Thursday: Hili dialogue

October 20, 2022 • 6:30 am

Top o’ the morning to you on this Thursday, October 20, 2022: it’s National Eggo Day, celebrating a brand of frozen waffle (and probably created by the maker). Here’s the famous Eggo slogan in the first of many Eggo commercials.

Posting will be light today as I am absolutely knackered from lack of sleep.

It’s also National Brandied Fruit Day, National Chicken and Waffles Day (it sounds weird, and I’ve never tried it, but many people like this combination), Office Chocolate DayWorld Osteoporosis Day, and World Statistics Day, which is actually celebrated only once every five years and won’t really be celebrated until 2025. 

Readers are welcome to tell us about notable births, death, and events that happened on this day; consult the October 20 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Britain is politically screwed, with Prime Minister Liz Truss, having one foot on a banana peel and the other on ice, being jeered in Parliament at “question time”. First, she just fired one of her top ministers, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, because Braverman sent a government document over private email (a much bigger deal in the UK than in the U.S.), and this was after she had fired fired Kwasi Kwartent, the chancellor of the Exchequer and architect of Truss’s promised but disastrous tax cuts. The government’s chief whip reportedly resigned, though that appears untrue now. And there’s this:

Under tough questioning by opposition lawmakers, Ms. Truss managed to reveal yet another reversal in the government’s policy. On Tuesday, senior officials had signaled that Downing Street might no longer honor an election guarantee to increase state pension payments to keep up with both average earnings growth and the inflation rate, which is now at 10.1 percent.

People at question time demanded her resignation while jeering her, but Truss has vowed not to resign. I suspect, however, that she won’t last long at the helm.

Reader Simon, an expat Brit, sent Larry the Cat’s take on the situation:

*A new paper in Nature, summarized in the NYT, represents the first discovery of a Neanderthal “family”, or group of relatives, ever reported.  Here’s the abstract, which I think readers will be able to understand:

Genomic analyses of Neanderthals have previously provided insights into their population history and relationship to modern humans, but the social organization of Neanderthal communities remains poorly understood. Here we present genetic data for 13 Neanderthals from two Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia: 11 from Chagyrskaya Cave and 2 from Okladnikov Cave—making this one of the largest genetic studies of a Neanderthal population to date. We used hybridization capture to obtain genome-wide nuclear data, as well as mitochondrial and Y-chromosome sequences. Some Chagyrskaya individuals were closely related, including a father–daughter pair and a pair of second-degree relatives, indicating that at least some of the individuals lived at the same time. Up to one-third of these individuals’ genomes had long segments of homozygosity, suggesting that the Chagyrskaya Neanderthals were part of a small community. In addition, the Y-chromosome diversity is an order of magnitude lower than the mitochondrial diversity, a pattern that we found is best explained by female migration between communities. Thus, the genetic data presented here provide a detailed documentation of the social organization of an isolated Neanderthal community at the easternmost extent of their known range.

Detecting this was possibly only because we can now sequence fossil human DNA and, sure enough, Svante Pääbo, new Nobel Laureate in biology, is one of the authors. They used rare DNA variants to ascertain relatedness, and read the article to see the clever way they proved that one pair was a father and his daughter. As for the other individuals, it’s not clear how many of them lived at the same time, but they were certainly close in time given their relatedness. The greater migration of females than males is interesting because that’s also what we see in our closest relatives the chimpanzees and bonobos.

*As expected when abortion is made illegal, women find ways to get around it, and that’s what’s happening now with the smuggling of abortion pills from Mexico into the red states that have nearly banned abortion. This is done largely on social media, and there are still dangers.  How do you know what you’re getting?

The emerging network — fueled by the widespread availability of medication abortion — has made the illegal abortions of today simpler and safer than those of the pre-Roe era, remembered for its back alleys and coat hangers. Distinct from services that sell pills to patients on the internet, a growing army of community-based distributors is reaching pregnant women through word of mouth or social media to supply pills for free — though typically without the safeguards of medical oversight.

