Friday: Hili dialogue

December 16, 2022 • 6:45 am

We’ve reached the end of the “work” week, as it’s Friday, December 16, 2022: National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.  Have some chocolate-covered grasshoppers. Yummm—crunchy inside!

It’s also Boston Tea Party Day (the act occurred on this day in 1773), National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (I have NONE OF THESE), Barney and Barbie Backlash Day (a day to denigrate these annoying characters), Day of Reconciliation  in South Africa, and the beginning of the nine-day celebration beginning December 16 and ending December 24, celebrating the trials which Mary and Joseph endured before finding a place to stay where Jesus could be born (Hispanidad). This includes the first day of Las Posadas in Mexico and Latin America.

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

Da Nooz:

*Harvard has named a President to replace the retiring Lawrence Bacow, and it’s Claudine Gay:

Harvard University named as its new president Claudine Gay, a government professor who for the past four years has led the school’s undergraduate and Ph.D. programs.

She will be the second woman and the first Black person to lead Harvard.

Dr. Gay, who is 52, will take office July 1, the school said Thursday. She succeeds Lawrence Bacow, who became president in 2018 and said in June he would step down to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.

“Claudine has brought to her roles a rare blend of incisiveness and inclusiveness, intellectual range and strategic savvy, institutional ambition and personal humility, a respect for enduring ideals and a talent for catalyzing change,” Penny Pritzker, who chaired the presidential search committee, said in a letter to the school community Thursday. “She has a bedrock commitment to free inquiry and expression, as well as a deep appreciation for the diverse voices and views that are the lifeblood of a university community.”

Seriously, did they have to put that “diverse voices” stuff in the announcement, calling attention to her race? Isn’t it enough that she was good enough to be named President of the nation’s most prestigious school? Apparently not. I look forward to the day when someone’s gender and race won’t be the first thing mentioned when a person achieves something great. It goes on:

. . .Dr. Gay’s academic work has focused on race and politics in America, including studies in voting behavior, minorities’ interest in politics and relations between Black-American and Latino groups.

She takes the top spot at one of the world’s most prestigious and closely watched institutions of higher education, with sprawling programs across undergraduate, law, medical, divinity, education and other schools. Harvard’s endowment stood at $50.9 billion as of June 30, giving it a vast store of wealth to fuel scholarships, research and ambitious expansion plans.

The school in recent years has grappled with its historical ties to slavery and currently sits at the center of a legal battle over how race factors into undergraduate admission decisions. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case in October and is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.

Gay will face the difficult decision of what to do when the Supreme Court decides that Harvard discriminated against Asians, and then dismantles affirmative action completely.

*Oberlin College finally paid the huge fine levied by a jury for defaming the owners of Gibson’s bakery, according to Channel 8 in Cleveland. It’s about damn time, too.  (h/t Luana)

Oberlin College and Conservatory has fully paid the penalty ordered after it was found liable of defaming a local family-operated bakery in 2019.

A college spokesperson confirmed to FOX 8 News that the damages awarded — totaling $36.6 million with interest — have been paid in full to Gibson’s Bakery. The spokesperson declined to make any further comment.

A Lorain County jury awarded the Gibsons $44 million in 2019, but a judge later reduced that award to $25 million.

The college appealed the decision in May of this year. The Ohio Supreme Court in August declined to hear the college’s appeal, and the college chose not to pursue the matter further. The college began making payments in September, according to a statement from that month.

“Oberlin’s core mission is to provide our students with a distinctive and outstanding undergraduate education. The size of this verdict is significant,” the statement reads. “However, our careful financial planning, which includes insurance coverage, means that we can satisfy our legal obligation without impacting our academic and student experience. It is our belief that the way forward is to continue to support and strengthen the quality of education for our students now and into the future.”

Yes, Oberlin has paid up, but they’ve never apologized to the Gibsons. That’s reprehensible. Everything I’ve heard about Oberlin makes me dislike the place.

*Two NYU professors, Andrew Ross (remember him from the Sokal Hoax?) and Julie Livingston, tell us in a NYT op ed why cars are racist. This is virtue flaunting at its finest. Cars are racist because driving one exposes minorities to the police. So what’s the alternative? Oh, right: public transport: a great way to bring your groceries home.

But for many low-income and minority Americans, automobiles have been turbo-boosted engines of inequality, immobilizing their owners with debt, increasing their exposure to hostile law enforcement, and in general accelerating the forces that drive apart haves and have-nots.

