Saturday: Hili dialogue

November 26, 2022 • 6:45 am

We’re at Thanksgiving CatSaturday: November 26, 2022: National Cake Day. My favorites in the genre are carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting and pineapple upside-down cake.

Recipe here. Decorative carrots on icing not necessary.

It’s also Good Grief Day, celebrating the creator of “Peanuts”, Charles Schulz, born on this day in 1922, and Small Business Saturday. And that’s it: a thin day for celebrations.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 26 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The BBC reports that a letter by Charles Darwin, signed with his full signature, is going on auction at Sotheby’s, and is projected to go for at least a million British pounds (the previous record for a Darwin letter was £400,000). The high value is because the letter (a bit shown below) is in pristine condition, because it’s signed with Darwin’s full name, which is rare, and because it defends his theory of evolution. (h/t: Christopher)

Here it is, signed by “Charles Darwin” (he usually used “C. Darwin” or “Ch Darwin”):

From the BBC:

. . . The item is likely to fetch more than £1m – a world-record price for a Darwin manuscript.

He’d produced the document so it could be copied in what, in 1865, was a celebrity magazine.

Darwin didn’t make a habit of archiving his paperwork and so little original material survives.

. . .Prof John van Wyhe, who curates the scholarly collection known as Darwin Online, says it’s extra special because of what the great man had chosen to put on the page along with his signature.

“He includes a passage that appears in the third edition of On the Origin of Species,” the senior lecturer at the National University of Singapore explained.

“It’s a really favourite passage, because he’s trying to make the point that people might find his theory unbelievable and outlandish, but they said the same about Newton and gravity, and nobody doubted the existence of gravity anymore.

“The same, he says, would be true eventually with evolution and natural selection,” the prof told BBC News.

The document was produced for The Autographic Mirror.

Its publisher, Hermann Kindt, printed facsimiles of the handwriting or the autographs of famous people along with their biographies.

When he asked Darwin if he’d contribute, the scientist jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity to hit back at his doubters.

At the time, six years after the first-edition release of On the Origin of Species, it was a common criticism that he couldn’t explain the origin of life itself.

Darwin conceded this was the case but that it was irrelevant to his observations of how life on Earth evolved and diversified. As with gravity, its “essence” might not be understood but Newton’s equations certainly worked.

And here’s Darwin’s text, which dates from 1865 (The Origin was published in 1859):

I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations, which have thoroughly convinced me that species have been modified, during a long course of descent, by the preservation or the natural selection of many successive slight favourable variations. I cannot believe that a false theory would explain, as it seems to me that the theory of natural selection does explain, the several large classes of facts above specified. It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused Newton of introducing “occult qualities & miracles into philosophy”. – Charles Darwin.

Compare this to the last paragraph of the origin of species, where Darwin makes an analogy to the laws of physics (gravity) with his ‘law” of evolution by natural selection:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

*Yesterday was Nellie Bowles’s news summary on Bari Weiss’s Substack: “TGIF: Thanksgiving Edition“.  Here are a few items showing her patented snarky humor:

→ If you hate fun, go to Mastodon: Speaking of tsk-tskers, a wonderful thing has happened. Furious about Elon Musk’s acquisition of their favorite platform, a group of major pro-censorship Twitter personalities have decided they need to leave the place altogether. They’ve gone en masse to a new platform called Mastodon. And there they are (what else) yelling at each other. As the pollster Nate Silver put it: “Mastodon seems like a honeytrap for hall-monitor personality types. Honestly if Elon gets all the hall monitors to migrate to Mastodon that might be his greatest contribution toward the betterment of humanity.” Unfortunately it’s hard to imagine they’ll stay away for long. CBS got big applause after saying they’d be getting off Twitter, only to quickly return: “After pausing for much of the weekend to assess the security concerns, CBS News and Stations is resuming its activity on Twitter as we continue to monitor the situation.”

I’m not a big fan of Elon Musk, but I’m staying on Twitter for the time being. That’s where all the fun is—and cat pictures!

→ Black Hebrew Israelites hold a huge rally that goes ignored: Hundreds of black supremacists marched through Brooklyn this week chanting: “It’s time to wake up. I’ve got good news for you, we are the real Jews.” Videos here and here. They were marching to support basketball player Kyrie Irving who was briefly suspended after promoting a movie that argues the Holocaust is fake. Kanye West, meanwhile, was spotted in Miami with white nationalist Nick Fuentes, a proud antisemite. I hate to say it, but you should watch a Fuentes video to understand how extreme his beliefs are and how alarming this moment is. Here’s one. Here’s another.