The Washington Post found out how this works by interviewing 16 unnamed people (they’re breaking the law):

Those interviewed described a pipeline that typically begins in Mexico, where activist suppliers funded largely by private donors secure pills for free as in-kind donations or from international pharmacies for as little as $1.50 a dose. U.S. volunteers then receive the pills through the mail — often relying on legal experts to help minimize their risk — before distributing them to pregnant women in need.

The system could upend Republican plans for a post-Roe America. Despite the strict abortion bans that have taken effect in over a dozen states, some antiabortion leaders fear that the flow of abortion pills could help make abortion more accessible than it was before Roe fell. Las Libres, one of several Mexican groups at the center of the network, says its organization alone is on track to help terminate approximately 20,000 pregnancies this year in the United States. That amounts to about 20 percent of all legal abortions that took place in 2019 in the 13 states where abortion is now almost entirely banned.

Finally, you can see at least three or four problems stemming from this system, as described above and here:

The medication — a two-step regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol — was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 with a prescription, for use during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, a limit that was then extended to 10 weeks in 2016. But people involved in the network described a process that goes beyond what the FDA has endorsed. Organizations like Las Libres offer abortion pills without a prescription and, typically, without access to a medical professional —occasionally providing medication to those who say they’re at or beyond the FDA’s 10-week limit. To avoid detection in antiabortion states, the group also mails pills unmarked and unsealed, often in old bottles used previously for other medicines.

Caveat emptor. Still, I’m heartened by the initiative.

*Putin has declared martial law in those four regions of the Ukraine he annexed illegally and then claims to own because he held bogus elections there. As the AP reports:

Putin’s drastic efforts to tighten his grip on Ukrainians and Russians follow a series of embarrassing setbacks: stinging battlefield defeats, sabotage and troubles with his troop mobilization.

The martial law order belies the Kremlin’s attempts to portray life in the annexed regions as returning to normal. The reality is that a military administration has replaced civilian leaders in the southern city of Kherson and a mass evacuation from the city is underway as a Ukrainian counteroffensive grinds on.

. . .Putin’s martial law declaration authorized the creation of civil defense forces; the potential imposition of curfews; restrictions on travel and public gatherings; tighter censorship; and broader law enforcement powers in Kherson and the other annexed regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

In an ominous move, Putin opened the door for restrictive measures to be extended across Russia, too. That may lead to a tougher crackdown on dissent than the current dispersal of antiwar protests and jailing of people making statements or providing information about the fighting that differs from the official line.

. . .Under martial law, authorities can force evacuations. Ukraine’s national security chief, Oleksiy Danilov, said on Twitter that Putin’s declaration is “preparation for the mass deportation of the Ukrainian population to the depressed regions of Russia to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territory.”

For months, reports have circulated of forced deportations, and an Associated Press investigation found that Russian officials deported thousands of Ukrainian children to be raised as Russian.

I’m a pacifist, but I find myself wondering if somebody shouldn’t just take Putin out. No chance of that, now with the security he’s got. He’s not going to give up those territories, either.

*I had no idea that famous Americans were put onto quarters (I don’t usually look at them), but, according to the Wall Street Journal, a new quarter will feature the Asian-American Actress Anna May Wong.

Ms. Wong, born Wong Liu Tsong in 1905 in Los Angeles, was Hollywood’s first Chinese-American movie star. She appeared in more than 60 films, including 1922’s “The Toll of the Sea,” one of the first silent movies filmed in color. Ms. Wong, who also had roles on stage and television, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, about a year before she died.

The coin’s tail side features a close-up of Ms. Wong’s face, her chin resting on her hand. A finger points toward her name inscripted by her cheek.

“This pose might suggest she has been waiting for the kind of recognition that being on a United States coin might finally bring,” Emily S. Damstra, who designed the coin, said on her website.

Round spots surrounding Ms. Wong represent the lightbulbs of a movie theater marquee sign, Ms. Damstra said. The coin’s other side looks like a typical quarter with a profile of George Washington.

I like Anna May Wong, and I have no objection to honoring Americans this way, but the coin is BUTT UGLY. Have a look and see if you agree:

from Getty Images

I think Wong deserves better. A brief bio:

There are more coins to come:

Writer Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride were on quarters released earlier this year. The first one next year will feature Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn an international pilot’s license.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili supervises the yard work:

Hili: It’s the beginning.
A: Beginning of what?
Hili: Of the game of leaf raking.

