Monday: Hili dialogue

September 5, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s still the Labor Day Holiday in America this Monday, September 5, 2022: National Cheese Pizza Day (you can sneak a little sausage in there, too). And of course it’s Labor Day, the reason for the three-day weekend. There’s a special Google Doodle celebrating the Labor part of the day, although everybody is taking the day off. Click on the Doodle to see where it goes:

Last night was a bad one: I got all of three hours of sleep. That means you shouldn’t expect any braining today.  Yes, I went to a sleep doctor, but the usual recommendations don’t seem to be working.

It’s also World Samosa Day and the International Day of Charity. I love samosas—one of the glories of Indian cuisine, and could easily make a whole meal out of this appetizer/snack. They’re especially good with sauces on the side, like here:

Wine of the Day: I don’t remember buying this wine, nor what I paid for it, and it doesn’t even bear a vintage year. Looking around on the internet, I see that it was probably released a couple of years ago, and is a “blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre as well as a small amount of Viognier from 2015, 2016, and 2017.” The prices seem to range between $25 and $35, so I assume I paid something less than the lowest price when I bought it. It’s from the southern Rhone, and while the only Beaumes-de-Venise wines I am used to drinking were wonderful sweet Muscats (do not overlook a good Muscat!), I see that the area now has an appellation for red wines as well.

I had it with my weekly T-bone steak, heirloom tomatoes (yum!), and rice mixed with a little hoisin sauce for flavor. It was absolutely spectacular, full-bodied and smelling like a jar of cherry or raspberry jam. (dare I say a hint of road tar?). It was also slightly off-dry, not because they vinified it sweet, but because there was neither heat nor tanning, but the taste of pure, juicy, fruit.

Here’s Jeb Dunnuck’s 95-point review:

Coming from the higher elevation sites, the NV Beaumes de Venise Arcane Etoile is another elegant, finesse-oriented wine from Xavier that has both richness and freshness. . . . it has something profound in its texture and balance. Notes of black raspberries, currants, dried flowers, lavender, and pepper are followed by a beautiful, full-bodied, elegant wine that might just be one of the greatest red wines to come from Beaumes de Venise.

Strongly recommended if you don’t mind the price.

Stuff that happened on September 5 include:

  • 1622 – A hurricane overruns a Spanish fleet bound from Havana to Cadiz and sinks the ship galleon Atocha. Only 5 men are rescued, but 260 passengers and 200 million pesos are buried with the Atocha under 50 feet of water.
  • 1666 – Great Fire of London ends: Ten thousand buildings, including Old St Paul’s Cathedral, are destroyed, but only six people are known to have died.

Here’s a digital reconstruction of Old St Paul’s:

And the new one, consecrated in 1697:

The Terror, of which Robespierre was a principal architect, resulted in the deaths of over 25,000 people, many guillotined. Robespierre himself met that fate, but not after trying to kill himself with a pistol when he was apprehended. Severely wounded but alive, they lopped off his head the next day. Here’s a painting with the Wikipedia caption, “Lying on a table, wounded, in a room of the convention, Robespierre is the object of the curiosity and quips of Thermidorians, painting by Lucien-Étienne Mélingue (Salon de 1877)(Musée de la Révolution française).”

Here’s Houston, who was also a slaveholder:

There are no authenticated photos of Crazy Horse, but this one, supposedly taken in 1877, is accepted by some as showing the man:

Gouzenko was given a new identity by the Canadian government; here’s a CBC interview with him in 1968.


D’Aquino, shown below, was actually one of several women called “Tokyo Rose” (the name she used on the air was “Orphan Ann”).

She served six years and two months in prison for treason, and moved to Chicago, where she died in 2006.  Here’s a re-enactment of one of her propaganda broadcasts for Radio Tokyo.

Here’s Discovery’s first launch and landing. That vehicle was launched and landed 39 times, finally being retired in 2011.


