit of pleasure.


*In an op-ed, NYT conservative columnist Ross Douthat says he has “The simplest response to school shootings.” No, it’s not more gun restrictions, nor is it arming teachers and turning schools into fortresses. Surprise! It’s. . . not selling guns to people who turn out to kill other people. That’s nothing new: it’s Mitch “666” McConnell’s and other Republican’s go-to suggestions. Detect the shooters and don’t sell them guns!

Give me policies, the simpler the better, that would stand between some meaningful percentage of mass shooters and their arsenals.

We have a decent sense of what those policies might be. The people drawn to this kind of terrorism are overwhelmingly of a type — young, troubled, socially awkward men. They are not necessarily gun experts, prepared to retrofit any weapon they acquire for maximal lethality, nor are they necessarily experts at navigating black markets to acquire weapons they can’t get legally. And they often expose their instability and intentions in advance.

Yes, some will overcome all obstacles or strike without warning. But many others, including those like the Uvalde shooter, seem potentially deterrable at the point of weapons acquisition. As the University of Alabama criminologist Adam Lankford put it, in a recent interview with The Dispatch, “If you make buying a firearm more difficult for people who find it difficult to do anything socially, that makes a difference.”

Those difference-making difficulties could be imposed via restrictions that target age and weapon type at once. Or they could be imposed through laws encouraging pre-emptive action by parties who might see the threat coming in advance.

So I would like to see experiments with age-based impediments rather than full restrictions — allowing would-be gun purchasers 25 and under the same rights of ownership as 40- or 60-year-olds, but with more substantial screenings before a purchase. Not just a criminal-background check, in other words, but some kind of basic social or psychological screening, combining a mental-health check, a social-media audit and testimonials from two competent adults — all subject to the same appeals process as a well-designed red-flag law.

Well, yes, we should tighten background checks, which include vetting people with a history of mental illness, and not sell AR-15s to those under 21, and giving people psychological tests, but is this really going to be a Big Fix? Remember, most deaths by guns are not by mass shootings, but by individual homicides and suicides. Are those people going to stand out in a psychological test (it’ll be too much trouble to implement that, anyway) ? Douthat’s solution is better than nothing, but given the nature of gun violence, it appears to be targeted towards a minority of those who kill or hurt others. I still think we need to pry the guns out of the hands of Americans who love them. No tests needed!

*The jury hearing the joint defamation suits of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has found BOTH OF THEM liable.  The net result is that Depp got more money—$13 million dollars of it:

Weighing the claims, a jury found that both of the exes defamed each other.

The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages and no money for punitive damages. Depp sought $50 million in damages and Heard sought $100 million. Punitive damages in the state of Virginia are capped at $350,000, so the judge reduced the punitive damages award to that amount.

Heard kept her eyes down as the verdict was read. Depp was not present in court.

Heard said in a statement she is “heartbroken” over the verdict.

And that, ladies and gentlement, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends is that. Except for a completely useless NYT op-ed by Jessica Bennett, “Nobody wins in the Depp-Heard Verdict.

*WaPo national affairs columnist David von Drehle has a heterodox opinion just expressed in his piece, “Think the West can coax an end to the war in Ukraine? You’re wrong.” In other words, sanctions aren’t going to work. Only Putin, and Putin alone, can end the war.

Now, only he can stop this horror. Weirdly, though, leaders and thinkers of various political stripes seem to think that the United States and its allies have the power to bring the carnage to an end. From Henry A. Kissinger on the right to Katrina vanden Heuvel (a Post columnist) on the left to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in cloud-cuckooland, these voices have complained in recent days that Ukrainian resistance, supported by the allies, somehow stands in the way of a cease-fire.

This is nonsense.

From the first week of the fighting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly offered the most generous cease-fire terms to Russia, consistent with restoring a stable, peaceful world. Even after kicking Russian tails for more than three weeks, Zelensky asked only that Russia return to its pre-invasion position and commit to respect Ukrainian sovereignty. Ukraine would pause its integration into Western Europe somewhere short of full NATO membership.

. . .  Putin doesn’t want peace. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid peace. He has paid — and continues to pay — a staggering price to resist peace. Even as his military power melts and his economy reels, Putin spurns cease-fire talks. Diplomats have begged him to negotiate, yet he has never engaged seriously.

