Tuesday: Hili dialogue

October 25, 2022 • 6:30 am

Welcome to The Cruelest Day: Tuesday, October 25, 2022: National Greasy Food Day. For the best food in this genre, I would recommend, as did Anthony Bourdain, In-N-Out Burger:

It’s also Sourest Day, celebrating sour candy, World Pasta Day (didn’t we just have that?), World Pizza Makers Day, and International Artist Day.

Readers are invited to comment on notable events, births, and deaths on this day by consulting the October 25 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Well, as predicted, Rishi Sunak, formerly Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, will become the country’s Prime Minister today.

“There is no doubt we face profound economic challenges,’’ Mr. Sunak said in a brief appearance Monday afternoon. “We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring my party and country together.”

The BBC reported that Mr. Sunak would become prime minister on Tuesday morning after meeting with King Charles III.

Here’s what to know about Mr. Sunak’s victory:

  • It puts him in the pathbreaking category of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, and Benjamin Disraeli, its only Jewish prime minister. But it also puts him in office at an acutely difficult moment.

  • Britain is suffering the global scourge of inflation, as well as the self-inflicted damage of Ms. Truss, whose free-market economic agenda, featuring sweeping tax cuts, upended markets and sent the pound into a tailspin.

  • Mr. Sunak still faces steep hurdles in trying to unify a demoralized and divided Conservative Party. Boris Johnson’s aborted bid and Penny Mordaunt’s unsuccessful challenge will leave many members angry. Some continue to view Mr. Sunak as his former boss’s political assassin.

  • The Conservatives lag behind the opposition Labour Party by more than 30 percentage points in polls. Calls for a general election have started and are likely to intensify as the new prime minister embarks on a belt-tightening economic program during a cost-of-living crisis.

Whatever he is Sunak is a damn sight better than Boris and Liz, at least looking forward. As reader Christopher noted, although Sunak is a “pathbreaker” in being the first PM of Indian ancestry, that’s not a big deal in the UK.

This is different from what it would be in the U.S., where the first President of color, Barak Obama, drove the media headlines wild. As Christopher emailed me:

I rather think it worth while to call out to the world at large that the UK has its first coloured/non-white/brown/BIPOC prime minister AND NO ONE CARES!I don’t live there any more, and maybe I am not the best person to comment, but it strikes me as interesting, at least, that this has happened. There seems to be no sense of violation by having a non-white in that exalted position, but rather relief, as Brits have become accustomed to seeing Indians as ultra-competent and not really foreigners as they shared in the experience of the Raj.

*And Sunak’s bloody rich, too!  Twice as rich as Queen Elizabeth was. As the Washington Post reports:

This may be the first time in history that the residents of Downing Street are richer than those of Buckingham Palace.

Brits are used to being ruled by elites — Boris Johnson was about as elite as they come — but Sunak is not just rich, he is super rich, which has prompted some to ask whether his vast fortune makes him too rich to be prime minister?

His backers, however, say it is precisely his background as chancellor and the years spent making money that qualify him to lead a deeply damaged nation during these economically tumultuous times.

Sunak, a former banker, and his wife, Indian tech heiress Akshata Murty, have an estimated fortune of about 730 million pounds ($830 million), according to the Sunday Times Rich List. On this year’s list, published before her death, Queen Elizabeth II was estimated to have about 370 million pounds ($420 million) by comparison.

The couple’s money comes primarily from Murty’s stake in her father’s company, Infosys. She also owns start-up incubator Catamaran Ventures UK and has shares in a half dozen or so other companies. The couple have at least three homes in Britain, as well as a Santa Monica, Calif., property valued at around $6 million.

According to the Guardian, the Sunak family — they have two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka — spend the week in their five-bedroom house in west London and weekends in North Yorkshire at a Georgian manor house. The paper said it has been “transformed into something of a wellness retreat with an indoor swimming pool, gym, yoga studio, hot tub and tennis court.”

I didn’t read the link above, but I can’t imagine that he’d be too rich to be Prime Minister. Why would he? Do Brits need to elect a working-class git to ensure that the PM’s “lived experience” makes him especially competent to govern?

