Saturday: Hili dialogue

July 2, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s the weekend! Welcome to Cat Shabbos: July 2, 2022, and National Anisette Day (make mine an ouzo and a plate of mezedes by the sea).

It’s also World UFO Day, and International Cherry Pit Spitting Day.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, here’s the pit-spitting record:

The longest spit of a cherry stone in competition is 28.51 m (93 ft 6.5 in) by Brian “Young Gun” Krause (USA) at the International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship at Eau Claire, Michigan, USA in 2004. On the same day in the freestyle competition he spat a stone 33.62 m (110 ft 4 in).

There is a Wikipedia article on this and several contests: here’s a photo of the World Championship in Düren, Germany:

And a video from a Michigan contest:

Stuff that happened on July 2 includes:

Here’s part of the patent application and a drawing of an early engine:

  • 1776 – American Revolution: The Continental Congress adopts a resolution severing ties with the Kingdom of Great Britain although the wording of the formal Declaration of Independence is not published until July 4.

The July 4 holiday is on Monday, and gives us a three-day weekend.

A 20 X 7 meter raft was cobbled together from the wood of the wreck; it was planned to ferry the passengers to shore (30 km away). The article says that 146 men and 1 woman were evacuated.A diagram (caption from Wikipedia):

Plan du Radeau de la Méduse, au moment de son abandon (“Plan of the Raft of the Medusa at the moment of its abandonment”), frontispiece to Naufrage de la frégate Méduse[9] by Alexandre Corréard and Jean-Baptiste Henri Savigny. Paris 1818, Bibliothèque nationale.
But things did not go well for the 150 men and one woman aboard (the captain and other officials were in lifeboats that made it safely to shore).

On the raft, the situation deteriorated rapidly. Among the provisions were casks of wine instead of water. Fights broke out between the officers and passengers on one hand, and the sailors and soldiers on the other. On the first night adrift, 20 men were killed or committed suicide. Stormy weather threatened, and only the centre of the raft was secure. Dozens died either in fighting to get to the centre or because they were washed overboard by the waves. Rations dwindled rapidly; by the fourth day there were only 67 people left alive on the raft, and some resorted to cannibalism (part of the Custom of the Sea) to survive. On the eighth day, the fittest decided to throw the weak and wounded overboard, leaving just 15 men remaining, all of whom survived another four days until their rescue on 17 July by the brig Argus, which accidentally encountered them.

Géricaut’s painting was from 1818-1819 and hangs in the Louvre. A Wikipedia description of the 5 meter X 7 meter painting:

The Raft of the Medusa portrays the moment when, after 13 days adrift on the raft, the remaining 15 survivors view a ship approaching from a distance. According to an early British reviewer, the work is set at a moment when “the ruin of the raft may be said to be complete”. The painting is on a monumental scale of 491 cm × 716 cm (193 in × 282 in), so that most of the figures rendered are life-sized and those in the foreground almost twice life-size, pushed close to the picture plane and crowding onto the viewer, who is drawn into the physical action as a participant.

The makeshift raft is shown as barely seaworthy as it rides the deep waves, while the men are rendered as broken and in utter despair. One old man holds the corpse of his son at his knees; another tears his hair out in frustration and defeat. A number of bodies litter the foreground, waiting to be swept away by the surrounding waves. The men in the middle have just viewed a rescue ship; one points it out to another, and an African crew member, Jean Charles, stands on an empty barrel and frantically waves his handkerchief to draw the ship’s attention.

  • 1839 – Twenty miles off the coast of Cuba, 53 kidnapped Africans led by Joseph Cinqué mutiny and take over the slave ship Amistad.

The enslaved Africans were captured and eventually freed by the Supreme Court (!).

We’ve talked about the assassination recently describing the bizarre hanging of Guiteau. Here’s the British Bulldog revolved he used to shoot Garfield:

Here’s a patent from 1897, but it says July 13:

Marconi’s radio patent, 1897.  This is patent number 586,193 from the US Patent Office, dated 13 July 1897.
  • 1900 – The first Zeppelin flight takes place on Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, Germany.
  • 1937 – Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan are last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight.

We still don’t know what happened to the pair except that they got lost (there was a radio transmission) and were never heard from again. Various relics suggest they may have ditched and made it to an island, but the evidence is not dispositive.  Here they are in front of their plane.

