Tuesday: Hili dialogue

June 21, 2022 • 6:30 am

The weekend is over but the heat is not: the high temperature for Chicago is predicted to be 100° F (38° C) on this Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the cruelest day. And by the time you’ve read this, the Summer Solstice will have occurred, so it’s the longest day of the year.

It’s National Peaches and Cream Day (a great treat, but who eats it any more), as well as Go Skateboarding Day, World Hydrography Day, and World Humanist Day

We also have these Solstice-related observances

And the self-affirmation messages on my Splenda packets today. I’m so pumped!

Stuff that happened on June 21 include:

  • 1749 – Halifax, Nova Scotia, is founded.
  • 1791 – King Louis XVI of France and his immediate family begin the Flight to Varennes during the French Revolution.
  • 1900 – Boxer Rebellion: China formally declares war on the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan, as an edict issued from the Empress Dowager Cixi.

Yes, the name “Boxer” comes from the practice of martial arts by the Chinese. Here are some Boxer soldiers:

  • 1915 – The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision in Guinn v. United States 238 US 347 1915, striking down Oklahoma grandfather clause legislation which had the effect of denying the right to vote to blacks.
  • 1919 – Admiral Ludwig von Reuter scuttles the German fleet at Scapa FlowOrkney. The nine sailors killed are the last casualties of World War I.

The German fleet was interned off Scapa Flow after the Armistice, and the Germans decided they didn’t want their ships to fall into British hands. Of the 74 vessels interned, 52 were sunk by scuttling. (Below: the scuttled battlecruiser Hindenberg.)  The nine Germans were shot in lifeboats while rowing ashore, which seems to me a war crime.

See 2005 when one of the killers was finally convicted. Here’s the FBI’s “missing” poster for the three:

. . . and a picture that has angered me throughout my life, showing two defendants certain that they’d be freed (they were). One of them, Sheriff Lawrence Rainey (r.), is having a chaw of Red Man tobacco in court. It is an icon of white supremacy and mockery of integration:

(From Iconic Photos):During the trial, LIFE magazine devoted two pages to the above photo made by Paul Reed, which showed defendants hollering and mocking the court. Rainey was seen flamboyantly chewing his tobacco in the picture. Public outcry followed, and when his term as sheriff ended in 1967, Rainey was unable to find further work in law enforcement. He ended his life working as a security guard at supermarkets and malls, and blaming the FBI for preventing him from finding and keeping jobs.

Although I’m not generally a fan of modern musicals, as I think their songs are overly cerebral and unmemorable, Andrew Lloyd Webber is an exception, having written, among others, wonderful songs like “All I Ask of You” and “Memory”. This is another great song by Webber and Tim Rice, sung by Madonna, who plays Eva Perón in the film. The meaning of the words, and how sincere Evita was in the song, is something I ponder every time I hear this. I’d recommend reading a good biography of Evita, for she was an intriguing person:

And a Spanish “live recording” version, which I like better, by Elena Roger, a Argentinian. (There’s also a not-bad version by Karen Carpenter.)

Fun fact from Wikipedia:

The title of the song comes from an epitaph on a plaque at Eva Perón’s grave in the La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. The plaque was presented by the city’s taxi drivers’ union and roughly translates as: “Don’t cry for me Argentina, I remain quite near to you.”

Just last Wednesday Hickley was freed from all court oversight. He also scheduled a guitar concert in Brooklyn, which was canceled because of negative public reaction. The last I heard he was living with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, home of my alma mater. Here’s the concert announcement, now obsolete:

  • 1989 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, that American flag-burning is a form of political protest protected by the First Amendment.
  • 2005 – Edgar Ray Killen, who had previously been unsuccessfully tried for the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner, is convicted of manslaughter 41 years afterwards (the case had been reopened in 2004).

Killen got off for a long time, but was finally sentenced to sixty years in prison. He died in 2018. Here’s his booking photo from 1964 and then a photo from his second trial:

  • 2009 – Greenland assumes self-rule.


*Let’s hope that Russia is not planning more invasions. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I read this news summary in the NYT:

Russian authorities on Monday threatened Lithuania, a member of NATO, with retaliation if the Baltic country does not swiftly reverse its ban on the transportation of some goods to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad by rail.

Citing instructions from the European Union, Lithuania’s railway on Friday said it was halting the movement of goods from Russia that have been sanctioned by the European bloc.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told reporters the situation was “more than serious.” He called the new restrictions “an element of a blockade” of the region and a “violation of everything.”

