Monday: Hili dialogue

October 24, 2022 • 6:30 am

Greetings on Monday, October 24, 2022, and National Bologna Day. (I prefer “Baloney”). It is tolerable on a sandwich, and can be fried, as it often is in the southern U.S.:

It’s also the start of Diwali, an important Hindu holiday that lasts five days, World Tripe Day, National Good & Plenty Day (a candy I used to eat in the movies as a child), Food Day, International Day of Diplomats, United Nations Day, the anniversary of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, and World Polio Day.

Remember this Good & Plenty commercial?  If you do, you’re a geezer!


Readers are invited to add in the comments notable events that happened on this day; to do so, look at the October 24 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Da Nooz is not so good this week, unless you’re a Republican. But let’s start with something that seems a bit good. FIRE has forced the University of Minnesota Medical School to stop requiring a ludicrous ideological “white coat” pledge seen in the tweet-video below (I wrote about it here; FIRE writes about it here). But they didn’t do away with that batty pledge: no, the University only assured FIRE that no student would be punished for refusing to say it. I doubt, though, that they were punished before.  From FIRE’s report:

Thankfully, the senior associate general counsel at UMMS assured FIRE that students “who decline to participate in the oath are free to do so without pressure or repercussion.” We’re glad to hear the university clarify that “[f]irst-year medical students are not required to recite the oath or participate in it in any way, and their progress in medical school does not depend on the recitation of the oath.”

But were there “repercussions” before?

*The midterm elections are drawing nigh, and the closer we get, the better the prognostication for the GOP.  Here are some data from Five Thirty Eight, and if you’ve been following along in the past several months, you can see that the probability that the Republicans will win the Senate have increased (though still less than 50 out of 100 simulations), while the House seems more likely than ever to go to the GOP (80 out of 100 simulations).

In a three-minute video on the site addressing this shift, Galen Duke expatiates on”Why Republicans’ odds of controlling Congress have improved.” The answer is, as you expect, “it’s the economy, stupid!” Polling voters revealed that inflation and the economy were by far the most important issues: 44% of voters considered this the most important issue, while all other issues (including abortion) were in the single digits. The Republican party is viewed by American voters as being more “reliable” on the economy—by a long shot.

And the Master himself, Nate Silver, wrote a piece called “Why I’m telling my friends that the Senate is a toss-up.

But let’s get real. If a friend asked me to characterize the Senate race, I’d say “it’s pretty fucking close,” and emphasize that neither party has much of an advantage. Here’s why.

For one thing, as of Thursday afternoon, Republicans realized a slight lead (of 0.1 percentage points) in the FiveThirtyEight generic ballot average for the first time since Aug. 2.

Obviously, a lead of a tenth of a percentage point isn’t much. The advantage may have flipped back by the time that you’re reading this. But the tied generic ballot overstates the case for Democrats. That’s because our polling average takes generic ballot polls as they come, which are a combination of polls of likely voters, registered voters and all adults. Our model, however, takes an additional step and adjusts polls of registered voters and adults to make them more similar to polls of likely voters, which this year have been more favorable to Republicans. So a tie on the generic ballot among all polls translates to a slight GOP lead with the likely voter adjustment.

. . . But the main reason why I think of the race for control of the Senate as a toss-up — rather than slightly favoring Democrats — is because there’s been steady movement toward the GOP in our model over the past few weeks. In principle, past movement shouldn’t predict future movement in our forecast and it should instead resemble a random walk. (We put a lot of effort in our modeling into trying to minimize autocorrelation.) This year, though, the forecast has moved in a predictable-seeming way, with a long, slow and steady climb toward Democrats over the summer, and now a consistent shift back toward Republicans.

. . . But the bottom line is this: If you’d asked me a month ago — or really even a week ago — which party’s position I’d rather be in, I would have said the Democrats. Now, I honestly don’t know.

*I suppose this is good news for Brits, though I really know nothing about Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer who’s the overwhelmingly favored candidate to succeed the ephemeral Liz Truss for Prime Minister now that Boris Johnson’s stated that he’s not having another go at the job.

In a statement, Mr. Johnson said he believed he had a path to victory in the contest to replace Ms. Truss. But he said, “I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do.”

Mr. Johnson said he did not believe he could govern effectively without a unified party in Parliament. Despite what he said were his efforts to reach out to Mr. Sunak and his other rival, Penny Mordaunt, “we have sadly not been able to work out a way to do this.”