I still consider this one of the greatest American achievements of my lifetime. Here’s a news report about the signing, but note the dearth of black people! (Dr. King was there, of course.)

  • 1990 – In the 1990 Mecca tunnel tragedy, 1,400 Muslim pilgrims are suffocated to death and trampled upon in a pedestrian tunnel leading to the holy city of Mecca.
  • 2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to fly solo around the world nonstop in a balloon.

The balloon is below. It took him 13 days, 8 hours and 33 minutes in the air. Sadly, he died five years later when an aircraft he was piloting crashed in the Sierra Nevada.

Da Nooz:

*The Russians deliberately destroyed another civilian target: an apartment complex and recreation center near Odesa.

At least 21 people including two children have died after two Russian missiles struck a multistorey block of flats and a recreation centre in a small coastal town near Odesa, an attack Ukrainian authorities interpreted as payback for Russian troops being forced from Snake Island a day earlier.

Video showed the charred ruins of buildings in the town of Serhiyivka. The Ukrainian president’s office said three X-22 missiles fired by Russian warplanes struck a block of flats and a campsite shortly before 1am local time.

Ukraine’s security service said a further 38 people, including six children and a pregnant woman, were taken to hospital with injuries. Most of those killed and injured were asleep when the missiles struck.

This is another war crime, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

*OMG! OMG! After many Green pledges and a recent loss in the Supreme Court that will exacerbate global warming, now Joe Biden is trying to allow more offshore drilling for gas and oil in federal waters! That’s right, I said MORE DRILLING! From BIDEN! The Washington Post reported this yesterday evening:

President Biden’s administration opened the door Friday to offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters over the next five years, setting a course for future U.S. fossil fuel extraction just a day after suffering a major climate setback at the Supreme Court.

The proposed program for offshore drilling over the next five years would ban exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. But by leaving the possibility for new drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, the announcement falls short of Biden’s campaign promise to end federal fossil fuel leasing for good.

The plan moves the country further from its pledge to slash the nation’s planet-warming pollution in half by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, and help avert even fiercer fires, storms and drought driven by rising temperatures. Biden’s climate agenda now hinges on whether Democrats can pass a reconciliation package in the Senate that includes robust climate policies.

. . . During his bid for the White House, Biden vowed to ban new oil and gas drilling across federal lands and waters. “No more drilling on federal lands, period,” he said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. “Period, period, period.”

In fact, the administration “is considering 10 potential auctions in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet in Alaska.” Is this some kind of misguided effort to sway voters burdened by high gas bills? Look, Uncle Joe, a promise is a promise, especially one that could alleviate global warming. Stop this madness now!

It’s not a done deal yet, but that announcement irked me.

*I was going to write about our weird gubernatorial election in Illinois, during which Democratic governor J. B. Pritzker, a gazillionaire, spent millions on ads during the primary attacking the moderate Republican candidate instead of the ultraconservative Darren Bailey, who was backed by Trump. Why? Because Pritzker thought that a hyper-Right Republican would be easier to beat in the general election come November. This bizarre behavior is the subject of a new NYT column by David Brooks, “Why on Earth is Pelosi supporting the Trumpists?”, and I’ll let Brooks discuss it instead of me:

In Illinois alone, the Democratic Governors Association and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent at least $30 million to attack a Trumpist’s moderate gubernatorial opponent. In Pennsylvania, a Democratic campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads intended to help a Trumpist candidate win the G.O.P. gubernatorial primary. A political action committee affiliated with Nancy Pelosi worked to boost far-right Republican House candidates in California and Colorado.

They are doing it because they think far-right Trumpist candidates will be easier to beat in the general elections than more moderate candidates.

What the Democrats are doing is sleazy in the best of circumstances. If you love your country more than your party, you should want the best candidates to advance in either party. And in these circumstances, what they are doing is insane: The far-right candidates whom Democrats are supporting could easily wind up winning.

And that’s just what happened in Illinois, perhaps because of Pritzker’s strategy  In fact, if Dems spend a lot of time and money supporting the far-right candidates endorsed by Trump over moderate Republicans, we could get buried in November. And that’s what Brooks thinks:

Many Democrats, living in their own information bubble and apparently having learned nothing from 2016, do not seem to understand the horrific electoral landscape they are facing. They do not seem to understand how much their business-as-usual approach could lead to a full Republican takeover in 2025 — which as this week’s Jan. 6 insurrection hearing reminded us yet again, would be a disaster for our democracy.

