Tuesday: Hili dialogue

December 13, 2022 • 6:45 am

The goat entrails are not auspicious today, as it’s both Tuesday (the Cruelest Day) and the 13th (though not Friday the 13th): it is in fact Tuesday, December 13, 2022: National Cocoa Day. My favorite version is thick Spanish or Mexican chocolate served with hot churros.  Here’s some I had in Mexico City at El Moro, a very famous place for this treat.  Look how thick that chocolate is!

And it’s only a meager 12 days until the beginning of Coynezaa.

It’s also Ice Cream Day, National Day of the Horse, and National Violin Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 13 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The Libyan accused of making the bomb that brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270, appeared in federal court today, 34 years after the deed:

The extradition of Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi is a milestone in the decades-old investigation into the attack that killed 259 people in the air and 11 on the ground.

The Justice Department announced Sunday that Mas’ud had been taken into U.S. custody, two years after it revealed that it had charged him in connection with the explosion. Two other Libyan intelligence officials have been charged in the U.S. for their alleged involvement in the attack, but Mas’ud would be the first defendant to appear in an American courtroom for prosecution.

. . . The announcement of charges against Mas’ud on Dec. 21, 2020, came on the 32nd anniversary of the bombing and in the final days of the tenure of then-Attorney General William Barr. At the time of the announcement, Mas’ud was in Libyan custody. The criminal charges were a career bookend of sorts for Barr, who in his first stint as attorney general in the early 1990s had announced criminal charges against two other Libyan intelligence officials.

. . .A breakthrough in the investigation came when U.S. officials in 2017 received a copy of an interview that Mas’ud, a longtime explosives expert for Libya’s intelligence service, had given to Libyan law enforcement in 2012 after being taken into custody following the collapse of the government of the country’s leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

In that interview, U.S. officials said, Mas’ud admitted building the bomb in the Pan Am attack and working with two other conspirators to carry out the attack. He also said the operation was ordered by Libyan intelligence and that Gadhafi thanked him and other members of the team after the attack, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

The charges? According to the NYT, “Mr. Mas’ud faces two criminal counts, including destruction of an aircraft resulting in death.”

Here’s the accused perp, who is likely to wind up in ADX Florence.

Source: Alexandria, VA Sheriff’s Office via the AP

*The title of this NYT op-ed made me click on it: “The root cause of violent crime is not what you think it is.” I was curious to find out what the root cause was, only to be hoaxed by the article (its author is the chair and a professor of African American studies and a professor of psychology at Yale University). Well, half hoaxed. Atiba tells us that the root of violent crime is not lax punishments or not enough cops, but I didn’t think that anyway. He suggests alternative roots, like having mental health professionals respond to some police calls, and guaranteed housing, but never gets to the “root cause”.  Is there one, professor Goff? All he says is the repeated mantra, ““strong communities keeping everyone safe”.  That tells me bupkes.

* I don’t think there’s much doubt that the murder of George Floyd unleashed on America not just the wave of “racial reckoning” that continues but also the tsunami of diversity training and DEI initiatives that is inundating American academia. The relevant question was asked in a Washington Post op-ed “Does diversity training work? We don’t know—and here is why.” The author, Betsy Levy Paluck, is a professor of psychology and public and international affairs, at Princeton University.

So what’s the answer? Why don’t we know. Paluck:

What have we achieved with all this effort? In 2022, this question has special significance, as measures to increase diversity and racial equity have come under political attack, often by people who believe those shouldn’t be goals in the first place. But even among people who believe in the basic mission, common questions about diversity training have shifted from “Which training is best?” to “Is the training even a good idea?” and “Does the training have negative effects?”

The problem is that the real answer to all three of these questions is: We don’t know.

As a behavioral scientist who studies prejudice and behavior change, I can tell you that the situation really is that bad. Last year, my colleagues and I published a comprehensive review of the prejudice reduction literature. We included only program evaluations that used random assignment and control groups, as you would use to check the effectiveness and safety of a drug. Out of hundreds of studies evaluating prejudice reduction programming from the past decade, only two large studies tracked the effects of diversity training.

In sum, we don’t have good evidence for what works. We’re treating a pandemic of discrimination and racial and religious resentment with untested drugs.

The problem is twofold: first, there have been no controlled experiment in which some units are diversity-trained and others aren’t, and then examining the results. Second (and you might have guessed this), most organizations don’t really care about seeing whether DEI training works. It

Diversity training’s uncertain impact is a collective action problem on an enormous scale. The need is obvious: Pay inequities are rampant, companies face constant public relations crises in which non-White clientele are treated badly, and 51 percent of employees who recently quit their job cited a lack of belonging as a central reason. But CEOs don’t want to risk a lawsuit by sharing data, or to find out their training has failed. And diversity trainers selling untested programs might not want to risk negative results from a study.

