Friday: Hili dialogue

June 3, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Friday, June 3, 2022: it’s Graduation Weekend at the University of Chicago, as well as National Chocolate Macaroon Day (see below how to distinguish macaroons from macarons from Macrons. It’s also World Bicycle Day.

Stuff that happened on June 3 includes:

  • 1140 – The French scholar Peter Abelard is found guilty of heresy.

The real and then epistolary romance between Abelard and Heloise is one of the most famous cases of star-crossed lovers in history. This is their tomb (together at last) at Pêre Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, though it’s not 100% certain they’re buried there. It used to be a meeting spot for Parisian lovers, but seems to have lost that cachet.

  • 1839 – In Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroys 1.2 million kilograms of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War.
  • 1844 – The last pair of great auks is killed.

From Wikipedia:

The last colony of great auks lived on Geirfuglasker (the “Great Auk Rock”) off Iceland. This islet was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs that made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830, the islet submerged after a volcanic eruption, and the birds moved to the nearby island of Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony initially was discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the great auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, was killed there on 3 June 1844, on request from a merchant who wanted specimens, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.

BASTARDS!  here’s a mounted specimen of one killed in 1844 on Eldey:

  • 1889 – The first long-distance electric power transmission line in the United States is completed, running 14 miles (23 km) between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.
  • 1937 – The Duke of Windsor marries Wallis Simpson.

The Duke, already King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne as he didn’t want to give Simpson. The pair is below along with the declaration of abdication.

  • 1943 – In Los Angeles, California, white U.S. Navy sailors and Marines attack Latino youths in the five-day Zoot Suit Riots.
  • 1950 – Herzog and Lachenal of the French Annapurna expedition become the first climbers to reach the summit of an 8,000-metre peak.

Here they are, with Lachenal on the left. It was successful in that both reached the summit, but both paid a price: Frostbite cost Lachenal all his toes and Herzog all his finger and all his toes. (Herzog’s hands are bandaged; his digits were mostly amputated as they carried him on the long trek from Annapurna out to Katmandu.

  • 1965 – The launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Ed White, a crew member, performs the first American spacewalk.

Here’s a video about that spacewalk:

  • 1989 – The government of China sends troops to force protesters out of Tiananmen Square after seven weeks of occupation.
  • 2012 – The pageant for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II takes place on the River Thames.
  • 2013 – The trial of United States Army private Chelsea Manning for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks begins in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Wine of the Day: Here we have a magnificent Ribiera del Durero from Spain, a wine that could, as I discovered, improve for years. (I had it with my weekly steak, a strip steak, along with rice and tomatoes.)  Along with Riojas, Ribieras constitute one of the two great red wine values of Spain.  This one wasn’t that cheap ($32), but it was well worth it—the equivalent of a $70 bottle of Bordeaux.

The 2018 Valderiz, highly rated by experts (and me), is gutsy, deep purple, and bears some similarity to a full-bodied Rioja. There are notes of minerals (the critics say “earth”) and berries, and is pure pleasure to drink. In fact, to me this should be a wine best drunk on its own, even though it complements food well—perhaps with a bit of cheese as an aperitif, but don’t kill its flavor with a food that lingers on the palate. The best wines, I always say, should be drunk with the simplest foods.

The grapes:  95% tinto fino and 5% albillo, and made organically. Highly recommended.


*Biden gave a strong speech last night calling Congress to pass stronger (but not what I’d say “strong”) restrictions on guns:

 President Biden demanded on Thursday that lawmakers respond to communities turned into “killing fields” by passing far-reaching limits on guns, calling on Congress to ban assault-style weapons, expand background checks and pass “red flag” laws after massacres in Texas and New York.

In a rare evening address to the nation, Mr. Biden dared Republicans to ignore the repeated convulsions of anger and grief from gun violence by continuing to block gun measures supported by large majorities in both parties, and even among gun owners.

