Saturday: Hili dialogue

September 17, 2022 • 6:30 am

Shalom on the full day of cat shabbos (until sundown): it’s Saturday, September 17, 2022: National Apple Dumplng Day. They’re okay, but best served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

A nude apple dumpling (recipe here)

I am still pretty sleepless, so I’ll try to avoid weighty topics today that require me to think. Perhaps I should importune a reader to knock me unconscious so I can get some sleep.

It’s also National Monte Cristo Day (a fried sandwich usually made with ham and Swiss cheese), International Eat An Apple Day, International Red Panda Day (Ailurus fulgans), World Cleanup Day, Thank a Police Officer Day (many will dissent!), and  Constitution Day (see below under 1787), and the beginning of the Constitution Week (United States).

In honor of Red Panda Day, here are two of them romping in the snow in the Cincinnati Zoo:

Stuff that happened on September 17 include:

She died at 24, on a solo horseback ride (but pregnant). The horse tripped, fell on top of her, inducing labor, and then both she and her her newborn son died. Sad story.

This document, consisting of 7 Articles (main body) and 27 Amendments, is the highest law in the U.S. You can see it (and the Declaration of Independence) for free in the National Archives in Washington D.C. Living in Arlington as a kid, I used to go all the time to see it and other famous documents. Here’s the first page of the Constitution: the original signed in 1787:

Norton was, well, an “eccentric” who dubbed himself Emperor of the U.S. and “Protector of Mexico”. He lived in the Bay Area of California and her are his emperor-ly acts from Wikipedia:

Norton spent most of his daylight hours inspecting the streets; spending time in parks and libraries; and paying visits to newspaper offices and old friends in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. In the evenings, he often was seen at political gatherings or at theatrical or musical performances.

He wore an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes, at some time given to him secondhand by officers of the United States Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco. He embellished this with a variety of accoutrements, including a beaver hat decorated with a peacock or ostrich feathers and a rosette, a walking stick and an umbrella. In the course of his rounds, he took note of the condition of the sidewalks and cable cars, the state of repair of public property, and the appearance of police officers. He also often had conversations on the issues of the day with those he encountered.

A picture of Norton in his regalia, about 1875:

  • 1862 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan halts the northward drive of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army in the single-day Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history.

The toll: ‘a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.’  No day has seen more casualties in American warfare. Union casualties on the left, Confederate on the right:

  • 1862 – American Civil War: The Allegheny Arsenal explosion results in the single largest civilian disaster during the war.

The toll: 78 workers, mostly young women. The cause is strange: “The most commonly held view of the cause of the explosion was that the metal shoe of a horse had struck a spark which touched off loose powder in the roadway near the lab, which then traveled up onto the porch where it set off several barrels of gunpowder.:

Lagniappe: Darwin never left England, either, after he returned in 1836 on the Beagle:

Self aggrandizement (no, the content is not at all sensitive!)

  • 1908 – The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge, who becomes the first airplane fatality.

The first photo shows the pair right before the fatal flight (neither wearing protective headgear), and the second shows the plane after the crash:

  • 1916 – World War I: Manfred von Richthofen (“The Red Baron”), a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkräfte, wins his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.

Richthofen shot down 80 planes before he was shot down and killed himself at age 25. Here’s the “red baron”:

This was Hitler’s plan to invade the British Isles. Though preparations were made, Hitler was wary of the possible toll and the likelihood of success, and abandoned it. But here’s a reconstruction of the planned invasion:. Click to enlarge:

It was an orbiter without either engines or a heat shield, and flew only five times before it was retired in 1977. Here it is:

Enterprise – Free Flight after Separation from 747.
  • 1980 – After weeks of strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, the nationwide independent trade union Solidarity is established.

Here is the entrance to the shipyard (now called the Gdanks Shipyard and the nearby headquarters of Solidarity, photographed when I visited Gdansk in September, 2017:

Here she is, Miss America! You may recall that she had to give up her crown when it was revealed that nude photos of her had been published in Penthouse, but she weathered the scandal and went on to become a successful singer and actress.

Da Nooz:

*The Florida judge dealing with the seizure of documents at Mar-a-Lago has appointed a “special master” (why is there objection to that word?) and also declined to allow the Department of Justice to use some of those documents to continue its criminal investigation. This isn’t good news for the government’s case, especially because the “special master” was the one suggested by Trump’s team—although agreed to by the government. The NYT reports:

The judge, Aileen M. Cannon [JAC: also appointed by Trump], declined to lift any part of an order she issued last week that barred the department from using the documents, including about 100 marked classified, in its investigation until the arbiter, known as a special master, had completed a review.

