Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 23, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, June 23, 2022: National Pecan Sandy Day, celebrating a kind of dry cookie that some people like.

It’s also International Widows Day, National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism (in Canada), Saint John’s Eve and the first day of the Midsummer celebrations (these occur in Spain, Cornwall, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Belarus. Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine), and United Nations Public Service Day.

Stuff that happened on this day include:

Here’s a short animated reconstruction of the battle, in which the stalwart Scots defeated the English despite being outnumbered by more than three to one:

  • 1611 – The mutinous crew of Henry Hudson’s fourth voyage sets Henry, his son and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay; they are never heard from again.
  • 1794 – Empress Catherine II of Russia grants Jews permission to settle in Kyiv.

“Catherine II” was Catherine the Great, who ruled for 34 years as the last Empress of Russia.  Here’s a portrait of her by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder, from 1780, presumably painted from life:

Here’s a model for the patent, which was very rudimentary. Sholes is also said to have invented, some time later, the QWERTY keyboard, which I’ve heard is less efficient than other keyboards. But it’s too late to change:

  • 1887 – The Rocky Mountains Park Act becomes law in Canada creating the nation’s first national park, Banff National Park.
  • 1917 – In a game against the Washington SenatorsBoston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire.

Shore pitched a nearly “perfect” game (one in which all 27 batters are retired without reaching first base). Here he (left) is with another baseball great:

(From Wikipedia): Major League Baseball players Ernie Shore (left) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (right) during the 1915 World Series.
  • 1926 – The College Board administers the first SAT exam.
  • 1940 – Adolf Hitler goes on a three-hour tour of the architecture of Paris with architect Albert Speer and sculptor Arno Breker in his only visit to the city.

Here’s Hitler with Speer (left) in front of the Eiffel Tower. On the right is sculptorn and architect Arno Breker:

  • 1960 – The United States Food and Drug Administration declares Enovid to be the first officially approved combined oral contraceptive pill in the world.
  • 1969 – IBM announces that effective January 1970 it will price its software and services separately from hardware thus creating the modern software industry.
  • 1972 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about illegally using the Central Intelligence Agency to obstruct the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.

Here’s part of the smoking gun tapes, with subtitles. It’s pretty incriminating!

  • 1972 – Title IX of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 is amended to prohibit sexual discrimination to any educational program receiving federal funds.
  • 2017 – A series of terrorist attacks take place in Pakistan, resulting in 96 deaths and wounding 200 others.
  • 2013 – Nik Wallenda becomes the first man to successfully walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope.

A news report of that walk. You can hearing him praying to God to help him across:


*Ukraine is slowly falling into the hands of Russia. From the NYT’s summary:

Approaching a pivotal moment in their invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have tightened their vise around two key eastern cities, raising the risk their slow, brutal advance will capture the cities and trap the Ukrainian troops defending them.

The fall of the two neighboring cities, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, would all but complete Russia’s conquest of Luhansk Province, a major part of the Donbas region that the Russians are attempting to seize in the four-month-old war. That would give a strategic and symbolic victory to President Vladimir V. Putin, and open avenues for Russia’s military to advance deeper into Ukraine.

In my view, Putin could take the whole country if he has the will, and he does—Russian deaths be damned. The war will end only when Putin wants it to end, and on his terms. I don’t like that, but I think it’s true.

*One of the more odious Trumpisms that’s come out in the January 6 panel is that the Orange Man proposed sending fake electors to Washington to try to sway the vote towards him. But now the remit of the panel is widening, and some of those electors have been subpoenaed:

Agents conducted court authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at two locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan also received subpoenas on Wednesday, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The precise nature of the information being sought by the Justice Department wasn’t immediately clear; however, Arizonaand Georgia officials testified Tuesday to a House panel probing the Jan. 6 attacks about attempts by Trump and his inner circle of advisers to try to reverse Biden’s electoral college victories in those states.
*Testifying before Congress yesterday, Jerome Powell, head of the Federal Reserve, says that it’s possible that the Fed’s raising interest rates to stem inflation may in the end lead to a recession.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” Mr. Powell said Wednesday during the first of two days of congressional hearings. “We are not trying to provoke and do not think we will need to provoke a recession, but we do think it’s absolutely essential” to bring down inflation, which is running at a 40-year high.