→ The brave Iranian soccer team: At the World Cup, as their nation’s anthem played, the Iranian soccer team did not sing it. It’s another sign of how deep the rebellion is going in Iran. And it’s unbelievably brave, since there’s a good chance those young men join the tens of thousands imprisoned (or far worse) when they get home. Remember their courage next time the Biden administration insists we need to make a deal with their oppressors.

You go, Nellie! Biden is an invertebrate with respect to Iran.

*World Cup results:  England tied the U.S. 0-0, an achievement:

The United States and England played to a scoreless tie at the World Cup on Friday, a result that the Americans could be proud of but which has left them with a simple and high-stakes task: They must beat Iran on Monday to avoid elimination from the tournament.

England heard boos from its fans after the final whistle but walked off with a valuable point: With four now, it leads the group, ahead of Iran (three), the United States (two) and Wales (one). The English are in the driver’s seat, needing only a tie in their final game against Wales, but after a performance that had them on their heels for long stretches they will see work ahead if they are to live up to their pretournament billing as a title contender.

Other scores: Iran beat Wales 2-0, Senegal beat the home team Qatar 3-1, and Ecuador outscored the Netherlands 3-1.  What with several upsets, this is going to be an interesting World Cup. Would readers care to venture any guesses who the winner will be?  That leads to. . .

A CONTEST! Pick the final two teams and the final score giving the winner of the World Cup. If you get the teams and the winner right but not the score, I’ll randomly pick a winner who will get an autographed copy of any of my books (except Speciation!) with the animal of your choice drawn in it

*The Washington Post published a paean to both the World Cup and soccer, which has become my favorite sport (pity I don’t have a way to watch the good games). The piece, by Henry Olsen, is called “Watch the World Cup—and experience something infinitely enthralling.” An excerpt:

The World Cup is not soccer at its best, but it might be soccer at its finest. With 32 national teams converging in one place, the sheer spectacle is unmatched by anything except the Olympics. It has the quality of an all-star game, as each team has its country’s finest players, who are brought together only for brief interludes each year. And the short-term competition makes for stunning upsets, just as college basketball’s March Madness does. Japan’s 2-1 upset over perennial power Germany this week is the global equivalent of a 16 seed knocking off a No. 1.

If that doesn’t whet your appetite, consider the winner plays, loser stays element. All 32 teams are currently in the group stage, where four teams play one another once each to determine which two advance. After that, it’s like the NFL playoffs. It doesn’t matter where you’re seeded in the FIFA rankings: You either win or go home. Each game has the intensity that makes college bowl games so exciting.

The final itself is an event that easily dwarfs the Super Bowl. It won’t have a halftime show, but it doesn’t need one. More than 1.1 billion people worldwide tuned in to part of the 2018 final — roughly 1 in 7 on the planet. The Super Bowl dominates American viewership but attracts little attention elsewhere, with a total global viewership of less than 200 million. Outside the United States, the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappé, not Tom Brady, are on everyone’s lips.

And this paragraph links to three good videos:

This alone is reason to join the fun now. It takes time to pick up the game’s intricacies, but even novices can appreciate the sheer individual brilliance that can make or break a game. You might see something akin to Gareth Bale’s famous bicycle kick or Son Heung-min dribble the length of the pitch to score. Or perhaps you’ll watch a historically controversial play, such as Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal against England in 1986. It’s like watching the NBA’s greats put on a show — once you see jazz in sporting form, you’re hooked.

*Finally, Iran’s victory over Wales brought out rancor between protestors of the Iranian government’s actions and supporters of the regime. And the team actually sang the Iranian national anthem this time; they were probably given the word: “Sing like a canary of you’ll wind up in Evin.”

From the AP:

Tensions ran high at Iran’s second match at the World Cup on Friday as fans supporting the Iranian government harassed those protesting against it and stadium security seized flags, T-shirts and other items expressing support for the protest movement that has gripped the Islamic Republic.

Some fans were stopped by security guards from bringing in Persian pre-revolutionary flags to the match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Others carrying such flags had them ripped from their hands by pro-government Iran fans, who also shouted insults at fans wearing T-shirts with the slogan of the protest movement gripping the country, “Woman, Life, Freedom.”

Unlike in their first match against England, the Iran players sang along to their national anthem before the match as some fans in the stadium wept, whistled and booed.

