Friday: Hili dialogue

December 2, 2022 • 6:45 am

Welcome to the first Friday in December: December 2, 2022, and National Fritter Day. I like corn (a little syrup on it doesn’t hurt) as a savory, and apple fritters as a treat.

Luscious corn fritters

It’s also Business of Popping Corn Day (the license for the company that eventually created commercial popcorn machines was granted on this day in 1885, Bartender Appreciation Day, Faux Fur Friday (actually, wearing faux fur might encourage people to wear the real thing), National Mutt Day, Safety Razor Day, and International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 2 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Congress, in charge of regulating interstate commerce, has the power to avert the impending railroad strike since it could substantial economic damage. The House passed the bill two days ago, but it looked dicier in the Senate. However, yesterday the Senate also passed the bill, which forces a settlement on terms agreed on by negotiators but not labor itself. It now goes to Biden, who will sign it.

The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to impose a labor agreement between rail companies and their workers who have been locked in a stubborn stalemate, moving with uncommon speed to avert a potential holiday season rail strike that would jeopardize shipping across the country.

Passage of the measure cleared it to be signed by President Biden, who just days ago made a personal appeal for Congress to act to impose a labor agreement his administration helped negotiate earlier this year, but which had failed to resolve the dispute. He was expected to sign it quickly, racing to stave off any economic fallout that could come from a work stoppage in the coming days.

It was the first time since the 1990s that Congress has used its power under the Constitution’s commerce clause, which allows it to regulate interstate commerce, to intervene in a national rail labor dispute.

The action came a day after the House overwhelmingly approved the measure, which would force the companies and their workers to abide by the tentative agreement reached in September. It would include a 24-percent increase in wages over five years, more schedule flexibility and one additional paid day off. Several rail unions had rejected it because it lacked paid leave time.

Progressive Democrats wanted to add that paid leave time, and Republicans a “cooling off period”, but both failed. The final vote was 80-15, and so truly bipartisan:

Senate Democrats, under pressure from progressives to insist on the additional compensated time off for workers, tried and failed to push through a House-passed measure to add seven days of paid medical leave to the agreement. It was defeated 52-43, failing to secure the necessary 60 votes needed to pass.

And Republicans failed to win adoption of their proposal to extend the Dec. 9 negotiation deadline by 60 days, to provide a cooling-off period and avoid congressional intervention in the dispute. It failed on a vote of 70-25.

Ultimately, a broad bipartisan group set aside reservations about inserting Congress into the labor dispute and backed the agreement that the Biden administration negotiated. The vote was 80-15, with Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, voting “present.”

*Now here’s a misguided op-ed in the WaPo by Ellie Geranmayeh, a “senior policy fellow and deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations.” This chowderhead thinks we can still prevent Iran from getting the bomb, as she writes in “We still need a nuclear deal with Tehran. Protests won’t change that.

Last month, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran said that nuclear talks with Tehran were unlikely to continue anytime soon. “If these negotiations are not happening, it’s because of Iran’s position and everything that has happened since [September],” said Robert Malley, citing Iran’s crackdown on protests, its transfer of drones to Russia and its continuing imprisonment of American citizens.

His comments, which echoed a widespread unease with Iran in the West, are understandable. And yet none of the issues he cited changes the grim reality that Iran is now just days away from having enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb — and that the international community is doing nothing to stop it. Unless that changes, the world is headed inexorably for a new nuclear crisis. A revised diplomatic track still represents the most effective pathway forward.

Iran’s relations with the West have hit rock-bottom after almost two years of failed negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. That impasse has been compounded by Tehran’s repressive response to the wave of protests that began in September, which has reportedly left more than 400 dead and thousands imprisoned.

“Failed negotiations” is a redundancy when it refers to trying to talk Iran out of its bomb. She continues:

The International Atomic Energy Agency recently passed yet another in a series of resolutions reprimanding Iran for its lack of cooperation with the agency. This censure is the right move, but it doesn’t fix the larger problem. Iran responded to the IAEA’s rebuke by restarting high-level enrichment of uranium at its underground Fordow nuclear site — something that it is expressly prohibited from doing under the original nuclear deal. Iranian officials have also claimed that they plan to install more advanced centrifuges, which would significantly enhance Iran’s capabilities to produce nuclear weapons. The current trajectory is certain to leave the agency, the United States and Europe in a near-total blackout as Iran marches toward becoming a nuclear threshold state.

