Friday: Hili dialogue

November 11, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning at the end of the work week: November is marching on, and it’s now November 11, 2022: National Sundae Day, even though it’s Friday. The world’s best hot fudge sundaes are to be found at the classic Margie’s Candies in Chicago. Here’s an example. No way those two women are gonna eat 15 scoops of ice cream! (If you ever get to Chicago, be sure to put Margie’s on your itinerary).

It’s Veteran’s Day, of course (Nov. 11, 1918 marked the end of hostilities in WWI), and it’s associate with these observances, including Armistice Day (New Zealand, France, Belgium and Serbia), National Independence Day (Poland), commemorates the anniversary of Poland’s assumption of independent statehood in 1918,  Remembrance Day (United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations, including Australia and Canada) and Veterans Day, called Armistice Day until 1954, when it was rededicated to honor American military (Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force) veterans. (United States)

There’s a new Google Doodle that links to the holiday: click below to see:

It’s also Origami Day and Pocky Day, the latter celebrating the Japanese thin biscuit covered with icing. I’ve never had one, but here’s the chocolate version:


Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this day by consulting the November 11 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*We’re all waiting for the election results, which clearly will take some time, but at least Dr. Oz isn’t going to be Senator Oz. Here’s the WaPo’s count, which yesterday evening gave the GOP one more Senatorial seat (it’s back to 48 now).

The states in contention are Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, and in Georgia we won’t know the results until December after the runoff election.  However, the Dems can win Arizona and Nevada shortly, which gives them control of the Senate. I’ve written off the House to the GOP:

But this year, Democrats have an alternate path to securing control of the Senate — one that runs through Arizona and Nevada. Victories in both of those state’s Senate races would give them control even before the Georgia runoff.

That would lower the stakes of the runoff between Mr. Warnock and Mr. Walker, who earned significantly fewer votes than Gov. Brian Kemp, the Republican incumbent who won re-election on Tuesday. But it’s not clear if that possibility would benefit Democrats or Republicans.

Neither side is taking any chances: Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, has already begun raising money for Mr. Warnock and Senate Republicans are doing the same for Mr. Walker.

What a lousy job it must be to ask people to donate to the cringeworthy Herschel Walker! The GOP should be embarrassed to have him representing them. Some other tips from the NYT:

  • Even though his party could still lose control of the House of Representatives, President Biden ‌sounded like a candidate on a victory lap during a speech Thursday afternoon after he avoided the “shellacking” his predecessors endured.

  • House Republicans, still stung by a disappointing midterm performance, had won or were leading in the races for 221 seats — just three more than needed to retake the 435-member chamber, according to votes that have been tallied by The Associated Press. Democrats had won or were in the lead for 214 seats.

  • The Senate races in Nevada and Arizona are still undecided, but Democrats are faring well among mail voters, which could be enough to tip the Senate races in those states in their favor.

  • Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in an interview with The New York Times, said Democrats should not have adopted “Republican narratives on crime and safety,” and need to abandon “pure moderate” approaches.

AOC should shut her yap; she’s not helping the Democrats. Why didn’t she add that “we need to be clearer that we want fully open borders, too”?

My prediction? I’ve already said the House will go to the GOP, but I’m predicting that the Democrats will get at least two more wins, which gives them the Senate, and may get all three. Cross your fingers!

*Alex “There Was No Shooting” Jones was just fined another $473 million in punitive damages for his Sandy Hook defamation claims, making his total fines over $1.4 billion. I don’t think even he has that kind of dosh. The same judge who presided over his civil trial assessed the new fine:

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis imposed the penalty Thursday on top of a nearly $1 billion jury verdict last month, which capped a weekslong trial to determine how much Mr. Jones should pay for claiming the 2012 massacre, where a gunman killed 20 children and 6 adults, was a government conspiracy.