The national team has come under close scrutiny for any statements or gestures about the nationwide protests that have wracked [sic] Iran for weeks.

Shouting matches erupted in lines outside the stadium between fans screaming “Women, Life, Freedom” and others shouting back “The Islamic Republic!”

Mobs of men surrounded three different women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media outside the stadium, disrupting broadcasts as they angrily chanted, “The Islamic Republic of Iran!” Many female fans appeared shaken as Iranian government supporters shouted at them in Farsi and filmed them up close on their phones.

Here’s an AP photo of a protestor holding up the name of the woman beaten to death by Iranian authorities simply because she didn’t wear her hijab in the proper way. Amini’s death was the fuse that ignited the present explosion of protest against the theocratic regime.

(From the AP) An Iran team supporter cries as she holds a shirt that reads ‘Mahsa Amini’ prior to the start of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Here’s Shappi Khorsandi, Vice-President of the Humanists UK and a stand-up comedian, on the situation in Iran. (To see Shappi in full comedy action, go here. I’m a big fan.)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, it’s bedtime:

A: Enough of playing, we are going to sleep.
Hili: I’m sleeping already.
In Polish:
Ja: Koniec zabawy, idziemy spać.
Hili: Ja już śpię.


From Nicole, a useful hint for the holidays. (You’ll have to go inside to put and get the presents):

From Merilee, a Dave Coverly cartoon:

From Simon, who found this on Twitter:

God’s still writing bad poetry at Mastodon, so let’s have two tweets from Masih. The regime’s Men in Black are beating up civilian dissidents:

A tweet from Luana. Note that baby emus are striped, just like baby tapirs!

A smart cat, and one that likes its comforts, from Malcolm:

A salacious but sarcastic tweet from Ken, who notes, “Looks like there’s no doubt about what Twitter has become under the SpaceX Oddity (apologies to David Bowie); there is only haggling over the price.”

I don’t think Trump is gonna give in here. . . .

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a dapper Dutch lad, killed at age 16 in Auschwitz:

Tweets from Matthew. This one was so good that I retweeted it with my own caption. Watch the whole thing: it’s 2 minutes and 20 seconds of mesmerizing group flight. (Matthew and I share a love of murmurations, and we’re still not sure why birds do this: here they swoop about for more than two minutes.

There’s music if you want to turn the sound up. I wonder if people walk around this section of the floor:

Even adults like to play in the snow. I’m sure your Spanish is good enough to understand the caption.

55 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

    1. For those of you grownup children who don’t use cable, dish, or streaming, in honor of Schulz’ 100th, MeTV is showing Snoopy, Come Home tonight at 7:00.

      1. Oh, wow. I remember Charlie Brown’s song after Snoopy left being absolutely tear-jerking when I was a kid. I don’t think I could watch this even as an adult.

        “Juuust when you think…”

      1. Did you check they will not meet before the final? It might be a more exciting final for purists, but how often are finals dull affairs these days?

  1. I don’t agree with the quick judgement on Mastodon. Two points: First, because the network is dependent on myriad linked servers, each with its own content moderation policy, the user can choose one that is most desirable to them. Second, all you need to do is follow the hashtag #cats, and felines will descend on your feed in great numbers. I’m not leaving Twitter yet, but I’m enjoying exploring new options.

    1. I agree with you here, Bruce. I’ve signed up on Mastodon and also on which seems to be where an awful lot of the journalist-type refugees are headed. I wasn’t a very active Twitter user but had become a consumer of Ukraine war news that could be found there. Many of those sources are now moving to Mastodon and In any case, Twitter’s become a complete mess and I shut my account. Life is better without the constant elanodrama. Now that he’s reinstated all previously banned accounts I think it just a matter of time before Google and Apple kick the apps from their stores. There’s no future at the birdie site.

      1. In what way is Twitter now a “complete mess”? I’ve honestly not noticed any difference at all so far, and if you don’t want elonodrama then simply don’t follow Musk or anyone who continually Tweets about him.

        1. Twitter doesn’t exactly work that way. There are algorithms that decide to put tweets in your stream from people/bots that you have not followed. You can block them, sure. But I got tired of blocking the elonodrama. I can’t account for the fact that you haven’t noticed anything different.

          Half of the top 100 advertisers on Twitter have stopped advertising there. There is a reason for that. Advertisers have noticed the difference that you haven’t observed.

