Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

December 24, 2022 • 6:45 am

It’s positively tropical in Chicago today: Here’s the temperature in Fahrenheit, which is -17° C. With the wind, the temperature equivalent is -24° F, or -31° C.  The flight out of Chicago have largely been canceled or delayed, but what do I care? I ain’t going nowhere.

Welcome to a special Christmas Eve CatSaturday, December 24, 2022: National Eggnog Day. I cannot fathom why anybody drinks this stuff, for I’ve never had one I could stomach. But to each their own. . .

Here’s a guy who drank a GALLON of eggnog. It made him very ill.

It’s also Last-Minute Shopper’s Day (who is the one person implied by the apostrophe?), as well as Christmas Eve and its related observances: Aðfangadagskvöld, the day when the 13th and the last Yule Lad arrives to towns. (Iceland) Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian Americans), Juleaften (Denmark)/Julaften (Norway)/Julafton (Sweden) Nittel Nacht (certain Orthodox Jewish denominations), Nochebuena (Spain and Spanish-speaking countries), the Declaration of Christmas Peace (Old Great Square of Turku, Finland’s official Christmas City), and Wigilia (Poland).

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 24 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The NYT has a quiz on whether which of 26 “problematic” terms you’d use (terms like “master bedroom” or “chestfeeding”). Take the quiz and then scroll down the article to see how you compare with other Americans. It turns out that Americans are far less fascistic about language than I supposed, once again giving us heart that wokeness is not as widespread as we think.

*The House’s January 6 panel just issued its final report, which I can’t be arsed to read, but it pins the lion’s share of the blame on the Orange Man. Just in time, too: another couple of weeks and there would be no committee:

Declaring that the central cause of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was “one man,” the House committee investigating the assault delivered its final report on Thursday, describing in extensive detail how former President Donald J. Trump had carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election” and offering recommendations for steps to assure nothing like it could happen again.

It revealed new evidence about Mr. Trump’s conduct, and recommended that Congress consider whether to bar Mr. Trump and his allies from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists.

“The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report said. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”

The release of the full report was the culmination of the panel’s 18-month inquiry and came three days after the committee voted to formally accuse Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. While the referrals do not compel federal prosecutors to take any action, they sent a powerful signal that a select committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.

The link above will take you to the full report, which is 814 pages long.  I wasn’t aware that Congress could in fact bar Trump from another run for the Presidency, but the vote for that won’t go given that the next Congress will have a Republican-majority House, and unless there are Republicans willing to disenfranchise Trump as an insurrectionist, fuggedaboudit.

*The Washington Post has a list of 7 key findings of the report plus one list of issues unresolved.  Here are two:

One of the most striking new revelations is a text message from a Trump aide, Robert Gabriel. At 2:49 p.m., as the Capitol was under siege, Gabriel texted, “Potus im sure is loving this.”

The text builds upon previously known evidence.

Shortly after Jan. 6, 2021, and amid Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) relayed that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had said Trump told McCarthy during the riot, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

White House aide Sarah Matthews has said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told her that Trump resisted calling on the rioters to be “peaceful” in a tweet. (In texts from the time and in later testimony to the committee, Trump aide Hope Hicks also said that, before Jan. 6, both she and White House lawyer Eric Herschmann called for Trump to preemptively urge peacefulness, but that Trump “refused.”)

White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has also testified that, amid a frantic effort to get Trump to act, she overheard chief of staff Mark Meadows telling White House counsel Pat Cipollone, “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.”


We’ve known that Trump and his allies pressured lawmakers and officials far and wide to help overturn the election results in key states. But the report lays out the vast scale of this effort.

It says, “President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results.”

What qualifies as “targeting” an official is, of course, subjective. But several officials indicate they felt the pressure.

*But there’s good news today, too! Reader Brian sent me a link to a BBC article that reports a swell advance in genetics that will prevent the deaths of millions of baby roosters: animals usually ground up alive when young because what the industry wants is chickens. 

Israeli researchers say they have developed gene-edited hens that lay eggs from which only female chicks hatch.

The breakthrough could prevent the slaughter of billions of male chickens each year, which are culled because they don’t lay eggs.

The female chicks, and the eggs they lay when they mature, have no trace of the original genetic alteration

Animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming, has backed the research.

Dr Yuval Cinnamon from the Volcani institute near Tel Aviv, who is the project’s chief scientist, told BBC News that the development of what he calls the ”Golda hen” will have a huge impact on animal welfare in the poultry industry.

