Tuesday: Hili dialogue

October 18, 2022 • 6:30 am

It’s the most dolorous day of the week: Tuesday, October 18, 2022:  National Chocolate Cupcake Day: my favorite cupcake (though I generally spurn this faddish treat as “too small”).  Here are some fancy ones, apparently with a mini-cupcake on top, which could also be titled “Cupcakes giving birth.”

It’s also National No Beard Day, World Menopause Day. and, in Canada, Persons Day , celebrating the day in 1929 when Canadian women were deemed by the courts as “persons” eligible to sit in the Canadian Senate.

Readers are invited to highlight special events, births, or deaths that happened on this day; consult the Wikipedia page for October 18 for the list.

Da Nooz:

*We learned yesterday that Iran is now supplying Russia with missiles and drones to help Putin’s barbarous attack on Ukraine and its civilians. Now we learn that Iranian-made drones have attacked Kyiv, and the targets are civilian ones, involving infrastructure.

Russia attacked Ukraine’s capital early on Monday with Iranian-made drones, continuing its campaign of lethal strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian targets even as it faces significant setbacks on the battlefield.

At least four people were killed in Kyiv, the capital, where the buzzing sound of the drones was followed by explosions. The attacks came during the morning rush hour, one week after Moscow unleashed a missile barrage across the country that left at least 19 people dead. While Monday’s strikes were less deadly, they again struck fear into Ukrainians far from the front lines and signaled Russia’s aim of crippling power and other key services as winter looms.

A separate attack in the northeastern region of Sumy killed at least five people on Monday, the regional governor said, when Russian missiles struck an infrastructure target.

The Ukrainians report 43 Iranian drones launched towards Ukraine, but 37 were shot down. Since these are drones, there’s no question that the civilian deaths and attacks on nonmilitary targets were accidental or “collateral damage”. There were also nefarious “double-tap” attacks:

In the attack on the municipal heating station, a drone struck near where another had hit about an hour earlier, on opposite sides of Zhylianska Street. It appeared to be what Ukrainians call a “double-tap attack,” a tactic that aims to kill emergency workers or firefighters responding to an initial strike.

Not only is Iran killing its own people for wearing their clothes in an “un-Islamic” way, or for demonstrating peacefully against the oppressive theocratic regime, but it’s also sending military help to Russia and building nuclear weapons. What more reason do we need to break off relations with this state as a supporter of terrorism? Yet Biden still wants to go to the negotiating table, presenting himself to be fleeced by the mullahs in a lopsided nuclear deal.

*Speaking of fleecing, Trump is not even above fleecing the very Secret Service sworn to protect him, fleecing the agency with exorbitant charges for staying in his hotels. The WaPo reports this:

Former president Donald Trump’s company charged the Secret Service as much as five times more than the government rate for agents to stay overnight at Trump hotels while protecting him and his family, according to expense records newly obtained by Congress.

The records show that in 40 cases the Trump Organization billed the Secret Service far higher amounts than the approved government rate — in one case charging agents $1,185 a night to stay at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. The new billing documents, according to a congressional committee’s review, show that U.S. taxpayers paid the president’s company at least $1.4 million for Secret Service agents’ stays at Trump properties for his and his family’s protection.

“The exorbitant rates charged to the Secret Service and agents’ frequent stays at Trump-owned properties raise significant concerns about the former President’s self-dealing and may have resulted in a taxpayer-funded windfall for former President Trump’s struggling businesses,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle.

The records contradict the repeated claim made by Eric Trump, the president’s son and the Trump Organization’s executive vice president, that the family’s company often gave the Secret Service agents the hotel rooms “at cost” or sometimes free, providing steep discounts for the security team to stay at Trump properties.

Given that Trump is rich, and these guys would take a bullet for him (what a job!), the rooms should really be at cost or, better yet, free. Yes, we, the American taxpayers, are supporting this price-gouging. And it appears to be continuing: remember, as a former President, Trump gets Secret Service protection for the rest of his life. 