          1. Well, I for one don’t see people/bots that I’ve not followed. (I see adverts, obviously.) There’s certainly been no major difference in that since Musk. And I’ve not seen any elonodrama other than from accounts that I’m deliberately following.

            And I’m not sure I believe the reports that half of top-100 advertisers have stopped; here are too many people who want Musk to fail for me to treat reports from partisan groups at face value. (There seem to be many claims about Twitter currently that seem motivated by wanting it to fail.) And, it’s more likely that some advertisers have just adopted a “wait and see” pause, and it’s much more likely they are just being cautious rather than reacting to how Twitter actually now is.

              1. That’s very much a woke site railing against anything non-woke. And there’s no indication that advertisers that have paused for now (some indeed have) have done so as a result of assessing how Twitter actually is, as opposed to just being cautious.

              2. I expect better from you, Coel. There’s a list of companies that have suspended advertising and you come back with “woke”!

  2. “Ecuador outscored the Netherlands 3-1”. That is incorrect, the match ended in a tie: 1-1. The Netherlands and Ecuador lead group A, with the same points (4: a win and a draw) and the same goal difference (+2). The Netherlands beat Senegal 2-0, Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0.
    It was Senegal that beat Qatar 3-1 (I guess that is where the erroneous 3-1 score comes from) and is hence in 3rd place with 3 points. Qatar lost it’s first 2 matches and is pointless, with a goal difference of -4.
    The matches in group A still to be played are the Netherlands vs Qatar (the Netherlands are supposed to win that, although we’ve seen some upsets) and Senegal vs Ecuador (a much closer call).
    Qatar is the only team in group A that can’t possibly qualify for the next round anymore.

      1. I agree, on paper they should have routed Ecuador, they are basically the better team, but they didn’t. So yes, a draw between Ecuador and the Netherlands is a kind of minor upset.
        [Also note that the Netherlands is the only team to have reached the final three times, but never won (they lost in the final to Germany (2-1), Argentina(3-1 in extra time) and Spain). They lost to Spain 1-0 in extra-time (the notorious corner not given), Arjen Robben wasting 2 open goal chances in the 2nd half, in 2010. In 2014 they ‘destroyed’ Spain 5-1 in the first match (I think the van Persie header in that match was one of the greatest goals ever), but that ‘revenge’ was only in the group stages].

  3. Two things:

    1. I’m admittedly thick, but I don’t get the “No, your honor we haven’t reached a verdict yet” comic.

    2. The murmuration video is disappointingly pixilated for me. I don’t know if it’s due to the video or due to me having an underpowered monitor or due to Elon cheaping out.

    Okay, three things:

    3. Thanks to our host for fielding such a great selection of news and links and commentary daily!

    1. Why? The games are very different, for sure, but I’m curious what part of the women’s game you prefer over the men’s (I am not baiting, just curious).

      1. In part, I was just really taken in by the excitement of the first matches I’d ever watched, back in 2015 that culminated in the US vs Japan. The play just seemed more, I dunno, lively, and the players don’t act like such overgrown and overpaid babies (Cristiano Ronaldo leaps, or perhaps more accurately, flops, to mind). That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t watch the men’s matches in the future, if they’d play in a less morally reprehensible host nation, but women’s football is more enjoyable for me, for whatever reason. I don’t follow the sport, really. I don’t follow anything closely except baseball, never been to see the closest team to me, KC Current, but I’ve also never seen Sporting KC. I will probably pay more attention when Kansas City hosts matches for the 2026 World Cup. Probably won’t be able to avoid it if I tried.

  4. This week Trump dined with Nick Fuentes and Ye at Mar-a-Lago. The appalling ignoramus that he is, Trump is probably oblivious to how this event has damaged his campaign. Certainly, he will lose the support of many Republican Jews and party members that are appalled by anti-Semitism. Yet, I am not sure that Trump himself is an anti-Semite. That is, does he hold any personal animosity towards Jews as a group such as Fuentes does? Perhaps not. From my observations of him, taking into consideration that he is an extreme narcissist and sociopath, his attitude towards other people is based solely on whether he perceives that they like him or not and their degree of loyalty to him. For example, Trump considered Benjamin Netanyahu a good friend until the latter congratulated Biden on his victory when instantly the Israeli became a bitter enemy. All this adds up to is a frightening commentary on the state of American society that this extremely dangerous mentally ill person could once again be nominated for president by Republican voters and elected in the general.