“I am very happy that we have developed a system that I think can truly revolutionise the industry, first of all for the benefit of the chickens but also for all of us, because this is an issue that affects every person on the planet,” he said.

The scientists have gene edited DNA into the Golda hens that can stop the development of any male embryos in eggs that they lay. The DNA is activated when the eggs are exposed to blue light for several hours.

Female chick embryos are unaffected by the blue light and develop normally. The chicks have no additional genetic material inside them nor do the eggs they lay, according to Dr Cinnamon.

The way they do this is clever:  since female chickens are ZW and males ZZ (in birds ,the heterogametic sex is female), they gene-edited the Z chromosome in a way that if blue light is shown on the embryo, it aborts. You then cross a ZZ male that has no modified Zs with a WZ* female with the modified Z.  The offspring will be either Z*Z males or WZ females. Blue light shined on the eggs kill the males, leaving only the WZ females, which are female and don’t have the genetically modified Z, since they get their Z from the fathers. Ergo, the chickens are not genetically modified so that the pusillanious people afraid of GMO foods can eat the chicken with impunity. And they don’t have to grind up newborn roosters, as they just don’t get born.

*The NYT is still touting religious fiction in its op-ed column, this time a piece called “Why Jesus loved friendship,” by Peter Wehner, a conservative whom Wikipedia describes as “He is a vice president and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a conservative think tank, and a fellow at the Trinity Forum, a nonprofit Christian organization.” Here’s what he tells us, all of course based on what the New Testament says:

The humanity of Jesus manifests itself in his moments of grief, agony, anger, frustration, joy and compassion. But one particular aspect of that humanity that has long intrigued me is his professed friendship with the rest of us.

In the New Testament, this point is made emphatically in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John. The context is Jesus’ discourse with his disciples, in which he tells them that as God the father has loved him, so he loves them. His command to his disciples is that they love one another. Jesus then says this: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you.”

. . .The concept of a vulnerable God, meek and lowly in heart, was almost unfathomable to many at the time, and for many people it still is. But a vulnerable God is an essential part of the Christian story. We see it in Jesus’ life, from his birth in a manger to his weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus to the anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he was betrayed on the night before his crucifixion. Jesus was accompanied by three of his closest friends — Peter, John and James — whom he asked to stay awake and pray with him. (They failed, with Jesus finding them sleeping, “exhausted from sorrow.”)

Renée Notkin, a co-pastor of Union Church in Seattle, in explaining the friendship verses in John, told me that Jesus’ words “Love one another as I have loved you” are essential to understanding what Jesus meant. Among other things, a proper understanding of friendship radically changes our perspective on how we are to live in community.

Of course this is all exegesis of a single book that we know to be wrong, and Wehner has no more evidence for God or a divine Jesus than we do for Bigfoot. But there will never be an end to this kind of Biblical exegesis, and once again we see a guy, purportedly possessed of neurons, spouting complete nonsense because it makes him feel good.

John Swinton, an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland and a professor at the University of Aberdeen, calls this shift from servant to friend a “profound act of renaming.”

*And there’s a new survey of 2,000 Americans (by Motel 6, for crying out loud) whose results are summarized here. It turns out that the idea of a wonderful family holiday reunion isn’t as great as we thought:

survey of 2,000 Americans who are traveling to visit family for the holidays found respondents can spend an average of three hours and 54 minutes with their family before needing a moment to themselves.

According to the survey, 75 percent of respondents will hit a point where they need time away from the crowd. They can be creative in their ways of escaping — 1 in 4 has hidden in a relative’s house to take a moment alone, while 37 percent have gone so far as to make an excuse and leave the house altogether.

The survey was commissioned by Motel 6 and conducted by OnePoll. It examined the delicate balance between wanting to spend time with family and also needing a bit of space.

The average respondent is staying with family for 3 1/2 days this holiday season –- but the sleeping arrangements might be one reason they’re not staying longer. When hosting family, nearly 40 percent say finding sleeping arrangements is one of the most stressful parts of preparing for guests.

Respondents report an average of two people will end up sleeping on something other than a bed this holiday season.

When staying with family, the top concerns were found to be a lack of privacy (22 percent), family getting on your nerves (20 percent), and drama between family members (20 percent). That’s in addition to feeling like they’re imposing (19 percent) and having the house be too loud or busy (18 percent).

