Sunday: Hili dialogue

October 23, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Sunday, October 23, 2022, and it’s National Boston Cream Pie Day, which is actually not a pie but a chocolate-frosted, cream-filled cake created at Boston’s Parker House Hotel (also creator of the Parker House roll.)

It’s also National Canning Day, National iPod Day (ils n’existent plus), National Croc Day (the ugly shoes, not the reptile), and International Mole Day, explained thusly:

Mole Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated among chemists, chemistry students and chemistry enthusiasts on October 23, between 6:02 a.m. and 6:02 p.m., making the date 6:02 10/23 in the American style of writing dates. The time and date are derived from the Avogadro number, which is approximately 6.02×1023, defining the number of particles (atoms or molecules) in one mole (mol) of substance, one of the seven base SI units.

I hope you celebrate this evening, as the holiday seems to be only one minute long.

Readers are invited to add in the comments notable events that happened on this day; to do so, look at the October 23 Wikipedia page.

Alas, my insomnia has not abated despite quite a few medical interventions. I think I need to be anesthetized for a couple of days.

Da Nooz:

*Kherson is both a city in Ukraine as well as a province, and it’s one of the four provinces illegally absorbed by Russia via fake elections after an illegal occupation. Now, according to the Washington Post, Russia is urging people in the city to leave, warning them of aggression from Ukraine and, moreover, telling them to go to Russia.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of seeking to blow up a major hydroelectric dam in Nova Kakhovka near Kherson, potentially flooding southern areas. “Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he warned in a television address, urging the West to act “powerfully and quickly” to prevent such an outcome. Russia has denied the accusations.

Is Russia urging the evacuations (and sending people whom it now deems as “Russian” to Russia) because they intend to blow up the dam? In the face of a Ukrainian advance, Russia is already withdrawing troops from the western part of the province. Do they intend to submerge a lot of it as retribution?

*Meanwhile—and I find this horrific—the Russians are snatching up parentless Ukrainian children, and children separated from their parents, and sending them into Russia to be adopted and become Russian citizens:

As Russian forces laid siege to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol this spring, children fled bombed-out group homes and boarding schools. Separated from their families, they followed neighbors or strangers heading west, seeking the relative safety of central Ukraine.

Instead, at checkpoints around the city, pro-Russia forces intercepted them, according to interviews with the children, witnesses and family members. The authorities put them on buses headed deeper into Russian-held territory.

“I didn’t want to go,” said Anya, 14, who escaped a home for tuberculosis patients in Mariupol and is now with a foster family near Moscow. “But nobody asked me.”

In the rush to flee, she said, she left behind a sketchbook containing her mother’s phone number. All she could remember were the first three digits.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Russian authorities have announced with patriotic fanfare the transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia to be adopted and become citizens. On state-run television, officials offer teddy bears to new arrivals, who are portrayed as abandoned children being rescued from war.

In fact, this mass transfer of children is a potential war crime, regardless of whether they were orphans. And while many of the children did come from orphanages and group homes, the authorities also took children whose relatives or guardians want them back, according to interviews with children and families on both sides of the border.

Can you imagine how confused and terrified these children are, many of them already apart from their own families? I cannot fathom a morality that would allow this, but of course the Russians haven’t been particularly moral about this war. I can only hope that those responsible, and Putin himself, will someday stand trial for war crimes, but that has a snowball’s chance in hell.

*A federal appeals court has put a temporary halt to Biden’s program to forgive student loan debt, a program that became divisive because those who already paid off their loans (and many others) found it unfair.

A federal appeals court late Friday issued an administrative stay temporarily blocking President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel billions of dollars in federal student loans, throwing the program into limbo just days after people began applying for loan forgiveness.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay while it considers a motion from six Republican-led states to block the program. The stay ordered the Biden administration not to act on the program while it considers the appeal.

It’s unclear what the decision means for the 22 million borrowers who already applied for the relief. The Biden administration had promised not to clear any debt before Oct. 23 as it battled the legal challenges, but the soonest it was expected to begin erasing debt was mid-November.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre encouraged borrowers to continue to apply for the relief, saying the court’s temporary order did not prevent applications or the review of applications.

