Monday: Hili dialogue

October 31, 2022 • 10:00 am

Good morning at the top o’ the week: Monday, October 31, 2022. It’s HALLOWEEN, and Google has a special animated game you can play, the Great Ghoul Duel (click on the screenshot; I haven’t played it):

Celebrations related to Halloween today include:

It’s also National Caramel Apple Day (watch that dental work!), Carve a Pumpkin Day, Books for Treats Day (don’t try it!), National Magic Day, and Girl Scouts Founders Day.

Protip: avoid all candy that looks like this. Those are aposematic (warning) colors indicating a toxic substance. A video I’ve posted below shows you the only proper thing to do with candy corn, as they call this “confection”:

Readers are welcome to add in the comments any notable events, births, or deaths on this day; you can consult the October 31 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Today is the big day that affirmative action gets its hearing in the Supreme Court, with oral arguments for the two cases at issue—those involving Harvard and North Carolina—taking place between 10 and 12:30. You can watch them live here (the times below given are presumably Eastern US time. I wouldn’t miss them, because there is likely to be fireworks.

Given his deep dislike of affirmative action, maybe Clarence Thomas will even say something, Yep, this is the day that affirmative action starts to die. . . (h/t: Bat)

10 am: Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina Oral ArgumentThe Supreme Court hears oral argument in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, a case concerning the use of race as a factor in the admissions process, C-SPAN,C-SPAN & C-SPAN Now
10 am: U.S. SenateThe Senate will hold a brief pro forma session. No legislative business will take place until Monday, November 14, & C-SPAN Now
11 am: U.S. House of RepresentativesThe House is holding a brief pro forma session. No votes will take place. Members will next return for votes after the midterm elections on Tuesday, November 14, & C-SPAN Now

11:30 am: Students for Fair Admission v. President & Fellows of Harvard College Oral ArgumentThe Supreme Court hears oral argument in Students for Fair Admissions Inc v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, a case concerning the use of race as a factor in the admissions process, C-SPAN, C-SPAN & C-SPAN Now

If you watch the hearings, please comment below.

*This is not an op-ed but a news piece from the Washington Post, reporting on racial and gender inequities in lawyers who argue before the Supreme Court. (Click to read). As you might expect, the lawyers who argue before a “historically diverse court” (I believe they use the first word to slam Clarence Thomas) do not “look like America”.  Read for yourself.

*Ezra Klein in the NYT asks, “Do the Democrats deserve re-election?” He answers the question using three planks in Biden’s platform:

I find it useful to think back to the three interlocking promises Democrats ran on. First and foremost, they ran on bringing competent, concerned governance to Covid. Second, they ran on a Franklin Roosevelt-size legislative agenda, believing this a Great Depression-like moment of rupture that demanded a new vision of what the state could and must do. And they ran vowing to restore the soul of America, to reestablish a civic promise and communal decency that Donald Trump and the Republican Party never understood and regularly betrayed.

On covid: Klein says “the record is more mixed than I wish.” He lauds Biden for the immediate reaction to the pandemic, but faults him for what has been left undone.

Biden’s performance in enacting his legislative agenda is also mixed:

There were two sides to Biden’s long-term agenda: construction and care. The construction side — decarbonizing the country, building and repairing infrastructure, and investing in semiconductor production and scientific research — largely passed. And much of what passed is thrilling.

But the care side of Biden’s agenda — universal pre-K, the expanded child tax credit, subsidies for child and elder care, paid leave — collapsed almost entirely (the sole exception being an increase to the subsidies under Obamacare). Was that inevitable?

. . . Still, if you’d told me in 2020 that the next Democratic president would have a 50-50 Senate, with Manchin as the hinge vote, and a House margin of just a handful of members, I would not have predicted that the Democrats could pass more than $400 billion in climate investments or significant corporate tax increases or the most important infusion of cash and capital into scientific research in a generation.

. . . That leaves a criticism that I think is fairer: The Biden administration and congressional Democrats have had a the-more-the-merrier approach to every piece of legislation they’ve pushed. One reason the expanded child tax credit expired quickly was that the rescue plan was stuffed with so many policies, all of which needed funding. One reason Build Back Better was hard to defend was that so much was jammed into the package that the main thing anyone knew about it was its $3.5 trillion price tag. The push for a package of democracy reforms was similarly unfocused.

Finally, Klein sees a mixed record on “restoring the soul of America”:

Biden always framed 2020 as a fight for America’s soul, not just its steering wheel. This is harder to assess. I’ve never believed he thought he could knit together a divided nation. He’s an optimist but not a fantasist. On a more literal level, he’s done what he promised — he has run a low-drama, low-scandal White House and comported himself with dignity and grace.

