Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 21, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday, September 21, or ਹੰਪ ਦਿਨ as it’s known in Punjabi, where they do not celebrate National Pecan Cookie Day, today’s American holiday.

It’s also National Chai Day, Miniature Golf Day, World Gratitude Day, World Alzheimer’s DayInternational Day of Peace, and, in Russia, Victory over the Golden Horde in the Battle of Kulikovo.

Stuff that happened on September 21 include:

The archetypal traitor (his name, like “Quisling,” is synonymous with “traitor”), Arnold, disaffected with his fate in the Continental Army, even as a major general, participated in a plan to turn over the American fort at West Point to the British. For this the conspirators were promised £20,000. One was caught and hanged, but Arnold escaped and switched sides, fighting for the British. After they lost he moved to England, returned to Canada, where he ran a business, and then moved back to London, where he died. Here’s a portrait painted when he was on the American side: “Portrait by Thomas Hart, 1776”

“Lucha libre,” as Mexican wrestling is called, is enormously popular, putting on three shows a week. But, like American professional wrestling, it’s all fake: scripted and with a pre-determined outcome. I don’t get the attraction, but to each their own.( Should it be regarded as entertainment rather than sport?) Here’s a three-minute documentary on the genre:

This day in 1942 was a bad day for the Jews, but it’s nearly always a bad day for the Jews:

Here are some Jews on their way to Bełżec. They are all doomed; the camp’s sole purpose was to kill Jews. It was open only for a bit more than a year, but between 400,00 and 500,000 Jews died during that period. Most were gassed, but with exhaust fumes from diesel engines, not Zyklon-B. The killing took about half an hour; if you have a strong stomach, read here at the top.

Kim-sok took off in a MiG-15 and landed in South Korea, luckily entering the wrong side of the runway (his plane would have been shot down otherwise). The plane was examined and flown by Americans (including Chuck Yeager) to see how to outwit a MiG in aerial combat. He emigrated to the U.S., where he worked as a professor of aeronautical engineering, and now, at 90, is still with us, living in Florida. His plane is below:

“No’s MiG-15 on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.”

O’Connor served for 25 years before retiring in 2006, and is still with us at 92. Here’s a photo of her in 2006 with the then dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan. You know where Kagan is now.

Here’s Clinton signing the act into law. Remember, it defined marriage for federal purposes as a union between “one man and one woman”, and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that were legal in other states. Supreme Court decisions, notably Obergefell v. Hodges, ruled this law unconstitutional.

Da Nooz:

*I’m putting a science story first, as it involves the bird that does the longest migration in the world: the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica). This species breeds in Scandinavia and Alaska, and then heads south about this time of year to spend the Southern Hemisphere’s spring and summer in Australia and New Zealand. It’s perpetual summer for this species! I could tell you about this amazing nonstop flight, but I’ll let the New York times do it:

Tens of thousands of bar-tailed godwits are taking advantage of favorable winds this month and next for their annual migration from the mud flats and muskeg of southern Alaska, south across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, to the beaches of New Zealand and eastern Australia.

They are making their journey of more than 7,000 miles by flapping night and day, without stopping to eat, drink or rest.

“The more I learn, the more amazing I find them,” said Theunis Piersma, a professor of global flyway ecology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and an expert in the endurance physiology of migratory birds. “They are a total evolutionary success.”

The godwit’s epic flight — the longest nonstop migration of a land bird in the world — lasts from eight to 10 days and nights through pounding rain, high winds and other perils. It is so extreme, and so far beyond what researchers knew about long-distance bird migration, that it has required new investigations.

In a recent paper, a group of researchers said the arduous journeys challenge “underlying assumptions of bird physiology, orientation, and behavior,” and listed 11 questions posed by such migrations. Dr. Piersma called the pursuit of answers to these questions “the new ornithology.”

The extraordinary nature of what bar-tailed and other migrating birds accomplish has been revealed in the last 15 years or so with improvements to tracking technology, which has given researchers the ability to follow individual birds in real time and in a detailed way along the full length of their journey.

“You know where a bird is almost to the meter, you know how high it is, you know what it’s doing, you know its wing-beat frequency,” Dr. Piersma said. “It’s opened a whole new world.”

And the record:

The known distance record for a godwit migration is 13,000 kilometers, or nearly 8,080 miles. It was set last year by an adult male bar-tailed godwit with a tag code of 4BBRW that encountered inclement weather on his way to New Zealand and veered off course to a more distant landing in Australia. He had flapped his wings for 237 hours without stopping when he touched down. (In the last week, he has left Alaska again and is en route to his southern destination.)

