Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek with Leon)

November 12, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Caturday, November 12, 2022, cat shabbos and National Pizza with Anchovies Day. I eschew said pizza, and curse the man who thought of putting fish on pizza—especially the malodorous anchovy. If you actually like these, keep it to yourself! And look: there are even lemons on it!

Shoot me now! And look: there are even lemons in there!

Curiously, it’s also It’s also National Pizza With the Works Except Anchovies Day, Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, Happy Hour Day, National French Dip Day, Wine Tourism Day, Fancy Rat and Mouse Day,  and World Pneumonia Day

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this day by consulting the November 12 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

Hot off the Press: Democrat Mark Kelly won the contested Arizona Senate seat, meaning that the Democrats are just one seat away from 50, i.e., control of the chamber. The House, however, is creeping towards a Republican majority: 211-201 (218 needed for a majority).

*Ukrainian troops are moving into Kherson (the capital city of the eponymous province), so apparently the Russian exodus from the city was not a trap designed to snap shut on their foes.

The move puts Kyiv on the cusp of achieving one of its most significant victories of the war and deals a bitter blow to President Vladimir V. Putin, who just a month ago declared the Kherson region a part of Russia forever.

“Today is a historic day,” the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a message posted on the Telegram messaging app. “We are returning to Kherson. As of now, our defenders are on the approaches of the city. But special units are already in the city.”

Videos shared by Ukrainian government officials on social media showed scenes of civilians who had endured nearly nine months of occupation cheering the arrival of a contingent of Ukrainian troops.

Other videos showed cars driving in the city center beeping horns as people on the sidewalks shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” In one, Ukrainian soldiers drove slowly past a crowd as people reached out to touch the soldiers through the open windows.

PUtin is not the kind of guy who will let this stand. My feeling is that, humiliated by this withdrawal, he’s gonna drop some serious weapons on Ukraine, perhaps including tactical nukes. It’s likely that NATO won’t retaliate in kind, and Russia is almost sanctioned to the max, so it’s possible that Putin is weighing this option.

*Reader Thomas noted this article in the military journal Defense One, adding that it’s “a very interesting and surprising take on the Supreme Court’s apparent willingness to dismiss affirmative action from the viewpoint of the U.S. Military.”

Putting aside the apparent cluelessness of just the second Black Justice to sit on the Supreme Court, an extraordinary friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case by former senior military leaders aptly described the meaning of diversity by noting its former absence in the U.S. officer corps.

“History has shown that placing a diverse Armed Forces under the command of a homogenous leadership is a recipe for internal resentment, discord and violence,” wrote the group, which includes four former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, six former superintendents of the service academies, and 17 retired four-star flag officers. Because most uniformed officers come from ROTC and the service academies that use race as one consideration in admissions, they noted, “the diversity of these institutions and programs directly impacts the diversity of our military’s leadership.”

. . . The costs of having an overwhelmingly white officer corps commanding troops in which African Americans were disproportionately fighting and dying had come due. During the Vietnam-era draft, Blacks made up more than 25 percent of some high-risk elite Army units and frontline Marine companies. According to the amicus brief recently filed by the retired senior military leaders, in 1969 and 1970 the Army catalogued more than 300 race-related disturbances, resulting in the deaths of 71 American troops. Racial tensions reached such a fever pitch that some bases were all but separated into armed camps of “bloods” and “whites.” Many white officers at the time have told me that they were afraid to inspect their own barracks without carrying a sidearm.

The U.S. military has always held up a mirror to the society it serves, reflecting America’s strengths but also revealing its blemishes. In response to the racial crisis of the Vietnam era, the armed services concluded that they must embrace diversity in their officer corps as a national-security imperative, and they committed to race-conscious affirmative action in the service academies and ROTC programs as a key tool in trying to achieve that objective.

*I met Nellie Bowles at the Stanford meetings (she’s tall), and her TGIF column this week, always worth reading, is called “If Twitter dies, TGIF goes with it.” Oh noes! But she seems serious:

The previous Twitter regime didn’t allow reporting on Hunter Biden and blocked conservative satire, so I was excited about a change, but it seems like there’s got to be middle ground before burn it down, lay off everyone, declare bankruptcy. (Just FYI if Twitter dies, TGIF goes with it.)

