Friday: Hili dialogue

August 5, 2022 • 6:30 am

The weekend is nigh, and Cat Sabbath begins this evening, Friday, August 5, 2022: National Oyster Day. Oysters aren’t kosher, so cats can’t have them, but I can.

When I was younger I couldn’t imagine how anyone could eat a raw oyster (often they’re still alive!), but now it’s one of those things, like mayonnaise and sushi, that I couldn’t abide but now love. During a sabbatical in Dijon we found a place that offered all-you-can-eat French oysters, along with brown bread à volonté. A friend and I used to go there, order a bottle of Muscadet, and clean the place out.

Here’s one in the U.S. that I’d gladly try out—if there ever had it again Only $50! Sadly, this was in 2013. . .   Forget the prosecco, go for the Albariño.

It’s also Braham Pie Day (a city in Minnesota famous for its pies), Green Peppers Day, International Beer Day, and National Underwear Day, when you’re not allowed to go commando.

Stuff that happened on August 5 includes:

  • 1583 – Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what is now St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Wikipedia says no such thing; it says that Gilbert failed to establish a colony! If Greg would publish his “What’s the matter with Wikipedia?” piece, we’d learn about this type of error!

  • 1620 – The Mayflower departs from Southampton, England, carrying would-be settlers, on its first attempt to reach North America; it is forced to dock in Dartmouth when its companion ship, the Speedwell, springs a leak.

Eventually they ditched the Speedwell and headed for North America in early September. They were ten weeks at sea with 132 people aboard.

This was a landmark case, establishing freedom of the press in the U.S., for it allowed the press to print defamatory statements if they could be shown to be true. Here’s a drawing captioned “The trial, as imagined by an illustrator in the 1883 book Wall Street in History”:

  • 1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US$800; rescinded in 1872).

The tax was reinstated in 1913.

  • 1861 – The United States Army abolishes flogging.

Here’s a flogging report of sailors on the  USS John Adams in 1847. The Navy banned flogging in 1850. I think the numbers are the numbers of lashes.

  • 1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.
  • 1914 – In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light is installed.

Here’s an early Cleveland “traffic tower”. Good idea!

  • 1926 – Harry Houdini performs his greatest feat, spending 91 minutes underwater in a sealed tank before escaping.

There’s no video of this, but here’s one of Houdini escaping from a straight jacket while hung upside down.  He died in October of 1926 after being repeatedly punched in the stomach by a fan, trying to test Houdini’s abdominal muscles.

  • 1957 – American Bandstand, a show dedicated to the teenage “baby-boomers” by playing the songs and showing popular dances of the time, debuts on the ABC television network.

The show had a 37 year run, all but four of those years hosted by Dick Clark, who never seemed to age. I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid. Here’s a sample. Here’s the full episode from March 8, 1963:

  • 1962 – Apartheid: Nelson Mandela is jailed. He would not be released until 1990.

He was actually held at Robben Island until 1982, and then in a prison in Cape Town for two years, and finally in a warder’s house until 1990. Here’s a 20-minute video of his release, which was actually broadcast on state television. He’s also shown giving a post-release speech.

She died of barbiturate poisoning, and it’s not clear if it was suicide. The death scene (trigger warning: dead actor.) There were 14 bottles of pills on her bedside table:

  • 1974 – Watergate scandal: President Richard Nixon, under orders of the US Supreme Court, releases the “Smoking Gun” tape, recorded on June 23, 1972, clearly revealing his actions in covering up and interfering investigations into the break-in. His political support vanishes completely.

Here’s the tape, complete with closed captioning. Here are the YouTube notes:

In this conversation segment, President Nixon and Haldeman discuss the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. They focus on the progress of the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, especially on the tracing the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the Central Intelligence Agency ask the FBI to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in had been a national security operation.

  • 1981 – President Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.
  • 2010 – The Copiapó mining accident occurs, trapping 33 Chilean miners approximately 2,300 ft (700 m) below the ground for 69 days.