His remarks underscore the challenge facing the central bank as it raises interest rates at the most rapid clip since the 1980s to slow the economy and cool inflation.

My prediction, though I’m not pundit and know virtually nothing about economics, is that we will have a recession, for the balance of interest rates, employment, and inflation is a tricky situation, and certainly no science. Remember, I was the first person to call the last election for Biden, and got the electoral count exactly right. Surely I still retain the credibility to make some predictions!

*Uncle Joe has finally decided to give us a “gas-tax holiday,” lifting the federal tax on both gasoline and diesel fuel. But this is pretty pathetic given the taxes, which are low (see below). We’re paying $6 a gallon in Chicago, and not only will this make little inroads in inflation, but those taxes are used for infrastructure.

The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, and he delivered a public critique of the energy industry for prioritizing profits over production. It would take action by lawmakers in Washington and in statehouses across the country to actually bring relief to consumers.

“It doesn’t reduce all the pain but it will be a big help,” Biden said, using the bully pulpit when his administration believes it has run out of direct levers to address soaring gas prices. “I’m doing my part. I want Congress, states and industry to do their part as well.”

At issue is the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on gas and the 24.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel. If the gas savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump when prices are averaging about $5 a gallon nationwide.

But this is pretty much moot given Congressional resistance, even among Democrats, to this “holiday”. Even Nancy Pelosi is lukewarm about it:

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a noncommittal response to Biden’s proposal, saying she would look to see if there was support for it in Congress.

“We will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the president’s proposal in the House and the Senate,” Pelosi said.

Now that is a ringing endorsement, no? There will be little support for this in the Senate, that’s for sure.

*The Atlantic—to which I’m newly subscribed because it’s inexpensive for academics—reports that comedian Dave Chapelle, in a surprise announcement, turned down a big honor. The school from which he graduated and has donated to repeatedly, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, decided to name its theater after him.  The naming was delayed from Nov. 1 after Chapelle’s Netflix show, “The Closer”, was criticized for homophobic and transphobic comments

The naming ceremony was rescheduled for last Monday, and guest after guest got up and praised the comedian. Then it was his turn:

. . . Chappelle spoke, telling his own story of the Ellington school’s influence on his life, his fond memories of faculty and classmates. The narrative slowly built toward the controversy that erupted last November. Then came a surprise plot twist.

Chappelle proposed that the theater be named the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression, and then said that his name would be added later, only when and if the school community was ready.

It was quite a moment. The audience rapturously applauded.

Author David Frum had two reactions. The first was positive:

The first was admiration for the bravado and ingenuity of Chappelle’s maneuver. So often in these debates over free speech, the adversaries of expression claim to represent the wave of the future. Major surveys have found that Gen Z and Millennial Americans are much more willing to suppress speech in the name of equity than older Americans. Chappelle took a bet here, as if to say: Let’s see who will look silly in five years’ time, you or me.

The very act of bet-taking changes perceptions of the wager. The most powerful weapon of the adversaries of expression is their certainty. Chappelle wrenched that weapon from their hands, again as if to say: I am more certain even than you—and I’ve put a lot more of myself on the line.

The second was more negative: that Chappelle had evaded responsibility for his own words. But in the end Frum judges Chappelle’s behavior as a brilliant “gesture of defiance.”

The NYT has a new article on how you can get a young duckling to imprint on you, though you don’t want to do this deliberately unless you’re prepared to care for the duck until it fledges.  (h/t Robyn)

Hang around a duckling constantly, right after it hatches. Ducklings are most sensitive to imprinting 12 to 36 hours after they emerge from the egg (and the imprinting window lasts about 14 days). Place yourself where they can see you. Birds are visual creatures; a duckling opens its eyes and immediately starts looking for a caregiver. They prefer duck-size objects and S-curve-shaped necks, but they aren’t picky — they will imprint on humans, cats, dogs or, in the case of Martinho-Truswell’s lab research, brightly colored plastic balls or cardboard shapes suspended from a rotating boom on a string. Avoid wearing yellow; ducklings would rather not imprint on anything yellow-colored. “We think that’s to keep them from imprinting on their siblings,” Martinho-Truswell says. Don’t become a duck parent on a whim, though; it’s a big commitment. Imprinting is helpful if you’re a duck farmer, but otherwise might be a burden. Mallard ducks can live for more than 20 years. “You’re taking on something that is going to treat you as its mother for the first year and then as family for the rest of its life,” he says.