Give me a break! Iran wants a nuclear weapon, and it’s always been on the path to get one. I’m stupefied that Geranmayeh, an “expert”, thinks we can stop the juggernaut by negotiating with Iran.

*Today’s World cup scores and commentary from CNN: Japan and Spain advance, while the German team, beating Costa Rica 4-2, is out and has to go back to Deutschland.

We have a final at Al Bayt Stadium, with Germany winning 4-2.

The Germans roared back in the second half and scored two late goals for a commanding victory. But to no avail.

Ultimately, the action determining whether Germany could advance to the Round of 16 was taking place in the other Group E match, where Japan defeated Spain 2-1, assuring both those teams will advance.

Japan beating Spain has to be an upset. From the NYT:

It was an incredible match.

Spain had expectedly dominated the ball in the first half, keeping Japan on the chase and then, striker Alvaro Morata had secured the opening goal for Spain early in the match too.

But Japan stood up a phenomenal campaign against La Roja Fuera, getting two goals one after the other in the 48th and 51st minutes. Spain was just unable to reply throughout the second half.

The Blue Samurai’s triumphant advance to the Round of 16 atop Group E is especially spectacular give the stats: the team only had possession of the ball for less than 20% of the entire match, and lesser attempted shots at the Spanish goal too.

Spain also squeaked through to the knockout round as Costa Rica failed to defeat Germany.

Five minutes of highlights for aficionados. Spain goal at 0:42 ; Japan goals at 2:04 and 2:31,

And Costa Rica loses to Germany. Though Germany won, Deutschland ist am ende. Likewise with Costa Rica—both gone.

*From the BBC via Malcolm: kitten hitches 250-mile ride on a lorry engine. Look at this lovely kitty, currently named “Yorkie”:

Yorkie had an adventure:

The owner of a kitten which is thought to have hitched a 250 mile (400km) ride under the bonnet of a lorry is being sought by the RSPCA.

The black and white cat was discovered when an Asda truck, which had travelled from Southampton, delivered to a supermarket in Liscard, Merseyside.

The RSPCA said: “He arrived covered in oil and very frightened but thankfully otherwise unscathed.”

Nicknamed Yorkie, the charity is urging his owner to get in touch.

He has been scanned to see if he was micro-chipped – which would have shown details of his owner – but unfortunately no chip was found.

The RSPCA said: “We can’t imagine how frightened he must have been travelling down the M6 at 60mph next to a big noisy engine.

“Poor Little Yorkie has had quite a journey and we are really keen to find his owners.
Protip: Check under your “bonnet” (aka “hood”) before you drive off, especially in winter. And if “Yorkie” were a true Yorkshire cat, he’d say to other cats: “You think YOU had it bad in winter: I had to keep warm by riding on the engine of a lorry to Merseyside!”

*The Associated Press has a large collection of what it considers its best photos of 2022, though the year isn’t over yet. Here are a few with their captions, but click to enlarge them. There are 153 photos–go see them all!

Bodies are lowered into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022, as people cannot bury their dead because of the heavy shelling by Russian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)


A resident wounded in a Russian attack lies in an ambulance before being taken to a hospital in Kherson, Ukraine, on Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)


A teacher dries out books at a school that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian in La Coloma, in the province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Mahtab, an 8-year-old Hazara Shiite student, poses for a photo in her classroom at the Abdul Rahim Shaheed School in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 23, 2022, days after a bombing attack at the school. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Relatives and friends attend the funeral ceremony for 4-year-old Liza, who was killed by a Russian attack along with 22 others, in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, on July 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s on the roof of the veranda and wants to get into the lodgers’ flat. She asks Szaron for a favor.

Hili: Can you let me in?
Szaron: No, but Paulina will surely do it when she puts her camera away.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Czy możesz mnie wpuścić?
Szaron: Nie, ale jak Paulina odłoży aparat to pewnie cię wpuści.


