Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 9, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, June 9, 2022: National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. Once again I must kvetch about the use of vegetables in dessert pies. Yes, I know it’s a matter of taste, but all I can say is that those who prefer rhubarb along with strawberries in a pie are deficient in the taste department.

It’s also La Rioja Day, celebrating the province in Spain that makes some of the world’s best red wine.

Stuff that happened on June 9 includes:

  • 68 – Nero commits suicide, after quoting Vergil’s Aeneid, thus ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty and starting the civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Fun facts about Nero.: He is said (there are dissenters) to have kicked his wife Poppaea to death in 65 A.D. and then, says Wikipedia,

In 67, Nero married Sporus, a young boy who is said to have greatly resembled Poppaea. Nero had him castrated, tried to make a woman out of him, and married him in a dowry and bridal veil. It is believed that he did this out of regret for his killing of Poppaea.

Nero couldn’t bear to kill himself after he’d been repudiated by the Senate, so he got his private secretary to do the deed for him. As for Sporus, he committed suicide in 69 AD to avoid being killed publicly.

Here’s a remnant of the trail in Nebraska with a present-day trail marker.

  • 1954 – Joseph Welch, special counsel for the United States Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army–McCarthy hearings, giving McCarthy the famous rebuke, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Here’s a video explaining the exchange, which involved McCarthy breaking a promise he made. This exchange really was the beginning of the end for McCarthy, and a good thing it was, too. But there was a bit of planning by Welch too: it was not a spontaneous lecture he delivered to Sen. McCarthy.

Broad Peak is in the Karakorum and is 8,051 metres (26,414 ft) high. Here it is:

This, of course, was due to a “revelation” that was later than it should have been. I wonder why God changed his mind. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

During this time [1849-1878], the church taught that the restriction came from God and many leaders gave several race-based explanations for the ban, including a curse on Cain and his descendants, Ham’s marriage to Egyptus, a curse on the descendants of Canaan, and that black people were less valiant in their pre-mortal life. Church leaders used LDS scriptures to justify their explanations, including the Book of Abraham, which teaches that the descendants of Canaan were black and Pharaoh could not have the priesthood because he was a descendant of Canaan. In 1978, it was declared that the restriction was lifted as a result of a revelation given to the church president and apostles. The 1978 declaration was incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of Latter-day Saint scripture.


*As I reported yesterday, the “progressive” Left suffered a stinging defeat in the recall election of district attorney Chesa Boudin, who was recalled by a vote of about 60%. The NYT paints this as a warning for the progressives’ policy on police:

The elections on Tuesday showed the extent to which the political winds have shifted even in Democratic cities in the two years since George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. The initial rally cry on the left then — “defund the police” — has since become so politically toxic that it is now more often used by Republicans as an epithet than by Democrats as an earnest policy proposal. And the crusading energy to overhaul policing in the face of rising crime has waned.

For Democrats, the issue of crime and disorder threatens to drive a wedge between some of the party’s core constituencies, as some voters demand action on racial and systemic disparities while others are focused on their own sense of safety in their homes and neighborhoods.

“Defund the police” was a losing mantra for the outset, yet there are still those who call for it, especially on campus. Some of our own students want the University of Chicago Police defunded, even though those police patrol a huge area of the South Side outside the campus. This baffles me.

*Here’s more backlash reported in The Washington Post, and this worries me more, “Across the country, educational equity was in vogue. And then it wasn’t.” In Colorado Springs, as in other parts of the U.S., conservatives are taking over school boards using the “threat” of CRT teaching as leverage. But the byproducts of conservative school boards, however, are not just unconscionable rules about what to teach, but censorship of books and other educational material.

*As of Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representative is set to vote on gun-control measures that the Washington Post says are “some of the most aggressive gun-control measures taken up on Capitol Hill in years“.  And they are, but they’re still weak beer—and worse, they’re like to fail. The bills include:

1.) “raising the minimum age for the purchase of most semiautomatic rifles to 21 and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines”


2.)  “proposals that would crack down on gun trafficking, create new safe-storage requirements for gun owners, and codify executive orders that ban untraceable “ghost guns” as well as “bump stock” devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to mimic machine-gun fire.”

But the big impediment to this is, of course, are the Republicans:

The House votes, however, will amount to little more than a political messaging exercise because of firm Republican opposition to substantial new gun restrictions. That has left hopes for a bipartisan deal that could be signed into law in the hands of a small group of senators who are exploring much more modest changes to federal gun laws. Those talks continued Wednesday in hopes of sealing a deal in the coming days.