I guess I should be grateful to Ceiling Cat that I’m spending Coynezaa alone (not by choice), but it’s still a bummer.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are squabbling over food again:

Szaron: She is going to eat from my bowl again.
A: Usually you are eating from her bowl.
Szaron: And so it should be.
In Polish:
Szaron: Znowu będzie jadła z mojej miski.
Ja: Zazwyczaj to ty wyjadasz jej jedzenie.
Szaron: I tak powinno być.

Here’s a photo of Hili as a baby (she’s now a dowager of ten):

And Christmas wishes from Mietek:

Mietek: Let’s be merry and rejoice!

In Polish: Weselmy się i radujmy się!


From The Catspotting Society:

From FB:

A Mark Parisi cartoon:

Lagniappe from FB:

A tweet of God on Mastodon:

Masih hasn’t added a new tweet in English, but here’s a substitute:

From Barry, who adds, “Just so you know, Pastor Alex’ isn’t a religious guy. That’s just a nom de plume, and he’s always finding stuff ‘that atheists want.'”

From Malcolm: Zelensky at Bahmut:

Dan Dennett doesn’t tweet much, but here he notes his appearance on the show “Closer to Truth” on “What is Philosophy of Science?” with other philosophers.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man shot after a month in the camp:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first is the weather done by a sports reporter:

Crikey, didn’t medieval artists ever LOOK at the animals they drew? This bat has 12 hands, when in fact each wing is one hand with five fingers. Oy!

I wish I had a dollar for every turtle hatching here!

19 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

  1. An article in Forbes Magazine discusses various proposals to bar Trump from running again for president. All of them have little chance of succeeding. This article links to another Forbes article that discusses a recent Quinnipiac poll. Several of the poll’s findings jumped out to me.

    • “51%. That’s the share of registered voters who believe Trump should be disqualified entirely from running for president based on his recent call to “terminate” the Constitution in order to reverse his 2020 election loss.”
    • “A 70% majority of registered voters polled do not want Trump to be the GOP candidate in 2024, though a 56% majority of Republican voters do (38% of Republicans do not).”

    I interpret these results to mean that Trump is exceedingly unpopular throughout the country, but is still the odds on favorite to win the Republican nomination. Should these poll figures hold to 2024 election time and Trump is not in prison then things look quite bright for the Democratic candidate. Of course, with the election almost two years away, plenty of things can change.

    1. I don’t want Trump to run again for all sorts of reasons, from he was a bad President the first time to he’s too old. I think a lot of independents and Republicans feel that way (for their own reasons). The bloom is definitely off the rose now that the mid-terms are over. What’s more interesting is the turmoil in the Republican party over the omnibus spending bill’s passage and the failure of the party’s leadership to support clean elections during the mid-terms. There are a lot of people who see the party leadership as increasing part of the problem. Maybe, finally, after thirty years, we’ll see a split in the GOP that either leaves the RINOs behind or forces them out.

      Here’s a joke I thought of the other day: Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a donkey? A: A rhino.

      1. There certainly would be if the vote could be taken by secret ballot. There are still too many establishment Republicans scared shitless of what alienating Trump’s hardcore, dead-end base could mean for them at primary time to come out of their Trump-weary closets in a vote on the record yet.

  2. I’m in Atlanta, and it was a toasty 7 degrees F when I woke up an hour ago. It’s ‘warmed’ up to a positively tropical 9 degrees since then. To say we are not used to these temps is a bit of an understatement. The lowest temp I can remember having in Atlanta before today was 13 degrees–and that was over 30 years ago.

    1. Last night it was -2F in Greater Braddock (Pittsburgh) yet it was 53 (fifty-three) in Bar Harbor. It’s still 15 F warmer in BH than here.

  3. I totally believe that Motel 6 survey. I think, though, that it’s accurate for any visit to relatives. Hell, I didn’t even like my sister until we weren’t living under the same roof (and not sharing a bathroom).

    1. The result sounds reasonable to me, too — though a survey which supports the idea that “hey, wouldn’t staying at a motel solve these problems?” seems pretty convenient for Motel 6.

