Wednesday: Hili dialogue

November 16, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Hump Day (calle Húfudagar in Iceland): Wednesday, November 16, 2022: National Fast Food Day.

Talking about fast food, here’s British competitive eating champion Leah Shutkever, who manages to remain slim despite her extraordinary intake of comestibles (shown below). On top of that, she’s Jewish, which makes her a dream girl. Her eating bouts are always timed.

Look at this girl down those burgers! There are many similar videos on her site: Leah ingesting enormous amounts of steaks, Indian food, pastries, an so on. Food porn!


It’s also National Button dayIcelandic Language Day or Dagur íslenskrar tungu (Iceland),International Day for Tolerance, and Have a Party with Your Bear Day:

Partee! (2002):

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this day by consulting the November 16 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The most depressing but predictable news of the day. Trump announced last night that he’s running again. Click on the NYT article. The next two years will be what I first thought to call “the silly season,” but it’s actually the “democracy is threatened” season:

*This is the biggest news of the day:. Somebody, most likely the Russians, have fired a missile that landed in Poland, a NATO country, and it killed two people. From the Washington Post: (see update below)

At least one missile hit the town of Przewodow in Poland, just over the border from Ukraine, killing two people, a Polish official said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive national security matter. The official did not say whether the missile had been fired by Russia. Even if inadvertent, a strike on the territory of a NATO ally could be a pivotal moment in the conflict. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an emergency meeting of the country’s national defense and security council Tuesday night in response to the incident.

  • In a statement, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it did not strike any targets in or near Poland. It said images shared by Polish media outlets showed no sign of a Russian weapon.
  • U.S. officials said they were aware of the situation but had no further information. “We don’t want to speculate,” said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman. “When it comes to our security commitments and Article V we have been crystal clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
  • The apparent strike came as Russia bombarded Ukraine with missiles — one of the most extensive such barrages of the conflict, striking targets across the country, including energy infrastructure and apartment blocks.

Now we don’t know it was a Russian missile; it could have been a Ukrainian missile gone astray. But the Russians have been firing missiles all over Ukraine to knock out the infrastructure. I suspect that this is an errant Russian missile. If it was, the response of NATO countries, sworn to defend the integrity of all other NATO countries, will be interesting. Maybe we’ll know more tomorrow.  But two lives have been lost in Poland, and that’s no small issue.

An important UPDATE:

President Biden said it’s “unlikely” that a Russian-made missile that killed two people in a Polish village on Tuesday was fired from Russia, though he cautioned that the data was preliminary.

Lordy, what is going to happen now? Was it a Ukrainian missile?  That’s also an attack on a NATO country by a non-NATO country

*As of this morning, here’s the latest count for the House of Representatives, same as last night’s.

Although the GOP hadn’t taken the House of Representatives last night, they were within one seat of a majority (218 seats), and that’s with several races to go. My predictions for both Houses will be verified! And the House Republicans chose as their speaker Kevin McCarthy, as expected. What a pity that Nancy Pelosi will have to give up her gavel!

Republicans are on the cusp of claiming control of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress when it convenes next year. After notching victories late Monday night in a handful of congressional races in Arizona, New York and California, the party is within one seat of taking the House.

After rosy predictions for a Republican wave, the party’s majority in the House will be much smaller than its leaders had anticipated. Congress will be divided next year, after Democrats held control of the Senate. Attention will now be focused on a few districts in California and Colorado where the Republican candidate is leading in the vote count. A race call in any of these districts on Tuesday would almost certainly give Republicans the 218 seats needed to retake a House majority.

Further, Mitch “The Turtle” McConnell is being challenged for his own leadership in the Senate:

Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who oversaw the Senate Republican campaign arm, said he will challenge Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for minority leader.

Professor Ceiling Cat predicts that Scott’s going down in flames.