. . . By the 1940s, African American car owners had more reason than anyone to see their vehicles as freedom machines, as a means to escape, however temporarily, redlined urban ghettos in the North or segregated towns in the South. But their progress on roads outside of the metro core was regularly obstructed by the police, threatened by vigilante assaults, and stymied by owners of whites-only restaurants, lodgings and gas stations. Courts granted the police vast discretionary authority to stop and search for any one of hundreds of code violations — powers that they did not apply evenly. Today, officers make more than 50,000 traffic stops a day. “Driving while Black” has become a major route to incarceration — or much worse.

It is true that blacks get stopped disproportionately often, and less so at night, which suggests real racism. However, is this a reason to denigrate cars themselves rather than cops? What they’re indicting is bigotry, not automobiles, but they manage to bring up a new concept—automotive intersectionality:

Deadly traffic stops, racially biased predatory lending, revenue policing have all come under public scrutiny of late, but typically they are viewed as distinct realms of injustice, rather than as the interlocking systems that they are. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it: A traffic stop can result in fines or arrest; time behind bars can result in repossession or a low credit score; a low score results in more debt and less ability to pay fines, fees and surcharges. Championed as a kind of liberation, car ownership — all but mandatory in most parts of the country — has for many become a vehicle of capture and control.

*Putin’s making dark threats about America’s giving new air defense systems to Ukraine, designed to protect Russian  missiles from destroying civilian infrastructure. The Associated Press article contains one of the better comebacks I’ve heard from the American military:

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Thursday that if the U.S. delivers sophisticated air defense systems to Ukraine, those systems and any crews that accompany them would be a “legitimate target” for the Russian military, a blunt threat that was quickly rejected by Washington.

The exchange of statements reflected soaring Russia-U.S. tensions amid the fighting in Ukraine, which is now in its 10th month.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the U.S. had “effectively become a party” to the war by providing Ukraine with weapons and training its troops. She added that if reports about U.S. intentions to provide Kyiv with Patriot surface-to-air missile system prove true, it would become “another provocative move by the U.S.” and broaden its involvement in the hostilities, “entailing possible consequences.”

“Any weapons systems supplied to Ukraine, including the Patriot, along with the personnel servicing them, have been and will remain legitimate priority targets for the Russian armed forces,” Zakharova declared.

This is the best part:

Asked about the Russian warning, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder responded that the U.S. was “not going to allow comments from Russia to dictate the security assistance that we provide to Ukraine.”

“I find it ironic and very telling that officials from a country that brutally attacked its neighbor — in an illegal and unprovoked invasion, through a campaign that is deliberately targeting and killing innocent civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure — that they would choose to use words like ‘provocative’ to describe defensive systems that are meant to save lives and protect civilians,” Ryder said.

If you want to read about how Patriot missiles are used, go here.

The Patriot system “is one of the most widely operated and reliable and proven air missile defense systems out there,” and the theater ballistic missile defense capability could help defend Ukraine against Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles, said Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

* From Ken:

Yesterday, Donald Trump posted that he would have a “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT” today, Thursday, December 15, 2022. And here it is:

Has there ever been a more pathetic, delusional, and desperate US American?

Not that I know of!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej apparently have no interest in soccer:

Hili: Are you watching the World Cup?
A: No.
Hili: Neither am I.

In Polish:

Hili: Śledzisz mundial?
Ja: Nie.
Hili: Ja też nie.
And Paulina took a photo of Kulka playing in the snow:


Reader Pliny the in Between is having an advent calendar at his Far Corner Cafe. Here he mocks my favorite confection (click to enlarge):

A purricane from Merilee:

From Bruce:

A toot from God on Mastodon:

From Masih. The Iranian government is starting to hang the protestors. That will, of course, just inflame them:

A tweet from Malcolm: “Pick me up, too!”

From Barry, a wonderful evolved defense:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, an 18-year-old who lived less than two months in the camp.

Tweets from Matthew. They missed the bear!

Did I post this before? The snow is coming, so try this out.

Lesson: cats don’t much like snow, though some do:


41 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. That video of the cats in the snow was lovely. Thank you. I especially loved the Siamese mix grumpily shaking his hind feet at each step.

    1. My Burmese cat Obama does this when he walks through snow. Each step he shakes his hind foot. It looks so funny. It seldom snows here in Christchurch, New Zealand, so it is a sight I do not see often.