In her 10-page decision, Judge Cannon appointed a special master suggested by the Trump legal team and agreed upon by the government: Raymond J. Dearie, a semiretired judge from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Judge Dearie will now have the authority to sift through more than 11,000 records the F.B.I. carted away from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8. The move was a blow to the Justice Department, almost certain to significantly delay its investigation into whether the former president unlawfully retained national defense records or obstructed repeated attempts by federal officials to retrieve them.

The department had asked Judge Cannon to lift restrictions on its use of documents with classification markings and set a Thursday deadline for her to respond before it said it would ask an appeals court to intervene. The department is now planning to appeal the decision, and top officials were meeting to discuss the timing of their filing, according to a senior law enforcement official.

Trump and his team are, of course, trying to stall things as long as possible, which is their right, but I’m not so sure that the appeal will fail. What do you think?

*The Ukrainians have found, in the recaptured city of Izium, another mass burial containing about 440 bodies of their countrymen, all put to death by Russians.  Many are civilians.

The country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that some of the bodies found in Izium showed “signs of torture,” blaming Russia for what he called “cruelty and terrorism.”

Izium was subject to intense Russian artillery attacks in April. The city, which sits near the border between the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, became an important hub for the invading military during five months of occupation. Ukrainian forces took back control of the city on Saturday, delivering a strategic blow to Russia’s military assault in the east.

When CNN arrived to the mass burial site on Friday afternoon, officials were transporting body bags, including one that appeared to be holding something very small, into a refrigerated truck

Here are civilian bodies and military ones further along,” Igor Garmash, an investigator at the scene said of the specific part of the site he was examining, pointing to a location nearby.

“Over 20 bodies have been examined and sent for further investigation,” he told CNN.

Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications said on Thursday that some of the graves discovered at Izium were “fresh,” and that the corpses buried there were “mostly civilians.”

This is clearly one of Russia’s many war crimes, like those described in the L. A. Times‘s new article, “‘Torment of hell:’ Ukraine medic describes Russians routinely torturing her and other prisoners.” (h/t: Malcolm)

A volunteer Ukrainian medic [Yuliia Paievska] detained in Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol told U.S. lawmakers Thursday of comforting fellow detainees as many died during her three months of captivity, cradling and consoling them as best she could, as male, female and child prisoners succumbed to Russian torture and untreated wounds.

. . .Torture sessions usually launched with their captors forcing the Ukrainian prisoners to remove their clothes, before the Russians set to bloodying and tormenting the detainees, she said.

The result was some “prisoners in cells screaming for weeks, and then dying from the torture without any medical help,” she said. “Then in this torment of hell, the only things they feel before death is abuse and additional beating.”

She continued, recounting the toll among the imprisoned Ukrainians. “My friend whose eyes I closed before his body cooled down. Another friend. And another. Another.”

The Geneva Conventions single out medics, both military and civilian, for protection “in all circumstance.” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and co-chair of the Helsinki Commission underscored that the conditions she described for civilian and military detainees violated international law.

*In his latest NYT piece, “Trying to prove you’re not racist,” John McWhorter recounts the hundreds of requests he’s gotten from white people who have been tarred as racists, begging McWhorter to somehow absolve them of the charge. McWhorter is under no allusion that he can do that, even as a black person, because he’s never been the “right kind of black person” for the woke who throw around those charges of racism. Nevertheless, he simply produces a list of what he thinks about issues that get people called “racist”. A brief excerpt:

I do not support calling something “racist” because outcomes for it differ for the (Black) race. For example, I take issue with the idea that there is something “racist” or “biased” about the questions on the SAT.

I do not condemn white authors writing Black fictional characters who speak Black English so long as it’s a respectful and realistic rendition.

I think the idea that it is cultural appropriation when whites take on Black cultural traits is ahistoric — human groups sharing space have always shared culture — and also pointless, given that Black American culture has always, and will continue to, infuse mainstream America. I also do not think arguments about power relations somehow invalidate my position. I think that it is in vain to decree that culture cannot be borrowed by people in power from those who are not.

. . . I think reparations are important — and happened already, decades ago with the Great Society, affirmative action, the expansion of welfare benefits in the late 1960s and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which encouraged banks to extend credit in low-income neighborhoods. I would not stand implacably opposed to new reparations today in the form of various kinds or even cash payments but am highly skeptical that a critical mass of Black commentators would accept them as true compensation. I can’t help thinking the race debate would stay where it is now.