Eight families of those who died and a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent sued Mr. Jones for defamation over the years of false statements he made about the shooting on his Infowars platform. After the verdict, Judge Bellis had the discretion to award attorneys fees plus other penalties for Mr. Jones’s conduct. She awarded $322 million in attorneys fees and individual punitive damage awards to each plaintiff.

Mr. Jones’s attorneys argued that the verdict was punishment enough, and that awarding more would serve as a hardship for the far-right commentator and the parent company of his Infowars platform, Free Speech Systems LLC, which has filed bankruptcy.

He’s bankrupt, perhaps, but I doubt his voice (which sounds to me like glass scraped on a blackboard), will be silenced. Somebody will hire the porcine conspiracy theorist: there’s always a market for that kind of junk!

*Reader Jez found this bizarre bit of news on the BBC, and the headline is so cringeworthy (and yes, funny in a twisted way), that I had to put it up (click to read). And it’s from Germany!

Now you should know what Kristallnacht is, but if you don’t look it up here. And then the Big Gaffe:

KFC has apologised after sending a promotional message to customers in Germany, urging them to commemorate Kristallnacht with cheesy chicken.

The Nazi-led series of attacks in the country in 1938 left more than 90 people dead, and destroyed Jewish-owned businesses and places of worship.

It is widely seen as the beginning of the Holocaust.

The message, heavily criticised for its insensitivity, was later blamed on “an error in our system”.

The fast food chain sent an app alert on Wednesday, saying: “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

Around an hour later another message was sent with an apology, according to the Bild newspaper.

“We are very sorry, we will check our internal processes immediately so that this does not happen again. Please excuse this error,” the message is reported to have said.

Germany takes the 9 November anniversary of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) seriously, with numerous memorial events and discussions scheduled to reflect the Nazis’ murder of more than six million Jewish people.

What’s next—a bucket o’ chicken for Hitler’s birthday?

*From CNN health report, “Deadly listeria outbreak in 6 states linked to deli meat and cheese.” Note the phrasing:

A deadly outbreak of listeria in six states has been linked to contaminateddeli meat and cheese, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

People at high risk of severe illness from listeria infection — such as pregnant people, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems — should not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter without first reheating it “steaming hot,” the agency suggests.

A total of 16 people have been infected, and 13 have been hospitalized, according to reports from six states. One death was reported in Maryland; another person became ill while pregnant and lost their baby, the CDC said in a statement.

Pregnant people are especially at risk. According to the CDC, they are 10 times more likely to get a listeria infection, and the odds are even higher for Hispanic pregnant people, who are 24 times more likely to get listeria.

The woman who sent me this has stopped listening to CNN (and unsubscribed from NPR) because of stuff like this. People are getting fed up with the policing of language.

*In the latest issue of Science, Matthew’s most recent book,  As Gods: A Moral History of the Genetic Age (it has a different title in the UK), gets a stellar review. In fact, I can’t think of a review that could be more positive, as it doesn’t really find anything to quibble about. I’ll pull a quote, but you should buy the book, which is about the history of genetic engineering, heavily larded with Matthew’s own sensible takes on issues like GMOs and CRISPR gene-editing in humans. I can’t even copy the plaudits from Science’s PDF, so here’s a screenshot; I hope you can read it.

And buy the book if the topic interests you; it’s very good (and I helped with the editing!):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Baby Kulka are out “birdwatching” again:

Kulka: Look what cute feathers this sparrow has.
Hili: I can see them, actually.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Kulka: Patrz jakie ładne piórka ma ten wróbelek.
Hili: Właśnie widzę.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina)


From Stash Krod (this was me on the line to Amazon the other day).  Calling centers in India are now where you’ll find your representative: I even got one when I called Medicare the other day!

From Kākāpō Recovery. There was a good crop of chicks this year, and the birds are all known and taken care of. Note the butthole check!