Accustomed to Russian threats, officials in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, took Moscow’s warnings as mostly bluster — the latest in a series of increasingly intemperate statements by a country that is severely stretched militarily by its invasion of Ukraine.

Well, some said that Russia’s saber-rattling before it invaded Ukraine was also “bluster’. Russia’s been hankering after the Baltic states for some time, and I’m not complacent about this. On the other hand, those states are members of NATO, and Ukraine was not. Other NATO members (supposedly) have an obligation to defent any NATO country that’s attacked.

*Another death sentence has been handed down, and of course it’s from Georgia.

A Georgia prisoner convicted of killing two guards during an escape from a prison transport bus five years ago has been sentenced to die.

A jury on Thursday agreed unanimously on a death sentence for Ricky Dubose in the June 2017 shooting deaths of Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, news outlets reported. The jury on Monday had found him guilty of charges including murder.

A second prisoner charged in the killings, Donnie Rowe, was convicted of murder in September. A judge sentenced him to serve life in prison without parole after jurors couldn’t agree whether he should be sentenced to death.

. . . Dubose, 29, was already serving a 20-year sentence for a 2015 armed robbery and assault in Elbert County when he escaped. He had been in prison earlier, as well.

Both prisoners (shown below in 2017, with Dubose on the left) were captured in Tennessee within days after their murderous escape. Read more about Georgia’s death penalty, the forerunner of modern executions, at the site “The Next to Die.”

(Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool, File)

*I rarely put gas in my car, as I almost always limit my driving to weekends, and for years I’ve usually put in $20 worth of gas at a time, which lasted about a month. To get the same amount I paid $30, for it’s now $6/gallon on Chicago—the second priciest gas state in America. But a lot of people drive a lot more, and drive gas-guzzlers like SUVs, so they’re out of pocket big time (and imagine what truckers pay to fill up!).

Now Biden is floating the idea of suspending the federal gas tax to ease the financial pain, giving us what they call a “gas tax holiday”. The thing is, though, that the tax is a paltry 18.4 cents per gallon, which isn’t what I call a holiday. (Also, the tax goes to improve federal highways and roads.)

Mr. Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Del., that he is considering a gas tax holiday. “I hope to have a decision based on the data I’m looking for by the end of the week,” he said.

Gas prices started increasing last year and surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which disrupted the global oil market. The average cost of a gallon of unleaded fuel in the U.S. hit $4.98 on Monday, according to AAA. That is up from about $3 a year ago.

Any suspension in the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon would require action from Congress. So far, Democratic-led efforts to temporarily pause collecting the tax have failed to gain traction.

I agree with Larry Summers on the tax holiday:

Harvard University’s Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary, criticized the idea on Sunday as a “gimmick…you eventually have to reverse,” speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He also said that he thought the “dominant probability would be that by the end of next year, we would be seeing a recession in the American economy.”

*I had heard about the insane platform of the Republican Party of Texas, but Lord, I’ve had a look after reading this WaPo op-ed, and the platform reads like a Unabomber Manifesto. Below is a rundown by the Post, and you can see the full platform here.

The Texas GOP has adopted a new platform that’s generating headlines for its open discussion of secession from the union. But the platform also exposes how that “election integrity” scam really functions. In so doing, it lays bare some ugly truths about how radical the abandonment of democracy among some Republicans has truly become.

The new platform, which thousands of GOP activists in Texas agreed to at the state party convention over the weekend, is a veritable piñata bursting with far-right extremist fantasies. It states that Texas retains the right to secede from the United States and urges the Texas legislature to reaffirm this.

It describes homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” It flatly declares that no validation of transgender identity is legitimate. It dismisses all gun regulations as a violation of “God given rights,” and sharply rebukes Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) for pursuing a bipartisan gun-safety package that’s extraordinarily modest.

But the document might be most revealing in its treatment of voting and democracy. It declares President Biden was “not legitimately elected” in 2020. It says Biden’s win was tainted by voting in swing-state cities, furthering a GOP trend.

*For a response to Texas’s “threat” of secession, read Dana Milbank’s WaPo column, “Texas Republicans want to secede? Good riddance.” Lots of snark—like this (h/t David):

Of course, protections would have to be negotiated for parts of Texas that wish to remain on Team Normal. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and parts of South Texas would remain in the United States, and they will need guaranteed safe passage to New Orleans or Santa Fe, along with regular airlifts of sustainable produce, accurate textbooks and contraceptives.