“My God,” he declared from the Cross Hall, a ceremonial part of the White House residence, which was lined with candles in honor of victims of gun violence. “The fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals, even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable. We can’t fail the American people again.”

I love that heartfelt slap at Republicans! Will anything happen now? In my view, a few cosmetic restrictions that won’t accomplish much. It’s most those damn Republicans and their misconstrual of the Second Amendment, but Dems need to get their act together as well.

*President Zelensky of Ukraine now claims that Russia has taken over one-fifth of the country. They will get more.  The latest summary from the NYT:

As Moscow’s war in Ukraine approached its 100th day, President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said that Russia now occupied one-fifth of the country, with fighting raging from Kharkiv in the northeast to the city of Mykolaiv in the south.

“If you look at the entire front line, and it is, of course, not straight, this line is more than a thousand kilometers,” Mr. Zelensky told the Parliament of Luxembourg in a virtual speech on Thursday. “Just imagine! Constant fighting, which stretched along the front line for more than a thousand kilometers.”

The consequences of the war also appeared to be reverberating far beyond Ukraine on Thursday, with the group of oil-producing nations known as OPEC Plus agreeing to a larger increase in supply than planned for July and August.

*Britain is celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s “platinum jubilee,” commemorating her 70th year on the throne. I think she’ll hold onto power so long as she’s sentient, but she appears to be failing. As the WaPo reports:

The 96-year-old Elizabeth made two appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony — looking well enough — wearing light blue, her gloved hands resting on a cane. But the palace later announced that while she “greatly enjoyed” the parade, she “did experience some discomfort” and would miss Friday’s thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In the crowds outside the palace on Thursday, it was a party. But people wondered aloud what happens to the monarchy after Elizabeth.

What’s the issue? Prince Charles becomes an aged King? Then Prince William and so on ad infinitum.

*The Volokh Conspiracy on Reason, taking a piece from the Times (I couldn’t get hold of the Time piece even using our librarians), reports that the BBC actually changed the words of a rape victim (a lesbian raped by a transgender woman) to reflect “proper” pronoun usage. (Does that remind you of the ACLU doing the same thing to RBG’s words in an ad?) From the Times:

The BBC changed the testimony of a rape victim after a debate over the pronouns of her transgender attacker, The Times has learnt.

The woman referred to her alleged rapist as “him” but insiders said that her words were changed to avoid “misgendering” the abuser in an article on the corporation’s website….

The victim’s quote was published last year in an online BBC News article about lesbians being coerced into sex with transgender women….

An anonymous participant told researchers: “I was too young to argue and had been brainwashed by queer theory so he was a ‘woman’ even if every fibre of my being was screaming throughout, so I agreed to go home with him. He used physical force when I changed my mind upon seeing his penis and raped me.”

The BBC article replaced every reference to “he” or “him” with “they” or “them”….

“They were originally all male references but the woke bros at the news website wanted to make them female because of misgendering,” said a person with knowledge of the matter. “It’s quite shocking. I can’t think of any other situation where we would change the words of an alleged rape victim.”  (h/t Williams)

*We’ve discussed the pros and cons of using “indigenous ways of knowing” as part of science, but there are undoubtedly cases when that knowledge it makes a valuable contribution. However, conservation may sometimes be an exception. The Māori in New Zealand, for example, drove the flightless moas to extinction (and burned a lot of forest). Now we have an example with the narwhals in Greenland, whose populations off the east coast are crashing because of local hunting (h/t Jez):

But the appetite for the marine mammals is causing conflict between scientists, who say hunting must be banned to protect populations of the cetacean in east Greenland from collapsing, and hunters, who accuse scientists of disregarding their culture and deep understanding of the sea.

Narwhals are found in Arctic waters mostly around Greenland and Canada, and are estimated to number about 120,000 globally. These elusive animals face threats, including noise pollution from ships, which can disturb their navigation and ability to find food, as well as warming waters due to global heating. As the ice melts, they lose their habitat and food.