Da Nooz:

*This just in: as expected, Liz Truss has been chosen as the UK’s new Prime Minister. As she’s a Conservative, this will depress many Brits, but I also want to know if she’ll keep Larry the Cat at 10 Downing Street.  This is his eleventh year of service to the Crown.  Larry made a tweet:

*Mass killings aren’t common in Canada, but one has taken place in an Indigenous community in Saskatchewan. Yesterday someone went on a stabbing spree “in several locations across the James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon.” Now at least ten are dead and 15 injured.

The authorities identified two suspects, Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, who might be traveling in a black Nissan Rogue. They said that their direction of travel was unknown and that they may have switched vehicles.

. . . Information about a motive was not immediately available, although the police said earlier on Sunday that some of the stabbings appeared to be targeted and others random.

Note that they used knives, not guns.

*Stephen Lubet, a professor of law at Northwestern University, has a new article at The Daily Beast: “Antisemitic conspiracy theories are going mainstream

Shortly after the vicious stabbing of Indian-British-American author Salman Rushdie, Prof. Nader Hashemi, a specialist on Islam-West Relations, opined on the Iran Podcast that Israel was probably behind the life-threatening attack, as an attempt to derail renewed nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Hashemi’s claim was quickly condemned by Jewish organizations, and it drew a tepid response from a Denver University official, who said that “his comments do not reflect the point of view of the university.” Otherwise, however, Hashemi’s unsupported accusation drew little attention from the mainstream media, perhaps because similarly conspiratorial charges have become almost commonplace in recent years.

. . . Hashemi’s assignment of likely blame is about a half-step away from the enduring accusation that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. Apart from the non-existent technology, it is not too far from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s belief that Cali

. . . Hashemi, I’m sure, is a person of good will, with no ill intentions. But that makes it even more troubling that he would reflexively turn to an anti-Jewish stereotype without recognizing its bigoted implications (even when pointed out to him). Instead, he has doubled down. Rather than admit a mistake, which would probably have ended the controversy, Hashemi claims that he has become a “political target” for refusing to fall in line with Israeli-friendly policies. He described his Mossad attribution as part of a “nuanced and critical discussion of world politics.” Criticism of the theory, he complained, was “an attempt to silence public debate,” presumably over whether Rushdie’s stabbing had indeed been part of a cunning Israeli plot.

. . .In an [1879] essay titled “The Way to Victory of Germanism over Judaism,” [Wilhelm] Marr laid the groundwork for the theory that Jews sought to dominate Aryans and other Europeans through control of finance and industry. “Jewish spirit and Jewish consciousness,” he warned, “have overpowered the world.” Antisemitism was substituted for Judenhass (Jew hatred) because it was secular and therefore more “scientific,” but it meant the same thing.

We increasingly see a similar phenomenon today, as in Hashemi’s remarks, when classically anti-Jewish themes are recast in the “nuanced” language of anti-Zionism, as though that was sufficient to cleanse the comments of their ancient implications.

That is the beauty of a conspiracy theory. It is all nuance and no proof.

At the NYT, freelance science journalist Helen Santoro, describes her cerebral anomaly in an essay called “The curious hole in my head.” Santoro was born without a left temporal lobe, which, she describes, is “a region of the brain involved in a wide variety of behaviors, from memory to the recognition of emotions, and considered especially crucial for language.”

*Santoro’s on the left below, looking at a scan of her brain. Look at the size of that hole!

The doctors told her mother that she would never speak or be even close to normal, and should be institutionalized. It turned out that she was absolutely normal, not showing any cognitive deficits. (The cause was apparently a “perinatal stroke”, with the fetal brain bleeding into the uterus. These almost always cause severe brain damage.)

Apparently, though that area of the brain is thought to be crucial for language skills, other scientists think those skills can be distributed more diffusely.

“The brain has incredible neuroplasticity,” said Hope Kean, a graduate student in Dr. Fedorenko’s lab who is running the Interesting Brain study as part of her dissertation.