*Remember the 2000 Presidential election, when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore even though Gore won the popular vote? The electoral vote was decided by the Supreme Court, which stopped the vote recount in Florida, giving Bush the top job.  Florida’s long been a swing state, but now it’s swinging towards Republicans, or so reports the Associated Press:

Democrats are increasingly concerned that Florida, once the nation’s premier swing state, may slip away this fall and beyond as emboldened Republicans capitalize on divisive cultural issues and population shifts in crucial contests for governor and the U.S. Senate.

The anxiety was apparent last week during a golf cart parade of Democrats featuring Senate candidate Val Demings at The Villages, a retirement community just north of the Interstate 4 corridor. It was once a politically mixed part of the state where elections were often decided but now some Democrats now say they feel increasingly isolated.

“I am terrified,” said 77-year-old Sue Sullivan, lamenting the state’s rightward shift. “There are very few Democrats around here.”

In an interview, Demings, a congresswoman and former Orlando police chief challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, conceded that her party’s midterm message isn’t resonating as she had hoped.

“We have to do a better job of telling our stories and clearly demonstrating who’s truly on the side of people who have to go to work every day,” she said.

The frustration is the culmination of nearly a decade of Republican inroads in Florida, where candidates have honed deeply conservative social and economic messages to build something of a coalition that includes rural voters and Latinos, particularly Cuban Americans. Donald Trump’s win here in 2016 signaled the evolution after the state twice backed Barack Obama. And while he lost the White House in 2020, Trump carried Florida by more than 3 percentage points, a remarkable margin in a state where elections were regularly decided by less than a percentage point.

As my people in Florida would say, “Oy gewalt!”

*In 2005, when nominee Samuel Alito was trying to reassure Senators that he was qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, he reassured the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy that he (Alito) heartily supported the decision in Roe v. Wade. That, of course, was a lie. But it turns out that he admitted he had lied before, when he was looking for a promotion during the Reagan Administration.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy looked skeptically at the federal judge. It was Nov. 15, 2005, and Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was seeking Senate confirmation for his nomination to the Supreme Court, had just assured Mr. Kennedy in a meeting in his Senate office that he respected the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion.

“I am a believer in precedents,” Judge Alito said, in a recollection the senator recorded and had transcribed in his diary. “People would find I adhere to that.”

In the same conversation, the judge edged further in his assurances on Roe than he did in public. “I recognize there is a right to privacy,” he said, referring to the constitutional foundation of the decision. “I think it’s settled.”

But Mr. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and longtime supporter of abortion rights, remained dubious that November day that he could trust the conservative judge not to overturn the ruling. He brought up a memo that Judge Alito had written as a lawyer in the Reagan administration Justice Department in 1985, which boasted of his opposition to Roe.

Judge Alito assured Mr. Kennedy that he should not put much stock in the memo. He had been seeking a promotion and wrote what he thought his bosses wanted to hear. “I was a younger person,” Judge Alito said. “I’ve matured a lot.”

Well, they all lie when desperately seeking a seat on the nation’s highest court. Even candidates nominated by Democrats lie, and we all know this. But Alito’s lie was particularly egregious, because most candidates would say they “can’t know how they’d vote without hearing the arguments. Well, the NYT says this about Alito:

Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion this past June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the momentous Supreme Court decision that put aside 50 years of precedent and overturned Roe. Respect for longstanding precedent “does not compel unending adherence to Roe’s abuse of judicial authority,” he wrote. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.”

That’s how he “matured”: learning to lie even better.

*At UnHerd, Andrew Doyle (the creator of Titania McGrath, gives us “The liberal case against pronouns“.  Doyle declares that opposing mandatory or pressured use of pronouns is a liberal and not a conservative position. Why? (h/t Luana)

When you ask someone to declare pronouns, you are doing one of two things. You are either saying that you are having trouble identifying this person’s sex, or you are saying that you believe in the notion of gender identity and expect others to do the same. As a species we are very well attuned to recognising the sex of other people, so, for the most part, to ask for pronouns is an expression of fealty to a fashionable ideology — and to set a test for others to do likewise.

. . . Yet gender identity ideology is simply not a belief system that most people share. I do not identify as male; it’s a biological fact, as mundane as the fact that I’ve got blue eyes or that I’m right-handed. I am not here talking about gender dysphoria — those people who feel as odds with their sex and seek to adapt either through medical procedures or the way in which they present themselves — but rather the notion that we each have an inherent gender that has nothing to do with our bodies. This is akin to a religious conviction, and we would be rightly appalled if employers were to demand that their staff proclaim their faith in Christ the Saviour or Baal the Canaanite god of fertility before each meeting.