BTW, don’t forget this video, “Shagged by a rare parrot.” It’s a classic, as Sirocco tries to mate with Mark Carwardine:

I think this was a real exchange, but am not sure:

From Beth:

First, the tweet of the month from Seth Andrews, riffing on a tweet from the neuronally deprived Marjorie Taylor Greene. (h/t: Peter N.). I’m here to tell MTG that yes, the ducks ARE her enemies!

God’s mad at Elon Musk’s new suggestion:

From Andrew Doyle, creator of Titania McGrath. Somehow I think this is gonna go over even worse than Rachel Dolezal:

From Masih. The chickens are getting closer to the roost. Note that many of these women aren’t wearing the mandatory hijab:

From Stephanie: A medieval artist finally drew something accurately: an insect. She adds this:

It compares a photograph of a nymph (Eurydema ornata) with a painted depiction of the same creature from the ‘Cocharelli Codex’, a fragmentary Northern Italian manuscript likely decorated c.1330–c.1340. The accuracy is impressive—clearly the artist studied the animal closely.
You can read more about the manuscript, and see further images (scroll down to the shaded box and click on the thumbnail image) here

From Simon, a meme showing The Rock (shirt photoshopped). “Ruth”, of course, is RBG, and the necklace is the collar she wore when delivering a dissenting opinion.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. Sound up on this affectionate raven video, which is a sweet rescue story:

SHELL FIGHT! Two octopuses have it out:

Matthew says, “Save your money.”:

36 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I expect the Japanese have a word for the sadness you feel when you discover that eating a Pocky is disappointing.

  2. There is something terribly wrong in any system where people have to choose between Oz and Fetterman. Oz is a carpetbagger, who seems to have nominally moved to the state for the purpose of the election.
    Fetterman is just a disaster. He was a disaster before his stroke, and has not gotten better.
    My personal assumption is that the Rs support Oz because he will vote the way Trump wants him to, and the Ds support Fetterman because he can quit for health reasons, and an activist can be appointed to serve out his term. In the mean time, he will show up rarely, as he did in previous positions, to vote the way Shumer tells him to.

    1. Well, (my neighbor here in Greater Braddock) John Fetterman was Lt Gov. If the Vice-Presidency isn’t worth a kettle of warm spit, what do you suppose a Lt Governancy is worth?

      Besides the repudiation of a carpetbagger, he won because he personally campaigned in every county in PA, and resonated with a lot of people in the middle of the state over his advocacy of legal weed and support for the working man, in addition to resonating with the D majorities of Pgh and Philly. Or at least so I suspect.

      1. Also, there was his no-bones support of abortion rights, and his endorsement by Oprah late in the game. By one account, Oprah made Oz (I wouldn;t know), but that must’ve counted for something as popular as she is.

    2. There is something terribly wrong in any system where people have to choose between Oz and Fetterman.

      1) Does the situation you describe violate any rules or laws? If not, what do you mean by ‘terribly wrong’?

      2) Are you complaining about the system because you didn’t get the outcomes that you liked?

      3) Are there people who disagree with your statement that there is something terribly wrong with the system? If there are, how would you settle such conflicts?

      4) What can you do to fix the system?

      1. 1. Not that I know of. By “terribly wrong”, I mean that ideally, candidates for high office would run because they are civic minded and highly principled individuals motivated by duty and patriotism. Instead, we have people who either want to be famous, or want access to the revenue streams available to those willing to sell their influence.
        2. Not in this specific instance. I don’t live in Pennsylvania, so their choice of representative does not affect me directly.
        3. Sure, probably.
        4. I think traditional civics curriculum should be a priority throughout our education system, so every adult starts with a good basic understanding of our system of government.
        It would also be great if reforms were made so that it would be much harder to make millions off of influence peddling. I don’t know how to do that. It would be easier to detect if it were a matter of the office holder receiving suitcases of cash for advocating a position or introducing particular legislation. Instead, family members of the office holder are given no-show jobs with absurd compensation, paid large sums for speeches, or giant contributions are given to the politician’s “charity”. There are endless other schemes.
        I think the best to stop that would be to make politics attractive to people with strong ethics, in addition to the knowledge and skill to actually perform the duties of the job.
        These are perhaps unrealistic hopes.