In Polish:

Hili: Zaczyna się.
Ja: Co się zaczyna?
Hili: Zabawa z grabieniem liści.


From the Ludwig van Beethoven FB page:

From the Otter News Group:

From Donna:

A tweet from God, who’s really down on the Iranian regime.

From Masih. How heartening that schoolgirls help lead a revolution, and yet how sad that some of them will die for this:

From Simon: a cat befuddled by a bubble:

From Malcolm we get a lovely murmuration, probably of starlings:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Here’s Warhol and Nico, both no longer with us:

Thanks to global warming, you can now drive across the Mississippi River:

Marjorie Taylor Greene, congressional chowderhead, corrects herself. She doesn’t seem to know whose history she’s defending!

40 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Braverman sent a government document over private email (a much bigger deal in the UK than in the U.S.)

    It was worse than that. The document was confidential and not to be leaked before the chancellor (whoever that might turn out to be) announced its contents on 31st October. Not only did she use private email, she sent it to a Tory MP who is not in the government (or wasn’t as of 12:48pm) and she also cc’d a random person by accident when she selected the wrong email address. It was the random person who shopped her.

    It wasn’t just which email account she used, but that she sent the document to people who were not authorised to see it.

    1. I read a totally different take.

      Supposedly, everyone in government is leaking right and left, so emailing the government document was not really considered all that big a deal. Rather, she was really fired for being serious about reducing immigration, an issue that Truss was staying away from like a third rail.

      Your mileage may vary.

  2. an ideological reading of the Nature paper :

    [ … mmm . yep.. right … mmm… ]
    [ alert : Y-chromosome … ]
    [ danger : Y-chromosome again! ]


    [ … mmm… looks ok— ]

    wait – “female”?!?


  3. Yes, a human hand will never rest like that – with a gracefulness, anyway – relative to the face which belongs to that hand – FWIW my right shoulder hurts if I try to put my hand under my face, and I can only hold it a few seconds….

    … uh-oh – this will occupy my attention now – ahhghh, I am choking! Actually, left hand is what the picture shows.. hmm… still choking…

    Anyone else?

  4. … when abortion is made illegal, women find ways to get around it, and that’s what’s happening now with the smuggling of abortion pills from Mexico into the red states that have nearly banned abortion.

    A black market will always arise where a substantial portion of the public wishes to avail itself of goods or services forbidden to it by the government. Such situations breed disrespect for the law. Look no further than the US’s disastrous 13-year experiment with Prohibition.

    1. A military maxim, source long forgotten, possibly apocryphal, seems applicable to law and order issues like this, “Never give an order you know won’t be obeyed.”

      1. The ultimate goal of stopping abortions might not be stopping abortions, but making them wrong. If so, as long as women have to do it in danger while looking over their shoulder for law enforcement, mission accomplished.

        1. You know, I’ve noticed lately when a character on a TV show (right now I’m thinking of “Young Sheldon”) has an unwanted pregnancy, the option of an abortion never comes up. The shows are written as if abortion hasn’t been invented yet. By omitting the option they (“irreverent Hollywood!”) are also inferring its wrong.

          1. My guess is they’re really inferring that a pregnant tv character having an abortion is less dramatic.

            Though they probably don’t want the hate mail. I remember back when Maud had an abortion.

            1. I don’t remember that, but perhaps that set a television precedent. And they got in trouble? Now I must google. Thanks for the thread.

    2. > smuggling of abortion pills from Mexico into the red states […] How do you know what you’re getting?

      Precisely. Not only is it dangerous, it’s unreliable

      I’ve heard stories about fake abortion clinics, which constantly reschedule appointments and confuse patients until they are past the deadline to have an abortion. I have no doubt that those same people will introduce fake abortifacients into circulation.

    3. I was expecting a thriving black market in abortion pills, but I did not expect the delivering of free abortion pills by non-profit organisations from Mexico. Kudos to them.
      Note that medical abortion (mifeprostone and misoprostol) is by far the safest way for abortion after 13-14 weeks, the FDA 10 weeks approval is not really in line with the facts. It is not wrong (yes it is safe up to 10 weeks), but is not really up to date, since it is relatively safe much later in pregnancy..