. . .It is often forgotten that many transgender people are opposed to pronoun declaration for a number of reasons. It draws needless attention to them when they just want to get on with their lives. It can have the effect of “outing” people against their will, particularly if they are in the early stages of their transition. It creates a false impression that gender identity ideology is the norm even though it is a belief system shared by relatively few. Most importantly, compelled speech is a fundamentally illiberal prospect, one that should always be resisted by all.

It is strange that the objections to pronoun declaration are so often construed as being “reactionary” when they are essentially progressive. Many who believe in liberal values will therefore feel uncomfortable in refusing to state pronouns at work. But until more people are prepared to make their feelings clear on this issue, it will continue to be misinterpreted as “a Right-wing talking-point”.

A refusal to participate in these rituals need not be antagonistic, and most employers will be happy to hear your reasons. There is always the possibility that you could be accused of transphobia or hate, but this is simply part of the coercive strategy. For all the awkward conversations that might arise, there is nothing Right-wing about standing up to ideologues who insist on imposing their values onto everyone else.

Well, I’m happy to call someone whatever pronoun they tell me they want me to use, but I will never state my own pronouns, as they’re bloody obvious, and if someone “mis-pronouns” me, well, I won’t be offended.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making fun of people who look up stuff on the Internet:

Hili: Tits are starting to peck the winter apples.
A: And what does that mean?
Hili: I don’t know, you have to check it on the Internet.
In Polish:
Hili: Sikorki zaczynają dziobać zimowe jabłka.
Ja: A co to znaczy?
Hili: Nie wiem, musisz sprawdzić w Internecie.
And a blurry photo of Szaron in the tree:


From Facebook:

From Now That’s Wild: (you can see a video of the owl flying with the stick horse here)

Posted by Seth Andrews:

I’m not quite sure what God means here. . . .

From Masih. The attacks on Iranian schoolgirls continue:

From Simon we get a groaner:

From Barry, who says, “Poor bird hasn’t figured things out yet.” Indeed!

From Barry, who advises us, “Large snakes don’t make good pets.” The content isn’t very sensitive!

From the Auschwitz memorial: a boy gassed at eight years old.

Tweets from Matthew. I don’t know the answer to this one, but surely there’s a mallard in there. Answers are suggested in the thread, and birders are encouraged to try below (enlarge the photo first).

Another poorly-drawn medieval cat. Like many of these travesties, it has a humanlike face.

I suppose this is performance art, but I like it:

54 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. That was pretty intense, and a good reminder that snakes are not pets, they’re captives. Granted, dogs are not always safe or kind, as demonstrated by the apparent mauling death of an Amazon delivery driver here in Missouri.

      1. It is not because large pythons are not venomous they aren’t dangerous. I think the lady didn’t expect this, who would, they can become kind of ‘affectionate’ at times -in our minds at least. We humans are not particularly good at reading a snake’s mind. Luckily she wasn’t alone, if she were, it could have ended very, very badly. Large pythons are known to have killed bears and crocks.
        I think one should stick to nothing larger than a ball python, if one insists on a python pet.

        1. But why a python pet if you can have a cat?
          (that rhymes!)
          I have a cat again and am so happy. Cats can show real affection and much more moods and character than pythons (yes, I had a ball python pet, but there was never a great , how shall I say, understanding? empathy? affection it is, I guess).

  1. I’ve seen it reported here in the UK that Rishi Sunak, as a hindu, will be able to advise the King on religious and church matters such as the appointment of bishops. A catholic or jewish PM is banned from doing so by statute.

    Personally I’m a disestablishmentarianist.

  2. Despite the fact that I’ve birded for many years, I admit that there are some bird groups I’m not very good at. Hawks are probably number one but ducks are up there. Still I’ll give the duck challenge a go.

    Many of the ducks have white bellies contrasting with darker (but not blackish) chests and flanks. Some (males) have a lighter mark above the bill. These are American Wigeon. I believe the ducks with blackish chests contrasting with white bellies are Gadwall. Higher than centre and to the left are two mostly all-dark birds with large bills that are almost at the same height and in virtually identical spread-winged positions. I think these are Northern Shovellers. Slightly to the left and down from the leftmost shoveller is a duck with light underparts that has its wings in a V shape. I think this is a Northern Pintail. There is a brownish bird on the far right above centre that might be a female mallard but it looks too small. Unless it’s simply further away, it’s probably a female gadwall.