8,000 miles nonstop: that’s across America and back again and then halfway back again, without stopping, eating, drinking, or sleeping. (It may partly sleep on the wing, but I’m not sure.) Their round trip is almost 19,000 miles because they go on a different and long route on the way back. This is the most fantastic feat of animal endurance I know, and I’ll let you read the rest of the piece for yourself.  There you can see what we know about how they fuel these flights, whether they sleep, how they find their way, and many other mysteries. It’s a marvel of natural selection!

And here’s a bird in breeding plumage:

*Now begins the usual, i.e., bad, news. This one’s a doozy. The Justice department charged 47 people yesterday with massive fraud, fraud that involved diverting money intended to feed hungry children during the pandemic. The miscreants’ take: a cool $250 million! The money was intended for kids! If they’re guilty, lock ’em up!

Federal prosecutors said the defendants — a network of individuals and organizations tied to Feeding Our Future, a nonprofit operating in Minnesota — in some cases obtained federal pandemic funds in the names of children who did not exist and then spent that money on luxury cars, houses and other personal purchases.

To bilk the government, the Justice Department said, the defendants relied on a complex web of shell companies and bribes. One participant allegedly created a list of fake children to whom it had supposedly served meals, populated with names generated from the website “” Others fabricated spreadsheets with invented ages or faked their invoices, all in pursuit of federal cash, the government charged.

Once they had that money in hand, some of the defendants bought “houses in Minnesota, resort property and real estate in Kenya and Turkey, luxury cars, commercial property, jewelry, and much more,” according to Andrew M. Luger, the U.S. attorney for the district of Minnesota, who briefed reporters on the case Tuesday.

The extent of the scheme, which siphoned away money meant for hungry children, led the Justice Department repeatedly to describe the theft as “brazen.” The acknowledgment underscored the immense challenge that federal prosecutors face to keep watch over the spending approved since the start of the pandemic — all while pursuing criminals who have treated the aid as a potential windfall.

I’d say “brazen” is not harsh enough. It’s reprehensible, odious, and stinks to high heaven.  And the accused Head Miscreant is Aimee Bock, Feeding our Future’s founder and executive director.

Did these people–all 47 of them–imagine that they wouldn’t get caught. Granted, federal oversight was lax during this time given the pandemic, but if they’re guilty, what they did is going to put them away for a very long time.

*Okay, this has got to be the headline of the month (from the WSJ, click to read):

The company has been doing poorly for a while peddling plant-based meat substitutes,and it was the CEO who did the biting!

Beyond Meat Inc.’s chief operating officer was arrested in Arkansas over the weekend, after a physical altercation in which he allegedly bit a person’s nose and threatened to kill him.

Doug Ramsey, 53 years old, of Fayetteville, Ark., was arrested Saturday night and charged with terroristic threatening and third-degree battery, records from Arkansas’s Washington County show. He was released the following morning on $11,085 bond, the records showed.

According to a preliminary police report dated Saturday, Mr. Ramsey got into a fight with another male in a parking garage near the University of Arkansas football stadium on Saturday night following a traffic dispute. During the incident, Mr. Ramsey punched through the back windshield of the other individual’s Subaru, the report said. The incident followed a University of Arkansas football game.

“The owner got out and the victim stated Mr. Ramsey pulled him in close and started punching his body,” the arresting officer wrote in the report, referring to the owner of the Subaru. “Mr. Ramsey also bit the owner’s nose, ripping the flesh on the tip of the nose.” Mr. Ramsey also threatened to kill the Subaru’s owner, according to the officer’s report, which cited the owner and a witness.

I know this is mean and also low-hanging fruit, but I guess Ramsey was tired of veggie burgers.  (I’ll be here all year, folks.)

*When I watch the evening news, I pay close attention to the usual dumbed-down political ads, especially for governor. And all of a sudden the Democratic ads are mostly about abortion, in the expected direction (pro-choice).

I think this is good news for the Democrats. The the majority of Americans favor a version of Roe v. Wade, with limited abortion rather than not the draconian rules being passed by many states, some even disallowing abortion in cases of rape and incest. In fact, the Dobbs ruling may have a silver lining by propelling the Democrats back into a majority in the Senate, and  by keeping them from losing the House in the midterms.

