Monday: Hili dialogue

November 28, 2022 • 6:45 am

Good morning at the top o’ the work week: Monday, November 28, 2022, and National French Toast Day.  It should be known, though, as ROMAN TOAST since Wikipedia says this:

The earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 1st century CE, where it is described as simply aliter dulcia ‘another sweet dish’. The recipe says to “Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] fry in oil, cover with honey and serve”

This was one of my childhood favorites that my mom would make if I was a good boy. I haven’t had it in ages. Here’s a photo and a recipe.

It’s also Turkey Leftover Day, Red Planet Day, honoring the first vehicle to fly by Mars, the Mariner 4, launched on this day in 1964. And it’s Letter Writing Day (when’s the last time you wrote a real letter to a friend or loved one (cards don’t count)?

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 28 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Led by students (as in Iran), Chinese people are protesting en masse against their government—in China’s case its draconian lockdown policy. The trigger was a fire in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjian Province, which killed ten people; the protestors claim that because of the lockdown policy, firefighters couldn’t get close to the blaze (one source said that the building doors were locked).  The protests are country-wide, and have morphed from criticism of the lockdown to criticism of the government and its Party leaders:

Protests erupted in cities and on campuses across China this weekend as frustrated and outraged citizens took to the streets in a stunning wave of demonstrations against the government’s “zero covid” policy and the leaders enforcing it.

Residents in Shanghai, China’s most populous city, came together Saturday night and early Sunday, calling for the end of pandemic lockdowns and chanting, “We want freedom!” and “Unlock Xinjiang, unlock all of China!” according to witnesses at the event. In even more extraordinary scenes of public anger aimed at the government’s top leader, a group of protesters there chanted, “Xi Jinping, step down!” and “Communist Party, step down!”

“There were people everywhere,” said Chen, a 29-year-old Shanghai resident who arrived at the vigil around 2 a.m. Sunday. “At first people were yelling to lift the lockdown in Xinjiang, and then it became ‘Xi Jinping, step down, Communist Party step down!’” he said, giving only his surname because of security concerns.

. . .Such demonstrations are extremely rare in China, where authorities move quickly to stamp out all forms of dissent. Authorities are especially wary of protests at universities, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 that spread across the country and ended in a bloody crackdown and massacre around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

At Communication University of China in Nanjing, posters mocking “zero covid” were taken down on Saturday, prompting one student to stand for hours holding a blank piece of paper in protest. Hundreds of students joined in solidarity.

Some placed flowers on the ground to honor the fire victims and chanted, “Rest in peace.” Others sang the Chinese national anthem as well as the left-wing anthem “The Internationale.” They shouted, “Long live the people!”

For example:

*The World Cup results for today (click to enlarge):

Germany, behind by one goal, pulled even with Spain via an 83rd-minute strike by Niclas Füllkrug to achieve a tie. Had they lost, they would have had to go home. Here’s a short video of that game’s highlights:

The 2-0 win of Morocco over Belgium was totally unexpected, and led to riots breaking out in both Belgium and the Netherlands. Some highlights:

Here are the highlights from Costa Rica’s 1-0 victory over Japan:

*According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Soccer foundation found itself in hot water after making a social-media post intended to show support to those protesting the Iranian regime. Here’s what they posted (it’s now gone):

What’s the issue here? Well, look at the Iranian flag emblem.  It’s missing something, for here’s what the flag normally looks like:

Ergo the issue:

With the U.S. and Iran set to play a high-stakes match in the World Cup here on Tuesday, the U.S. soccer federation took to social media to make what it said was a statement of support for protesters inside Iran: an altered version of the Iranian flag.

Then, Sunday afternoon, the team deleted the post, which wasn’t run past U.S. players or coaches and inflamed tensions with the Iranians ahead of a decisive showdown on the field.

The federation’s action had resulted in an Iranian soccer official calling for a FIFA investigation and disciplinary action against the Americans, just two days before a match the U.S. must win in order to advance.