One item from Bowles’ Friday news summary:

Two (of many) reasons for the Dems’ success.

→First, America rejected the fringe: The extremists all got the boot. Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who makes Trump’s MAGA look tame, lost to the balanced seeming Democrat Josh Shapiro, who has the energy of a cashmere sweater. And Trump-backed congressional candidates across the country lost handily to moderate Dems. The family values candidate Blake Masters, backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel and strongly supported by Trump, is currently behind in Arizona to former astronaut Mark Kelly. Late Thursday night, some analysts started calling the race for Kelly. And Dr. Oz lost to a large tree (a Redwood, suggests our fact-checker).

The smartest money spent in this whole election was the tens of millions the Democratic party spent to help ensure Republicans picked the craziest candidates in nine different state primaries. It was a risky, cynical move for Dems to boost the most radical Republicans—and it paid off. The most effective (i.e.: dangerous) Republican candidate is someone reasonable like Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin. Trumpist Republicans reject these types as RINOs, and Dems were only too happy to help.

Americans also rejected the #resistance stars. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams lost again. And Texas’s Beto O’Rourke lost, again again. Not that it will deter either of them from running for President (certainly not from fundraising at least). TGIF looks forward to the Abrams-O’Rourke ticket in 2024.

→Second, the Dobbs backlash: It was clear that a backlash hit right after Roe fell, but it wasn’t clear if that would last til the midterms. It did. Americans didn’t want Roe to fall: 57% were unhappy about its repeal, while only 41% supported the change. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, Dems ran on protecting abortion rights, while Republicans mostly scrubbed their websites of anything abortion-related. Anti-abortion amendments to state constitutions failed in both Kentucky and Kansas.

*Matthew’s new book on genetic engineering and its implications has gotten another two-thumbs-up review, this time in the Wall Street Journal. Quotes:

In his wonderful book “As Gods,” a thoughtful, lively and evocative exposition of the history of genetic engineering, English zoologist Matthew Cobb teaches us how, just a few centuries after the completion of the San Giusto mosaics, scientists began learning how to create chimeras in the real world. Developing the ability to cut and paste the hereditary material that determines the form of living things has permanently changed humankind’s relationship with the natural world.

. . . [Geneticist Paul] Berg concluded his Nobel speech by stating that he preferred to be “more optimistic” about the future of genetic engineering. He cited the biologist Peter Medawar, who had said that “to deride the hope of progress is the ultimate fatuity, the last word in the poverty of spirit and meanness of mind.” So while we should not, and cannot, turn our back on the hope of progress—which might reasonably include the elimination of all human diseases—there is a need for more intense and serious dialogue. Matthew Cobb is very clear that this conversation should include more than just scientific specialists. In short, we may need to imagine not just new forms of life but a new sort of forum, in which to debate humankind’s future and define the basis of a manifesto for life.

*After a bunch of imposters and satirists easily obtained Twitter’s blue “verification” check mark by paying $7.99 per month (see here and an example below), Elon Musk deep-sixed that dumb idea—for now.

Almost immediately, users started taking advantage of the new tool. Accounts were created impersonating politicians including President Biden and celebrities, as well other notable people. Several also surfaced purporting to be brands, announcing fake news.

Twitter temporarily disabled sign-ups for the new service Thursday night, according to an internal note viewed by The Washington Post, to “help address impersonation issues.”

But damage was already done, and some fake accounts were still active Friday.

On Friday afternoon, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Musk asking several questions about the blue check mark subscription program. A Washington Post columnist set up an account impersonating Markey this week, with the senator’s permission, and paid for a blue check mark.

“Apparently, due to Twitter’s lax verification practices and apparent need for cash, anyone could pay $8.00 and impersonate someone on your platform,” Markey wrote. “Selling the truth is dangerous and unacceptable.”