“We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order,” she said in a statement. “And, the Administration will continue to fight Republican officials suing to block our efforts to provide relief to working families.”

The crucial question now is whether the issue will be resolved before Jan. 1, when payments on federal student loans are expected to restart after being paused during the pandemic. Millions of Americans were expected to get their debt canceled entirely under Biden’s plan, but they now face uncertainty about whether they will need to start making payments in January.

The states that appealed are Nebraska, Missouri, South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, and Arkansas. The stay may drag on because the states also asked the appeals court to stop the entire program until the challenge works its way through the entire system, which may include the Supreme Court.

*You’ll probably want to see this movie, not only because it’s about “cancel culture,” but also because it stars the great Cate Blanchett and because the NYT’s Michelle Goldberg gives it a stellar review, “Finally, a great movie about cancel culture.

Midway through the enthralling new film “Tár,” the heroine, a brilliant and imperious classical music conductor named Lydia Tár, is talking about the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer with her elderly former mentor.

“Schopenhauer measured a man’s intelligence against his sensitivity to noise,” her mentor says.

“Didn’t he once also throw a woman down a flight of stairs?” asks Tár.

“Yes,” he responds. “It was unclear that this private and personal failing was at all relevant to his work.”

This question — how to weigh a genius’s private and personal failings against her work — is at the center of “Tár.” It’s a movie about a woman, played by Cate Blanchett, who has built herself in the image of the great, arrogant male cultural titans of the 20th century, only to be undone by the less indulgent mores of the 21st century. In other words, it’s a film about cancel culture, making it the rare piece of art that looks squarely at this social phenomenon that has roiled so many of America’s meaning-making institutions.

. . .Early on, a young conducting student tells her that “as a BIPOC pangender person,” they are not into Bach because of his misogyny. Tár, a self-described “U-Haul lesbian,” humiliates the student before making an impassioned case for artistic universalism. “You want to dance the masque, you must service the composer,” she says fiercely. “You’ve got to sublimate yourself, your ego. And yes, your identity.”

The New Yorker critic Richard Brody, who dissented from the largely rapturous reception “Tár” has received, mentioned this scene while arguing that the film is bitter and reactionary. I saw it differently. Though a misleadingly edited version of the exchange appears later in the film, it has little to do with Tár’s downfall; this is not a movie complaining that you can’t say anything anymore.

Rather — stop reading here if you’re avoiding spoilers — Tár is destroyed because of the lives and careers she has ruined. The film unfolds like a thriller, but what is pursuing the protagonist are her own sins.

. . . “Tár” demonstrates that all this flux and uncertainty is very fertile territory for art. Hopefully its success — many are predicting it will win a best picture Oscar — will encourage others to take on similarly thorny and unsettled issues. Hysteria about cancel culture can encourage artistic timidity by overstating the cost of probing taboos. In truth, there’s a hunger out there for work that takes the strangeness of this time and turns it into something that transcends polemic.

Tár gets a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 78% approval by the public. Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t tell you much about the movie, but anything with Cate Blanchett in it is worth seeing.

*I’ve written before how Fred Crews, retired English professor from Berkeley, has tried and failed to bring out potentially exculpatory issues in the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse case at Penn State—issues that people don’t want to hear (they have deemed him guilty and don’t want to hear anything that casts doubt on that). Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in jail; he’s 78 and won’t be eligible for parole for 30 years. Yet there are holes in the case against Sandusky, and Fred has had a devil of a time even getting anything about them published (see link at the beginning of this item). Much of the evidence against Sandusky consists of one incident that in fact almost surely never occurred. As Fred wrote me:

Graham Spanier served for a decade as Penn State’s president, and it’s likely that he was the best one ever. He raised academic standards for both research and teaching, and no one ever questioned his integrity.
But four days after Sandusky was indicted in November 2011, Spanier was forced out by his board of trustees, along with his athletic director, Tim Curley; a vice president, Gary Schultz; and the legendary football coach Joe Paterno, eleven weeks before his death at age 85. The trustees’ panic stemmed from the fact that the grand jury indictment of Sandusky, written by the prosecution team, included the allegation that those four officials had conspired to cover up an act of sodomy on campus by Sandusky a decade earlier.
That was the infamous case of the so-called “little boy in the shower”––the case that everyone remembers with horror, even though, in fact, Sandusky was acquitted of that charge in his June 2012 trial. The “witness,” Mike McQueary, never directly affirmed that he had witnessed a sex act; he changed his story four times; he protested, in an email to one of the prosecutors, that his account had been twisted; and there is now irrefutable evidence that “the little boy in the shower” was a good friend of the Sanduskys––indeed, virtually a family member––who remained on cordial terms with them and who explicitly denied that Jerry had done anything wrong.
The four Penn State officials were ambushed by the Sandusky indictment. Even though all four had willingly testified before the grand jury, they were never told that they themselves (the aged Paterno excepted) were criminal targets. Consequently, when Curley and Schultz were indicted for child endangerment and perjury, they were completely unprepared. As for Spanier, he learned only later that he too faced criminal charges. In fact, though, he was the big fish all along. Curley and Schultz were expect to “flip” on him––but they refused, reluctantly taking plea bargains instead. Then began a five-year period of legal moves and countermoves between Spanier and his pursuers, eventuating in a jail term for Spanier.
During those five years, Spanier kept meticulous notes and drafted a book that he didn’t want to see in print until his legal situation was settled. Once released from jail, he finished up the book and formed a publishing company, Gryphon Eagle Press, whose sole purpose was to get this work into circulation. The book, In the Lions’ Den: The Penn State Scandal and a Rush to Judgment, is lengthy, meticulous, and thoroughly convincing. No one who reads it will doubt that Spanier and the others were victims of a vendetta from the highest political circles in Pennsylvania. In addition, Spanier documents a great deal of corruption in the state’s admninistration of justice.
Spanier refrains from passing judgment on Sandusky’s all-around guilt or innocence, but he absolutely refutes the legend of the little boy in the shower. Moreover, his damning portrait of his own accusers from the attorney general’s office is of utmost relevance to the Sandusky case, for exactly the same malefactors––then attorney general Linda Kelly and her deputies Frank Fina and Jonelle Eschbach––employed similar illegal tactics on the naîve Sandusky.Hence my essay, which remains unpublished but has been picked up by a pro-Sandusky website:

Read Fred’s essay and judge for yourself.  There’s also a video.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili, who hasn’t yet made peace with Kulka, is worried

Hili: Kulka is coming.
A: So what?
Hili: She is unpredictable.
In Polish:
Hili: Idzie Kulka.
Ja: No to co?
Hili: Ona jest nieprzewidywalna.

Here’s Hili’s nemesis in a tree:


Now that I found this picture of Prince Charles, doing exactly what Al Franken did that got Al expelled from the Senate, can we expect Charles to resign as King?

The photo that brought down Franken:

From Welcome to the Jungle, a Mark Parisi cartoon sent by Merilee:

From Divy, a Scott Metzger cartoon:

God doesn’t like people snooping around in the cosmos:

Here’s an MSNBC interview with Masih Alinejad about the protests in Iran. She looks absolutely worn out, and has since the trouble started. I think she’s spending a lot of time interacting long distance with Iranian dissidents, and of course she’s deeply invested in overthrowing the misogynistic and theocratic regime. See if you agree with her claim that if the regime gets rid of the hijab, the regime will be doomed, as she sees the forced wearing of hijab as a fundamental pillar of the Iranian government.


From Luana, who sent the second tweet (it was linked to the first one). Both are official tweets by Microsoft, but the flag is getting every more complicated, and as identities proliferate, it’s going to get unmanageable.

From Malcolm. Making this requires not only the right notes, but putting the right spaces between the notes. Plus there are a couple of sidetracks that produce rapid sequences.

From Simon, who sighs, “The British tabloids. . .” The speculation was originally whether Liz Truss would last longer as PM than an edible head of lettuce. She did (six weeks), but the Daily Star claims otherwise. It was pretty close, though!