Collective action problems require collective solutions. Studies that combine multiple corporations and trainings could shelter participants from legal and PR risks. My research team and other behavioral and social scientists are eagerly waiting to help design these kinds of trials. Because if we don’t study what works when it comes to diversity initiatives, we know what will almost surely follow: another crime of hate, followed by a surge in diversity trainings that might not help at all.

So be aware when you’re asked or forced to take DEI training: ask the promoters what evidence they have that it works.

*Yes, you can get booze in Qatar, but it isn’t easy, and if you’re poor, forget it. The NYT reports the hurdles that have to be surmounted to get so much as one beer.

[Taxi driver] Shaj had picked me up along a side street on the southern fringes of Doha, inside the razor-wire-topped walls of the Qatar Distribution Company. The Q.D.C., as it is widely known, is the sole importer and distributor of alcohol in Qatar, a Muslim country where the sale and consumption of booze is heavily regulated. Cocktails, wine and beer are served at a smattering of luxury hotels in the country, but the Q.D.C.’s two branches are the only places that sell alcohol for home consumption.

“It’s probably one of the happiest places in Doha,” said Rachel Morris, who is originally from Australia but has lived in Qatar for 15 years.

. . . For international residents looking for a taste of home, then, the Q.D.C. offers a boozy lifeline. Access to the store is granted through a state-run application process. The privilege was extended in recent weeks to teams, sponsors and news media organizations here for the World Cup. (Fans were not allowed to apply.)

Can you believe it? The players could get beer (or vodka, or anything else), but not the fans! Or the locals:

In the car, Shaj, who is Muslim and from Sri Lanka, told me he had never been inside the Q.D.C. despite living in Qatar for 12 years. The store’s permit requirements include a minimum salary of 3,000 Qatari riyals a month (about $825) to even apply for entry. That puts legal alcohol essentially out of reach for the hundreds of thousands of immigrant laborers who make up nearly 90 percent of Qatar’s population; many of them make close to the minimum wage of $275 a month.

. . . But the U.S. Soccer staff members [they were buying booze like gangbusters] had to be sensible. Each individual permit holder is granted a monthly quota of 2,000 Qatari riyals, roughly $550.

There is, of course, a black market in alcohol, which costs even more than the pricey official stuff (official Bud is $12 a six pack, and home brew that’s called for some reason “Sri Lanka”. Such is life in a Muslim-run theocracy.

*It’s another slow news day, so take the WaPo‘s newquiz, “Are you fluent in Gen-Z office speak?” Generation Z, as you may know, comprises Americans born between 1997 and 2012. They’d thus be between 10 and 25 years old, and clearly those at the lower end of that range wouldn’t have “officespeak”. But the quiz is based on the way the “kids” communicate with text messages.

There are six questions and four answers to choose for each. When you click on one, it tells you whether you’re right or wrong, and what the real answer is and what it means. Here’s one question and the choices:

I missed that one, but got 3 out of the six questions correct. Given that I was mostly guessing, that’s not too bad. Go take the quiz—you know you want to!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Paulina does take a fine picture of Hili:

Hili: This should be a fine picture.
Paulina: I hope so.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: To powinno być świetne ujęcie.
Paulina: Też mam taką nadzieję.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

***********************

From Anna: (I’ll add that Santa is “Jolly at Any Weight”

From Angela. This is true!

From David:

God makes a “toot” (that’s what they call them) on Mastodon:

From Masih: “shamed” women without hijabs fight back in Iran:

From Malcolm. But there’s no control:the guy popping out from the blanket without a mask!

From reader Simon, who just adopted two ginger kittens (below). The thread says these women weren’t hurt:

Simon’s new kittens (no names yet, so go ahead and suggest some!). Simon says that the kittens came from C.A.R.E., a no-kill shelter on Chicago’s North Shore.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, yet another Dutch person sent to the camps:

Tweets from Matthew. The first one really is my nightmare:

Foxes—the one Honorary Cat® among d*g species:

Remembrance of hats past:

I don’t know what kind of duck this is, but the Japanese translates as “Mysterious cry”:

37 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. The point of DEI training is to signal ones virtue. In that sense, making people undergo it does indeed “work” in the sense that it signals ones virtue. Whether it “works” in any broader sense is secondary to that.

    1. Nailed it.

      DEI appears to set up an “us vs. them” power imbalance, which the consulted are made to “solve” only by getting in the canoe – I can’t find that video, but I found a 4-year old University diversity training seminar : https://youtu.be/Giahp-hkK9Y

      … _cringe_

    2. ^^^adding : there’s a lot if this stuff on YouTube – “including” one with Jonathan Haidt – too much to watch all at once – so – apologies.