Many Democrats hope that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision will mobilize their voters for the coming midterms, and that seems to have happened, at least in the short term. But I’m convinced this election will primarily be about the economy and the existential state of the country. Things look extremely grim for the ruling party.

*After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, they promised that they wouldn’t restrict women’s rights, especially schooling. I didn’t believe them for a second, and, sure enough, they aren’t letting girls over 12 go to school. But according to the Wall Street Journal, schisms are opening in the Taliban over such issues, all bearing on Islamic law:

Now that the Taliban are in government, cracks are appearing on multiple fronts less than a year after it toppled the Western-backed Afghan Republic.

Taliban leaders are at odds over ideology: how to interpret Islamic law and how strictly to enforce it, including in schools. Rival factions are also feuding over power and the limited spoils of their victory.

The opposition to girls’ education is rooted in cultural beliefs about women’s role in Afghan society. Particularly in the deeply conservative south, many girls rarely leave their homes after they reach puberty. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, girls were barred from all education, including primary school. Now, girls’ primary schools are open, but high school is off limits for girls in most parts of the country.

Those in the Taliban with more moderate views, including many in government, argue there is no religious justification for banning teenage girls from school, so long as they are segregated from males.

The hard-liners have outsize influence on the Taliban’s ultimate decision maker, Supreme Leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, according to Taliban members and others familiar with the group’s inner workings.

The Taliban may lift this ban in an upcoming meeting, but they didn’t adhere to their initial promise and still may keep girls out of school. One thing is for sure: women are much worse off now than they were before Afghanistan wasn’t an Islamic state. Keeping half the population uneducation is shameful, odious, and the result of religion (of course).

*WNBA star Brittney Griner, accused of entering Russia with cannabis oil for vaping, went on trial yesterday. She has been in custody for 4.5 months, and faces up to ten years in prison. My feeling is that even if she’s convicted she’ll be freed in a prisoner swap, but we just don’t know. What did scare me was this sentence in the AP’s report:

Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in U.S. courts, acquittals can be overturned.

Oy! Fewer than 1%! Griner didn’t enter a plea, but said she’d do so at a later time.

*A recommended read: Andrew Sullivan’s headline section of his weekly Dish report, an article called “The meaning of patriotism.” (Be sure to subscribe if you read regularly.) Here’s an opening that just sucks you in:

To see what is in front of our noses is a constant challenge, and perhaps never more so in a time of such awful post-truth polarization. But what happened in the January 6 hearings this past week will, in my view, be seen one day as a watershed moment either in the history of this country’s revival as a liberal democracy or in this republic’s rapid collapse.

Two women, Liz Cheney and Cassidy Hutchinson, went back and forth, asking and answering questions, slowly, calmly, and methodically laying out a story of an actual attempt by a president of the United States to rally and lead an armed mob to assault the Congress to overturn an election. Yes, I just wrote that sentence.

Hutchinson’s testimony added critical facts to the record: that Trump knew full well what the mob was intending to do in advance; and knew that they were armed: “You know, I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not there to hurt me.” He knew what he was attempting was criminal; tried physically to lead the mob in their rampage; and when he was foiled, egged on the attack, and refused to quiet or quell the mob for hours — even as it threatened to kill his own vice president. There is no way now to deny that Trump was behind all of it, uniquely responsible.

In the face of this, so many Republican men have kept quiet, caved, slunk away, equivocated, or changed the subject. So many, like Tucker Carlson, have responded with smears and foul lies. So many have refused to testify, or dodged subpoenas. These sickening cowards wouldn’t vote to impeach after the grossest attack on the Constitution in history; and wouldn’t cooperate with the committee.

But two Republican women faced our hideous reality this week — even if it meant the obliteration of their careers, and being subject to real threats of violence. And let us pause to note just how Republican these two women are. Cheney is the daughter of the former vice president, a man who once defined Republicanism; she represents Wyoming, the most Republican state out of 50; she’s pro-life, defended torture, never saw a war she didn’t want to start; opposed even her own sister’s same-sex marriage; and voted with Trump 93 percent of the time, more than the woman who ousted her from House leadership, Elise Stefanik.