It seems that networks in the brain arrange in a particular way, but if you lose crucial brain regions as a baby — when the brain is still very plastic — these networks can reroute, Ms. Kean said.

But she got a surprise when she had a brain scan while listening to sentences. It turns out that, although some normal patients missing a left temporal lobe reroute language to the right temporal or frontal lobes, Santoro’s didn’t:

My brain, however, surprised everyone, yet again.

A preliminary analysis of the scans showed that, even without a left temporal lobe, I still process sentences using my left hemisphere.

“I had thought that any large left hemisphere early lesion leads to the migration of the language system to the right hemisphere!” Dr. Fedorenko said. “But science is cool this way. Surprises often mean cool discoveries.”

*In the face of the company’s financial woes, Gustavo Amal, the Chief Financial Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, apparently committed suicide by jumping 57 stories from his Manhattan skyscraper apartment. He was just 52. For much of yesterday the news reported it as a “fall,” but given the company’s woes, CNN’s late-afternoon report that he jumped made more sense. It’s very sad, and one wonders whether there was something else besides the company’s downsizing that led to his suicide.

The law enforcement source told CNN Sunday that Arnal’s wife witnessed him jump. The source said while no suicide note was found, no criminality is suspected.Edelman said Arnal was “instrumental in guiding the organization throughout the coronavirus pandemic, transforming the company’s financial foundation and building a strong and talented team. He was also an esteemed colleague in the financial community.”

CNN reported this week that Bed Bath & Beyond is in deep turmoil. The company is trying to rescue itself and stay out of bankruptcy by shrinking. The chain said Wednesday that it will lay off approximately 20% of corporate employees, close around 150 stores and slash several of its in-house home goods brands. The company also said it secured more than $500 million in financing to shore up its ailing financial straits.

*Pay for CEOs is rising beyond all reason. Starbucks, fraying a bit at the edges, has just hired as CEO Laxman Narasimhan, who was chief executive of Durex condom maker Reckitt Benckiser. His salary?

The Seattle-based group lured Narasimhan with a salary, bonus and stock worth up to $17.5 million a year. It’s also paying him $1.6 million in cash and over $9 million in shares to compensate for the incentives he left behind at Reckitt.

Crikey! That’s $48,000 per day, 365 days per year, or $2000 per hour every day of his life. But that isn’t all that unusual. Reuters adds this:

Pay for American bosses keeps rising further into the stratosphere. Last year, the median CEO of companies in the S&P 500 Index took home more than $14 million, a record high, according to ISS Corporate Solutions. The median boss of a FTSE 100 company made do with $4 million. Still, Reckitt was known as one of the more generous companies. If Narasimhan had hit all of his long-term incentive targets he could have earned over $19 million. That may be why Starbucks promised to pay him nearly $8 million if he fails to become chief executive by next April. And unlike the UK, where shareholder votes on pay are binding, U.S. companies can choose to ignore unhappy investors.

Well, almost none of that money will come from me, as I dislike Starbucks and its overpriced drinks, many of them akin to adult milkshakes. No latte in the world is worth $5, and I know because I make them at work myself, using Trader Joe’s French Roast beans, a good high-pressure espresso machine, and 2% milk. It can’t cost more than about 30 cents for a latte with a double shot of the good stuff.

*How can I not call your attention to a late-breaking story from the Associated Press, “Ukrainian firefighters rescue kitten from burning building“?

Ukrainian firefighters known for rescuing people from buildings hit by shelling in more than six months of war turned their attention over the weekend to a furry victim — a gray-and-white kitten.

The rescuers, wearing full firefighting gear, battled raging flames and smoke to pull the kitten out from under a metal chair in the rubble of a large wooden hotel-restaurant complex hit by a rocket in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, the country’s emergency services said Sunday on Facebook.

Video showed the firefighters petting and cuddling the feline as they carried it to safety.

“We found a beauty,” one of the firefighters said as the kitten wiggled around in a colleague’s arms.