But Biden has also run a relatively quiet administration. He gives comparatively few interviews, news conferences and speeches. He has filled the office Trump vacated but not the space Trump took up in the national conversation. I have argued that Biden’s laid-back approach is, in some ways, a strategy: By letting Trump and his successors fill the airwaves, Biden and the Democrats remind their voters what’s at stake. But this strategy runs deep risks. Biden’s low-drama approach to leadership leaves room for Trump’s high-drama antics.

Klein’s conclusion:

What can be said, I think, is this: Biden and the Democrats got a lot done, despite very slim majorities. They rolled out vaccines and therapeutics nationwide but we remain far from finishing the job on pandemic preparedness. They have run the government in a dignified, decent way, but we remain far from turning the page on Trump.

Klein promises a similar analysis of the Republicans next week, but crikey, how can he answer the title question here with a “no” given the odious politics of the Republican Party?

*Pamala Paul’s latest NYT column, “The season of dark academia,” is about two types of “dark academia”: the darkness embodied in parts of fictional academics, like Harry Potter stories or “The Dead Poets Society”, the goth students, and then the really dark parts: the sad truths of academics today:

It may be that the very real world of academia feels a little too dark and unhappy of late. The towering, all-powerful professors of yore are now often adjunct or contract instructors, with lower pay and tenuous job security. In 2004, 17 percent of four-year institutions said that they had replaced tenured positions with contingent appointments. In 2022, that figure was 54 percent, according to a study by the American Association of University Professors. As of 2020, about 62 percent of faculty members who teach were on contingent appointments.

Poverty, alas, doesn’t quite capture the romantic ideal of dark academia, but it is a reality for many in higher education. Around a third of adjunct professors earn less than $25,000 a year, according to one 2020 report. Grad students, who have been fighting to unionize in recent years, may earn as little as $10,500 a year. Meanwhile, students increasingly worry whether they will be able to earn enough to pay off the massive debt they took on to pay for their educations.

Such concerns may be in part responsible for skyrocketing mental health issues among students. In 2018, more than 60 percent of college students said they’d experienced “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year. Over 40 percent said they felt so depressed they had difficulty functioning. It is widely believed that the pandemic has only exacerbated such trends.

*Columnist Dana Milbank at the WaPo: “American Jews start to think the unthinkable.” What is the unthinkable? Fleeing the U.S. because of anti-Semitism:

The fear of exile has become common as Jews see the unraveling rule of law, ascendant Christian nationalists and anti-Israel sentiments turning antisemitic on the far left. Wondering where Jews might move “is among the most frequently asked questions that I get,” Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.

Incidents of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault nearly tripled between 2015 and 2021, the ADL reports, and it says 2022 attacks are on pace with last year’s record level. This week was the fourth anniversary of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, which was followed by other synagogue attacks in 2019 and earlier this year. One in 4 U.S. Jews has experienced antisemitism in the past year.

Now we have Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, unleashing a torrent of filth on social media (“death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE”), white supremacists applauding him (and giving Nazi salutes to Los Angeles motorists), Elon Musk’s Twitter preparing to welcome white supremacists, and the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee deploying antisemitism against his Jewish opponent.

The leader of the Republican Party, who remains the top presidential contender for 2024, reacted to Ye’s attacks on Jews by saying, “He was really nice to me.” Donald Trump compared Jews unfavorably to “our wonderful Evangelicals” and warned Jews to “get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel — Before it is too late.”
There’s no doubt that anti-Semitism is rising, prompted by both the Left and the Right, but I ain’t leaving (my status as an atheist won’t protect me should a pogrom come, however). It’s enough for me that Americans learn to recognize anti-Semitism and realize that it’s the same thing as “anti-Zionism.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gives us some wisdom:

Hili: Rich people have more problems.
A: Why?
Hili: They can afford them.

In Polish:

Hili: Bogaci mają więcej problemów.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Stać ich na to.


From David (I don’t know the cartoonist):

From Divy:

From Thomas:

From reader Killian: A chemist shows us the proper use of candy corn. (Killian agrees that the stuff is “vile”.)

The Nooz (good and bad) from God:

From Masih, who gets all the videos from Iran. Good news this time: solidarity. I think the woman who’s unveiled is handing out candy. Sound up!

From Simon: Was this planned, or was it a mean trick?

From Malcolm: A Ukrainian drone hit a Russian flagship:

Also from Malcolm: a roadblock of the good kind!

From Barry. I guess this lion is tame!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is Tweet of the Month!

I didn’t even know that Rutherford was Jewish!

A very rare non-colorized photo (color is original) of a very rare man:

14 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. The candy corn chemistry video shows nothing more than the oxidation of sugar by potassium chlorate, a strong oxidizing agent for organic compounds. The reaction proceeds rapidly enough to reach the ignition temperature of the sugar in the presence of elaborated oxygen. There is nothing special about the dyes or other “chemicals” in the confection.