Hutchinson, for her part, was at the heart of the Trump world. She ascended from mere intern — working in the offices of both Ted Cruz and the House minority whip — to become the primary assistant to Trump’s chief-of-staff, Mark Meadows. If she dyed her hair blonde, she could read the news on Fox.

. . . This is the Republican Party I used to respect. This is the conservatism I believe in. A conservatism whose first tasks are the defense of the Constitution, the rule of law, and a belief in objective truth.

Sullivan recommends listening to Cheney’s 40-minute speech, “A time for choosing,” given at the Reagan Library this week.  (I haven’t yet listened.)

*A mention of a notable death on this day 25 years ago. RIP, Jimmy Stewart. Did you know he was a bomber pilot?

July 2, 1997, death of James Stewart. A wonderful actor and also a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot, Commander of the 453rd Bomber Squadron and the only American actor awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is playing biologist:

A: What are you observing so intently?
Hili: Biodiversity.
In Polish
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Bioróżnorodności.
And the noble Szaron:


From Merilee:

Two from Jesus of the Day:

We have roused the righteous anger of God:

I hope she’s teaching her babies escape behavior and not avoiding them!

Two tweets from Simon. CAT POOL!

Maybe it was another Charles Darwin?

From the Auschwitz memorial: one who survived.

Tweets from Matthew. First, an amazing sight:

A great physics lesson (sound up!):

Matthew loves swifts and swallows, but he knows not to touch them when they’re flying.

23 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Someone here snd I were debating the paper / ruler thing (actually pencil in that exchange).

    Our results suggested that the pencils nowadays are stronger than say 50 years ago or whenever the demonstration was invented.

    So the ruler – I’ll have to look into why a ruler. If this is what I think it is.

    … the paper too – so I guess check the “weight” spec of the paper. This would be a good trick to find tune for optimal results.

  2. My reaction to Illinois Democratic governor J.B. Pritzker’s successful attempt to induce Republican primary voters to elect a Trumpist as his opponent in the general election is this: that’s politics. It wasn’t illegal. We can be sure that the Republicans would attempt something similar if the move would work to their benefit. Whether Pritzker’s strategy was wise remains to be seen.

    Much more ominous is the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will take a case to determine the constitutionality of a theory called the independent state legislature. The argument in support of this theory is that the Constitution gives states legislatures virtual absolute authority regarding how elections are run within the state. That is, for example, state legislatures could gerrymander districts without any judicial interference. Per the Constitution, presumably Congress can override state legislatures in how senators and representatives are chosen, but a Republican controlled Congress would not do this.

    Detail is provided in this article from the Brennan Center.

    But, what is not discussed in this article, is that there is historical precedent for state legislatures picking electors for presidential races, ignoring or not even holding a popular vote election. In the back of my mind, I remembered that South Carolina’s legislature picked electors, not the people in the Early Republic. I had trouble finding documentation for this until I came across this 1958 law journal article in which the author states:

    “The legislature of South Carolina elected its electors from 1789 to 1868, except in 1864. After 1828 there were no election by the legislature of any other state except by Mississippi in 1944.”

    In essence, the independent legislature theory is what John Eastman used to try to overthrow the 2020 election. I am surprised that the historical precedent backing up this theory has been barely mentioned in the popular press as far as I know. In any case, I expect the historical precedent to become a major component in the debate over the theory as the radical right Supreme Court considers turning back the way presidents are chosen to what existed in a few states in the early days of the Republic. If the Court endorses the independent legislative theory another stake will be thrust into the heart of democracy.

  3. I knew that Stewart was a bomber pilot. Did you know he stayed in the Reserves until he reached mandatory retirement age, and reached the rank of Major General? He also did that absolutely wooden film Strategic Air Command with June Allison.

  4. Two conflicting political moves that haven’t been discussed much here:
    * people are finally pushing to abandon DST changes my moving to year-round DST (an hour ahead of ‘natural’ noon, not to engage in the naturalistic fallacy, oops) (from US Sunshine Protection Act in March)
    * Today’s news: California is now mandating that schools start ‘late’ at 8AM (California Late Start Act)

    Of course, the combined effect is that schools would start at 7AM PST (equivalent to 8AM PDT) – which would be totally friggin’ normal. I support getting rid of the semi-annual clock change, but let’s just change everything to standard time, rather than daylight time, and move forward from there.

    I find it refreshing that there are bizarre political controversies that no one seems to know – or care – about. It’s so much lighter than anything else in the news.