. . Putin will end the war only when he decides he has no other choice. Therefore, Ukraine must fight on.

*Sheryl Sandberg, whom I’ve always had a crush on, just announced that she’s leaving Facebook  and has nothing lined up that lured her away. It appears to be the FB controversies:

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, has announced she will step down from her role, as the company continues to weather a financial storm and shifts away from social media into virtual reality.

Sandberg said she was not sure of what the future holds for her, but she plans to focus on her foundation and philanthropic work going forward.

She said she will leave the company this fall, but will continue to be on Meta’s board.

The billionaire executive has been one of Facebook’s most prominent public faces since joining in 2008, shaping its policies and overseeing responses to the myriad public controversies the company has battled.

Her departure comes after Facebook rebranded in October 2021 to Meta, attempting to move its primary business away from social media and into virtual reality after a series of difficult years. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has bet big on his hopes for the “metaverse”, an augmented and virtual reality space where people can interact through avatars in a shared world.

On the lighter side, there’s some good news for Brits. For some reason that isn’t clear, the Binley Mega Chippy in Coventry has acquired the reputation as a fantastic fish and chips shop, and is being flooded with customers.

Visitors appear to have been drawn to the fast food restaurant by a catchy music video posted on TikTok, which has now been viewed more than half a million times.

“I have no idea what happened,” said Kamal Gandhi, the shop’s owner. “Thursday it started to get busy, and I noticed people out the front taking pictures. I was just like, ‘What are people doing?’ We assume someone local who likes the food has made the song and it’s just gone viral.”

The song was just the start. It has spawned Binley Mega Chippy remixes and reviews, with a particular focus on the eatery’s £4.99 “Morbius Meal”. This consists of fish and chips, mushy peas and a can of fizzy drink.

By Monday morning there were people queueing outside the shop before it opened and many others, mainly teenagers, posing for photos underneath its striking red and yellow sign.

The one missing element from this story is the answer to the burning question: DOES THE PLACE MAKE GOOD FISH AND CHIPS? There no meal more comforting to me that a good “Morbius-style meal” with fresh, crispy fried fish, tons of fries, the requisite mushy peas, and a pint or two of Landlord on the side. So does this place fill the bill? Sadly, we’re not told.  Perhaps a kind reader in the Midlands will send a report (h/t Jez)

This plate is getting there, but needs more chips:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is looking for “inspiration,” but she may mean “mice”!

A: What are you looking for?
Hili: Inspiration.
A: Under a bush?
Hili: It must be somewhere.
In Polish:
Ja: Czego tam szukasz?
Hili: Inspiracji.
Ja: Pod krzakiem?
Hili: Gdzieś musi być.
Here’s Baby Kulka, photographed by Paulina:

And from Manchester, we have a picture of Matthew’s cat Pepper in the garden:


From Simon, drawing a distinction between “macaroon” and “macaron”—and other things:

From Divy:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Barry: a cat gets dizzy!

From Ginger K.:

Another from Ginger K:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. His caption to the one below: “Impervious to facts”. Indeed!

Matthew says, “These kids are now my age”:

Matthew tweeted this, and I’m mystified by that last sentence.  An example of “taking with one hand and giving with the other”.

A letter from crystallographer and polymath J. D. Bernal (nicknamed “Sage”) to J. D. Watson congratulating him and Crick for their role in discovering the DNA structure:

32 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili Dialogue

  1. Someone on Facebook was arguing about the hammer thing yesterday. It wasn’t hard to dispute his so-called “facts” but I mean really. These people are shameless.

      1. Very clever, Robert, and I appreciate the sarcasm, but he was obviously not referring to the hammers of revolvers.
        He was trying to spread easy to debunk disinformation. Nohonosh (no honour, no shame). Disgusting, and especially his doubling down on ‘his gun rights’. If I were him, I’d rather insist on ‘oxygen rights’.

        1. The problem is that they don’t know it’s easy to debunk, because they believe what their right-wing sources tell them without a second thought. It’s the “Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it” attitude, only with Q-Anon, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson standing in for Jesus.

          1. I suspect they roll out whatever excuse comes to mind. It is not about whether the excuse is true but whether their interlocutor will accept it. Sometimes, as in this video, the strategy fails. This gun nut’s response was essentially to say, “It doesn’t really matter. I just love my guns.” The truth of the excuse was never the issue.