*Biden has taken action to curb some immigration across our southern border, though it contradicts his previous policies and adheres to Trumpian policies. The new procedure involves turning back half of Venezuelan immigrants who try to enter the U.S. illegally–a measure called Title 42 enacted during the Covid era. (Venezuelans are the second most numerous nationality to enter the U.S., after Mexico.) From the Associated Press:

Two years ago, candidate Joe Biden loudly denounced President Donald Trump for immigration policies that inflicted “cruelty and exclusion at every turn,” including toward those fleeing the “brutal” government of socialist Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Now, with increasing numbers of Venezuelans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border as the Nov. 8 election nears, Biden has turned to an unlikely source for a solution: his predecessor’s playbook.

Biden last week invoked a Trump-era rule known as Title 42 — which Biden’s own Justice Department is fighting in court — to deny Venezuelans fleeing their crisis-torn country the chance to request asylum at the border.

The rule, first invoked by Trump in 2020, uses emergency public health authority to allow the United States to keep migrants from seeking asylum at the border, based on the need to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under the new Biden administration policy, Venezuelans who walk or swim across America’s southern border will be expelled and any Venezuelan who illegally enters Mexico or Panama will be ineligible to come to the United States. But as many as 24,000 Venezuelans will be accepted at U.S. airports, similar to how Ukrainians have been admitted since Russia’s invasion in February.

Mexico has insisted that the U.S. admit one Venezuelan on humanitarian parole for each Venezuelan it expels to Mexico, according to a Mexican official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke condition of anonymity. So if the Biden administration paroles 24,000 Venezuelans to the U.S., Mexico would take no more than 24,000 Venezuelans expelled from the U.S.

But here’s is the bizarre part, showing that Democrats want someone else to do the dirty work of reducing immigration into the U.S.:

A court order in May that kept Title 42 in place due to a challenge from Republican state officials was greeted with quiet relief by some in the administration, according to officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

The Dems need to enact immigration reform if they want any credibility on the issue, but they seem to be depending on Republicans to do the reforming for them.

*In a NYT op-ed, two liberal ;authors ask a question many of us have: “How liberals should confront a right-wing Supreme Court.” They are concerned with decisions of the new Extremist Right Court that lead to the consolidation of power in an oligarchy. But how can liberal aims be achieved if the Court is the ultimate arbiter of what is Constitutional? The answer, say authors Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath, is for “the political branches to press the constitutional argument and check and balance the Supreme Court.” What are the tools we have? Part of their answer:

There are many democratic tools to do that. Congress can expand the court by adding new justices, and although term limits for justices would require a constitutional amendment, Congress could enact various proposals to restructure the court to allow for new justices to be appointed regularly, perhaps every two years.

It can also strip the federal judiciary of jurisdiction to overturn vital reforms. The Constitution gives Congress power to define and restrict what kinds of appeals the Supreme Court can accept and what kinds of cases the lower federal courts can hear. Congress uses this power today more often than one might expect: This year’s Inflation Reduction Act, for example, contained some modest provisions insulating certain administrative actions from judicial review.

Other tools deserve much more attention. Congress can delay jurisdiction, giving laws time to work — and become popular — before review is ripe. It can create politically unpalatable choices for the court through backup provisions that take effect if a law is struck down. None of these tactics will sit well with most Americans if they seem like nothing more than tit-for-tat politics. Progressives must also persuade a majority of Americans that the court is wrong about the Constitution — that it has the Constitution backward. The rights this court denies and the laws it strikes down are often ones the Constitution demands.

This all sounds nice, but, given the fact that at least one house of Congress will almost surely be divided after November, that Republicans will vote on these issues as a bloc, and that any Constitutional amendment must be passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, it’s impractical. As for Progressives persuading most Americans that the Court is wrong about the Constitution, well, good luck with that! I really don’t see a solution except for Congress passing new laws, a dicey proposition until 2024.