The post from the U.S. team’s Instagram account, dated two days ago, depicted the Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The emblem, four curves with a sword between them, represents “there is no God but Allah,” which is part of the Islamic declaration of faith.

. . .A spokesman for U.S. soccer had said the post was a one-time showing of support for the protestors. The team’s players and coaches were not consulted on the posting, the spokesman said, adding that the plan was to show their support in one post and then revert back to using the country’s official flag. 

The spokesman said the decision to remove the post came after more internal conversations on the matter.

The Iranian semiofficial ISNA news agency said the U.S. decision to remove the emblem went against FIFA regulations and that the violation of those rules should lead to a fine or ban.

And no beer, either!

*This is a good decision: Whole Foods has decided to stop selling Maine lobsters. And even if you don’t care about the death of lobsters, realize that they did it not to save lobsters, but to save whales:

Environmental groups are once again at odds with politicians and fishermen in New England in the wake of a decision by high-end retail giant Whole Foods to stop selling Maine lobster.

Whole Foods recently said that it will stop selling lobster from the Gulf of Maine at hundreds of its stores around the country. The company cited decisions by a pair of sustainability organizations to take away their endorsements of the U.S. lobster fishing industry.

The organizations, Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch, both cited concerns about risks to rare North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear. Entanglement in gear is one of the biggest threats to the whales.

The decision by Whole Foods was an “important action to protect the highly endangered” whale, said Virginia Carter, an associate with the Save America’s Wildlife Campaign at Environment America Research & Policy Center.

Other organizations like Seafood Watch have also put lobster fishing on the red list, and for the same reason: danger to whales. Doesn’t anybody care about teh crustaceans?

Maine, of course, doesn’t like this:

The company’s decision to stop selling lobster drew immediate criticism in Maine, which is home to the U.S.’s largest lobster fishing industry. The state’s Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and its four-member congressional delegation said in a statement that Marine Stewardship Council’s decision to suspend its certification of Gulf of Maine lobster came despite years of stewardship and protection of whales by Maine fishermen.

“Despite this, the Marine Stewardship Council, with retailers following suit, wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science,” Mills and the delegation said.

Well, what does SCIENCE say about this? I have no idea.

*Pamela Paul’s NYT columns are always worth reading, though of course some are better than others. This week she takes on pop culture: “Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and the reality of imperfection” Paul’s thesis is that the Zeitgeist has made many women lay claim to mental illness (not that they don’t have it), even if they’re hugely successful like Gomez and Swift.

By most measures, Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift are remarkable women. Intelligent and capable, they’ve succeeded through innate talent, hard and sustained work, ambition and vision. Both are the kind of mega pop stars who inspire convulsions of adulation and tears. Crowds surge and part in their presence. They’re graced with a radiance that seems almost exclusive to celebrities, with skin so incandescent it needs no filter.

But they are not perfect. Nor, importantly, do they pretend to be. A recent Apple TV+ documentary, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” offers an unsparing portrait of Gomez, now 30, and her experiences with bipolar disorder, lupus, anxiety and psychosis. On her latest album, “Midnights,” Taylor Swift, 32, sings about her depression working the graveyard shift, about ending up in crisis. “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me / It’s me, hi, everybody agrees, everybody agrees,” goes the song “Anti-Hero.” “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby / And I’m a monster.”

This combination of external flawlessness and emotional vulnerability feels like a feature particular to contemporary female pop stardom. On one screen we see impeccable glam, expertly choreographed and costumed performances and startling displays of luxury. On the other screen, admissions of anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks and sleeplessness.

Paul implies, but doesn’t state, that mental health issues have increased significantly more for young girls than for young boys, but that is indeed the case.  (If this is at all connected with gender dysphoria, then it might also help explain the much higher number of biological girls wanting to become transsexual than do biological boys). The important question is why the sex difference? Now that would have been an interesting column. Instead, the ending is rather lame:

It may be that each generation gets a slate of pop stars attuned to its own aspirations and insecurities. Young women may be able to better relate to today’s pop stars — for better and for worse.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s resting in the wood basket.