From the Auschwitz memorial: This woman died right after arriving:


Tweets from Matthew. He speculates that the butterfly below might be mimicking a red-eyed fly, but I can’t really see an evolutionary advantage of that. Can readers? Unchanged: Tweets from Matthew. He speculates that the butterfly below might be mimicking a red-eyed fly, but I can’t really see an evolutionary advantage of that. Can readers?

Good for Canada. Now ban private ownership of handguns!

God doesn’t like people snooping around in the cosmos:

35 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Hi Jerry, I think your lack of sleep is showing. Check the introductions to Alinejad, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, Matthew Cobb, and Pumpkin Pie.

    I hope you can find a way through the sleep deprivation – it must be hell.

  2. Notable science birthdays:

    1905, Felix Bloch, physicist, Nobel Prize for nuclear magnetic precision measurements (1952), first director at CERN

    1908, Ilya Mikhaylovich Frank, physicist, Nobel Prize for shared discovery and interpretation of Cherenkov Radiation (1958)

    1920, Tetsuya “Ted” Fujita, meteorologist, developed the eponymous scale used to classify tornado damage.

  3. It is already very difficult for an ordinary person to own or import a handgun in Canada. This measure is an exercise in virtue signalling announced after the Uvalde shooting to show that Canada’s Liberal Party is morally superior even to America’s Democratic Party. What the measure cannot do is stop the smuggling of handguns into Canada for the criminal trade, which cares not for Canada’s already strict gun laws. I don’t blame the United States for being the source of our criminals’ guns, rather our own lack of political will to confront the organized smuggling operations. The Liberal Party has its priorities too.

    1. “This measure is an exercise in virtue signalling “

      Perhaps so, and I would always like to see more effective gun laws. But as a Canadian I’m also good with “signalling” that we are not a gun culture!

    2. Banning guns might work in Canada, where the citizens are more likely to comply. Years ago, Canada and the U.S. each mandated conversion to the metric system. The docile Canadians went along, while Americans refused and retained their admittedly more cumbersome ways.

      In the U.S. we have Constitutional protections – a right on equal footing with freedom of speech or religion. If legislation is ever actually effected, I expect it would be as successful and have similar consequences to the bans on alcohol and drugs we have tried. It would benefit the criminal element immensely and it would create a whole new class of criminals from the previously law abiding – me among them – who would not give up their guns.

      1. The only heretofore legal firearms that Canada has ever tried to ban outright are auto-loading rifles firing centre-fire ammunition, the working definition of an assault-style rifle. After two years of self-promotion, the government has recently announced that the mandatory buy-backs will begin next year. Because these weapons were always restricted with special licenses, the government knows who owns them and where they are legally allowed to be kept, so seizure is a simple matter of knocking on the door at that address and demanding the gun. If the owner can’t produce it, (because it’s buried behind the barn, say), he is already breaking the law. But as I say, not a single rifle has been seized to date. So we’ll see how it goes.

        The handgun thing is different. I’m not kidding when I say that hardly anyone gets a licence to own one. Arresting the trade in pistols owned by collectors, shooting-club members, and the odd farmer who uses one to scare off coyotes won’t do anything to reduce shooting deaths on the streets because that’s not where those guns come from. There just aren’t enough legally owned handguns to fuel the criminal market and the government knows this. Presumably the freeze on transfers is in preparation for a ban and seizure since handguns are all restricted weapons also, and must be kept at the licensed address and nowhere else. The only political reason not to ban and seize them is that if gun crimes continued unabated with all the legally owned guns confiscated, the government would look silly and would be forced to pay attention to the border.

        The people who have an oxytocin response to the virtue signalling about no gun culture here are the same ones who love the PM’s hair and the way he half-whispers when he’s simulating passion. Nothing wrong with any of that but it won’t prevent young black men (and children) from being shot.

        Like most Canadians, I think Canada’s gun laws were about right the way they were. Legally owned semi-auto rifles and handguns are restricted and hardly ever used in crimes. Most of us in urban area don’t need restricted firearms for home defence. The problem is people who don’t obey the law. We can’t seem to get to these people while there is a supply chain only too eager to oblige.