But consider the benefits to the rest of the country: Two fewer Republican senators, two dozen fewer Republican members of the House, annual savings of $83 billion in defense funds that Texas gets. And the best reason? The Texas GOP has so little regard for the Constitution that it is calling for a “Convention of the States” to effectively rewrite it — and so little regard for the United States that it wishes to leave.

In democracy’s place, the Republican Party, which enjoys one-party rule in Texas, is effectively proposing a church state. If you liked Crusader states and Muslim caliphates, you’ll love the Confederate Theocracy of Texas.

*Here’s a NYT op-ed I completely agree with: “Modern zoos are not worth the moral cost” by Emma Marris, environmental writer and fellow at UCLA. We should not be putting animals in jail for our entertainment. If you want to see them in the wild, there’s YouTube, and if you want to conserve them for later release (an aim that’s often exaggerated), there are conservation centers.(One of my friends who worked in a zoo said that people spend about two seconds looking at the information placards.)

Marris finds that almost no effort in zoos is spent conserving species that could be released (there are, though, a few exceptions), so given that the conservation and education excuses are moot, it’s time to take down the zoos. Animals are not for us to put in cages and gawk at. Same with aquaria.


The A.Z.A. [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] says that its members host “more than 50 reintroduction programs for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.” Nevertheless, a vast majority of zoo animals (there are 800,000 animals of 6,000 species in the A.Z.A.’s zoos alone) will spend their whole lives in captivity, either dying of old age after a lifetime of display or by being culled as “surplus.”

The practice of killing “surplus” animals is kept quiet by zoos, but it happens, especially in Europe. In 2014, the director of the E.A.Z.A. at the time estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 animals are euthanized in European zoos each year. (The culling of mammals specifically in E.A.Z.A. zoos is “usually not more than 200 animals per year,” the organization said.) 

. . . But there’s no unambiguous evidence that zoos are making visitors care more about conservation or take any action to support it. After all, more than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums worldwide every year, and biodiversity is still in decline.

In a 2011 study, researchers quizzed visitors at the Cleveland, Bronx, Prospect Park and Central Park zoos about their level of environmental concern and what they thought about the animals. Those who reported “a sense of connection to the animals at the zoo” also correlated positively with general environmental concern. On the other hand, the researchers reported, “there were no significant differences in survey responses before entering an exhibit compared with those obtained as visitors were exiting.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is puzzled, but Malgorzata explains: “I think that Hili is influenced by the ideology of ‘equity’. All stones/opinions should be round/similar, and here is one that is different.”

Hili: Look at this stone.
A: What’s strange about it?
Hili: It’s different from the round ones.
In Polish:
Hili: Spójrz na ten kamień.
Ja: Co jest w nim dziwnego?
Hili: Różni się od tych okrągłych.

From Merilee (and a problem I always have):

From Bruce:

From Not Another Science Cat Page. Make sure you always have the right tool for the job.

God explains the doctrine of Christianity, which never made any sense to me (and apparently not to God, either):

From Simon. This is like a human sleeping on a big steak:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

The remaining tweets came from Dr. Cobb, since nobody else is sending me any! First, a contender for Sign of the Year (surely photoshopped), but also a great song title:

Maybe the cartoon below is aimed at biologists:

How to get your ducklings over a waterfall. Translation: “Baby ducks that can’t get off because they’re scared of steps … At that time, my mother’s hard work gave courage to the chicks.” youtu.be/K1sDWF0reqU?t=

Two pale dots:

This is a real rabbit, but it’s endangered by habitat loss:

36 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. And a Spanish “live recording” version, which I like better, by Elena Roger, a Argentinian. (There’s also a not-bad version by Karen Carpenter.)

    Sorry, but on this occasion, I think you have made a misstep. There’s only one version that need trouble us and that is the original recording released for the UK singles chart.

    Julie Covington

    It will never be bettered.

    As a counterpoint, I managed to track down this sketch from The Goodies.


    1. Julie Covington’s performance is beautiful and haunting. It’s one of the musical memories of my teenage years, and it still manages to move me to tears.

    2. Julie Covington is a wonderful singer. I highly recommend her first album “The Beautiful Changes” (reissued on CD a couple years ago). A majority of the songs were written by Pete Atkin and Clive James (who in addition to being a man of letters and Tv personality was also a fine lyricist and poet). Beside the title track, highlights include “The Magic Wasn’t There,” “If I Had My Time Again,” “Winter Kept Us Warm,” and “My Silks and Fine Array” (a William Blake poem set to music).

