Thursday: Hili dialogue and discussion thread

November 3, 2022 • 9:20 am

Good morning on Thursday, November 3, 2020: National Sandwich Day. As you read this I’ll be heading from Davis to Stanford for the Academic Freedom Conference tomorrow and Saturday, and I’ll have virtually no time to post. Bear with me; as always, I do my best.

There will be no Nooz today, and only a couple of tweets. But of course we have Hili.

I would urge readers to use this as an opportunity to discuss what’s on your mine. The election in Brazil? The discussions among Russian military about whether and when they should use nuclear weapons against Ukraine?  Is Elon Musk really going to reform Twitter? (He just met with civil rights groups and pledged not to reinstate banned accounts—including that of Trump—until a clear process is outlined for reinstatement; that won’t be before the midterms). And how badly will the Democrats lose in next week’s elections? Have a look at the new Five Thirty Eight forecast with, for the first time, the odds favoring the GOP’s taking both the House and the Senate, and read the associated piece, “The case for a Republican sweep on election night.

Put your thoughts on these or any other issues in the comments.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sees The Void:

Hili: I’m looking into the darkness.
A: And what do you see?
Hili: Darkness.

In Polish:

Hili: Patrzę w mrok. Ja: I co widzisz?
Hili: Ciemność


A tweet from God responding to Flavio Bolsonaro, a politician (accused of corruption) who’s the son of the just-now-defeated former President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. (What happens now in Brazil, given the closeness of the election, will be interesting.)

Translation: Bolsonaro tweet: “They have the system, we have God.”

God’s response: “Leave me out of this, asshole.”

A good tweet from Kamala Harris (at last!):

A clever video sent in by Malcolm:

From Barry: Massive kudos indeed!

A great Halloween costume for a d*g!:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: This man lasted but six days:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a meandering bison herd via Ziya Tong:

A lovely porcupine. There are several species of prehensile-tailed porcupines, all in the genus Coendou and all from South America.

Look at this smart moggy!:


36 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue and discussion thread

  1. Nice to see that God is fluent in Portuguese.

    As we know from former Texas governor “Ma” Ferguson, His Son spoke only English. 🙂

    1. “You have no style or sense of fashion … No, no that wasn’t a question.”

      Okay, that wasn’t actually said by Ms. Wintour, but by her cinematic doppelgänger Miranda Priestly.

      Now, you couldn’t pay me to read a novel like The Devil Wears Prada. And I didn’t see the film adaptation when it first came out, figuring it was just some chick-flick comedy. But a year or so later, when it was in rotation on the premium cable channels, a woman I was seeing who liked the movie a lot convinced me to sit down and watch it.

      I gotta say the script was very cleverly written, and it had brilliant performances from La Streep, the Tooch, Ms. Blunt, Ms. Hathaway, and even that pretty boy from Entourage. Well worth watching. I’ve seen it a couple times since, and it keeps getting better.

    2. I must admit that after seeing Jeremy Brett as Holmes I have no interest in seeing anyone else play the part after him. Not that the Robert Downey Jr. Holmes films looked all that great in the first place.

      However I remain interested in viewing older Holmeses. The rediscovery of William Gillette’s 1916 film Sherlock Holmes was a revelation—the film was creaky but Gillette’s charismatic performance was very modern in its underplaying. I’m also looking forward to the completion of the BFI’s restoration of the Eille Norwood silent Sherlock Holmes films. Even Conan Doyle was a Norwood fan, and wrote: “He has that rare quality which can only be described as glamour, which compels you to watch an actor eagerly even when he is doing nothing. He has the brooding eye which excites expectation and he has also a quite unrivalled power of disguise.”

  2. It will be interesting to see what happens with Twitter. I think it crucial that there is now a hole in the wall of censorship established by MSM and social media. However, my impression of Musk is that he is fickle and more of a contrarian than actually principled, so I don’t know if he has the right instincts to really allow uncensored dialog. He has the Usual Suspects up in arms, though, and that’s always a good sign.

    1. I don’t know if he [Elon Musk] has the right instincts to really allow uncensored dialog.

      I’m a free speech/First Amendment freak; I don’t believe I’ve ever posted a comment here that wasn’t foursquare in favor of uncensored speech.

      But I’m not sure that such speech provides much of a business model for a social-media platform. (Just ask the folks at 4chan.) I’m not a Twitter user myself, but I’ve got my doubts whether the people who go there to exchange recipes and cat pics want to be bombarded with bigoted rants, unbridled profanity, and anime kiddie porn.

