Saturday: Hili dialogue

August 27, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good day to you on cat shabbos: Saturday, August 27, 2022. It’s National Burger Day, celebrating an iconic American meal. Below you can see is what rated by many as America’s best burger—Hodad’s in southern California. Note that they do not stint on the onion rings, which most places do. Neither burger nor rings are cheap, but for something like this, you have to splurge! (You might also want to buy a stent or two.)

It’s also National Pots de Crème Day, National Banana Lovers Day, National Tarzan Day (it was on this day in 1912 that Tarzan made his debut in the novel Tarzan of the Apes), World Rock Paper Scissors Day, Kiss Me Day, and, in Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson Day.

Stuff that happened on August 27 includes:

They pulled down statues of famous Romans! Here’s a painting of that: “Sack of Rome by the Visigoths on 24 August 410 by JN Sylvestre 1890″

And here’s that well, with the caption: “Edwin Drake, right, stands with friend Peter Wilson of Titusville, Pennsylvania, at the drilling site – but not the original cable-tool derrick – of the August 1859 first commercial U,S, oil well. Photo courtesy Drake Well Museum.”

It took only a few shots to demolish the Sultan of Zanzibar’s palace (below), the Sultan fled, and the British installed a pro-British sultan:

Here are the “Famous Five”, who petitioned the Court to allow women to be members of the Senate of Canada (they already had the right to vote). Although they lost this petition, it was overruled two years later and women could henceforth be senators.

  • 1928 – The Kellogg–Briand Pact outlawing war is signed by fifteen nations. Ultimately sixty-one nations will sign it.

Those included the U.S.  War was not of course outlawed, but the Pact wasn’t useless; Wikipedia says this:

A common criticism is that the Kellogg–Briand Pact did not live up to all of its aims, but it has arguably had some success.  It was unable to prevent the Second World War, but it was the base for trial and execution of Nazi leaders in 1946. Furthermore declared wars became very rare after 1945.

I doubt that the rarity of wars after WWII (if this is the case) was due to the Kellogg-Briand pact!

Guess who was the target of this massacre?

I loved that book as a child and every year got the latest copy for Christmas. I memorized many of the biology records, and used them to pull a scam on my advisor Dick Lewontin during my Ph.D. defense. I went in advance to each of the non-advisor members of my committee, getting them to agree to ask me a specified question in his field of research. Steve Gould asked me what the largest snail was, Karel Liem asked me what the deepest-caught fish was, and Ernest Williams asked me what the fastest lizard was. I rattled off the answers without a pause, and my advisor Dick Lewontin, who wasn’t in on the joke, was dumbfounded. He thought I was a big expert in animal biology!

  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.

Here’s the station, which closed in 2003 after 47 years of service. It had four nuclear reactors.

Da Nooz:

*Of course the Big Nooz is that a judge released the redacted affidavit that allowed the feds to search Mar-a-Lago. (You can see the redacted document here).

The affidavit — including more than three dozen pages of evidence and legal arguments presented by the Justice Department’s national security division plus supporting documents — describes the government’s monthslong push to recover highly classified materials taken from the White House by a former president who viewed state documents as his private property.

And for the first time it reveals the government’s source for information on the movement of documents into, and within, the Mar-a-Lago complex, “a significant number of civilian witnesses” with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s post-presidential actions.

The heavily redacted affidavit was released on Friday, 18 days after F.B.I. agents descended on Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club with a court-authorized search warrant and carted off additional material marked as classified, citing possible violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice statutes.

There is “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found” at Mr. Trump’s house, prosecutors wrote in requesting the search.

Obstruction of justice! I should have guessed that would be one reason, though sequestering classified documents is another. And Trump’s sequestering of documents, some of which he turned over earlier, is what led to the raid:

The search, the affidavit reveals, was prompted by an intensive F.B.I. review of an initial 15 boxes of materials that Mr. Trump turned over to the archives in January, after months of government pressure.

In those boxes, they found a total of 184 documents with classification markings, including 25 marked “top secret.”

But agents were most alarmed to discover that many of the materials included the highest national security restrictions, requiring they be held in controlled government storage facilities, and barring them from ever being shared with foreign governments, to protect “clandestine human sources” employed by the intelligence community to collect information around the world, according to the documents.