Remember that? And everyone was rescued in pretty good shape. Here’s an NBC News report about the rescue:


Da Nooz:

*Well, the verdict is in for Alex Jones in a suit by two Sandy Hook parents who sued him for the damages they incurred from Jones’s loud and persistent claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax. The jury ordered the frog-voiced behemoth to ante up $4.1 million—a lot less than the $150 million the plaintiffs requested. But those are just the civil damages; Jones could owe more:

Jurors in Austin, Texas, gave their verdict after deliberating about one hour Wednesday and seven hours Thursday at the end of a nine-days-long trial which saw Jones apologize and concede that the 2012 massacre at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, was “100% real”. The verdict levied against Jones was far below the $150m or more the plaintiffs had requested that jurors award them.

In a separate phase Friday, jurors are to determine whether Jones owes any so-called punitive damages in addition to the compensation he was ordered to cough up Thursday.

Ten of 12 jurors signed Thursday’s verdict, which was the minimum number needed for a decision because the case was civil rather than criminal. The parents of Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old boy killed during the mass shooting, had set the case in motion.

And there are more trials to come. Bankrupt him!

*The outcome of Brittney Griner’s trial was never in doubt, as 99% of all Russians tried are found guilty. Now, however, she’s been given a stiff sentence of 9½ years in a labor camp, and told to pay a fine of $16,300.

The verdict, virtually preordained in a legal system in which defendants are rarely acquitted, leaves Ms. Griner’s fate subject to diplomatic bargaining between Russia and the United States. The countries have been discussing the possibility of a prisoner exchange that would bring Ms. Griner home from Russia, where she has been detained since mid-February.

Officials in Moscow had said that a verdict was a necessary precondition for a possible exchange. The United States maintains that she was wrongly detained, held by Russia as a bargaining chip.

Elizabeth Rood, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, called the verdict “a miscarriage of justice,” and Ms. Griner’s defense team called it “absolutely unreasonable.” Her lawyers said they would appeal.

. . . Ms. Griner’s lawyers said they were “very surprised by the sentence,” which they said is “completely at odds with the existing legal practice for that charge.”

She won’t be in for long, as there’s a prisoner swap in the offing, and a conviction and stiff sentence are both necessary for a swap and a good bargaining chip for the Russians.

*After all the police officers were either acquitted or not charged in the 2020 police raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, four of them now face federal charges, thanks to the investigation of Merrick Garland’s DOJ:

Federal officials on Thursday charged four current and former police officers in Louisville, Ky., who were involved in a fatal raid on the apartment of Breonna Taylor, accusing them of several crimes, including lying to obtain a warrant that was used to search her home.

The cops also conspired after the fact to get their false stories straight.

During the nighttime raid in March 2020, officers knocked down the door and fired a volley of gunshots after Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend shot an officer in the leg, believing that intruders had burst into the home. Two officers shot Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The affair isn’t a racial one (the cops didn’t know the people fired at were black, since they went after the wrong guy), but about cop misbehavior in general. The cops burst through the wrong peoples’ door without knocking first. Breonna’s boyfriend fired, thinking it was a home invasion, and the cops fired 22 times, killing Breonna. (Louisville subsequently eliminated no-knock warrants.)

Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference that the Louisville officers had “violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”

. . .The bulk of the charges in the latest indictment surround the search warrant that police officers had sought in an investigation of Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend, whom they had believed to be selling drugs.

Prosecutors said on Thursday that two detectives and a police sergeant had falsely claimed in an affidavit used to obtain the warrant that the former boyfriend had been receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s apartment. In fact, according to the indictment, the officers had no evidence of such packages, but misrepresented their case to the judge who authorized the raid.

Believe me, violating civil rights, lying to get a warrant, and conspiring to lie about your lies, can land you in jail for a long time. What I’m not sure about is why lying to get an arrest warrant is a civil rights violation rather than some kind of perjury charge.

*From Jez via the Times of London. we learn that the government’s head law officer has decided to scrap diversity training in her department.

Suella Braverman QC, the attorney-general, said she was “horrified” to discover that hundreds of government lawyers were sent on 2,000 hours of taxpayer-funded courses last year where they were lectured on “white privilege”.