    1. I note that deaths known to have been due to rifles were only slightly more numerous than deaths due to hammers (both around 400), and both far far fewer than deaths due to handguns, staggeringly, stunningly (to me) fewer. Perhaps the poor guy’s oxygen apparatus failed and he got it mixed up in his head that hammers exceeded all guns.

      Worth noting that getting deliberately shot with a rifle is highly likely to be fatal. So the total number of rifle assaults cannot be much more than 400. Hammer assaults are highly likely to cause brain damage but less likely to be lethal if a neurosurgeon gets involved quickly. So it is likely true that there was more “crime”—that’s what oxygen-guy said first, then trumped it up to “deaths”—committed with hammers and other blunt objects than with rifles.

      The 2A man was FOS but the large difference between handgun deaths and rifle deaths is surely not irrelevant in this year’s iteration of the gun-control debate.

  2. The one missing element from this story is the answer to the burning question: DOES THE PLACE MAKE GOOD FISH AND CHIPS? There no meal more comforting to me that a good “Morbius-style meal” with fresh, crispy fried fish, tons of fries, the requisite mushy peas, and a pint or two of Landlord on the side.

    If your criteria include having a pint of Landlord on the side, the answer to your question must be no. It’s unlikely that, as a chippy, this establishment has a licence to sell alcohol and even if it did, it’s unlikely to sell Landlord and even if it did sell Landlord, it is unlikely to have it on draught.

    Ross Douthat is correct. All you need to do is stop supplying guns to the people who would use them to commit murder. Of course, since there is no reliable way to identify future murderers, the only way to do that is to stop supplying guns to anybody who hasn’t got a very good reason to own one. We tried that in the UK and it seems to be working pretty well.

    David von Drehle’s thesis is facile and also wrong. There are two people who can stop the war in Ukraine: Putin and Zelensky. Putin could end the war now by accepting Zelensky’s terms. Zelensky could end the war now by unconditional surrender. Clearly the terms that each man would have to accept to stop the war are too unpalatable so they both fight on – or order their troops to fight on. There’s nothing revelatory about the idea of not stopping fighting if the terms aren’t good enough.

    The sanctions are not completely useless. They do put pressure on the Russian leadership. Putin is trying to ignore them but others may not be and the sanctions may help people to decide they need a regime change. The sanctions also deny Russia much needed supplies for its war effort.

    1. Couldn’t the pub next door serve both the pint of Landlord AND the best fish and chips? I believe these kind of associations are common. They certainly are here in the US.

    2. I saw this tw**t this morning regarding HIMARS which will apparently be a huge help to Ukraine.

      “Tomorrow Biden will announce a new $700 mil security package for Ukraine that includes High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, which have a range of about 40 miles.”

      1. Whether HIMARS will be a game changer depends on the type of rockets they will be provided with and the numbers delivered.
        Of course they are urgently needed, but if I understood correctly, there will be only 4 units (way too few, 40 or140 could really change the game), and not with long range (200 miles) rockets. Still a great addition to the Ukrainian arsenal. The fight in the Donbass is primarily an artillery fight now, and the Russians have great superiority there.The Biden administration has been dithering a bit, but finally did the right thing. And I think -and hope- it will do more later.
        I’d say, with the assurance Ukraine gave the US they will not use the system to strike targets within Russian territory, the US could give long range rockets, and more units. Ukraine is highly likely to stick to that agreement, one doesn’t bite the hand that feeds one.

        1. Artillery war sounds like tricky business. Sounds like attrition. I guess if both sides are shooting missiles, the war goes on. At this point, “the war going on” favors Ukraine. It’s just a matter of will, I suppose, and continued support from Ukraine’s allies (some ostensible). Putin is fighting the West and he thinks determination (and righteousness?) wins the war. Hitler was another personality who thought human will could triumph over reality. Usually doesn’t work out well for those types, yet death and destruction are their forte, and millions suffer for it.

  3. In other news, to me this article encapsulates so much that is wrong with America right now. It’s about how a California court ruled that bees are fish, in order to allow them to be shoe-horned into California Endangered Species Act. Why didn’t the bureaucrats go to the legislature to have the act amended? The just decided they were going to ignore the obvious meaning of the law, and try to do what they wanted by what is, in essence, lying. The lower court ruled no, but then the appeals court said, OK, because bees are invertebrates like fish. They just cut the democratic part out of the democratic process.