  4. > 6.02×10^23
    > one of the seven base SI units.

    Given the bigendian ISO 8601 date and time format YYYYMMDDThhmmss (bigendian: consistently largest to smallest units), I prefer June Second at 10:23. Hrm… although, I guess in a bigendian format orders of magnitude could come first: whether it is 10^23 or 10^24 is much more important than whether it is 6.02 or 6.03.

    October has the advantage that it is early in the school year – in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia and North Africa, at least.

  5. It might not be a bad thing if the pro-Russia residents of the disputed regions left them for Russia. If Ukraine were to re-occupy these regions, then there would be no need to expel them as Czechoslovakia and Poland did the ethnic Germans after WWII.

    As for Canada, Trudeau’s anti-gun action is a drastic curtailment of individual freedom based only on a party majority. Surely, the people of Canada should be deciding this at a higher level? That’s why we have a Constitution. It’s not even clear what the justification is, since the head of Vancouver’s police has already said that the vast majority of gun crimes are committed with illegal handguns.

    1. See my #6, Dr.B.

      In Westminster political systems, there is no higher level than Parliament. Our Constitution (written in its modern form in the 1980s) does not recognize a right to keep arms. There is no constituency in Canada for wider availability of legal handguns and the ban has minimal impact on gun owners, who aren’t going to vote Liberal anyway. The fact that, as you say, it will have minimal effect on crime is beside the point of the way this government operates. Severe punishment of those who smuggle guns or use them to rob and shoot people would lead to over-incarceration of oppressed people, as would Jerry’s instruction to us to ban possession of handguns altogether (which we pretty much already do.)

      1. With a murder rate of Canada for the last 20 years being between 1.46 (lowest, 2013) and 1.95 (highest, 2020) per 100,000 compared to the US rate during the same being 4.4 (2014) to 5.8 (2006, didn’t show data for 2020) according to, I think I know who’s on the right track. It’s hard to enjoy life, liberty, or pursue happiness when you’re gunned down at Walmart, the grocery store, a movie theatre or sitting at your desk in elementary school. The two stupidest things the Founding Fathers did was not to ban slavery and to make gun ownership a right, and we fixed the slavery issue.

        1. Some black American social scientists argue that the slavery and gun violence problems are linked. They argue that ADOS are overrepresented among both perpetrators and victims of gun violence because 100 years of economic and political disenfranchisement of black people after emancipation. Canada from the start had few black slaves and as Leslie says we never had gun rights so we lack the mechanism that partly causes current high rates of gun violence in US cities.

          From one of my fav twitter feeds.

          The other thing we lack in Canada is comprehensive publicly-available data on who shoots and kills whom (something analogous to the US DOJ statistics on violent crime broken down by ethnicity of the criminal and the victim). So IDK if Leslie is right that stronger punishment for gun smuggling and violent crime would disproportionately affect minorities. My suburb is ~1/3 white and ~1/3 Chinese, and a lot of the gangsters who end up in news articles about crimes (or end up in body bags after crimes) are Chinese or south Asian, but a lot are trailer park white guys. Canada doesn’t collect data on this so it’s hard to tell whether any of those groups are over-represented.

        2. If you exclude the urban areas of the U.S. with gang violence mainly due to drug prohibition, I bet the murder rates would be comparable (don’t know). We don’t need another prohibition with added reasons to feud bringing additional mayhem. Of course, fending off this woke – yes you gun phobes are woke in your way – attack on our rights is the main reason.

          1. Canada is about as urban as the US (both just north of 80%). We have much the same drug laws. About half of Canada’s gun homicides are urban gang-related shootings in a handful of the largest cities (anecdotally those are often black and Asian gangsters shooting their black and Asian competitors or neighbours, but there are no data on ethnicities of victims and shooters). So an apples-to-apples comparison wouldn’t leave out US urban areas. Racial and geographic distributions of gun violence seem similar in the two countries, just many fewer gun homicides in Canada.