And as for what was obstructed, this is what we get in another NYT piece:, where it’s characterized as the most serious of the potential crimes:

But by some measures, the crime of obstruction is a threat to Mr. Trump or his close associates that is as much or even more serious. The version investigators are using, known as Section 1519, was part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a broad set of reforms enacted in 2002 after financial scandals at companies like Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom.

The heavily redacted affidavit provides new details of the government’s efforts to retrieve and secure the material in Mr. Trump’s possession, highlighting how prosecutors may be pursuing a theory that the former president, his aides or both might have illegally obstructed an effort of well over a year to recover sensitive documents that do not belong to him.

To convict someone of obstruction, prosecutors need to prove two things: that a defendant knowingly concealed or destroyed documents, and that he did so to impede the official work of any federal agency or department. Section 1519’s maximum penalty is 20 years in prison, which is twice as long as the penalty under the Espionage Act.

Julie O’Sullivan, a Georgetown University law professor who specializes in white-collar crime, said the emerging timeline of the government’s repeatedly stymied attempts to retrieve all the documents, coupled with claims by Mr. Trump that he did nothing wrong because he had declassified all the documents in his possession, raised significant legal peril for him.

The obstruction, then, is of Trump and his lawyers repeatedly trying to stymie the government’s attempts to recover documents.

And the Washington Post adds this:

The warrant authorizing the search said agents were seeking all “physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of three potential crimes,” including a part of the Espionage Act outlawing gathering, transmitting, or losing national defense information. The warrant also cites destruction of records and concealment or mutilation of government material.

. . . Some material recovered in the search is considered extraordinarily sensitive, two people familiar with the search have said, and could reveal carefully guarded secrets about U.S. intelligence-gathering methods. One of the people said the information is “among the most sensitive secrets we hold.”

Like others interviewed about the search, the two people spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss details that have not been publicly released.

Nobody knows whether the government will bring charges against Trump or his acolytes based on what they found during the search. But “obstruction of justice” and “Espionage Act” sound pretty serious to me!

The NYT’s editorial on all this: “Donald Trump is not above the law.” It describes the downside of prosecuting Trump, but concludes this:

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents.

They call the prosecution of Trump a “necessary first step” in fixing American democracy.

*We’ll know in a few weeks whether the polls will swing more toward Democrats, but now, after Biden’s new bill has passed, we can go to FiveThirtyEight to see  whether the good stuff that was done affected the Democratic hopes for Congress. Not much, I fear.

The Senate:

The House still looks grim:

I put in a request for permanent voting by mail in Chicago, and got my confirmatory email today that my ballots will be mailed to me before each election.

*From Ken:

A while ago, I sent you a news item about a Florida judge who denied a parentless 17-year-old’s request to obtain an abortion, on the basis that the girl was “too immature” to decide to terminate her pregnancy.

This week that judge, Jared Smith, was defeated for reelection by Tampa criminal defense lawyer Nancy Jacobs. During the campaign, a video surfaced in which Smith’s wife, with Smith at her side (both of them are active evangelical Christians), told a church group that Jacobs, who is Jewish, “needs Jesus” in her life.

*The weekly “TGIF” news summary at Bari Weiss’s site, usually written by Nellie Bowles, has been taken over, at least for a while, by Nick Gillespie. (Nellie is having a child.) This week’s summary, “TGIF: Debts forgiven and debts forgotten,”, is more right-wing than Nellie’s takes, and not as snarky. Here’s one bit that goes after Democrats, though; it’s from a section predicting that Republicans are going to clean up in Congressional elections in November:

The main thing holding the GOP back from a complete takeover? The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis is surely onto something when he notes that the Party of Lincoln, in its Trumpified version, has a fondness for nominating “idiots” to run for office.

Indeed, as Nellie noted only last week, there isn’t enough cocaine in the world to keep Mitch McConnell and voters everywhere from recognizing that “candidate quality” is a real problem for Republicans. They tend to nominate people with absolutely zero experience even running for office, much less holding it. The results aren’t just Dr. Oz alienating Pennsylvania voters by suggesting that John Fetterman brought about his own stroke, but Georgia’s favorite son, Herschel Walker, yammering on about too many trees while being unable to accurately count his own children.

Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance managed to win his primary in Ohio with just 32 percent of the vote but rarely goes a week without some sort of gaffe, such as suggesting that women should stay in violent marriages. He now finds himself mired in a surprisingly tight general election against undistinguished Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose main strategy is calling Vance, who’s worked for billionaire Peter Thiel, a plutocratic carpetbagger and repeating the word China over and over again to Rust Belt audiences. Then there’s another Thiel-backed political virgin, Arizona’s Blake Masters, who just this week flipped his position on abortion from being “100% pro-life” and supporting a federal personhood law to suggesting he’s only against late-term and partial-birth abortion. These aren’t even rookie mistakes.

*NSFW Science News. Hot off the press, the NYT reports that monkeys use natural sex toys:

Many monkeys are skilled stone handlers, using rocks to dig up roots, cut plants and crack open an array of delicacies, including fruits and nuts.

But some monkeys also appear to be using stone tools for, erm, something else. In a paper published this month in the journal Ethology, researchers report that some macaques frequently rub or tap stones around their genitals, and that these behaviors are associated with signs of physiological arousal that other stone handling actions do not prompt.

In other words, the monkeys appear to engage in “a form of self-directed, tool-assisted masturbation,” said Camilla Cenni, a doctoral student at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, who conducted the research as part of her dissertation.

. . . The macaque study is not the first report of object-assisted masturbation in wild animals, but it provides new evidence that, in some cases at least, animals appear to use tools simply to give themselves pleasure. “It’s arguably not really adaptive or useful,” Ms. Cenni said.

No more adaptive than in humans, where masturbation is probably a spandrel, a byproduct of the orgasm that has evolved to drive us to reproduce. But it’s certainly not maladaptive, either.  The paper, published in the journal Ethology, is here.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is checking the garden (I didn’t realize that she was the head gardner as well as editor-in-chief of Listy:

A: What are you investigating?
Hili: I’m checking whether this plum tree stump is putting out any sprouts.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu się tak przyglądasz?
Hili: Patrzę czy ta ścięta śliwa nie puszcza pędów.

And two photos of baby Kulka from Paulina:


And lagniappe: a special Hili dialogue from ten years ago yesterday.She was just a kitten then, but already a self-designated princess. The adoring dog was named Darwin:

Hili: I know I’m young and beautiful, but he’s exaggerating with this adoration.
Me: he really likes you.
Hili: Then let him admire my pictures and I’ll lick my fur myself.

 In Polish:

Hili: Wiem, że jestem młoda i piękna, ale on z tym uwielbieniem przesadza.
Ja: On cię bardzo lubi.
Hili: To niech podziwia moje zdjęcia, a ja sobie moje futro sama wyliżę.


A cartoon from Linda:

From Malcolm. a short but heartening Facebook video about the return of the almost-extinct griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) to Serbia.

From Jesus of the Day: This is real, and the swings make music, too! See video below the photo:

The Tweet of God (apparently taken down, but you can still read it):

From Titania, an abject apology:

Paparazzi ducks from Malcolm:

From Barry, a pusillanimous d*g (sound up):

From Simon, who has a question:

Serious question. Since winds across the plains are basically west to east, how does the home territory not move slowly in the same direction and eventually drop off the east coast?. I’m guessing enough local distribution at the start but not really sure.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The thread after the first tweet has some answers (well, anecdotes):

Look at this guy use its sensitive bill!

This is amazing; I had no idea!

8 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Re: tumbleweeds –
    “I’m guessing enough local distribution at the start but not really sure.”

    At least here in NM, mature tumbleweeds get caught on objects in their paths. We’re not flat and level until almost to TX.


    1. I lived in Wyoming for a number of years, the tumbleweeds would always get caught on your eastern fence. You’d throw them over your fence, and then they’d tumble down to your neighbor’s eastern fence. Who knows where they all eventually ended up!

      The first year living there, throwing the tumbleweeds over the fence sent me into an asthma attack. I never knew before then that I was allergic to tumbleweeds. How weird? At least it got me out of doing that arduous annual chore. 🙂

  2. I’m guessing that in the year 410, when the Visgoths sacked Rome, those statues were probably still colorfully painted.

  3. “And for the first time it reveals the government’s source for information on the movement of documents into, and within, the Mar-a-Lago complex, ‘a significant number of civilian witnesses’. . . .”

    Wow—that’s quite a revelation. Surely, without endangering anyone, they could have revealed the number of witnesses and let us decide how significant it is. Instead, we’re left to wonder whether these are perhaps the same civilian witnesses who reported sighting an ivory-billed woodpecker.

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