Ukraine’s emergency services said the kitten’s paw needed medical attention.

“Heroes of our time,” the emergency services proclaimed of the firefighters. “They protect, work, save, treat … And we wish the cat a speedy recovery.”

Below is a photo. “We found a beauty”! The Ukrainians really seem to love their cats; the Internet is full of photos of Ukrainians fleeing the fighting but taking their kitties with them. Another reason to help the country!

(From AP): In this image made from video, a firefighter holds a kitten after rescuing it from a burning building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. Ukraine’s emergency services posted video to Facebook on Sunday showing the firefighters petting and cuddling the kitten as they carried it to safety. One said, “We found a beauty.” Ukraine’s emergency services said the kitten’s paw needed medical attention. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine via AP)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, like the other cats, mourn the passing of summer:

Hili: There is only one conclusion.
A: What’s that?
Hili: That summer is coming to an end.
In Polish:
Hili: Jest tylko jeden wniosek?
Ja: Jaki?
Hili: Lato ma się ku końcowi.


From Nicole.  Ducks don’t get no respect!

From Facebook:

From the United Humanists via Diana:

The Tweet of God, who is greatly angered:

Apparently British actor and media star Jameela Jamil misgendered someone who was “NB” (non-binary), and has been engaging in fulsome apologies. But, as usual, that’s not enough. Even Titania goes after her in the last panel!

From Barry, a tweet from a Texas candidate for governor (a Republican, of course). Barry asks, ” Didn’t the Knights Templar disband in the fourteenth century?”

From Simon. Here’s Trump going after Obama, probably jealous that Obama just won an Emmy for narrating a documentary on National Parks.

A snarky tweet sent by Luana:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:  The Frank family, captured in hiding, arrived at Auschwitz.

Tweets from Professor Cobb, still suffering from the aftereffects of Covid. I found this tweet edifying:

A biogeochemist from Wright State University meets the TSA, and the results aren’t pretty. (She managed to recover some samples.)

This has got to be the Tweet of the Month, even though it’s only the fifth:

25 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. Liz Truss has just been announced as the UK’s new prime minister (she takes over tomorrow). It’s the third time since the 2016 Brexit referendum that a new PM has been appointed without a general election (just over 80% of the 170,000 Conservative Party members voted this time around).

    Larry the No. 10 Cat made a late entry to the leadership race – his main “pawlicy” pledge was “no lying in No 10 – unless it’s on a really comfy cushion”:

    1. Prediction: Truss will lose nearly all of the Boris-won votes in the north at the next election, and probably lose the election in the process. Buckle in for Starmer and the Momentums! And all over a glass of wine and a birthday cake after work. Boris should come and take lessons from Justin to learn how to do far worse things and suffer no consequences.

      1. No matter who the PM is at the next election, the Tories are going to lose it.The only question is if Labour has to go into a coalition with the SNP. If that’s the case, it’s the end of the Union.

        1. It was over the minute that Tony B Liar gave Scotland its parliament back. Scotland & England are Such very different places. We just wait & invade, & steal their haggises! Haggi?! 😁

  2. This one is worth the cost of admission:

    “That is the beauty of a conspiracy theory. It is all nuance and no proof.”

    Regarding aberrant brains…I had a brain injury and am now disabled from my work. In talking to the neuroscientists at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center about my condition, they told me, “The brain is a black box. The surest way to know that someone doesn’t know anything about the brain is that they act like they do…”

    1. Jamil has also been mocked in the past for her claims about an unlikely series of incidents:

      Bee-related car accidents? Plural?

      Indeed. Morrissey shared her suspicions about an accident Jamil recounted in the Mirror article—which occurred when the actress was 17—and a different, more recent accident that Jamil described to the Chicago Tribune in 2019. In the Mirror and elsewhere, Jamil has said that as a teenager, she sustained a spinal injury after running headlong into traffic while “trying to avoid a bee on Hampstead High Street” that left her bedridden—though there have been some inconsistencies about just how long she was bedridden. Jamil told the Mirror she was “confined to bed for two years and had to walk with a Zimmer frame,” but in a 2019 Cosmopolitan article said she was bedridden for a “year and in a wheelchair for about six months after that.”