I rescued two orphans and slept with them on the day or day after they hatched, and both imprinted on me, following me around the house and peeping pathetically if I was out of sight or tried to put them to bed in a nice soft, padded box. They needed to be with me, and so I slept with them in my armpit or on my chest covered with my open palm (to mimic the mother’s protective wing). Or rather, the ducklings slept. Afraid of crushing them, I didn’t sleep a wink. Still, they were two of the greatest nights of my life.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s dialogue needs an explanation from Malgorzata:

In Poland when somebody cannot decide between the two courses of action he/she says “I’m fighting with my thoughts” [Biję się z myślami]. Hili took it literally and because she (as a Goddess) is a “dualist”, that’s the answer she came with.

Hili: I’m fighting with my thoughts.
A: And?
Hili: I’m winning.
In Polish:
Hili: Biję się z myślami.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Wygrywam.

And a photo of Kulka:


From Jez, a Dan Piraro cartoon:

Quarterback Tom Brady is apparently promoting a new line of underwear, and in this Instagram video, described here, he simply destroys the sign of a protestor with an precise football throw. But the article also shows that they made up. This is likely an advertising set-up (I can’t imagine otherwise why they’d pull a stunt like this), but it does show Brady’s passing abilities.

A groaner from Merilee:

Ricky Gervais mocking wokeness with a very ideologically incorrect couple of jokes:

These are brilliant; see the thread. But they left out the cat saying “Mrkgnao!”: my favorite part!

Free talk by Pinkah tomorrow. All you have to do is register at the link:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who survived:

Tweets from Matthew. This first two are cool! There are other methods given in the thread.

Parental care in beetles! Who woulda thought?

What a sight!

This guy comments on bad lighting. I may have shown this before, but here it is again. Whoever designed this should have immediately fixed it. Or maybe it was deliberate. . .

37 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. It may be apocryphal but I understood that the QWERTY keyboard was deliberately sub-optimal in terms of the relative positions of the letters because otherwise with early typewriters a typist who went too fast would end up with the keys fouling one another and jamming.

    1. It is also believed that its upper row was arranged to contain the letters for TYPEWRITER, which made it easier for the inventors to demonstrate their product to potential customers. (No one was touchtyping back then.)

      The adoption of computers was an opportunity to greatly improve keyboard design, but sadly things got only worse. I am still amazed how terrible keyboards are compared to other eyeryday products.

      Since this is my greatest pet peeve, I will leave it at that.

      1. Excerpt from a longer history: “For years, popular writers have accused [C. L.] Sholes of deliberately arranging his keyboard to slow down fast typists who would otherwise jam up his sluggish machine. In fact, his motives were just the opposite. When Sholes built his first model in 1868, the keys were arranged alphabetically in two rows. At the time, Milwaukee was a backwoods town. The crude machine shop tools available there could hardly produce a finely-honed instrument that worked with precision.

        Yes, the first typewriter was sluggish. Yes, it did clash and jam when someone tried to type with it. But Sholes was able to figure out a way around the problem simply by rearranging the letters.”

    2. Yes, I also read it was to prevent jamming of the arms by slowing down the action (and yes, they jam easily on those old typewriters) and preventing common letters to come from the same direction (increasing jamming even more).
      Once you have typists that were trained to type blindly -almost all did- on a QWERTY (in French AZERTY) keyboard, it becomes a nearly impossible task to change it.
      I see a parallel to evolution: once a sub-optimal, but working solution has evolved, it is nearly -if not plainly- impossible to turn back and evolve a better system (think of the recurrent laryngeal nerve for example).

  2. I almist never listen to NPR anymore, but I was driving to the airport yesterday, so I turned it on. They were talking about gas prices, and one of the guests opined that gas prices were the economic issue that would get most people’s response. Then the host asked “Can’t we reduce other costs, like raising the minimum wage?” Only in thecworld of punditry would raising a cost mean lowering a cost.

    1. Over the last several months I have heard NPR’s economic reporter Scott Horsley (sp.?) reference increased wages as a cause of inflation. I don’t recall hearing anything about insistence on profit maximization as a cause.