*Here’s a must-read article for all those who bandy about the terms “systemic racism” or “structural racism.” It’s by John McWhorter in the NYT, of course, and called “When ‘racism’ is not really racism.” It’s a sensible take, and there are too many good quotes to post even in a precis. So here’s just a few:

And so I offer a modest proposal, but an earnest one. How about revising our terms for “systemic racism,” “structural racism” and “institutional racism”?

The problem with these phrases is that systems, structures and institutions cannot be racist any more than they can be happy or sad. They can be made up of individuals who share these traits, or even have procedures that may engender them. But systems, structures and institutions do not themselves have feelings or prejudices.

. . . Similarly, it helps little to call a test on which racial groups differ in their performance a “racist” test. It is unlikely that anyone connected to the test is committed to keeping Black people from passing it, even if the reasons for the differential in pass rates are rooted in the effects of past racism. Labeling Black English speakers as linguistically deficient is something we call “systemic racism” — with even me bowing to the convention not long ago when I wrote about it — despite the fact that there is no reason to think that anyone designing or administering the tests is racist; they often even suppose they are helping rather than hurting Black kids.

. . .Terms like “systemic racism” are not utterly without use. For one, of course there are actual racists embedded in some segments of American society, not to mention less overt, yet intolerable, racism of subtler kinds. For example, the idea among medical practitioners that Black people are more tolerant of pain than others is a kind of racist bias whose effects spread throughout the medical system. The fact that cops are more likely to rough up Black people cannot be treated as anything other than a “systemic” manifestation of underlying dehumanization.

But such cases are exceptions. Most disparities between Black and white people, though they exist and are not something Black people deserve any kind of blame for, are not due in 2022 to “racism” in any sense compatible with clear and honest language.

. . . From now on, I, for one, will be referring to most of the things we are now taught to call systemic racism as being “inequities between races.” In my ideal universe, the term would quickly and inevitably be shortened to just “inequities,” with a tacit reference to Black and Latino people, just as “minority” now has the same implication. We would battle these inequities, but without the lexical mission creep which has led to how confusingly we use the word “racism” now. Less distracted by the fantasy that these inequities are embodiments of an undying bigotry in “institutional” form, we could focus more attention on genuine solutions to what is holding back real people in today’s America.

Despite this, and despite the urgent efforts of sciences of all stripes to recruit more minority students and faculty, there isn’t a discipline in science, including evolutionary biology, physics, or mathematics, that hasn’t been called out for “systemic racism”.  I like “inequities between races” better, though that, too, implies that the inequities are the result of bigotry, which isn’t always teh case.

*Sadly, the NYT reports that Roberta Flack has ALS and has lost the ability to sing. That’s a nasty disease, and a terminal one, and apparently it was diagnosed only in August:

The condition, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was diagnosed in August and has made it difficult for Ms. Flack to speak, the publicist, Elaine Schock, said in an email to The New York Times.

Ms. Flack, 85, won Grammy Awards for record of the year and best pop vocal performance in both 1973 and 1974 as she racked up No. 1 singles including “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (1972), “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (’73) and “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (’74). Over the course of her career, she earned 14 Grammy nominations.

. . .A.L.S. is a disease that causes the nerve cells to stop working and die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nerves then lose the ability to stimulate specific muscles, which causes the muscles to become weak, the C.D.C. said.

The cause of most cases of A.L.S. is unknown, according to the C.D.C., and reports suggest that fewer than 20,000 people in the United States have it.

*The Artemis-1 mission took off this morning and is going well. A quick report from Jim Batterson in Newport News, VA:

Everything seems to be “a-ok” as NASA used to say in the Apollo days.  Orion separated from big booster on time and its upper stage engine burn went well, putting it in a lunar trajectory. . . means we are off to the Moon!  There will be a few course-correction rocket firings, but mainly the vehicle is coasting in Mr. Newton’s capable hands until sometime on Monday when its serious maneuvering in lunar orbit begins.
i forgot to mention a set of cubesats (small satellites like the Italian satellite we met on Dart mission) were also released and are trailing the Orion to take data on the way and around the Moon.  Oh, and there are two instrumented human mannequins on board to take sensor data.
It launched 40 minutes later than scheduled. I watched the proceedings until it was safely in Earth orbit…could not make it another 30-60 minutes for rocket burn to send it on to moon trajectory.
A short video of the launch:

*And the NYT has given Matthew’s latest book, As Gods: A Moral History of the Genetic Age, a stellar review, just as Science and the Wall Street Journal did. But the NYT review is always the biggie. Their tweet:

And a bit of the review:

It was late in 1972 — a year in which the science of genetic engineering really began to sizzle — that two California researchers announced the unusually tidy transfer of genetic information from one bacterium to another with help from a specialized enzyme. It was a scientifically heralded result, but behind the hoopla was just one small catch. The information transferred enabled a common human disease bacterium, E. coli, to resist not just one antibiotic, but two.

“Alarm bells should have rung,” writes Matthew Cobb, in his deeply researched and often deeply troubling history of gene science. And that nothing did ring — that scientific success trumped the obvious risks of the work — becomes the focus of his book’s primary inquiry: whether a research community capable of altering life is also capable of putting ethical decisions first.

The rush to gene-editing brings Cobb to a kind of crisis of conscience. He is a scientist with deep respect for the profession; he’s worked with genetically modified organisms and knows they can be used for good. And yet, he cannot take that last step across the threshold of complete trust in a profession that he believes, especially recently, has failed “to speak clearly or act decisively” about its dangers. He dreams of a societal response — a world in which the public is better educated on the issues, in which scientists engage with the larger community, and informed regulation is possible. But in the interests of reality, he concedes something that, in fact, many of us outside the scientific community have also come to recognize: In the complicated reality that technology has built for us, far too often “dreams and nightmares must go hand in hand.”

It doesn’t get much better than that. Congratulations, Dr. Cobb! Readers: this is a good one, especially if you want to learn the latest about genetic engineering (as well as its history).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili chats with Paulina again:

Hili: There is something over there.
Paulina: What?
Hili: This requires further research.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Tam coś jest.
Paulina: Ale co?
Hili: To wymaga dalszych badań.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina)
And a photo of baby Kulka by Andrzej:




A B. Kliban cartoon. Kiss that duck!

A Gary Larson Far Side cartoon:

From Atheism. Good question, though I think the Bible mentions a “serpent”.

God has changed His handle:

From Masih: Turban removal by piss-ed off Iranian women. I can’t say I condone it, but I love it:

From Malcolm:  I’ve seen weird sleeping-cat postures, but this takes the cake!

From Barry. Poor hungry hound!

From Alice Roberts via Gravelinspector: where we got our kitties.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, two tweets. First, the Warsaw Ghetto was closed on this day.

. . . and the birthday of someone who died at 43.

From Professor Cobb:  Keep watching this first one to the end, and sound on:

Billy the Kid. Shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett at 21 (the Kid’s real name was Henry McCarty.) And this is the only authenticated photograph of him.

I responded to this tweet by Matthew, suggesting an alternative theory (which is mine). Couldn’t the chimp just be offering the leaf to the other to eat, but the other one didn’t take it? That doesn’t seem to involve a theory of mind. Watch the video at the Guardian site, and judge for yourself.


46 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

    1. When you think that anti-aircraft missiles sometimes miss their targets, it really isn’t surprising that one would eventually land on foreign soil or kill bystanders by accident.

  1. Lordy, what is going to happen now? Was it a Ukrainian missile?

    Quite likely, yes. It’s about 50:50 whether it was a Russian missile, aimed at Ukraine, that went astray and hit Poland, or a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile aimed at downing Russian missiles, that went astray and hit Poland.

    Either way, it seems to be an unfortunate incident (and tragic for the dead Poles and their families), but nothing more than that.

  2. Now Leah is the kind of girl you could bring home to shabbos dinner! But Leah, would it kill you to add a brisket burger?