From Reader Pliny the in Between’s Far Corner Cafe: The first page of his Advent calendar, “Christmas in the Donbas”:

From Merilee:

From Malcolm: A kid who, amazingly young, produces great art out of wire:

The two people I “follow” on Twitter for humor (and by “follow” I mean “go and look at their feeds”) have gone largely silent: The Tweet of God and Titania McGrath. And so we begin with Masih, who runs not a funny site but a passionate and compassionate one, fighting for the civil rights of Iranians, especially women:

From Simon and Smith Powell: a Biblical AI song about ducks, and it’s not half bad. Amazing what computers can do!

From Malcolm; what a lovely way to show the Earth’s rotation!

From Barry, who says “this cat proves to be a surprisingly competent piano player”. Sound up, of course, and click on “Watch on Twitter”:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a Norwegian Jew marched to his death.

And some tweets from Manchester Uni’s renowned Professor Cobb.  Speaking of ducks, here’s some convergent evolution.

From the ScienceNews summary:

Natovenator polydontus may be the first known nonbird dinosaur to have possessed a streamlined body comparable to that of modern diving birds, researchers report December 1 in Communications BiologyNatovenator and other closely related dinosaurs may have been swimming predators, the researchers say, challenging the popular notion that all dinos were landlubbers.

Natovenator was small like a duck and probably used its forelimbs when swimming, says Yuong-Nam Lee, a vertebrate paleontologist at Seoul National University in South Korea. “We think that Natovenator lived in shallow water and ate small fish,” he says.

Of this census of Jews in England and Wales, Matthew says, ”

Surprised it is so few. I had never thought about it but I suppose I would have guessed around a million. Not sure why.

I love this one:

22 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Belgium going out was almost as big an upset as losing Germany.

    There is a suggestion that Spain threw the match with Japan because the draw looks a little easier for the second placed team – Morocco instead of Croatia.

    I’m a bit puzzled about how whales have managed to map the entirety of several large land masses, but not the Americas or Asia.

    1. I saw the whale map yesterday, and had that same question. But I think North America and coastal parts of Asia are shown – it is difficult to follow all of the projection, but basically those lands are shown spread out all around the perimeter of the map.

      1. In the left most bulge you can see the Gulf of Mexico (recognizable by Florida, Cuba, Yucatan,…) and traveling down, the East coast of Mexico and Central America. There is a gap where the Panama Canal could be, and a slender bit of the Pacific. That ought to be re-entrant somewhere on the lower right, but I can’t really make out the west coasts of the Americas.

        1. The Pacific coast of the Americaas runs along the bottom half of this map from left [South America] to right {North America]. Look for Baja California, then convex curve of CA and Oregon, finally Alaska and jump to Siberia with the large peninsula of Kamchatka.

    2. I’m a bit puzzled abo it how whales could make such a map without shorting out their computers. Saltwater and circuitry mix.

      1. Salt water and metal circuitry don’t mix well. Salt water and neurochemical electrical circuitry mix perfectly well – neurochemistry being based on salty water with a little fat, after all.

  2. According to Wikipedia (I know…) :

    Jews in the UK now number around 275,000, with over 260,000 of these in England, which contains the second largest Jewish population in Europe (behind France) and the fifth largest Jewish community worldwide.
    […] It is generally believed that Jews are undercounted in censuses due to a disinclination on the parts of some community members to reveal their ethnoreligious background and practice, so these numbers may be low estimates.

  3. There is little choice but to schedule the last two round-robin World Cup games for a given group at the same time, lest teams gain an advantage by knowing the result of the other match. This does, however, pose a dilemma for the television viewer: which game to watch? I opted for Japan-Spain, but after the first half Spain seemed to have the match well in hand and I couldn’t imagine another miracle for the Japanese (i.e., a comeback win against a top team), so I went over to Germany-Costa Rica, where I figured I’d see some goals. I wasn’t wrong but I ended up switching back to Japan-Spain when I heard Japan had scored, and back again to the other match when I heard that Costa Rica had scored.