    1. Well, one should not forget his son in law and close advisor, Jared Kushner, is an orthodox Jew, and his mentor Roy Cohn was Jewish too. So yes, I don’t think he’s actually a rabid antisemite (one small blessing), only when it suits him to smooch with his anti-semitic supporters.
      Indeed as a narcissist “his attitude towards other people is based solely on whether he perceives that they like him or not and their degree of loyalty to him”. I think that hits the nail on the head.

      1. There is no doubt that Trump promulgates pernicious stereotypes about Jews. But, does he really believe them or does he utter them as the result of the fact that most American Jews loathe him? Perhaps there is no difference in effect, but I was trying to understand Trump’s individual psychology. If American Jews were his ardent supporters, he would have nothing but good things to say about them.

  5. National Cake Day brings up a gripe of mine. It seems to be impossible to go into a restaurant and find a nice, simple piece of chocolate cake. Everything is Death by Chocolate or something of that nature, which I find unpalatable.

    1. It’s hard to find good cake anywhere. A nice three layer variety with a proper cake to frosting ratio, moist, not too dense, and with quality frosting that doesn’t give you that painful throat-tightening sugar gag. And spare me the masses of frosting flowers, fondants, or other unpalatable decorations. That’s just a preference, however. I will eat lesser quality offerings. One of the sweetest phrases in the English language is “who wants cake and ice cream?”, but I’d always rather hear “I hope you saved room for pie!”

      1. I think you would be talking chocolate cake with a nice not-too-sweet and not-too-thick ganache between the three or four layers like Ms M. makes. Whipped cream and strawberry coulis on the side until the batch gets used up — the cake lasts longer, but only by a little.

        Actually chocolate cake unadorned all by itself is pretty good.

      2. How do they say? I don’t want to have my cake and don’t want to eat it either. (Cakes are loaded with starches, a nono here).

  6. “The world can’t negotiate with a medieval regime like this.” I underscore this by Masih Alinejad and am thinking of a potential parallel to a would-be theocracy here in the USA, especially after having read this NYT article: At Protests, Guns Are Doing the Talking

  7. The Shah’s soldiers refused to fire on the revolutionary guards, because they were shielding themselves behind women and young girls. I fear the Guards of the present regime have no such compunctions. After all, Allah is on their side.

  8. a group of major pro-censorship Twitter personalities have decided they need to leave the place altogether. They’ve gone en masse to a new platform called Mastodon

    Is this significantly different from people in the New Right who left Twitter to join the Truth Social and Parler platforms?

    I do prefer the idea of Mastodon, a decentralized system, where anyone can host a private node, but I want nothing to do with social media. I briefly joined a closed ecosystem, a small social network exclusively for members of a club, with well under 100 participants. It took under six months for it to turn into a toxic wasteland.

    People today use the expression ‘a few bad apples‘ to refer to isolated incidents, forgetting larger context; the actual expression is ‘a few bad apples spoil the bunch’, meaning that a few people can destroy an entire group, which is why even small social media platforms seem to be doomed to fail.

    1. If anyone’s keeping tabs, I join you in wanting nothing to do with social media, one of the biggest swindles ever foisted upon humanity. I’m still on LinkedIn, if you want to call it social media, which I’ve used as a kind of glorified Rolodex, but I’m seriously considering jettisoning it, too, not because it runs rife with offal like Twitter but because per contra the posts are sickeningly saccharine and clichéd, and it’s de rigueur for posters to suck up with others as much as possible.

  9. Why does Fuentes have an orange pumpkin on his right-hand side? Someone should tell him that, according to Toby, the Christians are the ones who will go to hell because Judaism is the one true religion. It is the Christians who spurned God to follow an imposter.

  10. I hope you figure out a way to watch your favourite teams, Jerry. I guess you don’t have cable TV? It’s almost all day soccer on TV in Canada. Surely the games are on TV in the staff and student lounges on campus or at sports bars near you.

    1. It’s a hung jury: 11 dogs and 1 cat.

      The deeper implication, of course, is whether ‘diverse’ juries can judge individuals, or whether people should only be judged by members of their demographic identity-groups: should a trans shooter only be judged by other trans people? And do you have to dig deeper to find similar racial/religious/generational groups?

      1. At some point in your tribal digging you will find it becomes impossible to convict people. And if a white farmer kills a Black or Indigenous robber/trespasser, should he get an all-white jury of other farmers?

        Ken could enlighten us but a jury of one’s peers surely just means that a commoner should face a jury of commoners, not aristocrats.

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