  3. Awe-inspiring launch of what must be one of the largest rockets ever made. But surprisingly bad amateurish camera tracking and technical glitches in the broadcast. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

    1. Yeah Lou, While NASA has improved its public face in launch and mission video and commentary over the years, IMHO, it is way behind the SpaceX camera work, which I watch on all SpaceX missions. I do not know why this is the unfortunate case.

      1. SpaceX is a private company that rarely does traditional advertising but does need customers. It’s vitally important to them to project a professional image. Think of the excellent camera coverage of their launches as part of the sales pitch.

        1. NASA is a publicly funded enterprise. They need the public’s confidence, goodwill and support even more than a private company does.

            1. Granted the exact motive is different, but NASA has an equally great need to project a professional image, because in their case, they are asking the public to give them money without even offering a direct “customer experience”. That’s even harder than offering some immediate, tangible service in exchange for a client’s money. It demands a lot of public faith and goodwill.

      1. I totally agree with your point on SpaceX need and opportunity to do marketing…a need that traditional (read mercury apollo era) engineers (who became managers and policy makers) put second at best to the technical accomplishment…it was the culture. I was hoping that this next generation of leadership would insist on more, particularly because they do not need to create or invent anything new, but can just copy and paste from SpaceX. But alas- no it seems. Yes, they are separate departments, but it all comes together in the administrator’s (Bill Nelson currently) office. He could insist and I am 90% sure it would happen.

  4. And the House Republicans chose as their speaker Kevin McCarthy, as expected.

    Actually, the House Republicans merely chose McCarthy as their caucus leader. The House Speaker won’t be chosen until the new congress is seated in January, and it will take a majority of the full House chamber — 218 votes — for McCarthy to get the gavel. It’s uncertain that McCarthy will have the necessary votes, and, if he gets them, what kind of backroom deals he’ll have to cut with the wingnuts in his caucus to get there.

    The US House of Representatives is likely to be a shitshow for the next two years. Kevin McCarthy is the most spineless, least adroit political operative ever to aspire to the House Speakership. He has no solid base of support with any faction of his own Party. Even if he’s elected Speaker, he’ll be on permanent probation, with other members of the GOP leadership looking to shiv him in the back and crawl over his corpse into the top job.

    1. The fact that McCarthy won the vote of the Republican caucus for Speaker of the House does not mean that he is guaranteed to accede to that position. This is because the Speaker must be elected by the entire House. Since the incoming House will be closely divided, the refusal of a few Republican extremists to vote for McCarthy could throw the House into turmoil requiring many ballots before a candidate is elected. This happened in 1849 when a closely divided House between Democrats and Whigs with a few Free Soil representatives blocking either Party having a majority and roiled by sectional tensions it took 63 ballots and three weeks to elect a new Speaker, Howell Cobb of Georgia. In fact, the situation was so dire that the House changed its rules to allow the Speaker to be elected by plurality. Later, Cobb became a Confederate general.

      So, if we’re lucky, the opening of the new session of Congress could be lots of fun.😊

  5. The BBC health has a story: “Boots and Balls made for Men an Injury Risk to Women Footballers”. An interesting piece considering the brouhaha over men/women/trans sports and how there’s no difference between sexes. I don’t know how factual the story is. I find it hard to believe that manufacturers don’t design boots for women nor do I understand how you design a football specifically for women’s heads, but what do I know? I don’t come down one side or the other, just found it curious.

    And sorry, one day I’ll bother to learn how to link things here but it’s easy enough to find on the site.

      1. Thank you for adding that link.

        The thing that immediately hit me was, wait, how much uni has been spilled recently claiming there’s no difference between men and women and then here’s this article claiming quite the opposite, especially relating to trans athletes. So, if you claim there are differences, you’re a transphobe, or if you don’t claim there are differences, you’re sexist. I guess the argument depends on why you are making it and for which particular group? Curious.