The former Conservative Party leadership candidate, who was born in London to parents of Indian origin, said that the case of Maya Forstater spurred her to review diversity training in the Whitehall legal department.

Forstater, a tax expert, won a landmark claim earlier this year against a think tank after it sacked her for expressing the view that biological sex is immutable.

Writing for The Mail+, Braverman described Forstater’s case as having “ultimately ended in a triumph for common sense and freedom of speech”.

he said the review of diversity training in her department revealed that government lawyers attended lectures on “micro-incivilities, different lived experiences and how to be a straight ally”, provided by Stonewall, the LGBT campaign group.

“The experts on white privilege who shared their insights were cited as authoritative, but they all subscribed to the left-wing view on race, gender and sexuality which permeated their training materials,” the attorney-general wrote.

Of course this explicit denigration of your own group is not going to work, and I’m wondering now if there are any data showing that diversity training “works”—and by “work,” I mean “reduces racism in the long term.”

*Despite the pro-choice victory in Kansas the other day, there’s bad news: Republicans seeking nominations for Republican slots tended to win if they were endorsed by Trump. The Orange Man is still influencing elections. In a WaPo editorial, columnist Greg Sargent affirms that and tells us why (in his view): “The Trumpists are winning. Here are 3 hidden reasons to fear them.” Here are the reasons (Sargent’s words):

1). “They are running on a promise to nullify future election losses”. They are essentially running on an implicitvow that, as long as they are in power, no Democratic presidential candidate will ever win their state again. No Democratic victory in their state will ever again be treated as legitimate.

2.) “Trump’s grip on the GOP may be slipping, but that’s beside the point.” These GOP primary outcomes illuminate the true nature of this development. Loyalty to the “big lie” isn’t some eccentric obsession that these candidates inexplicably won’t relinquish. Nor is it merely a cynical trick designed to gin up turnout among angry Trump voters. Instead, it seems to be morphing into a clear, forward-lookingpolitical project.

Like other political myths, the myth of the stolen 2020 election is a statement of intent to act. Here, the intended future act would be to refuse to acknowledge future Democratic victories as legitimate. We don’t know whether this will happen, but these candidates are declaring this intent, and it has taken on a life of its own.

That seems to me the same as #1!

3.) “The promise of future election sabotage is linked to the abortion wars.” . . . conservatives who gerrymander state governments and suppress votes are simultaneously working to constrain democracy from allowing the majority pro-choice position to prevail, revealing the hollowness of that claim.

Something similar can be discerned in these gubernatorial candidates.

Notably, they have far-outside-the-mainstream positions on abortion. Mastriano and Dixon favor a ban with no exceptions. Mastriano is a Christian nationalist who believes God wants him elected governor to serve as an instrument of God’swill. Lake saw the demise of Roe as a providential sign of God’s will that women are “meant to be” mothers.

In a forthcoming essay, political theorist Matt McManus argues that politicians who take their cues in this fashion from a transcendent order sometimes treat that order as the only necessary source of their rule’s “legitimacy.” That leads to authoritarianism.

Religion poisons everything, but these reasons don’t make me all that afraid, and in the end it comes down to just one reason: failure to heed the tenets of democracy.

* Here’s a series of tweets (there are more) about the paper by Turban et al. that I discussed yesterday. Many of the comments are similar to mine, including citing the disparity with the Tavistock Data. Williams, however, thinks it’s just a case of two different populations, while I think it shows that women are more seriously afflicted with gender dysphoria than men, and thus more prone to seek out treatment.

*The only video game I’ve ever played is the easy Google game of Cricket, but I’d love to play the new cat game “Stray.” (See my write-up about it last Caturday, along with a long video of how it’s played.) However, I think you need lots of practice to get good at playing these games (Grania used to do it), and I have neither the time nor the game console.

Now, in a felicitous byproduct of the game’s popularity, it’s being used to raise money to help real stray cats. As the Associated Press reports,

The virtual cat hero from the new video game sensation “Stray” doesn’t just wind along rusted pipes, leap over unidentified sludge and decode clues in a seemingly abandoned city. The daring orange tabby is helping real world cats as well.