I presume by that the Post means that even if the bill passes the Democratic-majority House, it will fail in the Senate. I’m not sure why unless they’re referring to a filibuster, because even Joe Manchin is in favor of stronger gun control than nearly all Republicans want (which is NONE).

UPDATE: The bill passed the House last night by a vote of 223-204, but it’s doomed by the filibuster, as I guessed:

Though the bill passed 223 to 204, it stands no chance in the evenly divided Senate, where solid Republican opposition means it cannot draw the 60 votes needed to break through a filibuster and move forward.

The vote on Wednesday only underscored the intractable politics of gun control in Congress, where all but five Republicans voted against Democrats’ wide-ranging legislation, and talks on a compromise remained unresolved.

Bipartisan negotiations in the Senate continued among a small group of Republicans and Democrats on more modest measures that might actually have a chance of drawing sufficient backing. But one crucial player, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, warned that there were “sticking points everywhere.”

*A group of 90 women gymnasts, including big names like Simone BIles and McKayla Maroney, are suing the FBI for a billion dollars over its admitted mishandling of claims of sexual abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar.

The women are collectively seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI in a lawsuit filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a 1946 law that makes the United States liable for injuries “caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment.” They join 13 others who in April filed a similar lawsuit against the FBI, citing a July report released by the Justice Department’s inspector general that found the bureau failed to properly investigate serious sex-abuse allegations against Nassar.

Normally you can’t sue the government unless you file a request to the relevant agency asking them to allow you to sue them. But this suit involves a specific law dealing with individual negligence.

*The other day we discussed the continuing phenomenon of food “shrinkflation,” whereby containers get smaller and prices either stay the same or rise, which causes an increase in the price of a given amount of comestible. The Associated Press reports that, in these lean and inflationary times, shrinkflation is coming on strong.

From toilet paper to yogurt and coffee to corn chips, manufacturers are quietly shrinking package sizes without lowering prices. It’s dubbed “shrinkflation,” and it’s accelerating worldwide.

In the U.S., a small box of Kleenex now has 60 tissues; a few months ago, it had 65. Chobani Flips yogurts have shrunk from 5.3 ounces to 4.5 ounces. In the U.K., Nestle slimmed down its Nescafe Azera Americano coffee tins from 100 grams to 90 grams. In India, a bar of Vim dish soap has shrunk from 155 grams to 135 grams.

The perfidy goes on and on and on. . . .

[Consumer advocate Edgar] Dworsky said shrinkflation appeals to manufacturers because they know customers will notice price increases but won’t keep track of net weights or small details, like the number of sheets on a roll of toilet paper. Companies can also employ tricks to draw attention away from downsizing, like marking smaller packages with bright new labels that draw shoppers’ eyes.

That’s what Fritos did. Bags of Fritos Scoops marked “Party Size” used to be 18 ounces; some are still on sale at a grocery chain in Texas. But almost every other big chain is now advertising “Party Size” Fritos Scoops that are 15.5 ounces — and more expensive.

PepsiCo didn’t respond when asked about Fritos. But it did acknowledge the shrinking of Gatorade bottles. The company recently began phasing out 32-ounce bottles in favor of 28-ounce ones, which are tapered in the middle to make it easier to hold them. The changeover has been in the works for years and isn’t related to the current economic climate, PepsiCo said. But it didn’t respond when asked why the 28-ounce version is more expensive.

Likewise, Kimberly-Clark — which makes both Cottonelle and Kleenex — didn’t respond to requests for comment on the reduced package sizes. Procter & Gamble Co. didn’t respond when asked about Pantene Pro-V Curl Perfection conditioner, which downsized from 12 fluid ounces to 10.4 fluid ounces but still costs $3.99.

Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Day Snack Bars went from eight bars per box to seven, but the price listed at multiple stores remains $3.69. Hain Celestial Group, the brand’s owner, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

No company will comment, but of course they’d only make things worse if they did.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is fixing to chase Kulka, who is hiding behind the bench.

Hili: I know that she is sitting over there.
A: Does it bother you?
Hili: Theoretically – no, but I will chase her in a moment anyhow.
In Polish:
Hili: Wiem, że ona tam siedzi.
Ja: Przeszkadza ci to?
Hili: Teoretycznie nie, ale i tak ją zaraz pogonię.


From the Cat House on the Kings:

From Seth Andrews. This is nerfarious:

From Merilee:

This is from Simon, and I have posted it before, but I’m posting it again because this is a wily and evolved escape behavior of ducks, and I had to catch little ducklings yesterday (they can do this at one day old) who pulled this stunt when I sent for them. But I got five of them!