        1. Yes, we ignore the sex differences at our peril (or more accurately, at women’s peril). The issue with the boots and balls is similar to the many other examples that Caroline Criado Perez wrote about in her 2019 book Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. For instance, car crash research has led to car designs in which women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a frontal car crash than a man would in an identical incident and 17% more likely to die. This is because design assumptions are made based on typical male driving seat positions – women are likely to be sitting further forward to reach the pedals, see over the steering wheel, etc.

  6. … I think the Bible mentions a “serpent”.

    Indeed, it does. And, per Genesis 3:14, it was as punishment for tempting The Woman that the Lord God cursed the serpent, denied it its legs, and made it slither on its belly for the rest of its days.

    1. Come on! It doesn’t matter if the serpent had hands to give the fruit or not. What we know for sure is that the serpent could talk, and so used its highly-evolved verbal skills to coerce Eve into taking the fruit.

      Snakes can still talk today, but it is almost impossible because of dust.

      “upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” Genesis 3:14

      You try talking with a mouth full of dust.

  7. I used to have a friend who complained that if he invited people over for dinner, and one of them was a vegetarian, he was expected to provide a vegetarian meal for them, but that if he went to a vegetarian’s house for dinner there was no expectation that he should be provided with meat.

  8. In other news, now that the mid-terms are past, The Washington Post is reporting on the current status of the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation. It appears that the FBI is now trying to lower expectations around the Crime of the Century.

    That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.


    The people familiar with the matter cautioned that the investigation is ongoing, that no final determinations have been made, and that it is possible additional information could emerge that changes investigators’ understanding of Trump’s motivations. But they said the evidence collected over a period of months indicates the primary explanation for potentially criminal conduct was Trump’s ego and intransigence.

    1. Why, one might even get the idea that the whole student loan forgiveness program as well as the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation were just cynical election ploys on par with funding the most extreme GOP candidates in the primaries.

      Lee Atwater smiles.

      1. Cynical or not, all the “ploys” paid off for the Dems. And none of these ploys, as you call them, were even close to Atwater’s odious “Southern Strategy” if that’s what you’re referring to.

        1. Cynical or not, all the “ploys” paid off for the Dems.

          That’s why Lee is smiling.

          Atwater was born in 1951 and had nothing to do with the Southern strategy. Think “Willie Horton” and probably the commercial with Dukakis in the tank.

          1. Huh? Do you know google? You should meet it and google Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy. Are you trying to gaslight, or something? This is pretty easy stuff, man. In what world is born in 1951 have any bearing on this? His southern strategy was hatched in 80 or 81. Just giving you a little google help.

          2. I want to apologize. With “facts” and such, I lost sight of your overall point. And when it comes to some of Atwater’s other antics as you noted, it was not much different from what the Dems did. I got stuck in the pedantic weeds. And sorry for the snark.

    2. Donald Trump is a greedy, selfish jerk who no doubt believes that anything he gets in his grubby little hands belongs to him. But that’s a far cry from his having a legal claim of right to the documents at issue. Plainly, he knew he did not. Why else repeatedly lie to the National Archives and the FBI about having such documents in his possession? Why else put his gormless, in-over-her-head lawyer Christina Bobb on jump street by having her sign a false sworn declaration that all such documents had been returned to the government pursuant to the grand jury subpoena? And why else cough up his ridiculous, self-contradictory claims regarding his possession of the documents — a) that he documents were packed up by the GSA without his knowledge; b) that he intentionally sent the documents to Mar-a-Lago and, in so doing, de facto declassified them; and c) that the FBI planted the documents during its execution of a court-ordered search warrant at Mar-a-Lago?

      Donald Trump has no defense that can be presented with a straight face to the charges that he obstructed a pending federal investigation and that he removed and concealed records belonging to the federal government. I look for him to be indicted on these charges in the next few months, possibly sooner.

      1. For a miscreant to offer two mutually contradictory explanations for bad behaviour is pretty standard fare but three—three!—must set the bar at a new level, you think?