Thanks to online fundraising platforms, gamers are playing “Stray” while streaming live for audiences to raise money for animal shelters and other cat-related charities. Annapurna Interactive, the game’s publisher, also promoted “Stray” by offering two cat rescue and adoption agencies copies of the game to raffle off and renting out a New York cat cafe.

Livestreaming game play for charity isn’t new, but the resonance “Stray” quickly found from cat lovers is unusual. It was the fourth most watched and broadcast game on the day it launched on Twitch, the streaming platform said.

Viewers watch as players navigate the adventurous feline through an aging industrial landscape doing normal cat stuff — balancing on railings, walking on keyboards and knocking things off shelves — to solve puzzles and evade enemies.

About 80% of the game’s development team are “cat owners and cat lovers” and a real-life orange stray as well as their own cats helped inspire the game, one creator said.

Here’s an AP video showing how the game helps real cats. As the article reports, the game creators have partnered with shelters and cat cafes, and have raised a lot of dosh

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and I have the same feeling:

Hili: Nothing changes.
A: Why do you think so?
Hili: A week ago was the same weekday as today.

In Polish:
Hili: Nic się nie zmienia.
Ja: Dlaczego tak sądzisz?
Hili: Tydzień temu był taki sam dzień tygodnia jak dziś.

. . .and a photo of baby Kulka, sleeping weird:


From Su, complex carbohydrates:

From Anna: yet another medieval cat that looks like a human:

A photo of Jango, reader Divy’s cat; note its beautiful ticked coat:

God keeps threatening us! (I guess the tweet disappeared, but the words are identical_:

From Titania:

From Simon: Larry the Cat clearly doesn’t like the new contenders for Tory PM:

From Barry. Why can’t a cat be allowed to incubate eggs for a while?

From Gerdien. What happened to that second fawn???

From the Auschwitz Memorial: an incident during the Warsaw Uprising, a failed attempt to free the city from German occupation. But some people were freed from the camps:

Tweets from Matthew. First, WHY DIDN’T THEY BOUNCE?

Sound up on this one. That is a bird with moves!

“Platypus in the rain” sounds like a good name for a band:

10 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I found one meta-analysis of studies on diversity training here:

    It’s conclusions are full of terms like “exciting opportunities” etc, so more of a breathless promotion than an attempt to see if there are benefits that outweigh the harms (people rather dislike being told they are privileged oppressors and must do better!)

  2. To paraphrase Quentin Crisp, Divy cat Jango is reacting “as if someone has just spoken your name.”

  3. Regarding the fawn video: I suspect this is the very first image of a sustained, macroscopic superposition of states that persisted until the fawn realized it was being measured…a bizarre meta-level Schrodinger’s Deer. Or it could be a glitch in the Matrix.

  4. The single most important question in America today is which party is it that is trying to corrupt elections so that they don’t lose.

  5. What I’m not sure about is why lying to get an arrest warrant is a civil rights violation rather than some kind of perjury charge.

    Since the warrant application was submitted to a Kentucky state court judge, jurisdiction for a prosecution for perjury for false statements made in the affidavit supporting the warrant application would lie with the Kentucky state courts, which have already declined to prosecute.

    The only basis for federal jurisdiction in a case such as this is a violation of victim’s civil rights under the applicable federal criminal statutes, see 18 USC section 241 et seq. Falsification of a warrant application constitutes a violation of the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the US constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

  6. Jerry, I don’t think you need a special console to play Stray. It is available for Windows on an app called Steam – you can download Steam for free at and then buy the game there and play it directly on your computer.

    I did this a while ago to play Gris – a beautiful, haunting game that I play over and over again just for the sheer beauty of its graphics and music. I would love to play Stray myself, but it is not yet available for Mac.

    Having enough time to play the game is another matter that I leave up to your judgment, of course. But I think that all of your devoted readers would agree that you deserve some leisure time!

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