            IDK whether Canada would have a much higher gun homicide rate if we had a lot more handguns. The argument I’ve read is that it’s the combination of a large black underclass (with its history of economic and social oppression leading to a particular set of cultural traits especially poverty and fatherless households) plus lots of handguns that’s the unique recipe for high rates of gun homicide in the US but not Canada (or pretty much anywhere else comparable). Not having a large black underclass and not having lots of handguns both seem good.

            Full disclosure: not a gun phobe; learned to shoot as a kid; killed and skinned and ate things I shot; have a (1870s collectible nonfunctional) hand gun.

            1. Sorry – “Phobe” was a bad choice of words on my part. Replace “gun phobe” with “person desiring gun laws that eliminate or diminish the rights of non-criminal/non-psychotic adult citizens.”

              If your urban percentages are right, I concede my speculation is wrong. That doesn’t change my support for gun rights. I doubt you would change your opinion if I pointed out Brazil has a higher murder rate and lower gun ownership rate than the U.S. or Switzerland has more guns and less murder than Canada.

              With me, gun rights are a liberty issue. Related societal issues don’t override these rights. Think about it like free speech, which causes it’s own harms.

    2. You are simply parroting Russian propaganda with your baseless claim that the Ukraine intends to deport Russian speakers.

      Speaking in a TV interview, the Ukrainian President said that the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine will never be Russian, and he encouraged residents there who consider themselves Russian and would want the region to become part of the Russian Federation to go and seek a place in Russia. However, in a large contradiction to the disinformation claim, Zelenskyy never said anything about relocating ethnic Russian people from the Donbas region, while the Ukrainian government has never shown any intention of that, either.

      Accordingly, the unsubstantiated claim of “relocating Russians” from the Donbas region is aimed at promoting a picture of forceful eviction and fuelling the pro-Kremlin narrative of Russophobia in Ukraine.

  6. Transparent wings in tropical butterflies are a way to blend into the surroundings. In the shade, they are quite hard to see. But they still need to advertise to one another, so they will have a splash of color somewhere. That’s all I got. I am not sure what this one is trying to do.

  7. The remarkable thing about the lettuce video is that the Daily Star (probably the least newsworthy of all the UK papers) based it on a savage indictment of Truss in possibly the most newsworthy the Economist which wrote:

    “Ms Truss entered Downing Street on September 6th. She blew up her own government with a package of unfunded tax cuts and energy-price guarantees on September 23rd. Take away the ten days of mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and she had seven days in control. That is roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce.”

  8. “Didn’t he once also throw a woman down a flight of stairs?” asks Tár.

    “Yes,” he responds. “It was unclear that this private and personal failing was at all relevant to his work.”

    Schopenhauer was not a nice man. He was successfully sued over this incident, and payed monthly damages. Some time later he wrote in his diary, “The old woman dies; the burden is lifted.”

  9. “See if you agree with her claim that if the regime gets rid of the hijab, the regime will be doomed”
    This is a frequently observed mechanism: Once you begin to reform, this emboldens the most radical part of the opposition and your regime will be swept away. I think it’s unfortunate because it discourages the kind of slow paced reform process of authoritarian regimes that is less dangerous than sudden revolution.

  10. Richard Brody is a ridiculously tendentious critic who fancies himself a contrarian, so I’m not surprised by his reaction. The New Yorker wisely relegates his screeching to its online-only sections and movie listings. I also take issue with Goldberg: the concern over cancel culture isn’t “complaining that you can’t say anything anymore.” It’s the fact that immensely disproportionate retribution is being meted out online and in real life to people who transgress against social “laws” concocted by an unrepresentative sector of activists, academics, and journalists. And since corporations and universities are now gutless ultra-capitalist machines afraid of tarnishing their brand, they comply with the cancellers.

  11. Did King Charles pin that medal on that British soldier? The next one in line doesn’t have one yet.

  12. “…but the flag is getting every more complicated, and as identities proliferate, it’s going to get unmanageable.”

    The list identities seems poised to grow exponentially. Perhaps they’ll soon figure out that everyone has a unique identity, and thus rediscover the value of judging people as individuals.

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