        1. Under the federal rules of procedure, a party may engage in what’s known as “pleading in the alternative.” A classic example of the practice was provided by the celebrated trial lawyer Richard “Racehorse” Haynes:

          “Say you sue me because you say my dog bit you. Well, now this is my defense: My dog doesn’t bite. And second, in the alternative, my dog was tied up that night. And third, I don’t believe you really got bit. And fourth, I don’t have a dog. And fifth, if my dog bit you, my dog is insane.”

          Similar examples are used in law school trial tactics courses. While the strategy is permissible, professors are quick to point out it’s almost always a dead-bang loser.

          Donald Trump has been involved in a lot of litigation. He’s famous for throwing everything against the wall to see if anything sticks and for trying to delay the ultimate outcome for as long as possible.

          This time the walls are rapidly closing in on him. That’s the main reason he’s been champing at the bit to announce his third run for the presidency; he thinks it will help him fend off an indictment. Most legal observers are convinced he’s wrong.

          1. The walls have been rapidly closing in on Mr. Trump since Election Night 2016, which is four months (and counting) longer ago than the duration of the Second World War. I eagerly await the imminent fulfillment of the legal observers’ prediction. Any day now. I’m sure you’ve finally got him this time.

            Even though not a candidate, he seems from here to have been gravely weakened by the Mid-Terms. Suspect that’s probably your best bet, that people get tired of him politically. But whadoo I know?

            1. Trump must be prosecuted to vindicate the rule of law. Otherwise, if presidents and former presidents are above the law, we USians may as well pack up this notion of a “republic” and start coronating a king every four years.

              If an offender like Donald Trump escapes prosecution for his blatant crimes, what disincentive will there be for future presidents to obey the law?

              1. Ken, I know I and non-Trumpian commenters in your country have said previously that prosecuting a former or current public official, or indeed any person, must meet the test of “Is it in the public interest?” as well as, “Is there reasonable likelihood of conviction?” So you are entitled to take me to task for being sceptical that the first test has been met in the various cases actual and contemplated against the former President. But I no longer am, even before the elections and especially not now where he has been weakened enough politically that the risk to the public interest of jailing the heir apparent—er, sorry, the likely Republican nominee—is no longer so grave. So the only remaining test is the likelihood of a successful prosecution, by a non-partisan judicial system of course.

                Go get him, Tiger.

                By the way, you violated Godwoin’s law below.

            2. … which is four months (and counting) longer ago than the duration of the Second World War.

              That didn’t get the Nuremberg defendants a pass, did it?

  9. In Orange Julius v deSantis, the latter will emerge on top, and then OJ will run as the Tr*mp party candidate. Teddy Roosevelt, George Wallace, John Anderson, and Ross Perot (who did I forget?) would be able to tell him how that will pan out. DeS’s strategy might be to do everything he can to ensure that Tw**t is at least under house arrest @ Mar a Lago within the next year or so.

    Otherwise, it’s not a stretch to suppose that some House R’s might declare their independence to give the D’s a majority.

    1. But if deSantis does emerge on top, I imagine it will be a pyrrhic victory; he will not be unscathed crossing swords with the Unhinged One. I’m sure deSantis is hoping feverishly for Trump indictments or other scandals to emerge. Either way, it should be an entertaining shit-show to watch those two go at it.

      I suspect there is a case for Ralph Nader being on your list. Trump running as an independent would be the greatest political gift of the century to the Dems. And I could see him do it, just to burn the whole thing down in a retributive hate-storm. In the long run, the GOP may thank him for it since they’ll need to start from scratch at this point; they at least need to get back to governing, but that hasn’t been their jam for a few years now.

      1. Good point about Nader – yes, he definitely should be on that list. I used to know a guy who was a big Naderite. And also Ted Kennedy, even tho he didn’t run in the actual election, for lingering on vs. Jimmy Carter in the primaries.

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