      Jamil later described another incident, which occurred while she was filming the first season of The Good Place in 2016, where she was hit by a car while fleeing a swarm of bees on an evening jog, as her “worst moment,” though she was able to get back up and take refuge in a juice shop. Morrissey suggested that both the Hampstead Road incident and the accident during the filming of The Good Place were the same and had questioned how the story had changed from Jamil suffering an injury that left her bedridden to one that allowed her to walk away after. Morrissey also took issue with a 2015 interview with the Sun in which Jamil said she and Mark Ronson were attacked by 500 bees, pointing out that Ronson later said that he didn’t remember the incident as Jamil did and that “one or two individual bees approached slowly.”

  3. Thanks for the Space Shuttle Discovery launch and landing video. While everything looked pretty smooth in the video, the full process from first launch attempt to the actual launch in the video more than two months later was frustrating and even scary…making this week’s delay of the uncrewed Artemis-1 seem like a walk in the park. Some details of the shutdown at t-6 seconds (after main engine start in an earlier launch attempt) and the first finding of soot blow-by at one of the solid rocket booster joints – which would be a main cause of the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger two years later – are all noted in the Wikipedia article on this first Discovery flight at
    This was the first space flight for Astronaut Judith Reznick who would later die in the Challenger accident. It also alludes to hydrogen fires which was one of the major concerns around Saturday’s significant hydrogen leak.

  4. The Washington Post today has an article (paywalled, alas) about cafeteria workers at Google and how they’ve been unionizing during the covid pandemic. They’re all contracters for outside vendors, but still.

  5. Ivan Gouzenko’s story was filmed in the 1948 as The Iron Curtain, a bit of a pot-boiler with Dana Andrews (and Gene Tierney as his wife!). The actually story itself is fascinating, and has elements of a thriller, though, and would do with a remake.

    I’ve wondered about CEO pay over the years. My observation would be that there is a huge amount of pressure the further you go up the corporate ladder, especially if you have P&L responsibility, and the CEO is where the buck stops. Is that a lot of pay if you are responsible $39B in revenue and $31B in assets?

    I know that the Knight’s Templar were still on Malta when Napoleon dispossessed them in 1798.

    That was a fascinating piece about Shakespeare’s English from that Henry Higgins fellow. I will have to search out some recordings now.

  6. Sleep. Gaia Herbs makes a potion called Hemp & Herbs (Sleep) that includes a hemp flower extract and some other herbs that I’ve been using lately. I have trouble getting back to sleep after a mid night pit stop and this stuff works very well. No noticeable ‘high’ and no morning after loggyness. It comes via UPS from out of state.

  7. IRT new Starbucks CEO Narasimhan, I’m thinking of other big company CEOs of Indian descent. Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Arvind Krishna of IBM spring readily to mind as prominent examples. Others have also been remarking on and writing about this phenomenon. Here’s one instance:
    I’m also wondering what’s going on with CEO pay cap legislation. I realize that we have bigger fish to fry, but still…

  8. Samosas: I prefer pakoras.

    Sleep: What seems to work for me is to imaging doing something relatively repetitive that I like, and that takes a bit of time. One such is ripping out poison ivy with a cultivator rake. I gaff the plant at the base and then twist to curl the vine around the handle. When there’s enough of it wrapped, pull to yank the plant out along with a lot of the root. This seems to work. Laying bricks is another one.

    Wine: I wondered if any good wines exist from Crete, and there seem to be some now that have come along in the past half-century No idea if they’re available in N America.

  9. The Bed Bath and Beyond guy has been named in a lawsuit alleging he was involved in a stock pump and dump scheme. Worst case that’s a short stint at a country club prison, so hardly seems worth ending your life.

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