      1. Julie Covington is a fine actress as well. I still remember seeing her in Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers at the National Theatre.

    1. I meant to add that prices here are about £1.90 per litre for unleaded petrol, £2.00/litre for super unleaded, and £1.96/litre for diesel.

      1. UK price in USD: 3.785 litre per US gallon; USD1.22 per UK pound:
        £2.00/litre = 2×3.785×1.22 = USD9.24 per US gallon!!

    2. Canada, paying from CDN$2.00 to 2.35 or more per litre, which works out, I suspect, roughly 6 US$.

      Household hint, wash/dry your socks in zippered nylon mesh laundry bags (made for frilly undies). Never lose a sock again.

    3. Executive branches of governments are clearly delighted with high gasoline prices. They cheer them as accelerating the green transition more potently than those governments would be able politically to do with any imaginable carbon taxes.

      No one really knows what the price elasticity of demand for gasoline is, though. We are in a natural experiment right now to find out. If consumption (and resulting CO2 emissions) do not fall, then trying to fight climate change with carbon taxes, the central tenet of most national initiatives and beloved by economists for letting “market forces price the social cost of carbon”, will fail. They will just make people poorer and angrier because they will have to sacrifice utility somewhere else. (In the long run they can sell their houses in the suburbs, get rid of their SUVs, and move to condos downtown where they can take public transit to work. But in the long run they can also vote out governments who want to make them suffer in the fight against climate change.)

      This is not to slag carbon taxes. All other measures to reduce GHG emissions have failed, save one: off-shoring their heavy primary manufacturing to Asia has allowed Europe to reduce its emissions modestly as it becomes more sclerotic (while increasing China’s)

    4. > in the UK, the fuel duty is 52.95 pence per litre

      How many tax authorities are there within the UK? In the US, the federal government, the state government, and often enough specific counties and cities can also tax things. Looking at the federal tax alone simply does not compare.

      Can the UK, England, the County of London, and the City of London all tax gas separately?

      1. Nope, it’s set throughout the UK (so England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

        1. I thought so. At that point, comparisons become difficult when you have a unitary tax authority rather than several working at different levels of government. It’s not fair to compare UK taxation with US taxation, but with [US+Illinois+Cook County+Chicago]. (Sorry, I’m not familiar with Illinois policies; I don’t know how precisely applicable that is. Some other states have similar levels of taxation, though).

  2. He [Hinckley] also scheduled a guitar concert in Brooklyn …

    Was he gonna dedicate a tune to Jodie Foster?

  3. “And the self-affirmation messages on my Splenda packets today. I’m so pumped”

    Somehow appropriate to find saccharine bromides on Splenda packets….

  4. Completely disagree about zoos. I’ve been to several in the last year, and I’ve seen both children and adults react to live animals in a way that tells me that video is no substitute. Indeed, I think the prevalence of video for everything may actually lessen the value it has for things like this.

    I’ve noticed that the term Right, as it is used in this country, is now almost invariably linked with the adjective Far, to imply that there is no conservative position which is not extreme. The Texas platform has 271 clauses (really? what’re the priorities here?), many of which can hardly be called radical, and even those which I disagree with are hardly new to the Republican party. (Among reasons I am not a Republican.) The Texas GOP call homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice,” which is mean, but their call is against special laws for homosexuals, including hate speech laws. “No one should be granted special legal status based on their LGBTQ+ identification.” Hardly radical. That is not to say there aren’t antediluvian elements in the platform; the clause dealing with secession also supports Nullification. Let’s face it, The Washington Post was never going to report on a “mostly reasonable” Texas GOP platform, and out of a forty page document, cherry-picked the phrase most likely to offend their subscribers.

    1. I am fairly agreeable to what you say about zoos. There are good reasons for either side of the issue, and a full discussion should acknowledge what both sides have to say.

      But on the Texas GOP platform. Well… the reason for special laws concerning hate crimes and discrimination against LGBTQ+ is the same reason why we have special protections for other at-risk groups. These are done in order to create enhanced protections around those who are especially vulnerable. Existing laws “for the rest of us” are demonstrably not sufficient, but I believe having special laws here does help as a deterrent. It sends a message because the message is needed.