  2. Here’s Trump’s video announcement regarding the release of his line of digital trading cards. In it, he claims that, as president, he was “better than Lincoln, better than Washington.”

    Humility, thy name is not Donald:

      1. Some might mock Trump, but I won’t. Given the transformation of his physique as president to his current physique shown on the digital trading card, I’d pay good money for his weight reduction/muscle building program. Respect!

    1. Humility, thy name is not Donald

      Not so sure about frailty though.

      Cards are a bit weak. I’m waiting for Donald Trump superhero comics and films. I wonder who the villain will be. Hillary? Nancy? Hillary and Nancy? Hillary, Nancy, and Angela?

        1. I remember an old radio satire on WABX-FM Detroit during Richard Nixon’s presidency. He dreams he is being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future (or some such). Nixon wants to know how history will regard him as a president. The ghost hems and haws and finally says, “Better than some….worse than others.”
          “Well, worse than Lincoln and Washington, I suppose,” suggests Nixon, a little crestfallen.
          “Yes, worse than them. And others.” The ghost starts to recite a list of other good presidents.
          Nixon takes the hint. “OK, OK. Who am I better than?”
          Long pause. “Millard Fillmore.”

          As it turned out, Nixon does come out ahead of Fillmore in the C-Span aggregated presidential historians survey, and has done so at least since 2000. Not too shabby there, Mr. Ghost!

          Of course, if Donald Trump were to be visited by the same ghost today, the ghost would have to dig a lot closer to the bottom of the barrel than Mr. Fillmore.

, for cross reference against partisanship.

    2. On the plus side, this shows DJT can multiply (divide he’s done a lot of too). $99 X the number of people with an IQ below 75 = $millions.

    3. I clicked on the link for yucks, and guess what? The cards are already sold out. Does that mean that the Orange man is still adored by millions of freedom-loving, god-fearing Patriots? Maybe.

      But let’s face it. The cards so perfectly encapsulate the cartoonish character and vacuous narcissism of America’s 45th president(!!!) that I bet a lot of pinko woke lefty libs couldn’t resist buying one.

    4. It takes the snake oil salesman to raise begging for alms to a “fine art”. He fancies himself as Clint Eastwood, but from day one, I knew he’d be reduced to a mere caricature.

    5. “Has there ever been a more pathetic, delusional, and desperate US American?” I would say Elon Musk is in the running for that title.

  3. On this day in 1944, the Germans began their counter-offensive in the Ardennes, aimed at re-capturing Antwerp, splitting the British forces in the Netherlands from the American forces, and forcing a political settlement in the West. The ensuing battle is known variously as “Watch on the Rhine” (from the German code name for the operation), the Battle of the Bulge, and Hitler’s Last Gamble.

  4. Claudine Gay was the person who tried to purge Roland Fryer for research that went against African American studies orthodoxy. Punished him more severely than much more serious transgressors. Glenn Loury and John McWhirter talked about this a lot.

    1. I really feel sorry for people that believe that this sort of nonsense qualifies as legitimate academic work. It is ridiculously silly. It’s at least as intellectually juvenile as theology.

  5. “Oh, right: public transport: a great way to bring your groceries home.”

    Tell me you are an American without telling me you are an American.

    The race argument for public transport is ridiculous, but better public transportation and cities being more walkable and public-transport-friendly would benefic a ton of people and make the poor less poor effectively.
    (And yes, I know it is not viable everywhere.)

    BTW, I am European, a different word of course, but I am somebody with not very high income and it would feel much worse if I was living somewhere where it is difficult to get around without a car. Cars are a big drain on resources in more than one way.

    1. In California jaywalking becomes legal in 2023 for similar reasons: .. said Zal Shroff, senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “For too long, our jaywalking laws were used as a pretext to stop and harass people, especially low-income people and people of color. The reforms enacted in AB 2147 will put an end to that and, in doing so, make all of California safer for pedestrians.”

      1. Jaywalking doesn’t become legal in California. Pedestrians do not suddenly get the legal right of way over motorists and cyclists. That would cause chaos. The rules of the road still apply to pedestrians who want to use or cross the road. It just means the police can’t enforce the law if there is no foul from the violation….which is kind of what most of us expect to get away with anyway. If some people don’t, that’s not fair. But I don’t see how it makes things safer for pedestrians. Freer from petty harassment and an excuse to frisk for guns, yes.

