Sunday: Hili dialogue

June 12, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Sunday, June 12, 2022, and it’s International Falafel Day, saved from cultural appropriation by being “International”.  Here are some lovely falafel:

Only kidding! These are mud nests of some kind of swift or swallow, seen in an archway in Portugal.

I haven’t been to the Middle East, where falafel reins supreme, but here is the best falafel I’ve ever had in my travels. It’s in Paris in the Marais, and there’s always a line:

It’s also World Day Against Child Labour as well as Loving Day in the U.S., described as “an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states.”

Wine of the Day: It’s not secret that I like sweet wines; the real secret is how to find good ones, many of them greatly undervalued (try an Aussie Yalumba Antique Muscat, for instance). Sweet wines can be great value for money, but I did splurge quite a bit on this one, a 2018 Klein Constantia, which cost $60—and for 2/3 of a bottle (500 ml).

This is a historic wine that almost went extinct—well, it actually did for a while. They starting making it from the muscat grape at this estate in South Africa in 1685, and it became a favorite of many, including Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon while in exile in St. Helena, Queen Victoria (who reportedly had a glass every night), Baudelaire, and, in the U.S., George Washington and John Adams, the latter describing it as among the “most delicious wines of the world.” It even gets an approving nod in Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility as “the finest old Constantia wine.”

An increase in British tariffs reduced production to almost nothing, and then nothing, with the wine no longer produced after 1872.  But estate was restarted in 1980, and the quality seems back to what it was then—well, at least it’s an indescribably delicious tipple. It’s sweet but not unctuous, with a light straw color.

The odor is unique: a mixture of classic muscat fragrance combined with what I identify as lemon, straw, and a bit of oregano. I will probably never have another bottle of this, as it’s rare and pricey but I got seven glasses from it (you need only a little), so it’s only about $8.50 per glass. (You’d pay more than that for a glass of mediocre red in a restaurant.) It is very highly recommended by all critics (see the captious James Suckling’s review here). If you have a wine-loving friend who likes “stickies”, this would make a great Christmas gift, if you can find it.

It was stunning now but is said to get even better with age. I couldn’t wait.

Stuff that happened on June 12 include:

  • 1775 – American War of Independence: British general Thomas Gage declares martial law in Massachusetts. The British offer a pardon to all colonists who lay down their arms. There would be only two exceptions to the amnesty: Samuel Adams and John Hancock, if captured, were to be hanged.
  • 1817 – The earliest form of bicycle, the dandy horse, is driven by Karl von Drais.

Here’s a dandy horse from about 1820. Seems crazy to me, and not that efficient. Scooters would be better:

And the plaque of my favorite player, though the image is a bit ghoulish:

There was more than one diary. Here’s the story of her diary, showing a collection of Anne’s writings. The checkered book on top is the one she was given on this day. You can see a photo here, but I dare not post it because the last time I used two photos from the Anne Frank site, they charged me $160 post facto, saying I’d have to pay even if I removed the photos to make up for the money I (don’t) make on this website. The organization is venal.

  • 1963 – NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is murdered in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith during the civil rights movement.
  • 1963 – The film Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is released in US theaters. It was the most expensive film made at the time.

You can see why from the scene below when Cleopatra enters Rome:

  • 1964 – Anti-apartheid activist and ANC leader Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison for sabotage in South Africa.
  • 1967 – The United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declares all U.S. state laws which prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.

Here are Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967. They were convicted in Virginia, brought suit before the Supreme Court, and won with a unanimous decision.

Here’s the famous statement:

The Pulse Nightclub was torn down and replaced with this memorial:

  • 2017 – American student Otto Warmbier returns home in a coma after spending 17 months in a North Korean prison and dies a week later.
  • 2018 – United States President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea held the first meeting between leaders of their two countries in Singapore.

Nothing came of it, of course, and I doubt anything will ever come from our negotiations with the DPRK. Lots of avoirdupois here!

Da Nooz: 

*It’s a fraught summer in Kyiv, as the Associated Press reports in this article and in the video below. The fighting is mostly elsewhere, but the air raid sirens blow regularly, and many of the male residents are preparing to fight in the east or south.

Many, but by no means all, of the 2 million inhabitants who Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said had fled when Russian forces tried to encircle the city in March are now returning. But with soldiers falling by the hundreds to the east and south, the surreal calm of Kyiv is laced with nagging guilt.

“People are feeling grateful but asking themselves, ‘Am I doing enough?’” said Snezhana Vialko, as she and boyfriend Denys Koreiba bought plump strawberries from one of the summer-fruit vendors who have deployed across the city, in neighborhoods where just weeks ago jumpy troops manned checkpoints of sand bags and tank traps.