A: I’m going to fetch wood.
Hili: Leave this basket alone.
In Polish:
A: Idę po drewno.
Hili: Ten kosz zostaw w spokoju.


A message from a woman whose boyfriend (presumably the car’s owner) cheated on her.

From David:

From Don:

Over at Mastodon, whose “roars” I can’t embed here, God is writing poetry—this time a pretty good imitation of Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night“:

Two tweets from Masih.  Do read the WaPo article linked in the first one.

And I can’t really decry this; it’s a form of civil disobedience and nobody is injured:

From Nick Christakis via reader cesar. A trigger warning for evolution in a science museum, for crying out loud!

From Malcolm. The Iranian football team is already in trouble for not singing the national anthem in its first game (they did in the second, for they know what would happen if they persisted and then returned home). But here, a few days ago, the team captain empathizes with the Iranian protestors.

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a fantastic example of camouflage, one in which both the morphology and behavior of the caterpillar has evolved.  Look how it walks along the leaf vein! UPDATE: I learned that this is the caterpillar of the common baron butterfly, Euthalia aconthea (h/t Luana). 

Note the little butt shake at the end. Someone on Twitter asked me why don’t bats just hang right-side up and pee normally, like birds do? I answered, but try to think of the answer yourself:

And a lovely dappled deer. Its color will make it more visible to hunters and predators, so I hope it’ll be okay:

37 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. The lobster fishery isn’t a threat to whales – it is an inshore business in shallow waters where great whales tend not to be found. There are no nets, just a wire cage trap, a line and a float. Whales are far more likely to suffer from the huge nets that are used for deep sea fisheries, and especially the bottom-draggers like those for scallops. Our biggest problem up here is the secret and furtive purchases of our large lobster pound businesses by the Chinese. Where they can, such as on Cape Sable Island, they don’t throw back the little ones or the egg-bearing females: they send the lot on to China. Occasionally they get caught, but still carry on with the same practices. See
    Which brings to mind another evolutionary effect we are having on lobsters, explored in the Economist:

    And with respect to French toast, I did something similar yesterday when I decided to make a bread pudding with pumpernickel bread crumbs. It was remarkably like a Christmas pudding in texture and taste. Easy and yummy!

    1. I agree that lobster fishing with those lobster cages pose an insignificant risk to whales, if at all. There is a reason there are no reported cases, I’d think.
      I think environmental organisations should think twice before going after poorly documented or undocumented -and in this case probably imaginary- threats. You lose credibility if you do that. There definitely are real, well documented, threats, better concentrate on those.

        1. I don’t doubt that lobster gear is a threat (long lines connected to floating bouys? seems reasonable) but as your link says, it is very difficult to tell what kind of gear caused an entanglement.

          If you go to NOAA’s website -the entangled-film website cited NOAA but gave no links to source documents- you will find that of the few whales whose entanglements are identfied, none were identified positively as lobster gear. In fact, I could find no reference to lobster gear except as a being a member of a general group of potential fishing hazards (two entanglements of Right whales in 2017, though in Canadian waters, were identified as being snow crab gear). But, of ocurse, I did not do a thorough search of NOAA publications for the data entangled-film claims is there, so perhaps I missed it. I do wish people would cite their sources!

          There are muliple sources of entanglement reports at NOAA and one place to begin is here.

          1. I have grown to distrust information from activists. Unbiased information is a lot harder to seek out these days, and activist groups are not always transparent about their motivations.
            I could see some group that competes with the Maine lobster industry funding an opposition organization, and holding lots of focus group type meetings. It might well be that whales were found to elicit empathy from the general population, so they generated a campaign that links whales with Maine lobster.
            I don’t know that this is the case in this instance, but the connections in the document linked seem more implied than proven.