        This approach seems reasonable. It doesn’t give the pedestrians the authority to dart or wander into traffic and disrupt it just because they want to cross the street or panhandle motorists — those activities remain expressly prohibited. Rather, a pedestrian who crosses against a signal (including crossing against a left-turn arrow that gives a conflicting driver the right of way) or outside a crosswalk when there is nobody coming can’t be stopped by the police. Only if a driver with the right of way has to take some action (including not starting a left turn on his arrow, presumably) to avoid a collision with the law-breaking pedestrian will the police be allowed to ticket the pedestrian. This is not a licence to jaywalk.

        The bicycle advocates will not be happy with Sec. 14, which says the police can’t ticket pedestrians walking on a bicycle path or in a bicycle lane even when there is a sidewalk they could be using instead, unless the pedestrian is causing a traffic hazard to the cyclists.* (And no, teenage and adult cyclists should not ride on sidewalks even where it is legal.)
        * We often see clots of pedestrians congregating in mostly empty bike lanes to see better if the car lanes are clear of traffic before they cross in the middle of a block. If a cyclist happens along, he and the pedestrians usually curse each other in mutual gestures of good will.

        1. If a cyclist happens along, he and the pedestrians usually curse each other in mutual gestures of good will.

          The universal semaphore for “you’re number 1”?

    2. Agreed. And I don’t think their argument was so much that cars are racist, but that we’ve built a system that forces people to rely on cars with all the attendant costs that come along with it. And some of those costs appear to affect minorities disproportionately.

  6. Glad to see that Oberlin finally coughed up – it’s shocking, but not surprising, that they didn’t apologise to the Gibson family.

  7. Andrew Ross (remember him from the Sokal hoax?)
    As Wikipedia notes:

    In an article in Nature, Richard Dawkins said ‘Ross has the boorish, tenured confidence to say things like, “I am glad to be rid of English departments. I hate literature, for one thing, and English departments tend to be full of people who love literature”; and the yahooish complacency to begin a book on ‘science studies’ with these words: “This book is dedicated to all of the science teachers I never had. It could only have been written without them”.’

  8. Just as sad as DJT selling NFTs of himself as hero is the segment of American society that will buy them (and then vote in the next election).

    1. Bet Trump’s fans are going to have to fight all the people who think the cards are high camp and pure hilarity if they want them. Looks like a collector’s item, though not in a good way. Even I am envisioning its potential for pranks, and would kind of like one to gift to my brother, in a jewelry box, maybe. Fun for the whole family. Get them while you can.

  9. I have a good friend who is a woman of color, with 50 years experience as a computer programmer, who will be thrilled with Harvard’s appointment of a woman of color as President. So I believe it’s a good think to point that out about her.

    1. Why are you sure your friend will be “thrilled”?

      Why does your friend’s assumed opinion on the race of Harvard’s new president count as a “good thing” to point out about her?

  10. >”I look forward to the day when someone’s gender and race won’t be the first thing mentioned when a person achieves something great.”

    Race may actually be relevant in Claudine Gay’s case, and I don’t mean in the sense of her being an affirmative action hire. She doesn’t come out looking creditable in this Free Press piece (formerly Bari Weiss’s Common Sense Substack) about the destruction of Roland Fryer’s career at Harvard. The thesis is that Mr. Fryer’s research findings were threatening to the academic credibility, based in critical race theory, of powerful Black Harvard faculty like Prof. Gay. She used her position as Dean to go out and kneecap him. She tried unsuccessfully to convince her predecessor president to revoke Mr. Fryer’s tenure. Maybe she’ll have better luck as president herself.

    The Free Press banner date is today but the actual piece with an embedded video is dated March 31, well before she was appointed president.

  11. The reaction of adults to the absurd “trading card” is expected. As such, I do not think they are the intended audience. Any reaction only helps the cause because I think there was precise targeting of the youth audience, and by youth I mean as low as you can go – many years before voting age – and probably male more than female. They practically have radars for media like this.

    I cannot think of a single political figure (i.e. _any_ candidate) that has tapped into an audience – or even made a new audience for themselves – like this. I think some individuals have been represented as cartoon superheroes. I never could take it seriously, of course, and nobody else did either. But why do I get the sense that it worked nowhere near as effectively as this? It is laughable and I think that is exactly the intent – under the tree this year – a trading card set like no other.

    In a way, I find it chilling.

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