    1. > move forward from there.

      Sorry, I just re-read my post. ‘Move forward from there’ was ambiguous. I mean ‘get on with our lives’, not ‘move clocks forward.’ Oops!

  5. IRT the Brooks article in the NYT, like our host, I’m an Illinoisan, a resident of Lake County, which in my lifetime has gone from a solid Republican county to a solid Democratic one. My work, however, is in the rural parts of the state, that is, in MAGA world. Governor Pritzker is despised in these parts, and there are posted signs that are exact copies of those we saw at the January 6 insurrection, e.g., “Jesus is my Lord, and Trump is my President,” “Trump Now, Trump Forever.” Now, Bailey signs are all over the place. I’m nervous that come November solid Blue Illinois will flip Red.

    1. Yes, the policy by some Democrats of supporting extremist right wing candidates in the Republican primaries is folly (IMMO). It is not just unconscionable, but very risky.
      Would a good chance for a ‘moderate’ Republican not be preferable to a moderate chance of getting a whacko extremist, be it as governor, senator or House representative?
      I’m thinking (a few come to mind) of ‘moderates’ like Sandoval, Logan, Murkowski, Portman, Katko, Kinzinger, Gonzales, Upton, etc.)
      They may not be ideal, but one could live with them.

  6. Here’s a news report about the signing [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] …

    In that newsreel, Bobby Kennedy looks none too happy to take those six pens from Johnson bearing LBJ’s cooties.

    With the strokes of those 75 or so pens, Lyndon Johnson (a Texan who had been put on the bottom half of the 1960 ticket to help hold southern states for Massachusettsan John F. Kennedy) lost the South for the Democrats. Johnson knew it would happen and said it would last a generation, but its been at least three now and counting. True to Johnson’s prediction, in the presidential election in the fall after he signed the CRA ’64, five contiguous deep south states of the former confederacy voted for Republican Barry Goldwater (who had opposed the CRA). Those were the only states Goldwater carried, aside from his home state of Arizona.

  7. It’s a dangerous game for Democrats to try to get radical Trumpers onto the general election ballots in November. (Obviously) that strategy might very well catapult the entire group of crazies into office. I remember friends and relatives telling me in 2016 that Trump could never win. I said that he could win. They asked “How?” I said he can win if people vote for him. Same thing here. Scary stuff indeed.

  8. What a lovely teacher doing the demonstration with the ruler. I’m sure she really fired her students enthusiasm for physics.

  9. 1990 – In the 1990 Mecca tunnel tragedy, 1,400 Muslim pilgrims are suffocated to death and trampled upon in a pedestrian tunnel leading to the holy city of Mecca.

    This year, and at short notice, the rules for taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage were changed and some prospective pilgrims in the UK fear that they will lose thousands of pounds as a result. Specialist travel agencies face going out of business:

  10. In reference Andrew Sullivan’s Weekly Dish piece, I see that former SDNY federal prosecutor, current National Review contributor, and Fox News’s leading legal analyst Andrew McCarthy — heretofore a staunch defender of Donald Trump through thick and thin — came out after this week’s J6 subcommittee hearing and said Trump likely committed federal crimes in connection with his coup attempt. McCarthy even penned an editorial in Rupert Murdoch’s pro-Trump New York Post setting out why.

      1. The first principle of the rule of law is that no person is above it. If presidents can’t be prosecuted for conduct in office, then we may as well forgo quadrennial inaugurations in favor of coronations. If an attempted coup doesn’t merit prosecution, what would? (Successful coups can’t be prosecuted, for obvious reasons.)

    1. Most voters are aware of the hearings. They really seem to be reaching an audience. I worry that their two-week hiatus will let the momentum fade. On the other hand, it takes time for people to develop opinions and communicate them, so it might have the opposite effect.

  11. I did know that Jimmy Stewart was a bomber pilot. In fact, my uncle Albert Miranda was a mechanic in the 453rd and roomed with Stewart for a good part of the war. Sadly, Uncle Al got obsessed later in life with trying to get more recognition from Congress for bomber mechanics, which turned out to be a fool’s errand like the lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Dickens’ Bleak House.

    1. I can tell you one class of people who hold crew chiefs in the highest regard, and that is combat pilots. My childhood was full of hunting and fishing trips with highly decorated combat and test pilots and astronauts, and there were always crew chiefs as well. They always treated them as peers.

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