    I’m tempted to check my answers in a field guide but I’ll resist the temptation.

    1. I like your answers; I was happy with American Wigeon, Shoveler and Gadwall myself; now that you have pointed out the Pintail I am happy with that. I did consider Cinnamon Teal for the “Mallard/Gadwall”, but all in all I reckon that it is most probably Gadwall.

  3. One of the things that strikes me about the pronouns is that trying to control how someone talks about you in the third person is an extreme conceit. Of all the things that people could say about you, the pronouns seem to be the least important. If someone says, “He is ‘without any doubt, a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel, and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket-picking, thrice double-damned no-good son of a bitch’,” is the fact the speaker said he and not thir what the object of discussion should focus on?

    1. When meeting a new person I’ll likely be working with, it is their name I want to repeat. So I can learn it. What their pronouns are, or age or politics are irrelevant to me at that time. Unless I am writing an article about them, or wish to gossip about them.

    2. It is particularly amusing to hear or see a person announce pronouns in either a one-to-one conversation or email exchange. As if a name and the second person singular are not appropriate.

  4. “I didn’t read the link above, but I can’t imagine that he’d be too rich to be Prime Minister. Why would he? Do Brits need to elect a working-class git to ensure that the PM’s “lived experience” makes him especially competent to govern?”

    His lived experience is similar to that of Boris Johnson and David Cameron: an elite private school, then a PPE degree at Oxford, and a spell working in high finance before entering politics. It’s as different to the lived experience of most British people as it is possible to get.

    Also, there’s a severe cost of living crisis in Britain right now, with millions of people unable to manage financially even with a full-time job. That includes key workers like nurses and teachers. There is a concern that someone as fabulously wealthy as Sunak, who has at least three separate luxury residences (in London, Yorkshire and California), and who has never needed to watch how much he spends, even as a student, can really understand the struggle that millions of his fellow Britons are facing.

    1. I agree. One of the reasons the UK is in such a mess is the abject lack of diversity in high level politics. Nearly everyone that reaches the cabinet in Tory governments comes from a wealthy family and went to a top fee-paying school which gilded their path to an Oxbridge education and a top job in finance. I really have had enough of rich, Eton-educated toffs running the country.

      When I was a kid, we were pretty poor as a family, then when I first got married and bought a house, we really struggled financially. Thankfully, I’m now financially comfortable and I never have to worry about money these days. However, if I had been in this situation all my life, I would not understand what it’s like to be skint. Of course, I would understand it intellectually, but unless you have been in that situation or at least known people that are, I don’t think you can properly get it. Having no money is awful, it robs you of freedom, you have to eat crap food, you can’t do anything fun, you’re always anxious and on edge. You dread bills arriving and have a permanent knot in your stomach wondering how you are going to cope, especially if something happens and you can’t pay the mortgage. You also feel guilty and ashamed at not being able to buy your kids things or pay for school trips that all their friends are going on. It’s frustrating, humiliating, maddening, embarrassing, and unbelievably stressful.

      I don’t think it’s possible to grasp how alienated and powerless being poor can make you feel, unless you’ve been through it (and my experience is not that bad – I have never been truly, out of work poor). The people we have had running the UK in the last 12 years have never been through that. They’ve never known anybody that has. They have no understanding of the real world that most people live in, and they don’t actually care about it. If Kwarteng and Truss’s lunacy has bumped up your mortgage by £200 / month, the Tories brush it off as nothing, because to them, it is. They know that people won’t be able to afford it, but they don’t ‘get’ it. They have some vague excuse/justification in the back of their mind, such as you can get it off mum n dad, or sell some shares, as that’s what they would do. They haven’t got a clue.

      The race thing is completely unimportant here in the UK, I didn’t even think about it until now, and most other people won’t. People are concentrating on the wrong barriers to office, in the UK it doesn’t matter if you are black or Asian, or female – you can still reach high office. The real barrier in UK politics is class. You never see working class ‘commoners’ in high office, especially in the Tory party. THAT is where we should be concentrating in terms of diversity.

      1. Well the main problem is that being prime minister is a very demanding job and you really want the most able person possible in it. That doesn’t mean they should have been to a fee-paying school but it does mean they most likely are well educated and have got a good degree from a prestigious university.