Mr. Johnson’s decision ends a feverish couple of days in which he mounted a lively bid to reclaim the job he gave up three months ago amid a cascade of scandals. The former prime minister’s campaign never gained momentum, however, as prominent members of the Conservative Party threw their support to Mr. Sunak as a better option to try to reunite a deeply divided party.

Mr. Sunak, who formally declared his candidacy with a promise to “fix our economy,” had lined up at least 146 votes by late Sunday afternoon, according to a tally by the BBC, more than double the 57 votes pledged to Mr. Johnson.

Sunak is only 42, and previously lost to Truss in a contest for the Tory party leadership. I’m woefully ignorant of British politics, but I’m guessing he’d be the first Prime Minister of Indian ancestry.

*Over at the NYT, conservative columnist Ross Douthat analyzes what he sees as “The three blunders of Joe Biden.” Two of them involve his unexpected adherence to what the “progressive” wing of his party favors, the other one, according to Douthat, a failure to compromise with Republicans.

The first fateful course began, as Matthew Continetti noted recently in The Washington Free Beacon, in the initial days of the administration, when Biden made critical decisions on energy and immigration that his party’s activists demanded: for environmentalists, a moratorium on new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and, for immigration advocates, a partial rollback of key Trump administration border policies.

What followed, in both arenas, was a crisis: first a surge of migration to the southern border, then the surge in gas prices driven by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

. . .The second key failure also belongs to the administration’s early days. In February 2021, when congressional Democrats were preparing a $1.9 trillion stimulus, a group of Republican senators counteroffered with a roughly $600 billion proposal. Flush with overconfidence, the White House spurned the offer and pushed three times as much money into the economy on a party-line vote.

What followed was what a few dissenting center-left economists, led by Larry Summers, had predicted: the worst acceleration of inflation in decades, almost certainly exacerbated by the sheer scale of the relief bill. Whereas had Biden taken the Republicans up on their proposal or even simply counteroffered and begun negotiations, he could have started his administration off on the bipartisan footing his campaign had promised while‌ hedging against the inflationary dangers that ultimately arrived.

. . .The third failure is likewise a failure to hedge and triangulate, but this time on culture rather than economic policy. Part of Biden’s appeal as a candidate was his longstanding record as a social moderate — an old-school, center-left Catholic rather than a zealous progressive.

His presidency has offered multiple opportunities to actually inhabit the moderate persona. On transgender issues, for instance, the increasing qualms of European countries about puberty blockers offered potential cover for Biden to call for greater caution around the use of medical interventions for gender-dysphoric teenagers. Instead, his White House has chosen to effectively deny that any real debate exists, positioning the administration to the left of Sweden.

Then there is the Dobbs decision, whose unpopularity turned abortion into a likely political winner for Democrats — provided, that is, that they could cast themselves as moderates and Republicans as zealots.

Biden could have led that effort, presenting positions he himself held in the past — support for Roe v. Wade but also for late-term restrictions and the Hyde Amendment — as the natural national consensus, against the pro-life absolutism of first-trimester bans. Instead, he’s receded and left Democratic candidates carrying the activist line that absolutely no restrictions are permissible, an unpopular position perfectly designed to squander the party’s post-Roe advantage.

. . . A strong president, by definition, should be able to pull his party toward the center when politics demands it. So if Biden feels he can’t do that, it suggests that he’s internalized his own weakness and accepted in advance what probably awaits the Democrats next month: defeat.

There would probably be general Democratic defeats regardless of this, of course, because it’s the mid-term elections.

*I’d almost forgotten about the knife attack on Salman Rushdie that happened last August at a New York literary festival. For a long time many of us thought he wouldn’t make it. But he did, and lives on—minus one eye and the use of a hand.

Literary agent Andrew Wylie told the Spanish language newspaper El Pais in an article published Saturday that Rushdie suffered three serious wounds to his neck and 15 more wounds to his chest and torso in the attack that took away sight in an eye and left a hand incapacitated.

. . . Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, has been incarcerated after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and assault in the Aug. 12 attack on Rushdie as he was being introduced at the Chautauqua Institution, a rurally located center 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Buffalo that is known for its summertime lecture series.

fter the attack, Rushdie was treated at a Pennsylvania hospital, where he was briefly put on a ventilator to recover from what Wylie told El Pais was a “brutal attack” that cut nerves to one arm.