Now greatly reduced in numbers and vigilance, they generally wave through the restored buzz of car traffic, barely glancing up from pass-the-time scrolling on phones.

With the peace still so fragile and more treasured than ever, many are plowing their energies, time, money and muscle into supporting the soldiers fighting what has become a grinding war of attrition for control of destroyed villages, towns and cities.

*Photos of the prisoners at the US base in Guantanamo Bay are rare, but Wikileaks released some, and the NYT has now published several it got via the Freedom of Information Act.  Here’s one of them.  We should not be keeping prisoners there; they need to be tried or released; indefinite detention without trial is illegal on US soil.

*On Friday evening the average price of a gallon of gas hit $5 for the first time ever. the Rubicon has been crossed!

Some drivers are purchasing fewer gallons on each visit to gas stations but making more frequent trips to fuel up. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at price tracker GasBuddy, said consumer resilience has remained relatively strong, even as demand has started to waver. He projects people will more significantly adjust their driving habits when gas hits between $5.40 and $5.50.

That is around the price that, adjusted for inflation, would surpass the 2008 peak for gas prices, Mr. De Haan said.

Read the new WaPo editorial by Madline Voschl, “I’m a Texas teacher. Here are all the thinks I’m asked to be“. If you think you have a tough job, trying being a public high-school teacher in a district where 60% of the students are economically disadvantaged, with many so hungry that the teacher buys snacks for the kids. On top of that, they had to maintain covid and mask regulations, and many are the family’s main breadwinners, leaving them little time to study.  (h/t David)

We’re asked to be guards, caretakers, public health officials, life coaches. It’s impossible to do everything, but we’re asked to do it all because no institution outside our schools will.

The police won’t keep my students safe. Politicians won’t regulate guns. Billionaires won’t pay their taxes, money that might go to the schools. So we teachers do more. And when we can’t, it’s the most vulnerable children who feel the effects.

The teachers in Uvalde acted as human shields, giving their lives to try to save their students. But the truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can’t keep them safe on our own.

Truly, dedicated teachers like Vosch are the unrecognized heroes of America.

*Analyzing the Congressional hearing on the January 6 insurrection, The New York Times suggests that Congress is laying the grounds for a criminal case against Trump.

The first prime-time hearing into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol this past week confronted the fundamental question that has haunted Mr. Trump, the 45th president, ever since he left office: Should he be prosecuted in a criminal court for his relentless efforts to defy the will of the voters and hang on to power?

. . . Several former prosecutors and veteran lawyers said afterward that the hearing offered the makings of a credible criminal case for conspiracy to commit fraud or obstruction of the work of Congress.

But there are many obstacles to putting the Orange Man in an Orange Suit, one of the most daunting being to prove that he acted with the intent of fomenting an insurrection:

“Unless there’s more evidence to come that we don’t know about, I don’t see a criminal case against the former president,” said Robert W. Ray, a former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton and later served as a defense lawyer for Mr. Trump at his first Senate impeachment trial.

“Whatever the Proud Boys had in mind when they stormed the Capitol, I don’t see how you’d be able to prove that Trump knew that that was the purpose of the conspiracy,” Mr. Ray added. “Whether or not he ‘lit the fuse’ that caused that to happen, the government would have to prove he knowingly joined that conspiracy with that objective.”

*Below is a re-election ad for the biggest loon in Congress, Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert.  She shows her political prowess by winning a demolition derby. (Note that she’s also packing heat.)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets a taste of her own medicine:

Hili: This borders on persecution.
Małgorzata: What are you complaining about now?
Hili: About the lack of inclusivity.
In Polish:
Hili: To zakrawa na prześladowania.
Małgorzata: Na co znowu się skarżysz?
Hili: Na brak inkluzywności.

And a photo of Kulka from Paulina:


From David:

From reddit:(h/t Merilee)

The last box on earth from cats

From Bruce:

God is flogging His new book. But he doesn’t need money, and why couldn’t he convey his book to others as a revelation?

From Bette Midler, retweeted by Sarah Silverman:

A tweet from Barry. His caption: “Get a room!”video

A tweet from Ricky Gervais, showing what he’s reading. He seems to have a penchant for nonscience and fiction, but doesn’t he know that E. O. Wilson has been canceled? I have to say that the Wilson book, though, is far from his best, and was panned in magazines by both Richard Dawkins and me.

From the Auschwitz Memorial. As noted above, it’s Anne Frank’s birthday and the day when, at 13, she was given the first book of her now-famous diary:

Tweets from Matthew Cobb, who wonders how long this turtle can keep exhaling under water. A long time, I suspect!

Wouldn’t you love to have a bobcat family living in your back yard?