      Almost immediately after Musk bought Twitter, I see that his far-right fanboys took to the medium to see how far they could push racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic comments. And practically from day one on the job, Musk (who can seem pretty dickish himself) posted (then, a couple hours later, after it had been seen by a few million people, removed) a tweet amplifying a fake news site’s baseless traducement that the hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband had been a drunken scuffle with a male escort.

      It may be that Twitter is the modern equivalent of the town square. But there’s a reason why the soapboxes in Speakers’ Corner aren’t adorned with the logos of Disney, Comcast, Pepsi Cola, or any of Twitter’s other leading advertisers: They don’t wish to have their brands associated with every crackpot rant that comes along.

      Twitter users are the platform’s product. It sells them to advertisers, and what it has to offer advertisers is moderation to keep those brands unsullied.

      I wish Musk well in his effort to promote uncensored free speech. But I suspect in the end he may wish he took his $44 billion and invested it in more rockets or more electric cars or just piled it up and lit a great big bonfire.

        1. Yeah, a good take. Musk is going to have to draw the line somewhere; he’s not going to allow Nicholas Fuentes on Twitter, that’s for sure, but where exactly will Twitter draw the line? In the end, a line will be drawn and whatever justifications proffered for this “violation of the 1st Amendment” (it’s not) will differ little than those utilized by previous management. It’s a business, and you’re trying to make money. Driving customers away is a good way to not make money.

      1. I’m not a twitter user myself, and this was my first time seeing these “alternate facts” concerning the hammer attack. My immediate reaction was a burst of laughter.

      2. I don’t think Musk is an angel or a demon, just a human. He’s dangerous because he has so much influence due to his wealth. Ideas he pursues, even with good intentions, can have large scale negative consequences if they are bad ideas. People like him need to be watched and criticized.

        I wouldn’t care to guess what will happen with Twitter now that Musk bought it, but I found this Tweet, @elonmusk, Dear Twitter Advertisers, pretty interesting. He says a lot of good things in it, IMO of course. What he says in it doesn’t sound anything at all like what I’ve heard many on the left say he has said. Is he just lying here? That is extremely common in big business and marketing.

        And no doubt many feel that of course he’s lying, it’s Musk after all. He lies all the time. But many of the things he is commonly accused of lying about are cases of not achieving what he predicted in the time frame he predicted. And in nearly all of those cases the thing in question was eventually achieved. More like over optimism than lying, though of course his detractors say it’s lying to make money. Maybe they are right, but I doubt it.

        What he said in this Tweet has the same pattern as things he has said as far back as the earliest days of Tesla and SpaceX, about why he decided to pursue electric cars and cheap access to space. Since before he became asshole#1 among the left, since back when he was actually asshole#1 among those on the right (and he still is for many on the right because electric cars, and semi-trucks especially, are evil, or something), he’s been saying that his criteria for picking what to get involved in is to help humanity move forward to a better future for all. I don’t think he’s lying about that. Of course, what he thinks will be helpful in doing that, and what he thinks is a better future for all, may not correspond precisely with what I or others may conceive those things to be.

        Musk may fail at improving Twitter, he acknowledges that himself, but I don’t think he ever intended to turn it into an unregulated 4-Chan like swamp as so many on the left are claiming he intends to do.

        1. I have no particularly strong feelings about Musk one way or the other, Darryl, and I’m certainly not accusing him of lying. But it does seem that, with this Twitter thing, he’s trying to be all things to all people. And that’s a tough nut to crack.

          Plus, whenever someone says (as Musk does in his “Dear Twitter Users” post) that he’s doing something out of his unbridled love of humanity, I reach for my back pocket to make sure my wallet’s still there. 🙂

          1. His twitter problem (which an article you posted yesterday lays clear) is that he wants to be the avatar of Free Speech on a platform that won’t permit it. The average person doesn’t want to be subjected to vitriol and scorn, and pre-Musk Twitter used a model that understood this; now that model, and the person who was in charge of it, are gone. Musk wants to allow anyone to say anything, but that will destroy the platform. He’s in a Catch-22 and that’s just the beginning of his problems (insert Germany or China or a multitude of other countries here). I don’t dislike Musk enough to feel schadenfreude for this seeming fiasco, and I don’t twitter, but I’m not optimistic about Musk as King Twit. In this endeavor, it seems likely he’ll end up King Sink.

      3. … I’ve got my doubts whether the people who go there to exchange recipes and cat pics want to be bombarded with bigoted rants, unbridled profanity, and anime kiddie porn.

        OK, but you do realise that on Twitter you only see stuff posted by people you choose to follow? If you don’t deliberately follow anyone posting that stuff, you won’t see it.

        Almost immediately after Musk bought Twitter, I see that his far-right fanboys took to the medium to see how far they could push racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic comments.