 . .  Wylie told the newspaper he could not say whether Rushdie remained in a hospital or discuss his whereabouts.

“He’s going to live … That’s the important thing,” Wylie said.

. . . The attack was along the lines of what Rushie and his agent have thought was the “principal danger … a random person coming out of nowhere and attacking,” Wylie told El Pais.

In a jailhouse interview with The New York Post, Matar said he disliked Rushdie and praised Khomeini. Iran has denied involvement in the attack.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is on her own:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I delight in solitude.
In Polish:
Ja: Co tu robisz?
Hili: Rozkoszuję się samotnością.
And Szaron having a nosh:


A Leigh Rubin cartoon from Jesus of the Day:

An excellent Scott Metzger cartoon from Merilee:

From the B. Kliban Appreciation Society:

The Tweet of God. I don’t quite understand this one:

From Masih, showing another act prohibited by the Islamic Republic:

wish this were me!

From Gravelinspector: a tweet from the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, who inhabits 10 Downing Street:

From Malcom. Yes, this is the face of an ant, and it would make a good horror movie were it the size of Godzilla:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a family gasse:


Tweets from Matthew: A lovely stag:

Two Cats of Yore held by disgruntled women. There are more in the thread.

No wonder the Ukrainians are holding back the Russians!

30 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. I suppose, if you are going to choose a new prime minister, it’s best to do it on both National Baloney Day and World Tripe Day.

    I think Rishi Sunak is the best of the current candidates. He was last time, but the party membership stupidly voted for Liz Truss instead.

    I think a shout out is in order for Annie Edson Taylor who became the first person to survive going over the Niagara falls in a barrel on this day in 1901.

  2. > The truth is there should NOT BE ideologized oaths

    I absolutely agree.

    I consider the standard modern Hippocratic Oath itself to be ideologized; it can be weaponized by anti-abortion, anti-suicide, and anti-body-modification regimes.

    The wording varies, but it is similar to “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient“, with no allowance for when the patient desires something that might be considered to be harm. Recognizing abortion, suicide, and body modifications as fundamental human rights, is there any way to interpret the Hippocratic Oath as anything but ideologized?

    1. Yes, because you are begging the question about fundamental human rights. Since I don’t recognize abortion, suicide, and body mutilation as fundamental human rights, only contingent one’s, I have no trouble interpreting the Oath in a non-ideological way.

      If help and harm are understood as from the sole perspective of the patient, which is the point of all versions of the Oath, the tension disappears. The criminal law may enjoin physicians from doing what the patient wants, especially where the state claims an interest in the patient’s life or body integrity.. That’s fine. We aren’t above the law. But the law can’t compel us to provide any treatment that a mentally competent patient does not want. This underlies our modern conception of autonomy which was a radical concept in 300BC. The Hippocratic Oath is not the only corpus of writing that underpins medical ethics but it did get the ball rolling.

      My major objection to the traditional oath—I never took it but tried to live by most of its precepts—is that doctors were required to keep secret from outsiders the arts and skills our masters had thought us and to teach them ourselves only to the children (sons in the original) of our professors, which today would be just wrong.

      1. Sorry for the typos and randomly sprinkled apostrophes. WordPress won’t let me see what I’m typing and now I’ve lost the edit button.

        The walls are closing in.

    2. I don’t see a problem.

      Firstly on the subject of abortion, your wording says either help or do not harm the patient. If the patient is the mother then you have to focus on not harming her. Given that just carrying a baby to term is not risk free, it is fairly clear cut in many cases that abortion does not contravene the oath. I think there is a line and I admit I don’t know exactly where it is, but I am comfortable with the current UK limit (24 weeks) or the mother’s life being in danger without a termination.

      On the subject of suicide, my position is that euthanasia is sometimes the least harm. Death is final, but that doesn’t mean it’s the always the worst option facing a person. We often accept that death is the best option for our pets even though they don’t have a say in the matter. I don’t see why that doesn’t extend to humans, the caveat being that it has to be the human who is being bumped off that makes the decision.

      By body modification, I assume you mean cosmetic surgery. Again, there, the improved quality of life as perceived by the patient may well be the least harm.