This fish may be deepening its hole to lay eggs, to protect it from predation, or any of a myriad of other reasons:

This winds up as a beautiful story; be sure to read Joe Biden’s letter at the end:

31 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

      1. Not the wisest decision in my life – if PCC(E) feels it necessary, it can be deleted. Sorry if I incurred a fine on PCC(E).

  1. 1963 – NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is murdered in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith during the civil rights movement.

    It took 31 years, until 1994, finally to bring De La Beckwith to justice with a conviction for Medgar Evers’s murder. Two trials in 1964, before all-white Mississippi juries, ended in mistrials due to hung juries.

  2. 1963 – The film Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is released in US theaters. It was the most expensive film made at the time.

    Despite the expense, it still looks kinda cheesy to me. Liz deserved some kind of award just for keeping a straight face in the scene above.

    The torrid on-set affair between Burton and Taylor during the making of Cleopatra broke up her marriage to crooner Eddie Fisher (whose previous marriage to Debbie Reynolds had been broken up by his torrid affair with Liz a few years earlier).

    1. Edit: this was typed as a free-standing comment, not a reply to Ken. Strange.

      >Scooters would be better.

      Actually they wouldn’t. Even over smooth, hard-surface roads, large wheels like on the hobby horse (and horse-drawn wagons) roll with lower resistance than small wheels like on scooters and roller skates. On the cobbled streets and rutted dirt roads of 1817, small cast-iron wheels would have been unworkable.

      Now, many more things had to be invented before you have a practical bicycle: pedals, chain drive with different sized sprockets to allow the rear wheel to turn faster than you can pedal, ball bearings, the wire-spoked wheel in tension, macadam roads and, crucially, the pneumatic tire. Steerable headsets are necessary to turn at low speeds but not at high speeds because a single-tracked vehicle is steered by mostly by leaning. Oh, and brakes, once the freewheel is invented to allow delightful coasting downhill and so you can no longer stop by pushing backwards on the pedals.

      All these innovations had appeared by 1890 and were doing much to deepen the gene pool of small English villages that were more than a convenient walk apart. Bloomers allowed women to ride, too, out of reach of chaperones. Organized cycling groups advocated for better roads, which later powered vehicles would coat-tail on.

      Eventually smooth asphalt became the norm for streets and then scooters finally become practical.

      1. Indeed. One of the very few advantages of the Penny Farthing and other high wheel bicycles was that the large wheel made travelling over the rutted, unpaved roads of the time possible. They had obvious safety problems (I believe it was Samuel Clemens who advised that everyone would love to ride them… if they survived) so much so that when pedal bikes came out with wheels of equal size, they were called “safety bicycles”

      2. Now, many more things had to be invented before you have a practical bicycle: pedals, chain drive with different sized sprockets to allow the rear wheel to turn faster than you can pedal, ball bearings, the wire-spoked wheel in tension, macadam roads and, crucially, the pneumatic tire.

        The necessity that struck me looking at that picture was the need for light-weight steel tubing. without that – well you can see what they had to use for a frame.

        1. Sure, steel tubing is wonderful stuff, especially seamless double-butted drawn over mandrels, 0.7 mm thick, 0.9 at the butts. All my bikes are such except for our titanium tandem. But not essential for building a serviceable bicycle. Until you can draw the steel thin and still retain tensile strength after silver brazing, wood will make a lighter bicycle, just not mass producible and therefore expensive. Early (and cheap modern) frames welded from gas-pipe weigh a ton. Bamboo is particularly good even today because already hollow. The challenge for any structure is the joints and proper mating of parts. Steel really solved all the problems of bicycle design especially when threading taps and dies became standardized during the Industrial Revolution. Carbon fibre? Meh.

    2. Well, Cleopatra does give Caesar a wink at the end of her entrance…

      Earlier this year I bought the Blu-ray and watched Cleopatra for the first time. I was impressed. It was considerably better than I thought it would be. The story is mostly true to history and contains very few howlers, the dialogue (always a specialty of Joseph Mankiewicz) is literate and insightful, and Burton and Taylor (and Rex Harrison) have obvious chemistry. All in all, one of the better films I’ve seen with an ancient Roman/Egyptian setting.

      I was also saddened to realize a film with sets and costumes as lavish as this will never be made again. Nowadays CGI has taken over big-screen spectacles and turned them into computer-animated cartoons pretending to be reality.

  3. “Whatever the Proud Boys had in mind when they stormed the Capitol, I don’t see how you’d be able to prove that Trump knew that that was the purpose of the conspiracy,” Mr. Ray added.

    Even absent the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol building, Donald Trump likely committed the crimes of conspiring to interfere with or obstruct governmental functions through fraud or deceit, in violation of 18 USC section 371. and attempting to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede an official governmental proceeding, in violation of 18 USC section 1512(c)(2).