          2. Proof is the key. If boats adhere to a standard, but then we get into the cheaters/pirates who have always been and will never go away and all is a fucked situation because all won’t adhere. Commons…yeah, right. Only until everyone agrees to them. I’ve been hit over the head with that reality and it hurts. But that’s the reality in 12/2022 in most of the inhabited planet.

  2. The mental health problem in the United States goes far beyond young women. Both the Democratic and Republican parties systematically took down the mental health industry in the 1950s through 1970s. There is very little mental health care for anyone other than the wealthy. Few insurance plans cover mental health issues and trying to get an appointment with a mental health professional can take months. A large portion of the homeless have mental health issues. Many of the mass shootings involve someone with previously known mental health issues.

    1. The mental health crisis goes well beyond what you have described. Mental health is not achieved by a “one and done” visit to a mental health professional. It could take, months, years or never of visits to determine what combination of talk therapy and drugs is best for the patient. The efficacy of talk therapy and/or drugs has proven not to be effective for at least a substantial minority of patients. Finding the right fit between a patient and therapist is often difficult, meaning that the patient may need to “sample” various therapists to find the right one for her.

      From my observations and readings, I have concluded that the mental health field of the medical profession is not far from the Dark Ages. The scientific understanding of mental illnesses has a long way to go, effective treatment even more so. Patients that do improve do so by trial and error more than anything else. So, even if a person manages to see a mental health professional, that is nothing more than the first step on a hundred mile journey with no guarantee that it will ever be completed. Even worse, it is extremely difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of any mental health professional. At the best, there are only patient anecdotes and observations of patient behavior. Meanwhile, those dispensing mental health help do quite well financially.

      1. ” I have concluded that the mental health field of the medical profession is not far from the Dark Ages. ”

        Absolutely correct.

      2. I wish I could disagree, both as a medical professional (no longer in practice) and as a longtime recipient of attempts at mental healthcare that have been less than roaringly successful. But I can’t.

      3. +1
        There seems to be this unspoken consensus from America’s political leaders that Americans are simply too exceptional to suffer from mental health. Sure, heart failure is real, but mental illness?…not so much. It’s also one of those “inconvenient truths” that remains in the shadows.

  3. And I can’t really decry this; it’s a form of civil disobedience and nobody is injured: Video received from the city of Shiraz shows a young schoolgirl knocking turban off clerics’ head on a crowded metro platform with no fear.

    Taking clothes off of someone – without their consent?

    At first, I was reminded of the German tradition of women cutting men’s ties on Fat Thursday. Then I started wondering what would happen if people in the US started knocking MAGA hats to the ground; I fully expect that it would escalate to a “stand your ground” shooting. I don’t support people knocking placards out of protesters’ hands, either This would all legally be considered assault – and I think it should.

  4. Had they lost, they would have had to go home.

    Had Germany lost, the point table would read Spain-6; Japan-3; Costa Rica 3; Germany-0; with Germany to play Costa Rica and Spain to play Japan. So I think, even with a loss, Germany stood an outside chance of going through with a win over Costa Rica and a favourable goal difference, if Spain beat Japan.

    I am a bit skeptical about the evolution trigger warning. What was the museum?

    Thomas Nagel will be interested in the acrobat pee tweet.

    1. Not an “outside chance”. If Germany beats Costa Rica and Spain beats Japan (probably the two most likely results), Germany definitely would go through (see my post below for the reasoning).

  5. I don’t know what science has gone into the lobster fishing/whale issue but one thing that is true; even the Monterey Bay Aquarium (via their group Seafood Watch), who is the source of the claim tha lobster fishing endangers whales, admits that there have been no whales known to have been killed or harmed by lobster pot gear.

    It seems odd for a group like Seafood Watch, which normally takes pains to cite evidence for their claims and I do follow their buying guide as best as I can, to base a claim on what they admit is no actual evidence.

    My guess is even though no whales are known to have been harmed by lobster fishing gear, it isn’t difficult to see (to them anyway) that the gear itself presents a real danger, especially to animals who face similar threats from other gear.