    2. You haven’t weighed this with the suffering of animals in zoos, many of which are adapted to roam wide areas but are confined. You can see neurotic behavior in many animals. I guess you don’t count animal suffering against the “reaction” of children, which apparently is of only entertainment value, not enhancing understanding of nature or a desire to conserve it.

  5. The J6 committee gets busy again today at 1:00 pm Eastern. The focus of today’s hearing will be the pressure campaign put on state officials to give aid and comfort to Trump’s attempted coup. This will included, of course, Donald Trump’s perfect Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump told Raffensperger, “Hey, Brad, I just want to make sure that every legitimate vote in Georgia gets counted.”

    Ha! Ha! I kid, of course. Trump didn’t say that. Instead, what he told Raffensperger to do was simply “recalculate” the vote totals and “find” him 11.780 votes — coincidentally, one more than Trump needed to beat Joe Biden in the state — as though those votes were coins that fell out of Georgia’s pants pockets between Georgia’s couch cushions. (Lordy, there is a tape.)

    For 61 minutes the president of the United States browbeat a state functionary — a virtual unknown outside Georgia and hardly a household name within it — to get him to change the vote totals to give Trump the win. Trump threw up one bogus election fraud theory after another, only to have Raffensperger shoot them down seriatim. At one point in the conversation Trump even threatened Raffensperger that he (Raffensperger) could face criminal exposure if he failed to go along with Trump’s plan.

    Today’s hearing will also focus on the naming of slates of bogus “alternative” electors in seven potential swing states. I expect the evidence will show that this wasn’t some type of grassroots effort by local Republicans to cosplay fake electors, but a top-down plan orchestrated by team Trump — the sine qua non of lawyer John Eastman’s garbage legal theory that VP Mike Pence could ignore the legitimate election results and simply dub the loser the winner while tabulating the electoral college votes.

    These actions undercut any claim that Donald Trump was acting under some delusional but good faith belief — here I am using “Donald Trump” and “good faith” in the same sentence; ha, ha, I am a kidder! — that he’d actually won the election and that there was some legal validity to his plan to steal the election back.

  6. I am God. I had a son. He was also Me. He was a man, though. I had him killed. He came back. I did it to save you from how I made you…

    He does not sound convinced. Maybe God knows the heretical truth but is too afraid to tweet it.

    We could believe that God is God, and Jesus was the son of God, but is no more because we nailed him to the cross.

    We could believe that God is God and decided to walk among us, and that he got nailed by the Romans because he liked getting nailed by the Romans.

    We could believe that God is God and Jesus was a lunatic who had it coming.

    We could believe that there are two gods: the one in the Hebrew bible and the one in the Christian bible.

    Or we could believe there is only one bible, the Hebrew bible — get rid of the fake Christian bible and we wouldn’t have the Jesus problem.

    The kids can escape through the window.

  7. Who eats peaches with cream? I do. Other fruit, too. I also put (real) cream in my coffee and on cereal.

  8. “Animals are not for us to put in cages and gawk at.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. One of the 12-year-olds in my middle-reader novel expresses what are also my views:

    “It always makes me sad that the animals are all in those cages. Or if not cages, then in these fake jungles—like the animals don’t know they’re fake! Animals aren’t stupid. At our zoo we have a gorilla named Max who mostly sits and scratches himself or eats bananas. I can tell he’s not happy being there. And he’s probably not happy having a name like Max, or any name at all. I feel sorry for him.”

  9. When ducklings surmount a scary obstacle, such as the spillway shown here, I wonder if its the same ducklings that tend to go first and the same ones that hesitate and go last.
    Like people.

  10. From Bruce: [2nd Amendment classroom]

    Those desks aren’t going to do much to slow down a bullet from … well, anything much more recent than an un-rifled musket. So, what results would a search for “bullet-proof classroom furniture” get? A depressingly high number, I’d suspect. Or if it’s a low number, there’s an ethical business opportunity there for someone.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=bullet-proof+classroom+furniture – does indeed produce a depressingly large number of hits.

    Does the NRA fully-fund schools wanting to kit out like that?

  11. I despise perky messages on consumables – fortunately they are rare.
    A bigger question is why you use Splenda? Don’t you have raw garbage or sand you can put in your coffee in Chicago? hehehehe

  12. Many people with whom I otherwise agree politically are incensed that John Hinckley was released, much less that he might be allowed to perform publicly.

    I could not disagree more. He served his time. He had a mental illness; he has recovered from that mental illness. He has been on community release for years with no problems. At this point, any further punishment is justified only by vengeance.

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