I think the idea that only Black people should depict Black people in art and fiction is less antiracist than anti-human, in forbidding the empathy and even admiration that can motivate respectful attempts to create a literary character.

I revile any concept of equity that allows for appointing Black people to positions over more highly qualified non-Black ones.

*A new survey of academic freedom in Canada finds it imperiled. The MacDonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), a think tank in Ottawa, reports the results of its survey, which are really no surprise given Canada’s wokeness (h/t Luana):

In a new, first-of-its-kind study for MLI, titled The viewpoint diversity crisis at Canadian universities: Political homogeneity, self-censorship, and threats to academic freedom, Professors Christopher Dummitt and Zachary Patterson corroborate the findings of studies performed in the US, UK, and elsewhere: there is crisis in higher education in Canada.

The study, based on a survey of professors and members of the public, reveals that Canadian universities are political monoliths whose lack of viewpoint diversity contributes to serious problems on campus. Professors, especially the 9 percent of conservative professors whose views differ from the overwhelmingly dominant left-leaning views held by 88 percent of professors, are increasingly self-censoring for fear of reprisal.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Forty-four percent of right-leaning professors are worried about facing negative consequences if colleagues, students, or others on campus learned of their political opinions.
  • Forty percent of right-leaning professors feel like they face a hostile work environment.
  • Fear of negative consequences has led to self-censorship being exercised by 57 percent of right-leaning professors and 34 percent of left-leaning professors.
  • Over 30 percent of professors are prepared to limit academic freedom and “cancel” their colleagues out of a commitment to their political views on social justice.

Well, I haven’t read the 54-page study but the sample size is okay: 1492 members of the public and 945 professors. But I suspect the data from the U.S. is pretty much in line with this, at least for right-wing professors. As in the US, there are nearly ten times as many “left wing” professors than “right wing” professors, so the sample of those, used for the statistics above, is not large. As expected, professors on the Left have much less fear of repercussions if their political views on matters like DEI, gender, and social justice were known. I think Canada needs the equivalnet of the Foundation for Individuals Rights in Education (FIRE)—if it doesn’t already have one.

*This Friday’s “TGIF” news summary at Bari Weiss’s site is by Shawn McCreesh, a features writer at New York Magazine. (Nellie Bowles, please come back!) Here are three of his news items:

→ Royalmania in America reaches peak cringe: . . . 

It’s all become quite clownish by now. Which reminds me of one of my favorite ledes ever, by Patrick Freyne in the Irish Times last year:

“Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.”

If there’s one place you can go to escape around the clock coverage of this never-ending funeral procession, it’s an Irish bar. In the words of Seamus Heaney: “Be advised, my passport’s green/No glass of ours was ever raised/To toast the Queen.”

→ Speaking of energy cutbacks…what about all those dead oligarchs? So far, in 2022, 12 Russian oligarchs have mysteriously—and violently–met their ends. Most appear to have committed “suicide.” Some were murdered along with their wives and children. Alexander Subbotin was discovered in a shaman’s basement, outside Moscow, having reportedly died from a drug-induced heart attack (which may have included the typical toad poison) that was part of “an anti-hangover session.” 

The same phenomenon has been reported in China. Maybe the lesson here is: There is no such thing as independent wealth in authoritarian regimes. Just wealth that is dependent on the good graces of the powers that be.

→ SF Crime won’t quit. It’s hard to decide which part of this big new San Francisco Chronicle poll is more shocking. Is it that “nearly half of respondents said they were victims of theft in the last five years”? Or is it that “roughly a quarter were physically attacked or threatened”? Midtown Manhattan is starting to seem a whole lot nicer.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron, who are acquaintances if not friends, discuss an upcoming trip:

Szaron: Are you going to the orchard with me?
Hili: Go by yourself, later you can tell me what was there.
In Polish:
Szaron: Idziesz ze mną do sadu?
Hili: Idź sam. Opowiesz mi potem co tam było.

And a picture of baby Kulka by Paulina. I am pondering a visit to Dobrzyn at year’s end!


A Scott Hilburn cartoon:

From I Have Cat:

From Jesus of the Day. The collaboration makes sense, but I think this is fake. There’s only one photo and no official product announcement:

A tweet from the Wrathful God:

I found this tweet, and it’s ineffably sad:

From Iran, naturally. Yesterday the BBC reported that she died. The cause: “a sudden heart problem.” In reality, she was beaten senseless in a police van.

From Simon: this faux ranter goes on a tear about the Mermaid Kerfuffle. I can’t believe people are making a fuss about it. Who cares what ethnicity the mermaid is?