    1. My guess — and it is an unsupported guess — is that the reasoning goes something like:
      1.) Who eats lobster? Rich white people, that’s who.
      2.) We all know what that means.
      3.) Lobster fishing endangers whales.

      1. Both unsuported and cynical. Do you doubt that these people and organizations care about conserving right whales?

        1. “Do you doubt that these people and organizations care about conserving right whales?”

          I trust that they no less care about the marshalling of evidence.

    2. I can accept the claims that there is no evidence for harm from lobster fishing gear when used as intended. But isn’t it possible that the gear drifts away from where it is moored, and it moves farther out to sea to where it entangles whales?

      1. Most “soft” ropes (i.e., non-steel ropes) for marine use are designed to be buoyant. It makes it easier to get them back if you drop them over the side.
        Finding tons of rope and netting along strand lines is a natural corollary. How many years some of that stuff has been floating free is unknown.

    3. I suspect here (tongue-in-cheek) a carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation by the Canadian East Coast Lobster Fishery to shut Gulf-of-Maine competitors out of the industry. From Cape Sable (near Yarmouth) all the way around the coasts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Quebec to Gaspé, not to mention Newfoundland, these delicious crustaceans can be trapped without endangering any right whales in the Gulf. (There is the little matter of oil tankers thrashing their way in and out of the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, to the Irving refinery but if you want to blame whale deaths on your lobstermen, fine with us.)

      Much of the East Coast lobster (and vertebrate) fishery is a consortium of First-Nation entrepreneurs and licensees who see it as a welcome opportunity to escape the welfare-dependency-despondency cycle of dysfunction of Reserve life. If you eat Canadian lobsters you are doing genuine good for a people who deserve to catch an honest break. How you cook them is up to you.

      Your distributors should make an effort to guarantee that lobsters they buy are caught in season. A few Indigenous renegades claim a right, based in Ways of Knowing*, to catch lobsters out of season, when the females are laden with eggs which are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. Their view is that if this endangers the lobster population, settler fishermen should give up their licences. There are lots of lobsters to go around if the world’s foodies will respect the season and boycott illegal catches.
      *They claim this right under an old treaty with the English Crown, even though lobsters were unknown to the Indigenous people before contact as they cannot be caught in weirs in esturaries–the subject of the treaty–but require sea-worthy boats capable of navigating the open ocean.

  6. Edit: Ninja’d by Chetiya Sahabandu, but I’ll leave it here because he didn’t explain the goal difference situation

    Had [Germany] lost, they would have had to go home.

    I do not think this is the case. Had they lost, the table would be:

    Spain – 6
    Japan – 3
    Costa Rica – 3
    Germany – 0

    If they beat Costa Rica and Spain beat Japan, it would come down to goal difference. Germany is on -1 and Japan is on 0. By losing to Spain, Japan’s goal difference would be at best -1 and by beating Costa Rica, Germany’s would be, at worst 1. Germany would go through.

  7. Belgium beaten by Morocco 2-0, now that is another real upset. Belgium is ranked no 2, Morocco is ranked no 22.
    On a trivial note, there are quite a few Belgian players of Moroccan origins.

  8. I love all permutations of French toast. Especially the Monte Cristo sandwich- French toast sandwich with ham and melted gruyere cheese topped with powdered sugar and a side of raspberry jam. Yumz.

    It made my day when I woke up with mom making French toast for breakfast- it was also my favorite.

  9. It very well may be that China should abandon its current Covid modus operandi.

    Anthony Fauci has recently held forth on the matter. Now that he’s footloose and fancy-free perhaps he should hire himself out to advise China. Perhaps he – and the U.S. mainstream media – would care to equally hold forth on the efficacy/accuracy of the China and U.S. Covid death numbers shown on Somehow these greatly disparate numbers are not mentioned in U.S. media reporting. If the China figure is suspect, is the U.S. figure also?

    Over the last few weeks the NY Times has not missed a chance to make the China Zero Covid policy-China economy connection. I wonder if the Times is really more concerned about the effect on the U.S. economy.

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