    This was the conclusion of federal district court judge David Carter in rejecting the attorney-client privilege claims of lawyer John Eastman based on the crime-fraud privilege exception. And former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade has drafted a model prosecution memorandum (known as a “pros memo”) that a US Attorney’s Office would need to submit to Main Justice to obtain permission to proceed with such a prosecution, setting out in detail the case against Donald Trump for violating these statutes.

      1. “Even absent the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol building, Donald Trump likely committed the crimes of conspiring to interfere with or obstruct governmental functions through fraud or deceit, in violation of …”

        Sounds like you’ve finally nailed Trump. Why hasn’t he been arrested yet?

        1. Let me know when you read Judge Carter opinion and Ms. McQuade’s memo, so we can have an informed discussion.

  4. I’d rather watch productions like that Cleopatra because actual real live people and real tangible material was directed in concert, in real weather and sun lighting, evoking a challenge that was surmounted.

  5. This will likely be a minor point to most of you, but it always annoys me. The clever quote from Bruce about a ranger’s observation at Yosemite National Park that the smartest bears are more intelligent than the dumbest tourists incorrectly credits the quote to a “forest ranger”. Park rangers work in national parks and forest rangers work in national forests. I am a retired park ranger and I never let a slip like that pass. One day I asked a forest ranger friend of mine if he was ever called a park ranger. Indeed, he was and was also annoyed by the mistake. I felt a little better knowing that the error went both ways. Bruce, I doubt that you wrote the quote, you just took a screen shot and submitted it to PCC(E) because it is funny. I laughed, too, but don’t make that mistake again, unless, of course you’re one of the dumber tourists.

  6. The last word on bobcats:

    My 6-year old grandson: “Papa, do you think there are more cats or more dogs in the world?”
    Me: “Gee, I don’t know. What do you think?”
    Grandson: “I think there are more cats, because there are bobcats but they’re aren’t any bobdogs.”

  7. Although Lauren Boebert is indeed a certified loon, I think ‘the biggest loon in Congress’ is Marjory Taylor Greene, although I admit the contest is close. Nothing much can beat Jewish Space Lasers igniting Californian bush fires. That surely wins the title (IMMO).

  8. I’m a bit confused about Bette Midler’s gun death statistics, as retweeted by Sarah Silverman. According to the most recent official data I could find (Firearm Crime Statistics England and Wales, House of Commons Library, 22 September 2021):

    The latest data for the year ending 31 March 2020 suggests that there were 30 homicides caused by shooting which accounted for 4% of all homicides (695).

    I don’t imagine that Scotland and Northern Ireland contribute the missing 20 deaths, but I presume that I’m probably missing the suicide data? (And legal shootings by armed police officers, but those are extremely rare here.)

    It appears that there has been a grand total of five mass shootings committed by civilians in the entire history of Great Britain, for what it’s worth:

    1. The Bette Midler cartoon retweeted by Sarah Silverman is wonderfully dramatic BUT the number of handgun deaths in Canada is wrong as well.

      I took a quick look at Canadian Government figures on gun homicides. Figures for 2021 were not posted yet. However, firearm-related homicides reached a total of 277 in 2020.

      Handguns represent 59% or 163 of the firearm deaths in 2020 in Canada.

      Such figures are tragic enough but don’t like to see them made much worse.

    2. What exactly does Bette Midler propose to do about it?
      I know she won’t like seeing all those young Black men carted off to prison for violating the handgun-possession laws she seems to want to enact.

  9. Thanks for posting the Brandon story. I had not seen it. It is nice to see a positive here.

    Despite the reputation for being a liberal, even woke, region, my area is rife with LGB flags, bumper stickers, tee-shirts, hats, and the like. Infantile, in my opinion. Like a first-grader yelling “poop” in class, and giggling.

    I have much more respect for the Welchite loon down the road that painted “F**K Joe Bidin” (yes, spelled wrong) on his truck and flies a flag saying the same (spelled right) in front of his house, next to the highway, half a km from the largest amusement park in the northeast, for all of the kids to see, than I do for the LGB crowd (Welch was first leader of the John Birch cult). The mathematician in me quantifies this level of respect with the Greek letter “epsilon”, but that is still greater than zero.

  10. I happily pay the $3 or whatever for Smart Water bottles because they don’t leak and are tough enough I can refill them over and over for more than a year. They’re my canteens. (The water itself, of course, doesn’t matter.)

  11. “… The New York Times suggests that Congress is laying the grounds for a criminal case against Trump… this past week confronted the fundamental question that has haunted Mr. Trump, the 45th president, ever since he left office: Should he be prosecuted in a criminal court for …”

    I would correct the NYT’s wording to *ever since he was elected*.

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