      Having said all that, this whole idea of taking baths seems a bit silly to me. Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no, to quote the part of Matthew 5:37 that doesn’t invoke a fictional anthropomorphism of evil.

      1. > your wording says either help or do not harm the patient […]
        > my position is that euthanasia is sometimes the least harm.

        You and I have the same view on that. However, I worry what happens when governments define words in the Oath differently than you or I might. My understanding is that there are some jurisdictions where governments and medical associations do just that. At that point, someone making the oath is no longer simply doing do, bound by their understanding of the oath, but bound by an external agency’s interpretation.

        So, “First do no harm” looks harmless enough … but it is still a basic ideology – and one that can be turned against people.

        > By body modification, I assume you mean cosmetic surgery.

        Sure, but even non-traditional surgery. There are people with amputation fetishes. I won’t go deeper down that rabbithole, but it’s a clear form of harm that some patients actually want to have performed. I won’t link that in to another topic that is frequently discussed here, but you are welcome to make that connection.

  3. Notable science birthdays (helps me avoid thinking about politics):

    1632, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (I assume everyone here knows who he was)

    1804, Wilhelm Eduard Weber, physicist, magnetism, invented an electromagnetic telegraph (with Gauss), first to use symbol c to denote the speed of light constant

    1808, Bernard von Cotta, geologist, microscopic study of fossil plants, metamorphic rock and ore deposit studies

    1817, Hippolyte Mège-Mouriés, chemist who invented margarine (why? What on earth was wrong with French Butter?!)

    1908, John Tuzo Wilson, geologist, plate tectonics, Wilson cycle, transform faults

    1932, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, physicist, Nobel Prize (1991) for ordering of molecules in liquid crystals and polymers

  4. Thank you for posting the news about the partial climb-down of the University of Minnesota on their med students’ abominable hypocritic oath (not a typo.).

    I’m quite impressed with FIRE. Our own Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship struggles to get heard when it writes similar letters. University scholars in Canada have not the robust First Amendment protections that our American colleagues do, even though both Ontario and Quebec require that provincially funded universities (all of them, for practical purposes) must adhere to the University of Chicago principlEs. Still, your heart has to be in it.

    FIRE’s success here is to be commended. I donated to their recent campaign. They warned that they could not send T-shirts to foreign addresses…but they sent me one anyway!

  5. the partial climb-down of the University of Minnesota on their med students’ abominable hypocritic oath

    How much of this do you consider to be a climbdown, though? They’re arguing that it was never mandatory. I’m comparing this to cases where public school ceremonies (graduations, sports games, etc.) have “voluntary” prayer, either led by students or coaches. The social pressure to participate is just too intense. It’s also interesting to see when punishments are subtly introduced for the choice to abstain (not being permitted to walk in graduation, ostracism, etc.).

    I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the New Left has learned their strategies from the New Right. They’re working from the same playbook, just on a 20 year delay.

  6. I see Douhat is peddling the party line that Putin is responsible for gas prices going up. Assuming that it is possible to convert America entirely to green energy, the Biden administration has proceeded exactly backwards. It has followed the extremists in trying to kill fossil fuels before adequate alternatives were in place. It really was a tyro move, and he and his care-givers deserve all the criticism they are getting. (We’ll leave aside the question of whether the Federal government, let alone the Executive branch by fiat, has the authority to restructure the economy.) Frankly, it’s Afghanistan all over again.

  7. Rishi Sunak is indeed the new Prime Minister, or he will be just as soon as he presents himself to King Charles III. And he is indeed the first British Prime Minister of Indian origin, and our first Hindu Prime Minister, both of which should be celebrated as an important milestone in a country with so many people of Indian origin.

    Having said that, he is reputedly the richest Member of Parliament. He and his wife are worth more than £700 million between them. Technically, they are richer than the King. Most of that money is hers, as the daughter of the founder of the Indian IT company Infosys, in which she has shares. It emerged a year or so ago that she pays almost no UK taxes on her income from the shares, and that Sunak himself still had a U.S. green card, even when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. They have a luxury apartment in California, plus a luxury mansion in England and a town house in an exclusive area of London that is valued at £7 million. All of this wealth may become a liability at the next general election, in a country beset by a serious cost of living crisis.