        Such people are unlikely to have experience wondering if they are going to be able to pay the mortgage or heat the house or even feed their children, no matter which political party they represent. Having poor parents in the UK is probably the biggest handicap for getting a good education. If you don’t have a good education you probably won’t have a chance of making prime minister or doing the job well if you do somehow get there.

        I certainly agree that we need to do more to break the cycle of poverty so that the children of poor people have the same opportunities as, for example, the children of my parents, who benefited from living in a largish house where they could each have a bedroom to themselves and whose parents took an active interest in their education by helping them, holding their feet to the fire until they did their homework and fighting to get them into a good (state run) school.

        The barrier is not a person’s class directly, but the implications of being born into a certain class for their future.

    2. Sunak’s parents were a GP and a pharmacist, and he grew up in a fairly ordinary suburb of Southampton. His parents scrimped and saved to send him to private schools. He remained grounded and still plays a part in his original community.

      Yes, he married the daughter of the founder of Infosys, which has made him a very wealthy man. But in many ways her family are as grounded as his. He is absolutely not a privileged Tory like Cameron or Johnson, and although I have never voted Tory in my 50 years of having a vote, I can’t help wishing him good luck.

      1. I would take issue with your claim that he is not a privileged Tory. He may not be one in the same vein as Cameron, Johnson, Osborne, or (the odious) Rees Mogg etc. However, the very fact that his parents were a doctor and a pharmacist, who were able to scrimp and save to send him to fee paying schools, means his family was vastly privileged compared to the overwhelming majority of UK families. Even before he got to Oxford, he attended an expensive prep school, then Winchester College, where fees are currently over £45,000 a year. That is completely out of reach for 99% of UK families.

        Winchester sends 12% of its students to Oxbridge. My old school sends someone to Oxbridge every five years, if it’s lucky. We had a ‘careers’ guy who came in occasionally. The direction I received from him was as useless as it was unsophisticated; I was good at maths, so he told me I should be an accountant! I couldn’t think of a job I’d like less. Winchester, on the other hand, has a dedicated ‘futures’ team which works to find opportunities for students, and coaches them for that very purpose.

        Sunak then attended Oxford to study PPE, followed by Stanford for an MBA. On his return to the UK he worked as an analyst at Goldman Sacks. Him and his family were very privileged. He received an incredible education that most people could only dream of, and only the tiniest minority can hope for. This wasn’t due simply to his smarts, but because he had the parents and money to believe in himself and pay for top class tuition.

        I’m not sure if you have seen it, but there is a video of Sunak as a teenager. In it he says that he had all sorts of friends – middle class, working class etc. He then corrects himself saying: ‘well not working class’!

        Sunak’s life experience and family background set him apart from nearly everybody in the UK. He has never struggled for money, nor has his family, and he has been blessed with countless opportunities unavailable to 99% of us.

        He very much is privileged, and he has no insight into the real problems of most UK citizens. I for one don’t wish him well, I hope he falls flat on his backside, which would make a GE much more likely. Just like his predecessor, he has NO mandate from the UK people, and we should have the right to choose our own PM. For the good of the country, we must put a lid on this ridiculous, undemocratic Tory circus.

        1. he has no insight into the real problems of most UK citizens

          You don’t know that. He has no experience of those problems but that doesn’t mean he can’t understand them.

          I for one don’t wish him well, I hope he falls flat on his backside

          What you are hoping for here is that the UK fails to come out of the financial crisis and that the people about whom you claim to be concerned continue to suffer.

          Forget about a general election. There will not be one for two years, because, if there is one thing that Tory MPs do understand it is that they will be destroyed by having a general election now.

          1. Firstly, your assumption that you know what I’m hoping for leaves me puzzled:

            What you are hoping for here is that the UK fails to come out of the financial crisis and that the people about whom you claim to be concerned continue to suffer.

            No I’m not, and how the hell do you work that out? I would be very interested in knowing how you were able to arrive at that conclusion having never spoken to me about it. It seems to me that you’re simply projecting your own interpretation, assuming it’s mine too. As if I would hope the Tory-induced financial crisis continues indefinitely. I’m not that stupid mate. What irks me most is your suggestion I’m hoping the the people I ‘claim’ to be concerned about will continue to suffer. I find that patronising and offensive. It’s also emphatically not the case.

            There are many ways in which the UK could evict Sunak and his party from governance. Look them up.