*According to Rolling Stone, the singer Grimes (sometime squeeze of Elon Musk), has raised some dust by posting the following creationist tweet (h/t: Stephen):

Is this for real? The site says this:

Like her on-and-off-again boyfriend, the Canadian electropop musician has styled herself as an agent of online chaos and enjoys a bit of trolling here and there. It’s interesting, however, that Grimes would want to cause a stir on Twitter with Young Earth creationism, a bog-standard belief of many Christian fundamentalists, instead of… something cooler. Only a few weeks ago, she was polling followers to ask whether she should convert to “Greco Roman polytheism or ancient Egyptian polytheism,” either of which seem far more in line with her maximalist and transhumanist aesthetic, then said she was “almost finished developing an experimental polytheistic religion” of her own.

. . . So what happened to the Cult of Grimes? The numbers speak for themselves: Her creationist tweet got far more engagement than the polytheism stuff within just two hours, and it’s spreading fast. Both she and Musk (who still interact regularly on the platform) seem to be gravitating toward a reactionary faith — if only as a means to attention. Musk’s misguided arguments for more procreation came around the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a watershed victory for the religious right in America. He’s also articulated a cosmic version of Manifest Destiny with the claim that god would want us to conquer the universe.

Grimes’ latest tweet, then, can be interpreted as an acceleration of their mutual trajectory. Rather than make the coded references to Christian conservatism that Musk has preferred so far, she’s echoed some full-blown junk science that first arose in opposition to Darwin’s theories of evolution. As the push to teach this nonsense in public schools continues to this day, parroting the idea to a large audience, even jokingly, is kind of wack. And if this is, as I suspect, a trollish game of chicken in which both parties have to keep upping the ante with a dumber explanation of the world we live in, Musk has his work cut out for him. Maybe it’ll be Flat Earth next — he’s always a few years late to the hottest trends.

Well, it is wack, but even if it’s some kind of jokey nonsense, it’s harmful, for Grimes, god help us, is an “influencer”, and of course so is Elon Musk. Given that 40% of Americans already believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so” (Gallup poll), we don’t need high profile figures (another is Herschel Walker) touting junk science and fairy tales.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gets a choice, though each choice is determined. Doesn’t she look pleased?

Hili: There are different treats in this box.
A: THat’s right.
Hili: I’m thinking which one to start with.
In Polish:
Hili: W tej paczce są różne smaki.Ja: To prawda. Hili: Zastanawiam się, od którego zacząć.


Remember this movie?


From Jesus of the Day. The Norse goddess Freyja was said to have ridden in a chariot drawn by two cats:

Freyja riding:

God is really mad about Trump, to the extent that I hesitated posting this:

From Masih; the brave women of Iran are still chipping away at its oppressive regime:

This is bizarre. We already know that hormone replacement theory makes many people sterile, and we also know that a. red blood cells don’t have chromosomes, though white ones do, and b. No, HRT does not turn XY white blood cells, or any cells, into XX ones.

From reader RPGNo1, which I retweeted.

From reader Ken, who says, “Men actually take dating advice from this weenus?”

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a persistent cat:

There may be such a thing as liking your cat too much!


A cat cupcake!

I retweeted a tweet that Matthew sent me about French cuisine (see the thread on the original!), and added my own story:

26 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Here are some fancy ones, apparently with a mini-cupcake on top, which could also be titled “Cupcakes giving birth.”

    Those look more like mini peanut butter cups.

    I have a comforter that features Freya in her cat-drawn chariot. How often can one sleep under a goddess every night? (My cats seem to appreciate the design, too.)

  2. Re: Ms. Sorvino’s – I think – Oscar-winning performance :

    Audience responses :

    1992 : “Holy shit!”
    2022 : [ identity politics ]

    1. Mira Sorvino won the best supporting actress Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite in 1995.

      Marisa Tomei won the best supporting actress Oscar for My Cousin Vinny in 1992.