Also from Simon: this is a truly amazing stunt (oops; it showed a kid solving three Rubik’s Cube puzzles while juggling them! The tweet was removed, but I found a YouTube video (below):

From Barry, who sent a tweet yesterday showing that baby owls sometimes sleep on their front, face down. This one is no baby, but does have a temporary impediment:

It’s followed by a tweet showing this owl’s “WTF” moment after it was humiliated.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: today we have someone who survived. (tweet sent by Matthew)

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who had a nice day off yesterday celebrating his daughter’s birthday. First a frog evades a predatory spider:

A cat finds the perfect napping spot:

A lovely moth with weird legs:

This isn’t Harpo or Chico, but they did do a skit like this (see below):

Here’s the original


26 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. In 67, Nero married Sporus, a young boy who is said to have greatly resembled Poppaea. Nero had him castrated, tried to make a woman out of him, and married him in a dowry and bridal veil.

    As one does.

  2. In the U.K., Nestle slimmed down its Nescafe Azera Americano coffee tins from 100 grams to 90 grams.

    In the UK the most perfidious example is Toblerone:

    Rather than make the bar shorter which would have been visible without unwrapping the bar, they increased the size of the gaps between the triangles which would have been hidden due to the nature of the packaging.

    Unfortunately, it backfired. A shorter bar would have just been a shorter bar and accepted as an example of shrinkflation. What Toblerone actually did was viewed as a deliberate attempt at deception and garnered a lot of bad publicity.

    Anyway, they have since increased the price and increased the size of the bar – it’s now bigger than before triangle gate.

  3. This exchange [between Joseph Welch and Joe McCarthy] really was the beginning of the end for McCarthy, and a good thing it was, too.

    I’d say more like the middle of the end, the beginning of the end for McCarthy having come three months earlier when Edward R. Murrow took on McCarthy on the nascent medium of national tv news.

    McCarthy was censured by the US Senate within six months of Welch’s having asked him if he had no sense of decency, and he (McCarthy) was dead of alcoholism two and a half years later, at age 48.

    They say you should speak only good of the dead. Joe McCarthy was dead. Good.

  4. This, of course, was due to a “revelation” that was later than it should have been. I wonder why God changed his mind[?]

    God plainly did not want the LDS to jeopardize its tax-exempt status.

    1. …jeopardize its tax-exempt status.

      How would that have happened in legal terms? Would they not have qualified for exemption because of a particularly inappropriate religious belief? I don’t know the criteria for tax exemption for religious institutions, and I am asking because I am wondering if a church could get into trouble for not letting women be ordained.

      1. The LDS’s religious tax exemption was in jeopardy due to its violation of civil-rights laws.

        God made a similarly timely revelation to the Mormons regarding polygamy when Utah was seeking statehood in the late 19th century.

        1. That could be true but the LDS church never gave an explanation. What I had heard is that the fastest growing regions for new members were in Central and South America where the populations were of mixed black, native, and European origins. The exclusion of blacks from holding the priesthood was threatening the success of new conversions. Black people were supposedly descendants of Cain and had fought on the side of Satan against God and Jesus in the fore life. There were black people in the LDS Church before the change just a very small number. I doubt the LDS Church was ever in danger of losing its tax exempt status because it is a religion.

          The LDS church twice issued a “manifesto” ending polygamy in the 1890s. The prohibition of polygamy is in Article III of the Utah Constitution. This was required for admission to the Union. Nevertheless my great grandfather traveled to Mexico to marry his last polygamous wife. I am sure this happened after the first manifesto and as I recall it happened after statehood. I cannot find my record for this right now.

  5. This isn’t Harpo or Chico, but they did do a skit like this …

    Harpo reprised the Marx Brothers’ mirror bit with Lucy on her tv show:

  6. In other news, police have arrested and charged with attempted murder an armed man who was allegedly intending to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh. The main stream media seems to be treating this in a very low-key manner. “The Washington Post” says merely “Man with gun is arrested near Kavanaugh’s Maryland home, officials say.” I think it is hard to overestimate the negative fall-out had the man succeeded. In this political climate giving one party the opportunity to change the complexion of the Court based on the politically motivated-killing of a Justice could be the end of all cooperation in politics, and might cause a breakdown of the Federal government. If the parties were reversed, and a right-wing person attempted to kill a liberal justice, the media would be trying to out-do one another in proclaiming the continuing Trump insurrection and calling for a purge of Congress to make sure that the Republicans couldn’t interfere with the confirmation of a new Justice.