      1. Starfish, jellyfish, cuttlefish, crayfish and probably many more are invertebrate ‘fish’. Of course they aren’t really fishes, but courts are not really schooled in basic biology I’d think.

        1. It’s the legislatures, not the courts, who decide what a fish is. It makes sense to put the commercial lobster fishery, the commercial scallop fishery, the commercial squid fishery, the commercial cod fishery, and the commercial seal hunt all under the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans. It makes no sense to worry about whether the regulated species has a backbone or not. Or fur for that matter.

          This is an excellent example of a semantic distinction in the manner of what Richard Dawkins was talking about yesterday. Who says lobsters aren’t fish? If you harvest it from the sea, it’s a fish as far as the regulators are concerned, and the person who makes his/her living off of it is a commercial fisher, which is a specific legal term. (Seals are hunted on ice, not fished out of the water. The difference is relevant in terms of the harvesting tools used and how you police the hunt, but the legal principle of permits, seasons, and quotas imposed by the sovereign is the same, to prevent a tragedy of the commons.)

          In the question of treaty rights to fish out of season without regulation, the distinction is about whether Indigenous people fished a particular species from time out of mind using their own traditional knowledge before they leaned about the existence of other, off-shore species from Europeans with their sea-going boats. Natives in Nova Scotia trapped eels in weirs placed in tidal estuaries but they didn’t know lobsters and deep-water fish existed. An eel is therefore a Treaty fish but a codfish and a lobster are not. Again the presence of a backbone is not relevant to this contentiously important semantic distinction.

      1. IIRC the sodomy by De Sade was exclusively perpetrated on females (or their remnants). It would not be a sin in the biblical sense, I’d think.

        1. De Sade enjoyed being sodomized by his valet. It’s been a while since I’ve read De Sade, but I believe there are cases of male-on-male sodomy in his works. For example, the scene in 120 Days of Sodom where depraved aristocrats give a boy a horrifying sex change operation but also take advantage of his existing orifice.

          I have never found De Sade’s books erotic. A lot of the time they’re downright boring, filled with long lectures about his philosophy of the world. He was an atheist but also subscribed to a sociopathic view of human nature without any scientific foundation, believing humans completely selfish. Social Darwinism avant-la-lettre. What keeps the reader going is a sort of horrified interest in seeing what De Sade will do next.

  4. Yes, some will overcome all obstacles or strike without warning. But many others, including those like the Uvalde shooter, seem potentially deterrable at the point of weapons acquisition.

    As far as I know, Douthat is just wrong here. Ramos had no police record and no record of any mental health problems. Sure, after the fact people were able to go back and find disturbing behavior, but there is no way to design a system that uses the full power of journalistic investigation ahead of every gun purchase. And while I’m not sure, I’d bet that as Jerry points out, a lot of the people who commit suicide by gun would also fall into the “no recorded events on which to deny a gun purchase” category

    …But not all would fall into that category. This article about red flag laws seems to indicate that they have some positive effect, both on homicide and suicide rates. So they can be part of a larger solution.

    1. I suggest Douthat is envisioning something a little closer to the Canadian model. To legally buy or possess firearms in Canada you must obtain a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). On the license application you must list the name of two adult references and the name of your spouse if you have one (including ex-spouses if you’ve been apart for less than two years).

      I know from personal experience that the references and spouse will be contacted. If any of them express reservations about you owning guns, your application may be denied. (I say “may” because I’m not sure exactly how that decision is made.)

      Under such a system, many of these troubled young men would be unlikely to get references to vouch for them.

      1. The Sandy Hook mass shooter was mentally ill and exhibited bizarre behavior, yet his mother purchased guns for him – basically an illegal “straw” purchase. She was the first one he killed. Perhaps if a red flag law had been in place and the estranged husband had been contacted, lives would have been spared.

  5. In the tweet sent by Matthew of the Northern Irish school kids dancing in the ’60s, the audio is kinda hard to make out, but it doesn’t sound like the Chan Romero original of “Hippy Hippy Shake,” or even the Beatles’ cover from Live at the BBC, so I’m guessing maybe the Swinging Blue Jeans’ version from 1963?