    1. Perhaps you could answer this question that I’ve been pondering since Truss formed her brief cabinet, which was apparently the most diverse in history. Where are all the women and minorities in the Labour Party? Why is it that the Tory party has had three women PMs, and now an Indian PM, many other non-“white” members like Kwartang, and quite a few openly gay MPs as well? Perhaps we in the US just don’t here about them, but aside from Diane Abbott, my image of Labour is still very much of the bland and the boring: Starmer, Brown, Blair, and an anti-Semitic Marxist organic marrow grower. Granted, it’s not easy getting a grip on UK politics from the US, especially since I get most of my news from comedy panel shows.

        1. Good to know. I guess if I haven’t heard of them it’s because Ian Hislop hasn’t ripped into them on TV.

          And there should definitely be more Scottish and ginger representation in government! (He says because almost half his ancestors came from Scotland, and he’s a ginger) perhaps it’s time for Frankie Boyle to run?

      1. The Labour Party doesn’t even know what a woman is. Today, the Party’s leader, Keir Starmer, refused to discuss whether Eddie Izzard (now in self-proclaimed “full-time girl mode” and hoping to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Sheffield Central at the next general election) would be eligible to participate in the all-women shortlist. Despite Eddie being a man and not even possessing the legal figleaf that is a Gender Recognition Certificate.

      2. > Why is it that the Tory party has had three women PMs, and now an Indian PM

        Not to forget a guy with the obviously Anglican name of Disraeli…

    2. Having said that, he is reputedly the richest Member of Parliament. He and his wife are worth more than £700 million between them. Technically, they are richer than the King. Most of that money is hers

      So he is not the richest MP, he’s the MP with the richest spouse. I have to ask why it matters: it seems like an ad hominem to me.

      It emerged a year or so ago that she pays almost no UK taxes on her income from the shares

      Not any more. Askhata Murty has given up her non-dom status.

      Sunak himself still had a U.S. green card

      Not any more. He gave it up soon after becoming Chancellor.

      How about we judge Sunak by how well – or badly – he runs the country?

      All of this wealth may become a liability at the next general election, in a country beset by a serious cost of living crisis.

      That would only bother me if he works such a miracle with the country and economy that it would make me want him to stay as prime minister. If he does that well, I don’t think anybody would care about his personal wealth. If he doesn’t (and he won’t), well good riddance to him and his party.

      1. Thanks, Jeremy; my views entirely.

        Part of the answer to Christopher’s question is that a lot of Labour constituency parties are controlled by the trades unions, which are largely still run by men. Labour still has a Tammany Hall-type problem, which they are sooner or later going to have to address. They sure aren’t going to get a decent majority by appealing mainly to the horny-handed sons of toil.

  8. I’m not crazy about that ant face because it’s just a small section of the head of an ant. The red “eyes” are the bases of the antennae, you can see the compound eye in the upper right corner. The golden “teeth” are just setae, the mandibles actually are below those.

    1. Was going to make this point. It’s an ant snout, no eyes or mouthparts visible.
      Plus of course as usual it’s false-colorized. (A pet peeve.)

  9. Human BEINGS who are women birthed this day:

    i) y1914: Doctor Lakshmi Sahgal
    “ I have always been an atheist. My parents were atheists. It doesn’t bother me if somebody is religious. My problem is when religion is used to institutionalize other things. ”

    ii) y1945: Doctor Eugenie Scott
    ” My personal view is I’m not religious. I don’t accept the Christian view of things. ”


  10. Re: National Bologna Day. In the mid-90s, we toured through Newfoundland. Most of the small villages had stores with a meat counter that contained large bologna rolls slices of which could be used for sandwiches or dinner. A classic Newfie breakfast consisted of a thick bologna slice fried up with some eggs, etc. Of course I had to try. The bologna came out looking like an extra large hockey puck and almost as hard. Some time we must also discuss the classic jiggs dinner. A final classic is “lassy tea,” hot tea with added dark molasses. This was pretty good.

  11. Jerry, I’m intrigued by your wording; “I’d almost forgotten about the knife attack on Salman Rushdie that happened last August”.
    – I’m almost certain you know it was August ’22 and this is just typically how an American words a reference to ‘the last time a month occurred’
    – however, ‘last August’ here in the UK would refer to August ’21
    – another example; (today is Sunday for this example) ‘last Saturday’ doesn’t mean yesterday, it’s Saturday 8 days ago
    Is your wording typical in the US?

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