  3. Seeing Speer caused me to flash on a memory of reading his book, Inside the Third Reich, when I was 13. I don’t remember any details about the book but do remember taking away the impression that he was a “good Nazi.” As I matured I realized that there’s no such thing as a good Nazi (“very fine people on both sides”???). There’s a not-bad movie based on the book, starring Rutger Hauer and Derek Jacobi:

  4. The J6 committee picks up again today at 3 pm Eastern. Today’s focus will be Donald Trump’s efforts to enlist the US Dept. of Justice in his coup plot. We know from earlier testimony that former AG Bill Barr (who’d shown an avidity for doing Trump’s wet work earlier in his tenure) noped out of DoJ in December 2020, telling Trump that his claims of widespread voter fraud were (in Barr’s words) “bullshit.”

    With Barr’s departure, Trump appointee Jeffrey Rosen became acting AG. Trump tried to get Rosen to announce that the results of the 2020 presidential were “corrupt.” When Rosen told Trump the Justice Dept. investigation had shown that to be untrue, Trump told him to just say it anyway, and Trump and the Republicans would take care of the rest. After Rosen refused, there was a plan to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark (a clearly unqualified environmental lawyer who had recently risen to #3 in the Justice Dept. ranks). Clark (who, like Trump lawyer John Eastman, has taken five before the committee) even drafted a proposed letter to swing-state legislators promoting the Big Lie. The plan to Saturday-night-massacre Rosen (and his acting chief deputy, Richard Donoghue) and replace them with Clark was thwarted when Trump was told that top officials from Justice, and from the White House counsel’s office, would resign en masse if Trump went through with the plan.

    After today’s hearing, there will be a break in the action, as the remaining hearings have been postponed. Apparently, new shit has come to light, man. After all, this is a very complicated case — a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous. As a service to my fellow commenters, I’m monitoring the situation closely, while adhering to a strict drug regimen to keep my mind limber. 🙂

      1. I agree, Rick. Always concise and relevant, but also entertaining. Ken is the Dude, as far as we’re concerned.

    1. Should be another blockbuster today. The hiatus after this one is probably to give more time to process new material, new testifications, etc. but it will allow more time for the news of Trump’s crimes to soak into public perception and more news cycle domination time.

    2. Thanks for your attention to this investigation Ken, it’s much appreciated. Though you had me on that last link…I knew you were channeling The Dude, but I thought the last link was going to have something to do with HST.

      1. I think The Dude may have been channeling Hunter with that line — and the occasional acid flashback. 🙂

    3. Thanks for that, it helps, but in order to be clearer where Jeffrey Clark comes from, I’d have called him an ‘anti-environmental’ lawyer rather than an ‘environmental’ lawyer, just for clarity’s sake.

      As as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department, he was like the proverbial rapist in charge of the girl’s orphanage. In that environmental context, I can only think of Scott Pruitt (remember him?) as the head of the EPA that would better suit the description.

        1. Yeah even for Trump’s administration his charges of ridiculous corruption were too much (the corruption was ridiculous, not the charges). A high bar. However, it should be noted he was dismissed because of his on-the-side corruption, not for gutting the EPA.
          Is there any chance he will be elected?

  5. When Ruth was ejected from the game, Ernie Shore picked the runner off first base. So he actually got all 27 outs!

    The economics of Qwerty is in dispute. Paul David, who made the case for its inefficiency surviving due to network effects and path dependence, admitted he may have gotten the facts wrong, but said he was telling a good story. Most of the evidence against qwerty was bad experiments and perhaps biased. Dvorak had a financial interest in proving that the Dvorak keyboard was better.

    You can read about it in this book about the Economics of Qwerty.

  6. I have my own prediction. Assuming the “gas holiday” comes to pass, consumers won’t see all the federal gas tax reflected in prices as petro companies take some of it as additional profit. I know that Biden’s Energy Secretary has met with the CEOs and begged them not to do it but they’ll do it anyway.

    1. Yup, the 5p/litre fuel duty reduction here in the UK a while back didn’t get passed on to consumers.

      1. With gasoline prices steadily rising, how would you even be able to tell? Our federal government is going full speed ahead with all excise taxes, carbon taxes, and VAT fully intact. Watch our gasoline consumption and emissions figures to see how elastic the demand is for fuel in the short term. Fewer trips to Grandma’s house this summer? Diesel is $2.29 a litre.