  6. The whole “do a mental health check before allowing someone to buy a gun” idea is a total red herring. In most cases, if you remove the mass killing from their record, the shooters look like 10% of the population and are fairly indistinguishable from the rest. Just one of the weapons in the gun nuts’ arsenal of excuses.

    1. So what would you do, Paul, if you had unlimited law-making capability? Imagine you could impose any gun-control regime you like and the gun nuts would have no political or legal means to thwart your legislative will. Sort of like a Westminster Prime Minister when he has a majority: he can pretty much do anything he wants, subject only to the risk of not being re-elected. (His own MPs can’t buck him because as party leader he signs their nomination papers.)

      My only stipulation is that you have to be able to enforce whatever law you decree. You should explain how you would do this, both for people who generally obey laws and for people who don’t. Otherwise it’s like the mice deciding to bell the cat.

      1. How many times do I have to say this. To make laws in this area requires a lot of expertise, study, and consideration. I’m not going to say something stupid like, “Take all the guns away and melt them down.” even though that’s a reasonable one-line summary of how I feel about the issue. I realize that hunters, the police, private security, etc. have to be accommodated. There’s also what to do about the Second Amendment. It’s a complicated question so I’m not going to put something up just for gun nuts to ridicule. I am proud that I can’t field-strip an AR-15. For all I know, that isn’t even a thing.

        That all said, my lack of firearms and legislation-writing ability is not a reason for my government to do nothing about an obvious problem.

        1. Thanks. i don’t think melting down all the guns is stupid on its face, especially if you would allow military and police and maybe hunters to have certain types. I’m honestly open-mindedly curious about what people mean when they say gun control. What I hear more is people using the issue as a club to bash Republicans with, because Republicans really won’t do anything. But you’re the only one who’s actually said what he would do.

  7. So Douthat’s solution would be for the government to do massively intrusive psychological evaluations as a condition of firearm purchasing. Does he really think that the NRA would go along with that?

    1. After every mass shooting the NRA trots out the “It’s a mental health problem, not a gun problem,” so they’ve made the bed already. Sure they’ll oppose it, but it might force them to come up with a new excuse for inaction.

  8. Usually, when something terrible happens, it is the result of a chain of failures. In the military, and I am sure in other situations, Severe mishaps result in a careful investigation, where those failures are identified, and recommendations made for specific changes to procedures in order to prevent their recurrence.
    In this case, such an investigation has not been completed, as it takes time to do so. Instead, the tragedy is being used as pretense for activists to push their existing political agendas. As best I can tell, the goal of gun control activists is to continually push for increasing restrictions and bans on legal gun purchase and possession. That is absolutely not the same as working to reduce firearms deaths or homicides.
    If that were the goal, we might make an attempt to enforce the laws that are already being broken with impunity, such as straw purchase laws. Many of the guns used in our urban war zones are obtained that way, and offenders, even repeat offenders tend to receive token sentences, if they are prosecuted at all. If I buy a gun with the intent to sell it to another person, even if that person would legally qualify to purchase it for himself, I face up to 10 years and $250K in fines. Transporting the gun across state lines, of knowingly selling it to a prohibited person increases the severity of the offense and the possible penalty. And that is per gun.
    Often it is a large scale endeavor run by felons, with the specific aim of arming gang members. One such case resulted in the ringleaders, repeat offenders, receiving 2 to four year sentences, and the straw purchasers of the 40 guns involved receiving 45 days in the pen total. 27 hours per offense.

    The general tone of the current argument seems to be that we cannot possibly introduce steps that might prevent purchases by the sort of person who thinks it is funny to walk around with clear plastic bags full of bloody, freshly killed cats, with a childhood history of shooting strangers with BB guns. Or whatever foreshadowing behavior is to be revealed next. No, the solution is to go after the 10 million people who own similar guns, but don’t wave bags of cats at people, and do not ever commit violent crimes. If it were about people like Ramos, there might be an understanding that if AR-15s were unavailable, he might have used a shotgun, or bought a hot gun from a gang member.
    What we know of him is that he patiently planned this out, and saved up $5K or more in order to fund it. I don’t know of a good way to keep an individual so determined to cause a bunch of horror from doing so in a free society, except for early detection and isolation.

    Probably not popular opinions here, but it is generally good when more than one side is expressed.

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