    1. You have any idea of how many credible death threats Harry Blackmun, the Nixon appointee who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, received over the years? You may recall that Justice Byron White was physically attacked by an anti-pornography crusader.

      And speaking of “caus[ing] a breakdown of the Federal government,” have you given any thought to what would have happened to our democracy had Vice President Mike Pence capitulated to Donald Trump’s incessant entreaties that he reject the legitimate electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, and instead accept the bogus “alternative” EC votes Trump and his team conspired to have 84 cosplay electors cast in seven states?

      1. Or even would have allowed himself (Pence) to be whisked away from the Capitol by the Secret Service, as they insisted? I still suspect some elements of the SS were involved in the coup attempt. Am I a conspiracy theory crackpot to have such suspicions?

        1. That’s a possibility. The televised hearings on the House select committee’s Jan. 6th investigation start in primetime tonight, so I’m sure this will play out over the next couple weeks.

          I suspect that most Republicans will unfortunately stick their heads in the sand instead of considering the evidence presented. Alone among the major news networks, Fox will not be broadcasting the hearings. (Text messages between several Fox News hosts and Trump administration officials will be included in the evidence presented.)

          1. Fox News and GOP politicians are currently in “ignore” mode with respect to the hearings but that may change once they are featured in testimony and videos. They will feel a strong urge to either tell the public that they aren’t to blame, that’s not the “whole story”, or reassure Trump that whatever they said was in a moment of weakness and that they still stand behind him. If they do react this way, the GOP voters may also realize that this is a bigger deal than Fox News is making out. And then there’s the distinct possibility of actual charges. While this may be another nothing-burger like the others, there’s still a chance it will be a belly buster burger, so to speak.

          2. So I gather you do not consider me a conspiracy crackpot, thanks for that.
            The rioters did (wisely) not go in guns blazing, but unruly enough (hang Pence!!) to get Pence prodded into fleeing.
            He did not. As said, I hate to say it, but Pence saved the day, and American democracy, by staying. Let’s give him his due: he was absolutely courageous and impeccable there. (And no, I’m no fan of him). His greatest moment, we owe him some thanks.

      1. It seems to have been more than a threat. The guy actually traveled cross country to assassinate the justice, and showed up at his house with a gun, a knife, and break-in tools.

  7. Today is Johnny Depp’s birthday, and Robert McNamara’s birthday too.

    Regarding the trail, my first encounter with Mormons was interesting: Sherlock Holmes. It is possible that, at the time, I didn’t even know they were real.

  8. I’ve made hundreds of gallons of home-made ice cream when my kids were young. I would start with a Creme Anglaise Everyone’s favorite was coffee, then chocolate. But among fruit ice creams, the favorite was rhubarb-strawberry by far. The rhubarb adds an interesting acidity along with its special flavor.

  9. > But the byproducts of conservative school boards, however, are not just unconscionable
    > rules about what to teach, but censorship of books and other educational material.

    I don’t have any faith in school boards of either affiliation. I wonder if the only answer is to move schooling out of the public sector as far as possible. For a while, I was a supporter of the Separation of School and State platform. Unfortunately, free market forces have just as corrupting an influence on education as political and religious forces.

    One of my more contentious views (I know I have one or two unpopular ones here) is that parents have no more authority to determine what students learn than the community at large does. At the end of the day, students are the consumers and the ones who have to make the choice to learn.

    I still don’t see a solution I support now – especially now that both major parties have spun out of control.

  10. So Gatorade shrinks from 32 to 28 ounces. Well, who needs to drink a quart of over-priced high-fructose corn syrup anyway? Tap water is nearly free. Electrolyte replacement? People will believe anything.

    Shrinkflation works it’s magic chiefly in the packaged-foods industry where the manufacturer gets to determine the size of the package. Minimize your purchase of packaged foods —and take the trouble to read the shelf labels showing price per ounce of the packages you do buy—and you are largely insulated from the perfidy. Yes I know coffee like everything else is more expensive. Inflation is a thing. Get used to it. It’s the only way the sovereign Covid debt can be watered down and dissolved away.

  11. Cat food is subject to shrinkflation too (at least over here). One variety of cat food comes as prepacked sachets soft food, 12 small sachets to a carton box. The standard size of these sachets is 100 gram. Felix reduced the sachet size to 85 gram, AND increased the price of a carton box of 12 sachets. Luckily, Whiskas is still providing bags of 100 gram, and is now cheaper for a box of 12 sachets. Unfortunately, my cat has eaten so much Felix in the past that she now prefers the Felix taste.

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