            And why would any reasonable person NOT want to get rid of a party that has done such immense, long-lasting damage to the country? I’m not just talking about the economy here, I’m talking about the damage to the country’s reputation, the damage to the country’s standing in the world, its social fabric, its education system, its environment, the xenophobia they fomented to force their hard Brexit through, and the anti-democratic seizure of our EU citizenship along the rights and opportunity that conferred. The list goes on and on.

            The Tories have caused egregious harm to the UK since 2015, and it’s going to take a very long time to repair, even assuming they don’t do further damage in the meantime. At every opportunity they have cocked things up and made things worse, and in almost all cases, this is a consequence of the their own solipsism and focus on internal Tory party conflict. What will they do in another two years? God knows. But what on earth makes you think it will not be more of the same?

            Then there is your claim that:

            You don’t know that. He has no experience of those problems but that doesn’t mean he can’t understand them.

            I will concede that I cannot, in truth, know that definitively. However, growing up in a poor family, I had no idea of the problems encountered in wealthier families. I’ve since got to know such people and I now realise that they had their own problems, but they were not the same as mine. I can do my best to empathise with them, but I cannot know what it’s like to be them.

            However, their problems were nowhere near as troublesome as those of poorer families, and although they were very real, I cannot grasp what it’s like to be made fun of and ostracised because my dad had a Porsche and not a Bentley. If you think Sunak and chums do really ‘get’ it in terms of the problems of the poor, then I’m afraid you’re deluding yourself. They don’t. The fact that this sorry lot have had power for so long, but have continued to make things harder for the less well-off should be enough to demonstrate that to anyone with a modicum of common sense.

            1. Let me apologise. My comment was not entirely clear. What I meant was that you hope that Sunak falls flat on his face. But, the inevitable consequence of that is the country gets into further trouble and the people who would suffer most are those who are the most vulnerable especially the ones already suffering.

              There are many ways in which the UK could evict Sunak and his party from governance. Look them up.

              OK then….

              … After extensive research I’ve found all the ways that the UK could evict Sunak and his party from government. They are:

              1. Have a general election.

              There are three ways to have a general election that I can find.

              1. The prime minister calls a general election

              2. The government loses a vote of confidence.

              3. Five years is up.

              Point 3 is two years away. Neither 1 nor 2 are likely to happen while the polls are predicting a Conservative loss. So we have two years of whatever good or bad Sunak (and possibly his successors) inflict on us. For the welfare of everybody, I sincerely hope you are wrong about him.

  5. Notable science birthdays:

    1877, Henry Norris Russell, astronomer, Hertzprung-Russell Diagram

    1910, William Higinbotham, physicist, part of team who developed the first nuclear bomb

    1929, Roger John Tyler, astrophysicist, author

    1931, Klaus Hasselmann, oceanographer, Nobel Prize (2021) for work on climate change

    1935, Rusty Schweickart, NASA astronaut, Apollo 9, Skylab

    1945, David Schramm, astrophysicist, particle astrophysics

    1. I’m racking my brains and I think Walker would be the first NFL player in the Senate. NFL player Jack Kemp was a representative,. Senator Bill Bradley was an NBA player. 🤔

      1. Yordan Letchkov is a retired Bulgarian soccer player. He scored the winner against Germany at the Giants Stadium in the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup. It was his second and last WC goal, and the one for which he is best remembered. After retiring from soccer, he went into politics.

        Here is a completely apocryphal story about him.

        Whenever he was involved in debates about matters outside his ken, he would interrupt his opponent with a devilishly clever question:

        ‘How many goals have you scored in the World Cup?’

        Then he would follow up with the kill shot:

        ‘Zero? Right, I thought so. I scored two.’

        He won every argument as his opponents went away pondering his unassailable reasoning. A ‘Letchkov argument’ is an argument from embarrassing irrelevance.

        But football is not soccer, so there is no reason to think that Herschel Walker would look silly in the Senate.

      2. Byron “Whizzer” White played in the NFL while attending Yale Law School before taking a high-ranking job in JFK’s Justice Department and then an appointment to SCOTUS, though I can’t think of a US senator who played in the NFL, either.

  6. A priest, an imam, and a rabbit walkbin to a blood bank. A nurse asks them, “What is your blood type?” The rabbit replies, “I think I’m a typo.”

  7. I rather think it worth while to call out to the world at large that the UK has its first coloured/non-white/brown/BIPOC prime minister AND NO ONE CARES!