But the latest prognostications from FiveThirtyEight show the House swinging more Republican:

While the Senate is more likely to stay Democratic:

The Associated Press just confirmed my intuition in an article called, “Ad spending show Dems hinging midterm hopes on abortion.” It’s a smart move:

Democrats are pumping an unprecedented amount of money into advertising related to abortion rights, underscoring how central the message is to the party in the final weeks before the November midterm elections.

With the most intense period of campaigning only just beginning, Democrats have already invested more than an estimated $124 million this year in television advertising referencing abortion. That’s more than twice as much money as the Democrats’ next top issue this year, “character,” and almost 20 times more than Democrats spent on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms.

The estimated spending figures, based on an Associated Press analysis of data provided by the nonpartisan research firm AdImpact, reveal the extent to which Democrats are betting their majorities in Congress and key governorships on one issue. That’s even as large majorities of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction and the economy is in poor condition.

The advertising numbers also reveal just how sharply Republicans have shied away from abortion in their paid advertising in the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decades-long goal of the GOP. (The AdImpact data captures every single time a campaign ad is aired on TV, and estimates a cost associated with those airings.)

Biden is doing great on Ukraine, not bad in getting legislation passed given the Senate deadlocks, and not bad on the pandemic. But of course the economy may well be in the dumper come November, and the President is always blamed for thinner pocketbooks. But a pro-choice stand on abortion appeals to many in both parties, and the Republicans are so wedded to their draconian and theocratic view of the procedure that they just keep on passing laws that not only hurt women, but will also hurt their own party.

*Finally, ,there’s good news tonight: “Trail of slime leads German customs to bag of giant snails.“. The story in full:

German customs officials say a trail of slime led them to a stash of almost 100 giant African land snails and other items hidden inside bags at Duesseldorf Airport this month.

In a statement Friday, authorities said officials stumbled over one of the snails on a baggage truck and initially thought it was a toy until it started moving. By following the trail left by the 20-centimeter (8-inch) snail, they found a bag with a hole, with another snail already peeping out of it — possibly preparing a dash for freedom.

In total, officials found six bags containing 93 giant snails, 28 kilograms (62 pounds) of fish and smoked meat, and a suitcase full of rotting meat. All had been imported from Nigeria and were destined for an African goods store in western Germany.

The snails were handed to an animal rescue service in Duesseldorf and the meat was destroyed, customs officials said.

“Never in the history of the Duesseldorf customs office has a trail of slime led us to smuggled goods,” said its spokesman Michael Walk.

What worries me is that these aren’t rare snails; they’re common and are often eaten for dinner, at least in Sao Tome where I used to work. What will the rescue people do with them? They can’t just let them loose in Germany; they’re invasive. I’m concerned that they will kill the snails.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Surprise! Hili’s hungry again.

A: Why are you licking your chops?
Hili: Just at the thought.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu się oblizujesz?
Hili: Na samą myśl.
And a photo of baby Kulka, looking as if she’s Queen of the World:


From Pyers (I always use the Oxford comma):

From Meanwhile in Canada, which identifies this as “Morten Morland’s cartoon from The Times UK”:

From Jesus of the Day:

The Tweet of God, who is mad at Iran:

From Simon, who says, “I didn’t see this coming, and apparently neither did Lemon:

From Malcolm. That second baseman should be fired:

I found this on FB. Is it for real? I doubt that the Amish would work for Domino’s.

From Luana, an adorable duck-loving puppy:

From cesar, two tweets from gender-affirmation king Jack Turban. First, his credential flaunting:

Now, Dr. Turban, is it most reversible or fully reversible?

From the Auschwitz Memorial. Chance of being gassed immediately in that transport: 82%.

Tweets from Matthew. First, Brits vs. Ants:

Orchids that look like monkeys:

This is a very long thread, but well worth reading. I’ll just show the first tweet and the “reveal”:

37 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. > The known distance record for a godwit migration is 13,000 kilometers, or nearly 8,080 miles.

    Wow! One more metric for comparison: These birds are flying two-thirds of the distance from the North Pole to South Pole (20,000 km). (Incidentally, that is related to the original definition of the meter: one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator.)

    1. I was always taught the Arctic Tern flew from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Didn’t know about the Bar-tailed Godwit, mind-bogglingly impressive.

  2. … it [the Defense of Marriage Act] defined marriage for federal purposes as a union between “one man and one woman”, and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that were legal in other states. Supreme Court decisions, notably Obergefell v. Hodges, ruled this law unconstitutional.