        Interesting that inflation is hitting the fuel-sensitive sectors almost exclusively. Consumable bicycle parts (tires, chains etc.) are unchanged in past 2 years and supply is much better than last summer.

    2. It’s just bad policy. As you say, the fuel companies will take at least some of that money for themselves. Furthermore, even if they didn’t, consumers would see very little savings while the government takes a substantial revenue hit. Finally, it’s bad politically. As behavioral economists like Kahneman and Tversky have demonstrated, people value losses more highly than gains. Thus the reintroduction of the gas tax will hurt more than the removal helps. And it would be just in time for the elections. Not a good time to make gas taxes extra salient to voters.

      1. Yes, I agree. It also doesn’t work as a political maneuver, IMHO. For every voter who sees it as Biden trying to help, there’s another voter who sees it as too little, too late. On the evening news recently, a person filling their tank was asked whether saving 18 cents per gallon would make a difference to them. Their answer: “No really. What can you buy for 18 cents?” Of course, looking at monthly savings might be more reasonable but, for most people, it still doesn’t add up to much. With a rough calculation, it is a reduction by 1/27th.

  7. This guy comments on bad lighting. I may have shown this before, but here it is again. Whoever designed this should have immediately fixed it. Or maybe it was deliberate. . .

    In the event of an earthquake, do those lamps swing in opposite directions, like the tassels on the hoochie-coochie dancer Benjamin took Elaine to see on their first date in The Graduate?

  8. No, I do not think Russia has the power to occupy all of Ukraine. There are several reasons for this:

    a. The Russian army is gradually running out of modern weapons. T-62s have already been reactivated or anti-ship missiles from the 1960s have been fired at land targets. Two Russian tank factories have ceased production due to a lack of parts previously sourced from the West.

    b. The losses of Russian soldiers on the fronts are enormous. British intelligence has reported that freshly recruited Kontrakniki will soon be deployed. Regular troops have virtually no reserves left.

    c. The Russian army leadership is putting all its eggs in one basket to conquer the Donbass. As a result, other frontline sections are short of personnel. That is why they dig in there and go on the defensive. The Ukrainian army is making slow but steady progress toward Kherson because of this.

    d. Western supplies of heavy weapons (mobile artillery) are slowly starting to roll in, becoming more relevant. PzH 2000 and M142 HIMARS have already been delivered to Ukraine. Both weapon systems are technologically and range-wise superior to Russian and Ukrainian artillery systems.

    Please do not misunderstand: The situation for the Ukrainian Army is serious, but it is not hopeless. Everything is now at a critical turning point, as it was for the Royal Air Force in August 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

    I have read various statements of military experts who convincingly state that Ukraine must survive Russian massive attacks throughout July. From August onwards, there is a real chance that the Ukrainian army will be able to launch major counteroffensives, provided that Western arms supplies continue.

    1. Totally agree. I’m getting pretty tired of the media constantly painting the situation as hopeless for Ukraine. Russia is making ground in a couple of areas where they are concentrating their reserves. I read elsewhere that they’ve managed to push forward three kilometres in a week and this is supposed to be a disaster for the Ukrainian military. Russia took a week to advance a distance that you can walk under an hour if there are no bullets.

      Also Putin might have the will to take the whole of Ukraine but you need both will and resources and it’s not just his will that counts. Putin’s will counts for nothing if one of his underlings puts a bullet in the back of his head.

      1. I’m getting pretty tired of the media constantly painting the situation as hopeless for Ukraine.

        We have a similar situation here in Germany. The (left-wing) liberal media, in particular, sometimes do not report in a very balanced manner on the events in the Ukrainian war. Successes of the Russian state (high ruble exchange rate) or the army (conquest of the Luhansk oblast) are exaggerated. The progress of the Ukrainian military, on the other hand, is reported with restraint or covered in a few thin words without going into the background.

  9. It was under Catherine the Great that Russia conquered the areas now under dispute, the Crimea and Southern Ukraine. The cities of Odessa, Mikolaiev, Sevastopol and Mariupol were founded under her reign.
    There are numerous salacious stories about her private life, but the stories about her actually being a nymphomaniac are not really credible eg that she died having sex with a bull are considered bullshit.
    She did have many partners though, but is reputed to always have treated them decently once the affair was over. More serious historians think she had ‘only’ between 10 and 20 partners during her lifetime. I guess that is less than several of us.

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