*Finally, the rate of inflation of T. rex bones is unbelievable. The AP reports that a skull of this dinosaur, found in South Dakota, will be auctioned off for BIG bucks, and that’s just the skull:

A Tyrannosaurus rex skull unearthed in South Dakota is expected to sell for $15 million or more at auction in New York next month, officials with Sotheby’s said Tuesday.

The 200-pound (91-kilogram) skull fossil, nicknamed Maximus, is being sold Dec. 9 by an owner who wishes to remain anonymous, the auction house said.

The skull was excavated in 2020 and 2021 in Harding County, South Dakota, where other T. rex skeletons like Sue and Stan were found, according to Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s head of science and popular culture. She called the area “the world capital for T. rexes.”

Most of the rest of this T. rex’s remains were destroyed over time by erosion, but Sotheby’s experts said the skull was a major find. Hatton noted, “When you think about it, more people can fit a skull in their home than people who could fit a full dinosaur.”

The 6 1/2-foot (2-meter) fossil is about 76 million years old and still has most of the external skull bones and numerous teeth, Sotheby’s experts said.

Hatton said two large puncture holes in the skull are evidence of a big fight, probably with another T. rex. “We don’t know that this is what caused the death of this animal, but we can tell that it did have a major battle during its lifetime,” she said.

Here it  is:

(From AP): Cassandra Hatton, senior vice president, global head of department, Science & Popular Culture at Sotheby’s, touches the tooth of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull excavated from Harding County, South Dakota, in 2020-2021, in New York City on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. When auctioned in December, the auction house expects the dinosaur skull to sell for $15 to $25 million. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is very concerned:

Paulina: You look very worried.
Hili: Yes, I’m observing the political situation.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Paulina: Wyglądasz na bardzo zaniepokojoną…
Hili: Tak, przyglądam się sytuacji politycznej.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina)

In nearby Wroclawek, Leon and Mietek are going for a ride (I don’t know where):

The cats: Journeys educate

In Polish: Podróże kształcą


From Nicole:

From Blue:

From Rick:

God denigrates the way America treats its veterans:

Another brave Iranian woman:

From Simon.  I’ll take this story as true, and if it is it’s amazing. Was there a control?

A groaner from Malcolm:

From Merilee:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: Two girls gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew: An unenthusiastic verbal tour of a Scottish cat cafe:

Matthew says to note all the “checked and verified accounts” in this Twitter exchange:

A comedian’s take on the American midterm elections. Sound up.

That’s what they deserve for putting up Christmas decorations in early November!

45 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek with Leon)

    1. These packages (not just for scissors, but for many items) are often devilish, if you do have pair of scissors, you will ruin them on these packages. Your good kitchen knifes will suffer too. IMMO the best way to defeat these packages is to use pruning scissors or loppers. (If you have a circular saw or even better, a band saw, that would work too, but not many of us have those readily at our disposal).

      1. I use kitchen shears…good enough for chicken bones, good enough for devilish plastic. A box opener can also work. But either way, someone has to come up with better packaging material. What’s grandma going to do?!?

        1. I guess that kitchen shears are much like pruning shears?
          And yes, short of a band saw, a better packaging would be best.

      2. The goal of the packaging is to prevent pilferage, in the days before thieves just stormed in and swept shelf-fulls of loot into plastic garbage bags. The packaging works for the designed purpose if it makes the merchant’s inventory control easier. Stuff packaged like that is also easier to scan at checkout counters than trying to find little wee UPC stickers and anti-theft tags attached to the unpackaged article, which get torn off. I remember having to stick price stickers for manual tilling on every single AAA and 9V alkaline cell in a display case and shoplifters still stole half of them for their cameras and transistor radios. Hooray blister-paks!
        Plastic has revolutionized packaging: cheap, durable, and protects the contents from shopwear. It doesn’t pollute or kill trees the way paper and cardboard did. It’s not really about the customer trying to get it open at home. It’s to stop the thief getting it open in the store.