    The German team was put into a terrible position. They knew that they of course had to come back when they were down 2-1 to Costa Rica, but by doing so they were letting Spain off the hook, who could then allow themselves to be beaten by Japan and not get eliminated by Costa Rica. I have to wonder how hard Spain tried to tie their match when it was clear that they would qualify despite a loss and, by finishing second in the group, next play Morocco who unexpectedly finished atop their group, rather than Croatia; in addition, a Spanish loss would result in the elimination of a very dangerous top rival in Germany.

    The round-robin format may be like democracy (to paraphrase Churchill): terrible, but all the others are worse.

    1. Letting Spain off the hook would not have crossed their minds. Germany had to win to stay in the competition. Spain also going out would have been no consolation.

      The reality of the situation is that Germany was always up against it from the moment that Japan beat them.

      The real shock of group F is not that Morocco finished top, but that they qualified at all, rather than Belgium who I would have said were nailed on winners before the tournament started.

  4. Donald Trump took another one on the chin in the courts yesterday. A panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals — three Republican-appointees, including two appointed by Trump himself — reversed district judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling appointing a special master to review the documents Trump purloined from the White House and spirited away to his private residence at Mar-a-Lago.

    The court ruled that Judge Cannon had no jurisdiction to hear the case and dismissed the entire megillah — revealing it for the pretext it was get the case away from the federal magistrate-judge in Palm Beach County who issued the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago by taking the case 68 miles up the road to the Southern District of Florida’s Ft. Pierce satellite division where the only sitting judge is a Donald Trump appointee.

    The unanimous 21-page per curiam opinion is available here.

  5. I understand the purpose of the legislation to force the contract between the railroads and the railroad workers. But what happens if the workers reject the law and go on strike anyway? I haven’t seen that question posed anywhere.

    1. Workers who went on strike anyway would be in breach of their (now imposed) contract with their employer, who could fire them for cause. If the union participated in this wildcat strike, by putting up pickets for example, the employer would seek damages against it.

      One of the benefits a union itself gets from a collective agreement is that the employer deducts union dues from the paycheques of all workers in the bargaining unit whether they individually belong to the union or not and remits the money to the union. The union reps don’t have to go round the workplace every payday trying to collect dues and listening to excuses. The employer would not be bound to provide this service to the union if the union called a wildcat strike. You could have a situation where only 10% of the employees were refusing to work but the union would forgo the dues from the 90% who were getting paid.

  6. > [Titania McGrath has] gone largely silent

    Interesting. I don’t normally do Twitter, but found a post from five weeks ago where he opposes Musk’s takeover. I’m not sure whether the post reflected the author’s true sentiment. Titania has been suspended from Twitter before , and one of ‘her’ three posts in the last month has been a retweet of her author, comedian Andrew Doyle, who is still actively posting to Twitter. You can still follow Andrew for your funnies.

  7. Just wanted to share this interesting find, from the Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, noble prize winner in economics, from his popularizing book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’:

    “The psychologist Paul Bloom, writing in The Atlantic in 2005, presented the provocative claim that our inborn readiness to separate physical and intentional causality explains the near universality of religious beliefs. He observes that ‘we perceive the world of objects as essentially separate from the world of minds, making it possible for us to envision soulless bodies and bodiless souls.’ The two modes of causation that we are set to perceive make it natural for us to accept the two central beliefs of many religions: an immaterial divinity is the ultimate cause of the physical world, and immortal souls temporarily control our bodies while we live and leave them behind as we die. In Bloom’s view, the two concepts of causality were shaped separately by evolutionary forces, building the origins of religion into the structure of System 1.”

  8. Not related to items above — but I’ll take the swimming dinosaur as invite to science Friday: Lee Berger, John Hawks et al have teased some very cool stuff on the Homo naledi site. [And I’m guessing that PCC has probably already composed some details on this for our Caturday edition!]

  9. My favorite website covering the World Cup—my favorite sporting event. Can’t complain.

    I didn’t get to predict any results before, but now that the bracket is set for the knockout stage I’ll venture to do so (now could be an ideal time for a contest, too—before the USA-Netherlands game starts on Saturday).

    Final: Brazil 2 – France 1
    3rd Place: Argentina 1 – Spain 0

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