        1. 1)

          …I mean that ideally, candidates for high office would run because they are civic minded and highly principled individuals motivated by duty and patriotism.

          But that is the problem isn’t it? Some people think that Donald Trump is motivated by a sense of duty and patriotism, but others (even here on WEIT) disagree.


          I don’t live in Pennsylvania…

          I see. Well, the people of Pennsylvania made their choice, just like the people in Georgia’s 14th congressional district made theirs: they chose Marjorie Taylor Greene. Good for her 🙂

          3) You did not answer the other part, but that’s okay. How would you resolve the conflict between your view that there is something terribly wrong with the system and the probable opposing view that there is nothing terribly wrong with the system? (This time it is a rhetorical question.) I don’t think such conflicts can be objectively resolved, not at this time. In our system, a resolution is not even necessary. This is a conflict between what people want. Some can think that the system that put Donald Trump in office is broken, while others can disagree. It is, of course, possible for these issues to fade away with time as people change.


          I think the best to stop that would be to make politics attractive to people with strong ethics, in addition to the knowledge and skill to actually perform the duties of the job.

          Absolutely. That’s what we all want. You just stated your hopes and desires. So can I. But how do we do it? (This time it is a rhetorical question.) That’s the problem. You made two suggestions. I don’t know how well civics is taught in schools over here or how effective they would be in realizing whatever state you advocate.

          It would also be great if reforms were made so that it would be much harder to make millions off of influence peddling. I don’t know how to do that.

          Nor do I. But I agree that it would be great if we could pull it off.

          1. I did not answer the one part, but I don’t know how one would convince someone who thinks the rise of Fetterman, or Trump, for that matter, indicate that the system is functioning optimally.
            I suspect most people, when faced with less than optimal candidates, just vote for the party that generally promises to push their personal priorities. Or they vote against the candidate that seems more repugnant than the other.

            The biggest danger, in my opinion, is that if we find ourselves in stressful circumstances as a nation, these sorts of people will be completely out of their depth.
            Lets say, just as a hypothetical, the costs of fuel and fertilizer double and continue to rise, putting our system of agricultural production and distribution in real jeopardy of collapse. A representative whose primary skills are influence peddling and asset concealment is not going to be much help.

  3. The story about KFC has another twist. In Germany, one hardly hears or reads the term “Kristallnacht” or “Reichskristallnacht” anymore, since it was introduced by the Nazis as a cynical or euphemistic term that trivializes great suffering. Instead, it is customary to speak of the “Reichsprogromnacht”.

    1. Some reports in the UK suggest that, because 9 November is a significant day in German history (execution of Robert Blum in 1848; deposition of the Emperor in 1918; failure of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923; fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989), KFC (or their PR computer) decided that it was a good day to push a product.

      Just think what fun it will be when AI determines every occasion it thinks should be commemorated.

    1. “. . .don’t forget the Coast Guard, the Rodney Dangerfield of the military services.”

      This reminds me of how, when I lived in Greece, I used to tease my Greek friend Nikos about the inefficiency of Greek bureaucracies. One day he happened to mention the Greek Air Force. I said, “I didn’t know Greece had an air force.” Nikos said, indignantly, “Yes, and we have a navy too.” To which I replied, “Well, of course you have a navy; someone’s got to pick up all the planes that fall into the sea.”

  4. Alex “There Was No Shooting” Jones was just fined another $473 million in punitive damages for his Sandy Hook defamation claims, making his total fines over $1.4 billion. I don’t think even he has that kind of dosh.

    I think that in this case judges should assess Jones’ total worth by accepting the most unbelievable conspiracy theories on the internet (“Alex Jones is actually worth over 100 billion — and owns the moon!”) and fine him accordingly.