        This is unclear. According to reports, a small number of accounts posted a lot of such stuff, and it could well have been anti-Musk people trying to discredit Twitter under its new owner.

        1. OK, but you do realise that on Twitter you only see stuff posted by people you choose to follow? If you don’t deliberately follow anyone posting that stuff, you won’t see it.

          That’s not entirely true. If someone you are following happens to follow an unhinged conspiracist Twitter’s algorithms can surface those tweets to you. Or if they respond to you, or a tweet from someone you follow. Or if someone you follow retweets a bigot.

          But there are certainly ways to avoid a lot of the noise, at least as long as you don’t have posts that regularly go viral. And blocking exists. In my experience, users often bring it on themselves by engaging with trolls instead of ignoring or blocking. I think there’s a part of us all that enjoys conflict, especially anonymous, low-consequence conflict on Twitter. I quit Twitter a few years ago because it was making me angry all the time, but I brought it on myself by deliberately looking at stuff I knew would make me angry.

      4. Sam Harris: “This ain’t the public square, it’s a crack house.” Definitely one of the better all time tweets.

      1. … set it up so everyone can avoid the stuff they don’t want to see.

        I suppose that could work, but wouldn’t it undermine Twitter’s functioning as some type of “public square”? Doesn’t seem much different from people retreating to their own silos regarding cable-tv news networks.

  3. I was reading that a lot of people are starting to get two flu shots — one in October and one in January. Does this seem like a good idea?

    1. Many have, I think, been doing this for some time. I don’t think there’s any risk. I expect that this will come up on a (currently twice-weekly) episode of the podcast This Week in Virology at some time. (All you need to do is Google twiv.)

      In any event, the severity of this year’s flu will surely manifest before January.

  4. A website to get a flu shot asked if I was a “self”.

    But there is no self. My identity as not containing a self has been othered and marginalized. Boo hoo.

    ^^^cheap Onion-satire attempt.

  5. That porcupine acts as though it has an opposable thumb, or at least the stump of one.

    Beagle looks like it’s going along with the gag, grudgingly.

    But most especially, good on Kamala Harris!!

  6. I’ve always been puzzled why so many animals, well mammals, in South America have prehensile tails. It is not really rare in the rest of the world, but there is no comparison. Why so many in South America? I±s there a reason, or is it just contingency?

    1. A guess: Dense tropical forests are an environment where the ability to climb and move from tree to tree is advantageous from a survival and evolutionary standpoint. Has a prehensile tail evolved in any other environment? Offhand, I can’t think of any mammals with prehensile tails native to North America or Europe.

  7. I fear the Midterms will be a slaughter. For some reason or other opinion polls always appear to be too optimistic for the Democrats, Midterms are generally a bust for a sitting president anyway. It does not bode well (and to think Biden did, overall, a pretty good job).
    What will become of Ukraine if the Republicans* win both houses? What will become of the US? Of the world? It hardly bears thinking.

    *Not just any garden-and-house kind of Republicans, but many rightwing nutcases?

    1. I agree, Nicolaas. The Dems have hinged their campaigns on the abortion controversy to such an extent that they have ignored other concerns of the populace. The Repubs have been hammering the Dems as being soft on crime and fostering inflation, and that hammering has taken its toll. To their detriment, the Dems didn’t heed the advice of the Ragin’ Cajun (James Carville), who said that all the Dems want to be in policy and none want to be in sales. (I can’t find the exact reference right now; I believe Carville said this in an interview with the Bulwark.)

  8. The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch is one of my favorite books. His definition of “knowledge” relying heavily on Karl Popper seems bulletproof to me. Basically, knowledge is a conjecture, a guess. Knowledge is always provisional, subject to the tests of observation and logic.

    I haven’t heard it yet, but a new podcast has been posted on Areo. Iona Italia interviews science and philosophy educator Brett Hall about critical thinking, technological optimism, Karl Popper and David Deutsch and the importance of hard-to-vary explanations.

    1. I was unfamiliar with Brett Hall, but now, having listened to half the podcast am a huge fan. The guy is awesome. He has a wide knowledge and intriguing takes of several subject areas often discussed on WEIT: Problems and solutions, epistemology, morals, free speech, creativity, progress, rationality, Enlightenment values, social media.

  9. Aaaah, NO. Not ” Good morning on Thursday, November 3, 2020: ” … …

    y2020 … … was left behind in the World’s dustbin of … … the Original Covid.

    Now ? Now in addition to ba.4 and ba.5 of Omicron’s subvariants,
    we have on 03 November y202 2 … … Omicron subvariants bq1 and bq1.1


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