    Untrue! Haven’t all British PMs historically been BIPOC? Almost all have been indigenous to the British Isles.

    1. Only those who are Welch or Scottish. The Celts have been there a long time. The Angles, Saxons, and Normans are recent interlopers using new-fangled technology to cross the Channel..

    1. Or perhaps Cymru or Maen nhw’n Cymry, or maybe rhestr Cymry? I tried to look up the actual word the Welsh use for themselves but it wasn’t so straightforward so I’m not certain. I saw these related but slightly different things. What can I say? My ancestors left Wales a long time ago, I carry little of that DNA, and none of the language. But I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a linguist even a Welsh speaker on WEIT somewhere.

  8. Jerry, I want to take a moment to acknowledge your posting the photos of holocaust victims. Usually, when people say “A picture is worth a thousand words,” I’m inclined, as a writer, to reply, “Maybe, but it takes words to say that.” In this case, however, the saying is exactly right. More than words, more than statistics, more than videos of hundreds of people being herded to the camps, these individual faces remind us that each victim was a fellow human being with hopes for a future that, cruelly, was never to be. Thank you for that.

    1. Me too. Some days I don’t feel like reading the post on the web and think just to skim the e-mail but I always end up clicking to make sure I see the Holocaust Memorial photographs. I hope you keep posting them to the end of your days.

      1. Yep, me too. I always check out the holocaust pics, but I usually only read the text then give the picture a brief look. I find it very difficult to look at these kids and other victims, knowing the horrors they went through. However, we should and must continue to acknowledge and empathise with them. It’s difficult, but necessary.

  9. Mae’n siarad Cymraeg, dipyn bach. (I speak a little Welsh). Cymru means Wales, ie the name of the Country. Cymry means Welsh, ie the adjective. As for the correct phrase, the first looks more likely to me, but my knowledge of the language is from being taught it as a second language almost 50 years ago; I have sadly never used it beyond a phrase or two.

    1. Thank you for clarification. I think it’s great that the language still exists, that it’s on signs, and taught a bit in school. I’m crap at languages, but I love them and would love to see the more neglected ones thrive, be they in Cymru, Alba, Éire, or the hundreds that still hang on in the Americas. I tried learning a bit of Cherokee, but only recall a handful of animal names and I know just enough French and Spanish to make an ass of myself. But out of all the languages of my ancestors, English is the only one I speak…come to think of it, I know enough English to make an ass out of myself, too, just more fluently. But going back to Linguist and Leslie’s point, we are all indigenous to somewhere! Iechyd da!

    2. It’s great that Welsh is still widely spoken. Good luck to all Welsh speakers.

      In Wales, all road signs are bilingual, with the Welsh version coming first. If you are a monolingual Englishman driving in Wales, I have to say that the extra second or two that it takes to read what the signs say could make the difference between safety and danger.

      Still, no use grumbling now; this bird flew long ago.

  10. About the human face on the medieval painting of a cat, they did the same thing with children who tended to look like adults.

    1. The inability, or more probably disinterest, of painting cats (and other animals) realistically has been the subject of several discussions on this website. I think medieval cats just had human faces. It is the most parsimonious explanation:
      On an aside, there is also the hypothesis that a domestic cat’s meow is selected to resemble the meow of a new born human. This might be not too diffucult a subject to seriously investigate. How do domestic cat meows in the house differ from the tomcat duels, or the meows of wild cats?

    1. ‘Animal Style with grilled onions’ is redundant.
      As a Southern Californian I love my In-N-Out as much as the next person, but alas I cannot abide the Thousand-Island-like “spread” and I find lettuce distracting. Double-double with grilled onions and tomato only is my go-to order. Consistently perfect.
      Another good chain for greasy but quality burgers is Five Guys. Expensive though.

      1. I had meant “with grilled onions” to explain what “animal style” meant to folks unfamiliar with In-N-Out, but I failed to make that clear. I’ve never had a problem with the sauce or lettuce. I think In-N-Out could do a better job with its fries, but I’ve never been much into fries in the first place.

        Five Guys is okay. When it arrived in Northern California I was excited to try it, but the burger didn’t live up to the hype (Shake Shack was an even bigger disappointment). Oddly, Five Guys is also expanding into Europe; I’ve seen branches in France and Spain. Perhaps that’s not so odd, since Europeans have gone crazy for burgers.

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