From the Auschwitz Memorial. A girl gassed at age 12:

Speaking of the Holocaust, Ken Burns has a new three-part, six hour documentary on America’s indifference to the slaughter of Jews (and Roma and many others) by the Germans:

Tweets from Matthew.  As usual, everything turns out right in DodoLand:

The more I hear about the coppers in Scotland and England, the more I dislike their authoritarianism (and suppression of speech).  Look at the smirks on their faces!

The evolution of whales might have started with something like this, but with an artiodactyl ancestor, not a rodent:

21 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. Space Shuttle Enterprise – The Enterprise was built and flown as a full scale ( which means that its shape, mass, and inertia properties were closely matched to the design of the planned shuttles that would be flown into space and return to land on a runway on Earth) test vehicles. The crewed (then called manned) test flights were each carried out by two experienced NASA test pilots and recorded unique aerodynamic, systems, and handling qualities (that is how the combination of vehicle and human pilot behave together or how the vehicle responds to commands from a human pilot) data to guide final design and training decisions for the first real shuttle. This was a necessary engineering and safety design step as the only data in hand for this unique flight vehicle, the world’s first aerospace plane, came from computer models, sub-scale wind tunnel model testing and piloted flight simulation on computers.

  2. The capybara footage is reminiscent of “rolling sidewalks” in airports. (I recently found myself with “bonus time” to observe the autowalk in the Denver airport {Special “thanks” to %$#@ Airlines}.)

  3. Forty-four percent of right-leaning professors are worried about facing negative consequences if colleagues, students, or others on campus learned of their political opinions.

    And don’t forget, this is Canada, where Old Left US Democrats would be considered ‘right-leaning’

    Thank you again for the Emperor Norton material. I am a big fan. I first encountered him in something by Neil Gaiman. I also appreciated the McWhorter snippet today – even more than most of the other things I’ve read from him. I still refuse to capitalize one racial color and not another; I can´t wait for that trend to die.

  4. I kept from sharing this for a long time since PCC(E)’s insomnia got really bad :

    An unofficial, unprofessional, anecdotal sleep tip I found and have not consulted doctors about :


    If I wake up and can’t get back – but have no noticeable aches or pains – I take 1 mg melatonin (as per standard) plus 100 mg ibuprofen. I wan’t to say this works. It is bad for the stomach, liver, kidneys, and more, and the warning label has more details.

    I might cut it to 50 mg.

  5. Shall we share sleep remedies with PCC? Sometimes warm milk at bedtime helps, but only occasionally. Physical activity to the point of exhaustion is only slightly more reliable,

    1. A hot bath, warm milk, comfortable pajamas, dark room — and then have someone drop an anvil on your head. Works every time.

      1. No.

        Compounds like that interfere with genuine sleep.

        One could say getting pass-out drunk is also sleep.

        I think the author Matthew Walker discusses it in his book Why We Sleep.

        1. I agree about alcohol, which may help you fall asleep initially but causes problems as the night progresses.

          The evidence is mixed for marijuana. It helps some and not others. My ongoing experiment conclusively shows that for me, it works very well.

          1. Walker argues something along the lines that the biochemical pathways for cannabinol or whatever else serve to stimulate areas in the brain that should not be stimulated for deep sleep, probably REM.

            I’d have to review his stuff. He has a video summary as well, for people with short att—

          2. Thank you

            “Short-term cannabis use appears to increase the time you spend in deep sleep, the stage that helps you wake up feeling refreshed. However, THC decreases the amount of time you spend in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when you spend more time dreaming, processing emotions, and cementing new memories.

            Decreasing REM sleep may have some benefits for people with PTSD, since nightmares11 are a common and disturbing symptom.”

            I recalled correctly!

            A number of the arguments make me wonder if NSAIDS or aspirin or acetominophen would produce the same results.

      2. … it could be if there is something like a sleep ritual that includes such things, the ritual alone might explain it. My hunch is that ritual helps.

        So, placebo is necessary.

    2. I don’t want to be facetious or so, but my best recipe is (exuberant) sex, followed by a glass or two of red wine. Never fails to put me to sleep.

  6. I had no idea what the Mermaid Kerfuffle was. I do now. Funny!

    I had forgotten all about Helen Mirren playing Golda Meir; I don’t think it’s been released yet. I watched Khartoum again recently, but I haven’t seen his Othello for many years now.