. . . Yet, despite hunting restrictions, populations are plummeting, according to surveys by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, a government advisory body that monitors the environment. In 2008, surveys estimated there were about 1,900 narwhals in Ittoqqortoormiit, the main hunting location in east Greenland. At the last count in the area, in 2016, the population was put at about 400.

. . .The Greenland Institute of Natural Resources has warned that narwhals are at high risk of extinction in east Greenland and last year advised a ban on hunting in the three areas.

“The stock will disappear if the hunting continues at any level,” says Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, a biologist at the institute, who has been studying and tracking narwhals for 20 years.

The solution is clear: the existence of the species (and individuals of the species) takes precedence over “tradition”. The locals do not need the narwhals to eat, and the narwhals want to live. STOP THE HUNT!

*Finally, according to the AP the name of the country “Turkey” is about to disappear:

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has sent a letter to the United Nations formally requesting that his country be referred to as “Türkiye,” the state-run news agency reported. The move is seen as part of a push by Ankara to rebrand the country and dissociate its name from the bird, turkey, and some negative connotations that are associated with it.

Anadolu Agency said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, confirmed receipt of the letter late on Wednesday. The agency quoted Dujarric as saying that the name change had become effective “from the moment” the letter was received.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been pressing for the internationally recognized name Turkey to be changed to “Türkiye” (tur-key-YAY) as it is spelled and pronounced in Turkish. The country called itself “Türkiye” in 1923 after its declaration of independence.

To paraphrase the old song:

“Why did ‘Turkey’ get the works?
That’s nobody’s business but the Turks’.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili catches the scent of a rodent:

Hili: Sometimes all that remains is an olfactory trace.
A: Trace of what?
Hili: Of something of the right size.
In Polish:
Hili: Czasem zostaje tylko ślad zapachowy.
Ja: Po czym?
Hili: Po czymś odpowiedniej wielkości.

Matthew says: “Find the ducks” (his photo). The reveal is below the fold:

Here’s Anthony Hopkins playing piano for his cat! Don’t miss the bit when Hopkins and his cat look tenderly at each other.  (h/t Malcolm)

From David. If this is real, it must be in a biker bar:

From Doc Bill:

A tweet from Paul. You’ll have to check your pupils yourself, or have someone else do it:

From Barry, a ctenophore unknown until relatively recently:

It poops glitter!

From Ginger K.:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. What a beautiful sculpture! Why could the Egyptians sculpt cats so well but Europeans two millennia later couldn’t paint a decent cat if their lives depended on it?

Cats looking weird:

The most bizarre “typo” (if it qualifies as that) I’ve ever seen. Enlarge it to read:

I’ve shown these signs before but not in their full context. Matthew says that Furness Vale is between Manchester and Sheffield. And “cats’ eyes” are put on the roadway to guide traffic; they reflect headlights at night.

Click on “read more” to see the reveal of Matthew’s ducks.



31 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I have never been much of a royalist and certainly will not celebrate Charles getting to the throne but I do have one quite ornate piece of royal memorabilia which is among my favourite possessions, A King Edward VIII Coronation mug.

    Had it not been for the meddlesome and quite odious Cosmo Lang, the then archbishop of Canterbury there may even have been a way Edward could have married Wallis Simpson and retained the thrown.

      1. Maybe they should hand over the crown to some celebrity for a period of, say, one year 🙂 Stephen Fry will be the next president of the MCC, and he seems all right.

        1. I agree that Stephen Fry would make an interesting monarch, something we’re not really used to.

  2. Will anything happen now? In my view, a few cosmetic restrictions that won’t accomplish much.

    If you can get your politicians used to the idea that they can pass gun control legislation without it ending their careers, that accomplish something.

    The solution is clear: the existence of the species (and individuals of the species) takes precedence over “tradition”.

    Has anybody explained to the narwhale hunters that the tradition is going to end either way? Either they stop hunting narwhales because the population is fragile or they stop hunting narwhales because the population has gone.

    I’m totally with Turkey/Türkiye on the subject of the name change.