  1. Anchovies should be saved for making Gentleman’s Relish (Patum Peperium). However, given I cook for a vegetarian, there shall be no nasty pepperoni on my pizzas, and I do find crumbled canned tuna is a surprisingly good addition to a pizza. Especially with faux-capers made from pickled nasturtium seed pods. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

    1. How are nasturtium buds FAUX-capers? I thought that’s what real capers were?? While I agree that whole anchovies on pizza are gross (as is pineapple on pizza), I will melt down an anchovy in some oil with garlic and sliced broccoli with delicious results. No hint of fishiness.

        1. Thanks for the recipe, Ken. Yup, no fishy taste at all. I’ve even fooled my son with them (but wouldn’t dare do it with vegetarian daughter.) Anchovies also good and non-fishy in bagna cauda, a garlicky fondue to dip veggies (not crudités ala Dr. Oz) into.

      1. My thought exactly. Are capers not considered vegetarian?

        I love the subtleties of frying anchovies in olive oil and garlic as a seasoning base, but I also enjoy the bracing fishy/saltiness of anchovies on there own as in a Caesar salad or salad Niçoise.

        I agree with Christopher that Gentleman’s Relish is a terrific condiment.

      2. The true caper is the flower bud of Capparis spinosa, not the seed pod of Nasturtium officinale. The latter is cheap and easy to grow and pickle at home. The proper one grows around the Mediterranean and is rather more expensive.

    2. When I still used to eat carbs, one of my favoured breakfasts was a Knäckebröd with a soft cooked egg and anchovies, delicious. I use toasted almond bread nowadays, but it is not really the same.
      I won’t tell how much -or not- I liked pizza Napolitana, as per request of our host.

      1. In my cooking days, long past, I used anchovies as the secret ingredient in my dynamite version of lapin aux olives.

  2. There is video of when Mr. Rogers met Koko online. I’ve seen bits of it and she does indeed wrap her arms around him and try untying his shoes. If she did so because she watched his show, who can tell, but as far as I know she did not great him the same way she did Robin Williams. She tried to pull up his shirt or pull down the collar to see his nipples. She had him tickle her, she took his glasses, and rummages through his pants pockets. There’s more serious video of that encounter online and Williams had a less family-friendly comedy bit about it too.

    1. I met Koko many moons ago among the Eucalyptus groves at Stanford. I could not quite get within hugging distance because Koko was scared of my dog. Also saw her riding shot-gun adound campus in a VW Beetle.

  3. Democrat Mark Kelly won the contested Arizona Senate seat, meaning that the Democrats are just one seat away from 50, i.e., control of the chamber.

    And, in the Nevada US senate race, Catherine Cortez Masto (known as “CCM” in Nevada) has pulled within a thousand votes of Republican Adam Laxalt. With most of the ballots left to be counted in Nevada coming from heavily Democratic Clark County (Las Vegas), CCM bids fair to pull ahead, which would give Democrats the 50 seats they need to control the US senate.

    In other midterm-related news, the Donald recently issued an official statement on the subject. It’s written with the customary grace, articulateness, and equanimity we’ve come to expect from Trump. In it he claims credit for making the career of Florida governor Ron DeSantis (whom Trump has taken to calling “Ron DeSanctimonious”), and he pisses’n’moans about how certain right-wing media outlets (viz., those owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp) have turned on him.

    Trump has strongly indicated that he will soon issue an announcement that he will make a 2024 US presidential run and has hinted that the announcement could come this Tuesday, Nov. 15. If so, it will be interesting to see if Trump goes to Georgia to stump for Herschel Walker ahead of the Dec. 6th US senate run-off race there (especially if control of the senate does not turn on the outcome of that race). One the one hand, I’m sure Trump’s ego could use the stroking of holding rallies before his adoring hardcore MAGA acolytes, and he would undoubtedly use those rallies primarily to promote his own candidacy. On the other hand, should Walker — Trump’s handpicked candidate — lose the run-off (which seems all the more likely if control of the senate does not hang in the balance), stumping for Walker would solidify the perception of Trump as the 2022 midterm’s Biggest Loser.