    I want Anne Hathaway, with short black hair just like in the wormhole film, to play James Bond, just to piss some people off 🙂

  7. You asked about the appeal of Judge Cannon’s ruling regarding the Special Master. A couple of thoughts:

    When the original ruling came down mid-week, commentators were foaming at the mouth about how stupid the ruling was, how it had no legal standing, and how it was incoherent. They opined (I could name a few MSNBC and CNN names but I won’t) that the Justice Department would get the ruling thrown out within a week.

    But the Justice Department wasn’t so confident. The Justice Department did not cite stupidity or incoherence and, tellingly, did not immediately appeal the ruling. Instead, the Justice Department asked the judge for only enough relief to allow them to use the 100 or so classified documents in their investigations, accepting the role of the Special Master in examining the others. Now that the Justice Department’s request for limited relief has been denied, it has appealed the part of the original ruling relating to the 100 or so classified documents, but only that part, not the entire ruling.

    So, my conclusion? The Justice Department limited its appeal to just the 100 classified documents because it was concerned that it could lose on appeal if it challenged the original ruling in its entirety. So, the Justice Department seems to believe that the Judge’s ruling is not so transparently stupid or broken as the commentators claimed. The same worry may be the case regarding the Judge’s decision even to prevent them from using the 100 or so classified documents. We’ll see. Either way, the Justice Department is taking the Judge’s opinions seriously and is treating her rulings respectfully, presumably because they are concerned that her rulings might indeed be upheld on appeal.

    All that said, I hope that the appeal is effective, as I don’t want to see any more delays. Delay is Trump’s mode of operation and, as we’ve seen so many times, it is an effective strategy.

    1. Both of the judge’s rulings are ludicrous from a legal and precedent point of view. Many legal experts, both conservative and liberal have explained in point by point detail why and how the judge’s decisions are ludicrous. The DOJ has responded as they have because they are constraining themselves per law and precedent, unlike the judge. They also have to contend with the fact that Trump has put many other bought and paid for judges on benches in various jurisdictions. The DOJ is using the system to best effect to achieve their objectives, while staying within the rules, and taking care to dot every I, cross every T.

      They’ve given the judge an out and we should see in the next couple of weeks or so if she takes it. Given the judge she has selected to be the special master and the guidelines she set for the review, several experts suspect she has taken the out. Many also are of the opinion that the DOJ’s tactics are an attempt to resolve the issue more quickly than an appeal would be likely to.

  8. –“this faux ranter goes on a tear about the Mermaid Kerfuffle. I can’t believe people are making a fuss about it. Who cares what ethnicity the mermaid is?”–

    I personally don’t care…or actually do care to the degree that it has apparently made many young black girls very happy to see themselves represented that way.

    I find the higher representation of POC in movies and TV (and broadcasting) wonderful. I love old movies and often binge on, for instance, old Film Noir, and I have to say I’m more aware than ever of everyone being white, and if a POC shows up it’s for moments in some subservient role. And this was when 10% of the USA population was black!

    On the other hand, it’s taking time to adjust to the new Color Blind Casting era. This sticks out to me most in historical dramas. Admittedly inaccuracies have always irked me in such productions. One of the more annoying things for me are period pieces where characters gussied up in period clothes make no attempt to sound anything but utterly modern, speaking like bros stumbling out of a modern bar.

    As for the color-blind casting there are some TV shows that take place in the past (e.g. turn of last century) and it’s completely color-blind casting in that black people are cast in entirely anachronistic roles: the doctor, medical officer, chief of police are just as likely to be black as you would see today. In terms of historical verisimilitude, it’s like watching all the effort in the production going to recreating an era, and then the jarring equivalent of someone checking steps on their Fitbit.

    I’m torn because, again, I think increasing representation of POC is a good thing. It feels uncomfortable that POC would be essentially “forgotten” in any historical pieces. On the other hand, should period pieces simply abandon any pretense of historical accuracy? If such huge anachronisms are placed front and center it can feel like “So why are we going to lengths for historical accuracy everywhere else, again?”

    I’m curious what others here think about the color blind casting trend.

    1. I think that this can have the effect of “white-washing” the past, of making it seem better than it was. It would be better to create films and TV shows that tell true, but little-known stories of the past featuring minorities, such as the recent film “Hidden Figures,” which depicts Black women who worked as mathematicians for NASA in the early days of the Space Race. They didn’t pretend that Black women were astronauts back then.

  9. Vanessa Williams would not be considered ‘black’ here (RSA), light brown at most, if not just white.
    I tried to find out her ‘unacceptable’ Penthouse photos on Internet, but it is difficult. From pretty artsy nude photos to really hard core porn. It is not even clear that it actually is Vanessa in the latter ones.

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