      1. Indeed she did, despite unfounded rumours that Jack Palance had mistakenly read out the wrong name. Another stupid conspiracy theory…

  3. I know that all things conservative are now Extreme Right Wing, but is it necessary to say “Extremist Right Court”? I don’t think it helps anything to impugn the integrity of the Court just because we don’t like its decisions. We might after all be wrong. Besides, as the decision not to intervene on Trump’s behalf last week shows, it is not the slave of the Extreme Right. All the suggestions for “reform” only make the Court the tool of the dominant party, and that always assumes that “our party” will be the dominant one. Of course, with control of the Court, it would be easy to ensure that the dominant party stays in control.

    1. Right. Adding Justices to the SCOTUS—whatever the alleged justification—in order to change the majority has to be one of the most stupid ideas ever, and would be rightly criticized in no uncertain terms if the other side suggested it.

      The main problem is that the SCOTUS is supposed to be non-partisan yet party politics play a large role in the appointment of Justices.

      1. Indeed. Political appointment of people to roles where impartiality is of overriding importance, like the judiciary, is ridiculous.

  4. I have heard the “God planted fossils in the ground to test our faith” argument before. If God would lie by planting fake evidence, why wouldn’t He lie in the Book of Genesis?

    1. Maybe he wasn’t lying, maybe he just wanted a really interesting backstory. Fossils are like a really great prequel. Like if Star Wars Episodes I, II, & III were actually good, or like Silmarillon and the Hobbit are prehistory and the old and New Testaments plus modern life is the LotR. 🧐 it all makes sense now!

    2. It’s also points to problematic arguments like the Omphalos hypothesis or distant starlight when creationists claim that what they do is actually science.Those arguments are based around the admission that if you did simply observe the universe it certainly appears as if it old, but since we know it isn’t from a non-science way of knowing we have to explain it away somehow.

  5. Happy Birthday and Na-Nu Na-Nu to Pam Dawber. Sure, there’s loads of important people born today and tons of important stuff in history, but my 5 year old heart will always belong to Mindy.

  6. 4000 years old? Is that new? I thought they thought the world was ~6000 years old. Why is God so angry with Trump? Was He banned from Truth Social? Very rude. Someone should put Him on detention. Make Him write an essay on the importance of civility.

    Birthday girls: Martina Navratilova and Bristol Palin.

    Birthday boys: Lee Harvey Oswald and Pope Pius II.

    And George C. Scott.

  7. Doesn’t the Supreme Court Op-Ed basically echo, “If we’re not winning the game then the rules have to be changed”? Some better solutions might be

    1. Pushing Congress to do its job of creating the laws of this country instead of simply obsequiously supporting an imperial presidency.

    2. Seriously looking into the Electoral College’s place in the modern day especially if another president is elected who didn’t win the popular vote.

    3. If you must reform the court, consider term limits, and an age limit so Justices don’t view the job as a life-long mission.

  8. The German Luftwaffe could not break the morale of the British population during “The Blitz”.

    The day and night bombardments by the U.S. and British Air Forces caused numerous deaths and wreaked havoc in the German Reich during World War 2. But they could not force the population to surrender or rebel.

    I just cannot figure out why the Russian leadership is now resorting to very similar tactics that have proven ineffective. Is it “just” Putin’s revenge for Ukraine fighting back effectively and inflicting humiliating defeats on the “great” Russian army? Is it a concession by Putin to the extremists and hardliners (such as Kadyrov) in his leadership circle to be able to retain leadership? Or is there an entirely different rationale behind these attacks that is not visible?

    1. I can only guess that they think these tactics worked in Chechnya and Syria, and must therefore work in Ukraine.

      The flaws in this are that (a) Ukraine is neither Chechnya nor Syria, and (b) the tactics haven’t worked that effectively even in Syria.

      These indiscriminate drone strikes are perhaps more akin to the V1 and V2 bombardments than the Blitz. But the V-attacks didn’t achieve their aim either.

      1. The Iranian drone carries an explosive warhead of only 80 pounds, so while they are probably somewhat effective in spooking civilians, they are not a very effective weapon compared to buzz bombs and the V2.

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