      The “canoe” video though is classic – I need to find it.

    3. My understanding is that it results in attendees becoming less happy about the whole issue: insulting people by telling them they are racist oppressors is never likely to fill them with warm and fuzzy feelings towards the accusers.

      1. I think a characteristic of DEI is that it cannot be talked about – or cannot be criticized – or questioned –

        imagine this Saturday Night Live skit :

        L.A. Lakers Diversity Training

        Even me listening to myself suggest it sounds evil. But why?

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Lakers

        I do not see any “problem” here – on the contrary, I see an example of something _working_ in the world.

    4. [ just one more comment, I’m trying – it’s hard! ]

      L. Ron Hubbard’s mantra – apparently the most important rule – for Scientology is “Keep Scientology Working” :

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeping_Scientology_Working

      … likewise, any charge of DEI to produce or show results or evidence could be met with an argument along the lines that “time will tell”, or “quality takes time”, or “we’re all in this together” – anything to “Keep DEI Working”.

    5. 2 out of 6, I’m getting old I guess. Still, it does not really impede things, I have some close relations and good understanding with some genZ ‘persons’.
      One should question what these tests actually mean. Very little IMMO (which is, of course, biased by my dismal results). Maybe our good relations are due to their (genZ) willingness to befriend an old boomer?
      After all, despite DEI, we’re still humans in most cases.

    6. DEI is to demonstrate to the underlings that the overlings have the power to make them attend it and that their continued employment is contingent on their passing tests to demonstrate knowledge of what was taught. There is no point asking for evidence that it works — this only prolongs the ordeal for your co-workers and gets HR to open a dossier on you, as Harryinnc says. It’s also beside the point. Management runs these courses only because people with more power than they: regulators, bankers, customer focus groups, people prepared to riot and vandalize their premises, compel them to as a condition of allowing the business to operate.

      Since you the underling don’t have any power to influence this decision, pretending that you do by speaking up only makes everyone uncomfortable and embarrassed for you.

      1. Agreed – and it may serve merely to “raise awareness”, and one must be careful in navigating this.

        However

        It is worth doing if certain conditions hold , for example :

        • One is willing to leave the employer.

        • to show that, despite any assertions that “politics” is off-limits at work, politics has _everything_ to do with the religious ceremony DEI speakers enjoy.

  2. [ deleted attempt at a compliment on today’s Hili Dialogue ]
    [ it’s great! ]

    What the heck with those plates!?!…

    You know, cameras use one lens – humans use two – it has been pointed out in popular out-of-print books by Yakov Perelman (<1910s or thereabouts) that (paraphrased) photography looks better when viewed with one eye. I’m not sure why I never heard that before but the plates might be showing that … because I know if I buy $40 worth of assorted plates and look at them, the illusion won't happen.

    1. I suspect another reason why the illusion works is bc the plates are illuminated from the bottom of the picture, so that the plates are lightest along their top edges. We expect that light comes from above, so when we see a thing that is brightest up top and in shadow below, our brain asserts that it is convex.
      Funny, but when I go back later to look at the plates, they are all still convex (right side up). The illusion of upside down plates no longer works.

  3. The duck is a Baikal Teal (Sibirionetta formosa). It’s essentially a species of East Asia but apparently turns up in North America very occasionally.

  4. I am not sure I agree with your advice to question the DEI trainers about the training effectiveness. I sort of go with this comment on the Post article: “My spouse works for the government, and they do these DEI sessions regularly.
    His boss has even told people not to speak up or dissent because the trainers won’t take you seriously, and it just makes the session take longer for everyone. It is just a box they have to tick.” A few other commenters agreed with the uselessness of speaking up, and noting that all it can really do is get you in trouble with Human Resources.

  5. Simon’s kitten names:

    Blaze for the bright red one on the left, and…
    Blanche for the muted red one on the right.

    1. I was thinking of Marmalade for the kitty on the left, with the very pronounced M on the forehead, and Apricot for the one on the right.

      But then I named our last cat Marcus Clawrelius, so when it comes to naming cats I might not be the person to listen to. That said, before we met my wife had two ginger cats called Pudding and Dessert – so any cat this household staffs is doomed in terms of names..!

      1. Working with the ‘M’, a friend named her two ‘Mischief’ and ‘Mayhem’, or ‘Mee-Mee’ and ‘May-May’.

      2. A friend’s daughter suggested that since they both have Ms we should “just call them M&M” The Ms are less obvious in real life than in that photo. The contrast in pace from one 21 year old cat (that we lost in the summer) to two small ones is pretty marked.

        1. The contrast in pace from one 21 year old cat (that we lost in the summer) to two small ones is pretty marked.

          I’ll bet! Be sure to let us know what you decide about their names, Simon.