    1. Clark county (Las Vegas) appears to lean D by more than 60%, and since the gap is about 800 votes and about 25000 votes still need to be counted from there, it appears Nevada will indeed see a victory for CCM.
      If so, and if the Georgia run-off will go to Warnock (as appears likely), that will mean a 51 majority for the D’s. It gives a small defence against Manchins and Sinenemas (albeit not both) in the Senate.
      The House looks less rosy though, but not disastrous.
      Nevertheless, these midterms appear to be the end of Trump as a political factor, something that should be considered a great victory for R’s and D’s alike, for the US democracy, for democracy in general and for the world at large (I note that Bolsonaro was defeated too, and that Putin is being defeated militarily, without causing WWIII. I think Biden has been outstanding there).
      Disclosure: contrary to our host, I’m an inveterate optimist.

  4. … deals a bitter blow to President Vladimir V. Putin, who just a month ago declared the Kherson region a part of Russia forever.

    Worst imperial prediction since a fella with a toothbrush mustache called for a Thousand-Year Reich.

    1. Putin’s Special Military Operation, designed as a lightning assault to take over Ukraine in a few days, now resembles Philip II’s Special Naval Operation of 1588 (also known as the Spanish Armada), and Mussolini’s Special Military Invasion of Greece in 1940. Perhaps the similarity of Putin’s and Mussolini’s strategic genius will lead to similar outcomes.

    2. Yeah, like another burke declaring on the deck of an aircraft carrier “mission accomplished”.
      The dead that piled up up after that statement, were just delayed collateral damage?

    3. Worst imperial prediction since

      That is always something I find hilarious, like the idea that the United States is eternal/permanent. Eventually all human institutions have to crumble. Far too many institutional rulings seem to be in denial about the fact that all of this is temporary.

  5. A friend and I recently shared a pizza, and he insisted on us trying anchovies. And what the heck I learned to like it. They do make an entrance, though.

    1. I little doubt that that is true overall. I contemplate how R’s compare with D’s regarding the biological binary basis of human sex.

  6. The Twitter Pope thread is glorious. The “bitches I’m in France” part is *chef’s kiss*.

    Another brilliant fake tweet I saw recently was from “McDonald’s,” claiming that they care about the environment so much, they will no longer poison rats in their restaurants. Instead, the rats will provide sustainable, locally sourced meat for McDonald’s burgers.

    1. It is undeniable that Chateauneuf-du-Pape in southern France (as much as I dislike the RCC) was a great addition to the world.

      1. Iran used to be a terrorist state against other countries, now they’re a terrorist state against their own citizens. What a sick and demented regime. I really can’t see how this kind of evil is sustainable.

  7. The news from Ukraine is fantastic although I’ll still likely have to pay up on Thanksgiving. Still, my error in estimating when this thing will be over is one of months, I think.

    Putin will not resort to nukes although he is certain to continue to launch war-criminal attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. There is no way he can win. He will lose all of the territory he stole in 2014. His war special military operation will marginalize Russia in the world for the foreseeable future.

  8. GMOs: Wheels slowly turning: The USDA has just released their draft of the Plant Risk Assessment on the “Darling 58” American Chestnut tree that incorporates the oxalate oxidase gene from wheat to counter the effects of the blight fungus. You can download the draft from this link.which if nothing else gives an idea of the depth of consideration the whole issue is given. (There’s another document but this one is less tedious.) There will soon be an opportunity for public comment and I encourage all to support that.

    But wait, it won’t be over after just the USDA weighs in. EPA and FDA will still have to be on board. Still, there is cautious optimism that approval may occur by pollination time in late June or so.

  9. Former Army General and CIA-Director David Petraeus was interviewed a month ago. He noted that the United States would respond to a nuclear escalation (the drop of a tactical nuke) with a massive military action. The U.S. and its allies would destroy Russia’s forces in Ukraine and sink Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

  10. Every day I copy the Hili photo with commentary to send to a friend. Suddenly today this does not work, including from the website itself. The text copies, but not the photo. Do you know that is happening and/or why?

  11. Without reading the amicus curiae submission in full, one can’t know how good the case for affirmative action in the US military is, but the linked Defense One report’s evidence, drawing on 50-year-old incidents from a drafted military in an unpopular war is possibly not a reliable guide to the need for AA in the modern, all-volunteer US military.

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