    1. I like Türkiye.

      …dissociate its name from the bird, turkey, and some negative connotations that are associated with it.

      ‘Talk turkey’ has a positive connotation, doesn’t it? It’s not all bad.

      1. I don’t have a strong opinion on the ‘call us what we want to be called’ claim – with one exception: no one should force people to use foreign characters or phonemes. I will not be using the diaeresis (two dots, only an umlaut in German) when talking about Turkey(e). I know how to enter it on my keyboard, but most other people don’t. Imagine if the Yemeni government decided that we should all refer to it as “ٱلْيَمَن”.

        Otherwise, ‘call us what we want to be called’ has some very strange and political implications. Look up the Macedonian question.

        1. I will not be using the diaeresis …

          Reckon you won’t be publishing anything in The New Yorker then? 🙂

        2. I was humorously referring to speaking. Even if ‘call us what we want to be called’ is what it is, I shall continue to say ‘Turkey’ when speaking English. The new Turkey is close to how we say Turkey in my native language, and that is why I said I like it 🙂 And I keep saying Macedonia 🙂

          Strange or not, it is by definition political.

    2. “If you can get your politicians used to the idea that they can pass gun control legislation without it ending their careers, that accomplish something.”

      For me the question is whether spending enormous political capital to pass the banning of assault rifles – which is very likely to be unconstitutional and enormously unpopular for 80 million+ voters – accomplishes anything except guaranteeing that more Republicans get elected.

      It’s the very definition of political suicide and about as smart as a bag of rocks since the last three SC gun cases actually spell out the criteria for what makes particular guns survive constitutional challenge. And assault rifles pretty clearly fit those criteria.

      Of course it’s all moot – the Republicans will never allow the passage of an assault rifle ban. It would seem smarter to push constitutional measures like better background checks and Red Flag laws which the public – and even the Republicans – know are reasonable. Let the Republicans quash those and you have a campaign issue with teeth. Push an assault rifle ban and you give Karl Rove a wet dream.

      1. Assault rifles are already banned in the USA.

        An assault rifle is a rifle with a semi automatic mode and a fully automatic mode. Semi automatic means when you fire a bullet, the next mechanism is cycled automatically ready to fire the next bullet when you next press the trigger. Automatic means when you press the trigger, the rifle fires and continues firing until you release the trigger or the magazine is empty. Weapons capable of automatic fire are generally banned for civilians in the USA except for some older ones that have been “grandfathered” in.

        The controversy is about assault style rifles or assault weapons. These are guns like the civilian AR-15 that look like assault rifles but aren’t because they have no full auto mode. I know they tried in the past, but it would be difficult to frame a law to ban these and not other semi automatic weapons. Then again, why not ban all semi automatics? A semi automatic hunting rifle can fire bullets just as fast as an AR-15 until the magazine is empty and it probably has a more powerful cartridge. Even the venerable M1 Garand fires bullets with about twice as much energy as an AR-15.

        Anyway, that wasn’t my point. You’ve got to get politicians used to the idea that some gun control is not political suicide and how can it be with 75% of Americans being in favour of it? Baby steps is what it will take.

        1. “You’ve got to get politicians used to the idea that some gun control is not political suicide and how can it be with 75% of Americans being in favour of it? Baby steps is what it will take.”

          Agreed. Republicans have already talked about Red Flag laws. We should start there.

    3. I think that in general, as a rule of the thumb, name changes are pushed and used by governments (and other groups) to distract from real problems.

  3. If you can get your politicians used to the idea that they can pass gun control legislation without it ending their careers, that accomplish something.

    In the same sense that passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (when Lyndon Baines Johnson was senate majority leader), though all but entirely feckless, exposed the first crack in the wall of Southern resistance that had stood as a bulwark against any type of civil-rights legislation for 80 years after the Reconstruction era, and thereby opened a path by which by-then president Lyndon Johnson was able to ram the much stronger civil-rights acts of the mid-1960s past his former southern colleagues.