    Actually, United States v. Windsor (2013) held DOMA unconstitutional. That case, and the Court’s earlier decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) (holding anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional), set the stage for the 2015 Obergefell decision holding that there is a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

    The majority opinions in all three of those cases were authored by Reagan-appointee Anthony Kennedy and constitute one of the primary legacies of his three decades on the Supreme Court bench. Two of Kennedy’s former law clerks currently sit on SCOTUS — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — but so far haven’t shown much deference toward upholding Justice Kennedy’s legacy (which also includes his having co-authored, with two other Republican appointees, the lead opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), one of precedents abandoned by the Court’s majority, including Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, in last term’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization).

  3. Further to the House/Senate odds – 538 also notes that the chances of a Republican or Democratic sweep are both around 29% and that the dems take senate, repubs take house is around 42% – essentially no chance of the reverse. So, as Nathaniels Silver and Rakich have both noted, there is about a 60% chance that one or other of those predictions is wrong. That’s essentially because there tends to be a consistent swing in one direction or the other. I guess we will see.

    1. Good one! And the tip off that this is a gag is the dude does not have proper Amish facial hair – he has a mustache that no “real” Amishman would have 🙂

  4. The abortion issue is a gift from the Republicans and the Supreme Court to Democrats. It appears that the Democrats have finally learned something about the critical importance of issue messaging. They understand (hopefully) that the mantra of “it’s the economy, stupid,” doesn’t always apply as the prime issue that Democrats should run on, particularly this year when inflation concerns all. When deeply held cultural and personal values are perceived to be under attack, people will vote for those politicians that defend them, regardless of the economic views of the latter. On the right, Trumpism is best understand as a manifestation of those that feel their cultural and personal values are under assault by elites and minorities. There is no guarantee that the abortion issue will allow the Democrats to pull a victory (particularly in the contest over control of the House), considering the many structural advantages the Republicans have in a semi-democratic system, but at least they have a fighting chance.

  5. That second baseman should be fired …

    That’s the thing about Major League Baseball: it may be 15 minutes of action crammed into three hours, but there’s always the chance of seeing something happen on the field that no baseball fan has ever seen before.

    1. Why cancel the second baseman? Twas ball 4, play dead, Springer (*) gets second nohow.
      * member 2017 Astros, for those interested in stealing

  6. I noticed that, in the photo showing O’Connor and Kagan, He Who Shall Not Be Named is also shown and was, mercifully, not named.

    1. I’m not sure, but I suspect that behind the one that shall not be named I discern the present AG, or am I imagining things?

      1. I don’t think so, Nicolas. Your reply made me magnify and look closer at the photo, and I think I wrongly identified the gentleman to the left of Elena Kagan. I believe I owe that person an apology.

  7. Benedict Arnold was NOT a traitor, he was a patriot. The rest of them were the traitors. We should put up a statue to him outside the US embassy! 😎

    1. Nope, if you align yourself with a party (whether itself ‘treasonous’ or not is immaterial here), and subsequently you betray them, you are a traitor. Therefore Arnold was a traitor.
      If he had not been aligned with the insurgents or would have publicly announced he was no longer with them -switched sides-, before giving the intel on West Point, it would have been a different matter, but he did not. Hence a traitor.

      1. A spy then — a secret agent. But my point is that Washington & his buddies were the rebels. That he went along – & we do not have his thought processes as far as I know – anyway I suppose he either regretted his original treachery, or was deliberately playing along, or maybe confused. Being loyal to yourself is the main rule!

  8. From Pyers (I always use the Oxford comma)

    This meme has been created because one of the first things that Coffey did on being appointed Secretary of State for Health was to circulate a memo instructing her staff NOT to use Oxford commas. Given the enormous problems faced by the NHS some people have been critical of her apparent priorities.

        1. ?
          Am I missing something? It’s the last line: “Oh, he’s our shortstop”.
          “I don’t care” or “I don’t give a darn” depending on the version.

        2. The end of the skit. “The next fella gets up, and it’s a long fly ball to Because. Why? I don’t know. He’s on Third. And I don’t care!” “What was that?” “I said, I don’t care!” “Ohhhh, that’s our shortstop!”

        1. For a sport that lives on statistics, baseball blew this one with all sorts of inconsistencies when i tried looking up the video.
          But the video is a bit longer (and clearer) at where you can see Vavra’s number and smile at the end.
          And based on the date of that video, has Vavra at 2B and the player link there has him at #77. In the 3rd Springer was hit by a pitch and Guerrero walked on a full count.

  9. “…possibly preparing a dash for freedom.”

    Yeah, you can sometimes sense by looking at a snail that it’s contemplating a mighty burst of speed.

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