    1. But if Mr. Jones has no free will and couldn’t have done otherwise, which is surely true, where is the justice in “fining” him an amount greater than the restorative damages that the families are due for the tort?

      Why do we say that severe gratuitous retribution ought not to be visited on the armed robber who murders a bodega clerk (or much, much worse) but is appropriate to inflict on Mr. Jones? In both cases life incarceration could make sense to prevent reoffending but civil suits don’t provide this as a remedy. Damages are meant to make the plaintiffs whole, to the extent that money can do so. Did the plaintiffs really suffer a billion dollars in restorable damage from Jones (as compared with the guy who murdered their children)? If so, why the glee that he is on the hook for another half billion?

      Surely the rejection of free will is not merely a cover for the desire not to go hard on Black criminals as a form of reparations.

  5. Also recommended, if you’re ever in the vicinity (Venice isn’t all that far off), the <a href= museum in Kobarid, on the Isonzo Front / Soča River Valley, the ~100-mi long stretch where 300,000 are conservatively estimated to have died in WWI.

    Or, make a special trip the way I once did, when I had a meeting in Kranjska Gora (far NW corner of Slovenia): Fly into Ljubljana, spend a day or two there making sure to see the Dragon Bridge, then to KG, maybe stopping for a day or two at Lake Bled, and from KG go S over Vršič in the Julian Alps (hostels up there), continuing on past Fort Hermann, which you should definitely hike up to, and other the ruins of other assorted fortresses from past centuries, and then on to Kobarid.

    And wherever you stop to eat, get the mushroom soup!

  6. The Cocharelli treatise on the Seven Vices includes drawings of a variety of insects that can be clearly identified to species including the Death’s-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos, the Crimson Speckled Moth, Uthesia pulchella, rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes nasicornis and burnet moths, Zygaena sp. It was clearly drawn by someone familiar with a wide range of insect species and observant enough to note key features.

  7. Regarding the use of the phrase ‘pregnant people’. I realize language policing can be stupid, but in this case it is quite possible that a genetic female presenting as a man could be pregnant. So ‘pregnant people’ is a better phrase than ‘pregnant woman’. Is it so hard to show compassion to those among us who truly feel that the sex they were born with does not align with how they see themselves in our society?

  8. Today is the centenary of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s birth, making it an apt occasion to recall his remembrance, in his novel Breakfast of Champions (1973), of what was known in his youth as Armistice Day:

    So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.

    I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

    Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

    So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

    What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

    And all music is.

      1. Do they read Vonnegut much in Canada, Leslie?

        Uncle Kurt (Vonnegut had an avuncular authorial persona that endeared him to readers of my generation) was a POW during WW2, having been captured — like Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist of his magnum opus, Slaughterhouse-Five — by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.

        That book in particular remains popular with Yank readers. There’s a wonderful longform piece by an American GI who carried it with him while fighting in the Gulf War: “Reading Slaughterhouse-Five in Baghdad.”

  9. My friends and I all read him. So had my wife, whom I met years later. A nice thing to find out about each other.
    I will read the Horton piece. Glad it’s not paywalled. A little intense for today, but soon.

  10. ” You smug – faced crowds with kindling eye
    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
    Sneak home and pray you ‘ll never know
    The HELL where youth and laughter go. ”
    … … y1917, per Mr Siegfried Sassoon ( y1886 – y1967 )

    ” The door to combat is one way.
    When you walk through it — there is NO coming back. ”
    … … Ms Stacie Bannerman, Mother

    Blue, Veteran – Pacifist

  11. A bit on an aside, I find it intriguing that the announcement of the withdrawal of the Russians from Kherson, which was on the books for weeks, and should have been done earlier from a military pov., came the day after the Midterms in the US.
    I guess they did not want to expose to the US that Biden’s Ukraine war policies are actually working.

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