    4. It has been common knowledge for decades that abortion pills are available in Mexican markets in Texas. I have no idea if the drugs they sold for that purpose were safe or effective, but they were known to be available.

      1. Yes, the Daily Star’s 60p iceberg lettuce outlasted her after all. Still, the lettuce was the bookies’ favourite!

  5. The neaderthal paper is interesting. But the practice of having females leave their family to join another family is pretty common in our subspecies too.

  6. If Putin is removed from the scene, the big question will be who did the removing? If he is replaced by hardliners dissatisfied with his conduct of the war then the crisis in Ukraine could significantly escalate. If he is removed by those opposed to the war the question will then be how would important elements in the military react? Such are the dangers of living in an authoritarian country.

  7. As for patrilocality, most hunter-gatherers practice this. It is with the Neolithic revolution, that females stay in the group and males are more likely to leave (in most cases). As for Neandertals, similar results were found at el Sidron cave in northern Spain using mtDNA with males the same and females with different mtDNA types.

  8. > I had no idea that famous Americans were put onto quarters

    Seeing the font change on the coins reminded me of one other curiosity.

    US coinage is some of the only worldwide not to use digits (sometimes not even words!) to show value. They say “one cent”, “five cents”, “one dime”, and “quarter dollar”, not “1 cent”, “5 cents”, “10 cents” and “25 cents”. Imagine being a tourist coming to the US for the first time, maybe not having a great grasp on the language, and having to handle these coins. (We can get over the inconsistent sizing; that is an artifact from the use of metals of different value and it would take a significant infrastructure investment to change the size of coinage. That even happens with newer currencies like the Euro.)

    (Sorry for the multiple posts; I had three very different points. Hey! I have the edit panel again! Woot!)

  9. > a pattern that we found is best explained by female migration between communities

    Isn’t it interesting how “female migration” sounds positive and empowering, while “trade in females” sounds negative and oppressive? Genetically, it yields the same results, but the latter is more closely tied with today’s existing reverse-dowry systems, where the husband pays the father-in-law for the wife. I wonder what the case actually was.

      1. Understood. I didn’t want to attribute a particular behavior to them. I just wanted to point out that the genetic evidence allows for multiple interpretations about their society.

        With early human societies, I wonder how instincts developed into psychology and social rules – and the mechanisms societies used to enforce them. I don’t know what infrastructure they had, like basic trade. None of this is my field, however.

  10. In re: pharmaceutically-induced abortion via,mifepristone and misoprostol, the RadioLab podcast from WNYC aired a feature story last weekend that describes the evolution of the two-drug regimen over the years ( As is the norm for RadioLab, it’s a wonderful deep dive into a scientific/cultural cranny.

  11. Hope anyone driving across the Mississippi River has at least 4-wheel drive. Less than an hour ago, the flow at New Madrid, 15 miles above Tiptonville, was 100,000 ft^3/s.

  12. >> … it’s National Eggo Day, celebrating …

    “Eggo” also designates an Argentine Malbec blend. I have the 2015 Zorzal Eggo Tinto de Tiza Tupungato Valley. The name comes from the egg shaped concrete vats used to ferment the wine. OK, but not impressive, overrated at 94 by the Wine Advocate.

  13. “He’s (Putin) not going to give up those territories, either.” No, but his forces will be forced out of those territories.
    I think it becomes clearer every day that the Ukrainians will actually win this war (as long as the West keeps supporting). Russia spending cruise missiles and SAMs on civilian ground targets is wasting precious resources. (The Battle of Britain was lost when the Luftwaffe started to concentrate on bombing London instead of airfields). It is a sign of desperation.
    I think the Ukrainians will only stop at the pre-2014 borders, and will take nothing less.
    On an aside: I think the role of Poland in this war is severely underestimated. If not for their massive support of Ukraine in all ways, the latter might have crumbled.

  14. “if somebody shouldn’t just take Putin out”. Wouldn’t that just lead to a replacement by his mini-me? The only way for the Russian system to work is with a dictator at the helm.

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