    I have never seen candy corn and I can’t imagine eating it but the delicious all-natural butter tarts made by Trichelaar Farm in the north end of our township would burn just as well, and the fat in the crust would add some extra oomph.

    If the point of the video is to say that demonstrating how oxidizing agents work on sugar is the only use for candy corn, then OK.

    1. Yes, the last sentence is it. Our host does not approve of candy corn.
      Actually it is not that bad; not good, but edible. The chocolate bottomed version is much worse.

  2. What conditions would make American Jews to seek ways to leave the country? It would not be the anti-Semitic rantings of a person like Ye. Nor would it be an uptick in anti-Semitic violence. It would be the takeover of the U.S. government by white Christian nationalists (fascists for short) that would systematically deny Jews the protection of the laws and, indeed, would encourage discrimination and violence against Jews. But, in my view, if many American Jews are asking where they could flee to if anti-Semitism takes over the U.S. government via the ascendancy of the fascists, they are asking the wrong question. Fleeing is not the solution and may not be possible if the lessons of World War II have any bearing. Submission to tyranny must be resisted, so says the right wing over and over again. The theory is correct; the problem is that its conception of tyranny is perverted. American Jews must develop a strategy to fight back if conditions become intolerable and liberal democracy disappears. They will have plenty of allies. No meek surrender to the fascists regardless of the outcome!

    Although it is in a very different context, the resistance of the Ukrainians should be an inspiration even though many made the mistake in believing the unthinkable could actually happen to them: a Russian invasion. I get sick when I see pictures of crowds of Jews lined up, with suitcases and children in hand, preparing to enter the cattle cars with just a few Nazi guards watching them. To be clear, I don’t think conditions will get that bad in this country (the stripping of equal rights to Jews, not necessarily trips to concentration camps), but it would be foolish not to contemplate contingency plans should the unthinkable happen. Remember, German Jews in the Weimar Republic thought they were as much German as their non-Jewish neighbors and were accepted as such. It must have come as a shock when they realized they were living a delusion.

    1. Of all the things to worry about, pogroms and widespread anti-Semitism in America are way down on my list. I say this fully aware that Germans felt the same in the Weimar Republic. America doesn’t have centuries of Jew hatred promoted by church and crown that Europe has. We have a tradition and creed that makes immediate pariahs of scum like Nick Fuentes. And we do have the right to arm ourselves.

  3. You can watch them [today’s SCOTUS oral arguments] live here …

    “Watch” is something of a misnomer; “listen to” is more like it. Except for some pilot programs in federal district courts, cameras (still and video) have never been allowed inside our federal courtrooms. Heck, it wasn’t until 2010 that the Court began making recordings of oral arguments available on a delayed broadcast basis and only more recently that it began simulcasting them.

    1. The C-SPAN feed does a nice job of putting up the IDs and a photo of the speaker at any moment, both the advocates and the Justices.

    2. I have been viewing for about 41/2 hrs and find the insight of listening plus the static visuals to be really interesting. I am looking forward to comparing what I am hearing with the reporting in tomorrow morning’s wapo or possibly tonight’s pundits. I come from Virginia where in K12 we had de jure segregation in K12 in the 1950’s with many fewer resources going to the black schools compared with the white schools. The cultural assumptions demonstrated through this inequality was one example from Brown that separate isn’t equal. Our state colleges and universities reflected those same cultural assumptions.

  4. I love visiting the BabelColour Twitter feed. I only know about it because of previous posts here on WEIT. Whenever I go there to look at the posted image, I end up staying for a while.

  5. Phew, it looks like the Trumpy Bolsonaro lost the Brazilian Presidential election to Lula. I don’t think he’s conceded (no surprise) and, like Trump, he probably never will- at least not in public. The Jan. 6 hearings proved that Trump knew he lost the election in private, but “it wouldn’t look good” so he lied bigly.

    1. Bolsonaro’s loss is great for Brazil, great for the Amazon and great for the world.
      Although I’m not particularly a fan of Lula, I think his victory is a blessing for all of us.
      Trump: gone, Bolsonaro: gone, Duterte: gone (although I have my reservations about BongBong Marcos), I hope next will be Putin*, Erdogan and Orban (in that order of nastiness), Lukashenko is minced meat anyway the day Putin falls. But it is a good start, methinks. And he ayatollahs appear to walk on very thin ice, I’m an inveterate optimist.

      *It is not a given the day Putin falls, that his successor will not be worse, I’m thinking of Patruchev or Prigozhin and their ilk. I maybe an optimist, but I’m not 100% blind.

  6. I suspect more than a few here are Thomas Sowell fans. Perhaps some think Sowell is a right wing menace. Here’s a podcast where the host interviews Steven Pinker about Sowell. Good example of respectful opinion diversity in two great thinkers.

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