  6. > The title of this NYT op-ed made me click on it […] That tells me bupkes.

    I’m looking forward to the day when we stop using clickbait headlines. Unfortunately, I don’t trust humanity to shift to something clear and unemotional.

    > Yes, you can get booze in Qatar, but it isn’t easy, and if you’re poor, forget it.

    Homebrew moonshine is 100-150 QAR (25-40 USD) per 1.5 liter bottle. There are some quality products. If you want name brands, though, be prepared to pay serious money.

    But ‘poor’ has a very different meaning in that part of the world, where some guest workers make on the order of 1000 QAR per month (my figures may be out of date, though). I strongly recommend reading the Independent article The Dark Side of Dubai. Doha is similar enough.

    1. When I visited Pakistan in the late ’80s with a friend there was a similar convoluted process that foreigners could use to obtain a permit to consume alcohol. We didn’t bother, although some locals did share whisky smuggled in from China with us – its nickname “Chinese rocket fuel” was very appropriate!

  7. “The goat entrails are not auspicious today, as it’s both Tuesday (the Cruelest Day) and the 13th”

    This combination of day of the month and day of the week may be inauspicious for others, but not for me or mine. One of my offspring sprung off on a Tuesday the 13th, and she’s grown to be very happy and successful (in a science field!). Also, since she delights in Halloween-type stuff, it’s a bit of treat for her when her birthday falls on a Friday.

  8. Hey Dr. Coyne, have you had the hot chocolate (or even better, the Viennoise) at Les Deux Magots and/or Cafe De Flore?

  9. 6 out of 6 on the Gen Z Office-speak test. Hank knows why, ffs! I’m a dinosaur tag-end of the boomers from the Pleistocene. Maybe because I just retired a few months ago.

    [Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years. — wiki]

  10. “. . .you can get booze in Qatar, but it isn’t easy, and if you’re poor, forget it.”

    This reminds me that when I lived in Greece from ’70-’73, only Greek citizens who could show that they made above a certain salary could get a permit to gamble at casinos. The one exception was New Year’s Eve, when anyone could gamble. This was when the junta was in power, so I’m not sure if it was a far-right policy or if it existed before and after the Papadopoulos regime. Maybe someone out there knows.

  11. I work for a progressive cannabis company with mandatory annual DEI training, and your advice – when you’re asked or forced to take DEI training: ask the promoters what evidence they have that it works – is spot on. Zooming out, I’m curious to understand how university classes such as the U of Chicago’s “The Problem of Whiteness” can contribute to making an impact here. And by the way, that’s quite a provocative Course Title for what appears to be some mild, unobjectionable class content.

  12. DEI training may be a “collective action problem on an enormous scale”, but it is also an
    employment program on an enormous scale for otherwise unproductive individuals. Programs of this kind are commonplace in human history, in the form of shamans, gurus, bonzes, mullahs, imams, fakirs, talmud scholars, priests, bishops, monks, friars, and so on. We are perhaps entering a new age of piety.

    1. Sounds very Golgafrinchian to me. You’re proposing DEIs, assorted variants of God Squaddies join the marketing executives, telephone sanitizers and hairdressers on the Ark to escape the Giant Mutant Space Goat of Doom?
      Whichever Ark is ready to leave first.

  13. 6 out of 6 on the office speak quiz. Retired person born in early 1950s. I don’t do twitter or other social media, and I have no direct knowledge of what was being tested. So how did I get 6 out of 6? Probably a combination of very poor choices of possible answers and a bit of luck in thinking/reasoning. For most if not all of the questions, I immediately judged 2 of the possible choices as being terrible distractors. So a bit of reasoning leads to a 50:50 chance and a bit more reasoning gave 6 out of 6.

  14. If she’s not already, Paulina should be a professional animal photographer. Her photos of the Polish Kitteh Trio are gorgeous.

  15. I’m not sure what word fits, but for someone as notorious as Mas’ud to be booked by the Alexandria Sheriff’s office seems quite incongruous at the very least.

  16. God makes a “toot” (that’s what they call them) on Mastodon:

    That’s @Tweetofgod@mastodon.social according to my server.
    Is anyone taking bets on when Twitter will start accepting links to accounts off-Twitter?

    1. One thing I like about Mastodon is that it uses that hard-to-read white on blue format. That means I can’t read a word of what God is saying on Jerry’s e-mail announcements and I don’t waste my time reading it. Yes, the words sometimes show up when I click to open the post but by then I know there is a fart from God and I can look to skip over it, like bunny-hopping over a pot-hole while riding my bike.

      I’m so glad God left Twitter. Not that I ever look at Twitter or Facebook except when Jerry links to them.

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