    1. Good observation, Ken, and it echoes the point some reasonable liberals are making currently, to wit, that the Dems have to learn how to play the long game.

      1. I hope they are playing a good long game because their short game really sucks. Their #1 meme is now calling their opponents “ultra MAGA”. It practically invites the deplorables to yell back, “Hell, yeah!”

        1. Paul, I agree their short game sucks, and I think you will agree it’s because they are in thrall to the extreme progressive wing, who wants everything immediately and then pouts when they don’t get their way (prime example: AOC). And to elaborate my brief comment above, they have NO long game, again because they are in thrall to the progressives. That is why they are going to get their clocks cleaned in November.

          1. Well, the thrall you mention is certainly one reason but I don’t think it’s the only one. As Bill Maher pointed out on his show tonight, GOP politicians say “I’m a proud conservative” in every campaign ad, while Dem politicians never say “I’m a proud liberal” in theirs. That’s because the GOP has successfully turned “liberal” into a swear word and the Dems let them. For years and years, they’ve let the GOP call the shots on such things. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I guess I’m saying their long game sucks too.

            1. Some people who are new to the US are confused by the meaning of the word ‘liberal’ as often used here. I understood the word in the sense of classical liberalism. I am not complaining — meanings change and some words acquire new meanings, e.g., ‘semantics’ 🙂 — but it was new to me.

              1. Yes, perhaps that shows a path back to a rehabilitated “liberal”. When the GOP calls its opposition a “dirty liberal”, they can say “Oh, no. I’m not that sort of liberal. I use the original definition.” Doesn’t fit well on a baseball cap though. I’m joking, of course.

  4. I think Biden’s anger make be a symptom of his dementia, but why should the Republicans participate in this effort? If the call was for limits on free speech or expansion of warrantless searches, I’d hope they’d do the same. The people who espouse ‘gun control’ have shown themselves to be willfully ignorant of the issues involved, and always trot out a wish list of restrictions that don’t address the recent outrages. Look at Trudeau in Canada. There’s a shooting in the US with a semi-automatic rifle, and he’s clamping down on hand-guns, looking for any excuse. All gun control seeks to do is keep guns out of the hands of people who are not criminals. And we know that criminals are a key demographic for the Dems.

    1. I think Biden’s anger make [sic] be a symptom of his dementia …

      You mean in contradistinction to the equanimity of his extremely compos mentis predecessor who claimed windmills cause cancer. who wanted to nuke hurricanes, and who thought a moat filled with serpents and snakes would make a bigly beautiful accompaniment to his sea-to-shining-sea wall that Mexico would happily pay for? 🙂

    2. Hi DrBrydon, I understand that you don’t like Biden, and that’s perfectly fine, but your comment on Biden’s anger being a symptom of dementia is just gratuitously mean. Biden’s not angry because of dementia; he’s angry because innocent children have been murdered! I mean, Ceiling Cat damn it, I’m angry about the Uvalde massacre, and I’m a non-demented 40-year-old.

  5. Here’s Anthony Hopkins playing piano for his cat! Don’t miss the bit when Hopkins and his cat look tenderly at each other.

    Please tell me the cat’s name isn’t “Clarice.” 🙂

  6. My parents chose Abelard as my middle name. I’ve never been particularly happy about being named after a teacher who was castrated for sleeping with his student, Heloise, by thugs hired by her father.

    1. Win some, lose some, man.

      Things often don’t end well for one or both parties of a star-crossed couple — Tristan & Isolde, Daisy & Gatsby, the Montague fella & Capulet gal, take your pick. 🙂

      1. I believe my parents were inspired by the lovely correspondence between the two after they’d both gone into religious retreat, and by the idea that it was a great and tragic love. So I abided by it.
        But I was very annoyed when my employer published my full name including my middle name in their directory. I’ve been unable to get them to change it.

  7. For those who use WordPress: Do you see a reply alert on the top RHS (where it is for me) consistently? I do not, even though I am following WEIT.

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