    1. BD could have written that song for me the last couple days. Ice storm came. Gate was frozen shut. Finally got that open. But the hill after leaving our house had a 1/2″ thick ice sheet covering it.
      I ain’t going nowhere, neither. Maybe tomorrow…

  4. I can’t quite tell, but I am assuming the turtle nesting event is that of Podocnemis expansa. They nest in large numbers due to the limited availability of suitable sandy riverbank sites. A large and widespread species, heavily preyed upon by humans, and has experienced serious declines in the last couple of decades. So if the scene above appeared spectacular to you, just imagine what it was 100 years ago.

    As for eggnog, I love it. And if you do, too, and like French toast, try 1 egg, beaten, with 1 cup eggnog, dredge your bread of choice through it, cook as you would any french toast, add some good maple syrup and enjoy! (courtesy of Grandma Feral’s yootoobs channel)

  5. I think the Motel 6 ad is fantastic. Finally, an ad that draws your attention, gives good information that applies to a demographic group and sells their product.
    That’s a great ad. This is what an ad should be, not the junk on tv that people ignore.

  6. … a vulnerable God is an essential part of the Christian story. We see it in Jesus’ life, from his birth in a manger to his weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus …

    The performance of miraculous cures by Jesus of the Gospels — like the raising Lazarus from the dead or healing of the Blind Man of Bethsaida — strike me as capricious acts of charity, kinda like the way Elvis would hand out the keys to new Cadillacs to some among his posse, his family, and his friends.

  7. Last night while contemplating this arctic blast I started to wonder how in hell 32 ever managed to be the number assigned to the freezing point of water in F and realized that I had no idea. I don’t think it’s ever been discussed here, wither. Presumably that is because the answer is so arcane and abstruse that it was not general knowledge since the answer required chasing footnotes in dusty tomes.

    But now that we have info like this at the flick of our fingers, turns out that the answer lies in a combination of the coldest temp in Gdansk in 1708/9, a multiplication of someone else’s scale by 4, and fixing the increments between human body temp and water freezing by 64, to make it easy to divide by dividing the distance in half x6. And so forth.

    All of which is another reason for abandoning Fahrenheit.

    1. You are being uncharitable to Fahrenheit. His derivation of the scale makes every sense. Vitally, Zero F is the coldest temperature you can get (and he got) with a saturated solution of salt water with ice, which is what we do today to make ice cream. (That it happened to be the coldest day that year is irrelevant.) Pre-refrigeration, you added ammonium chloride to cool the mixture below the ice point in the first place, because NH4Cl is one of the rare salts whose solution is endothermic. Your Wiki link makes all that clear in the first paragraph. Zero F is -18 C, which is why ordinary freezers in metric countries are set at this temperature (sometimes -20 C for rounding.) Fahrenheit will live on forever, even under an assumed name.

      Crucial to science, Fahrenheit recognized the need to specify an easily reproducible reference temperature so as to scribe 0 on the right place on each new thermometer. As crucially, he recognized the need for precision. Just as we subdivide inches by halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, he scribed the degrees by successively bisecting — much easier to do reproducibly than trying to divide by 10 — the distance between his cold brine and body temperature. Folding a piece of paper in half is easier than trying to get 10ths by eye.

      From these points and some later adjustments of the scale as described in your Wiki reference, the ice point is found to be 32 F and water co-exists with steam at atmospheric pressure at 212 F. So what they don’t end in zero. Nothing mysterious. You don’t talk about how many degrees in a kilo-degree. You just say 343.69 degrees in either scale. And in Kelvins (necessary for scientific work), ice is 273.15 (but only approximately!)

      It has been fashionable for decades (i.e, at least since my highschool days) to mock Fahrenheit, apparently in ignorance of how path-making was the idea that temperature could be quantified. Cut the guy some slack. He was blowing hollow glass tubes with tiny lumens, sealing mercury into them, and scribing lines on them by eye with diamond chips (presumably), with no published references to go on as to what a degree “should” be. His thermometers were accurate and precise enough to make all of thermodynamics possible.

      Unlike with most other units, there is no scientific reason to prefer celsius degrees (or Kelvins) over Fahrenheit degrees (or Rankines), even though all scientific work is indeed done in celsius/Kelvin. A joule of heat would still be a joule of heat in either temperature and all the equations would work out exactly the same way, just with different values for the constants, of course, to reflect the different size of the degrees.

      If you are going to carp about funny units that aren’t based on tens, what about those seconds? How many days, hours, minutes, and seconds is a mega-second?

  8. > “I wasn’t aware that Congress could in fact bar Trump from another run for the Presidency, . . .”

    It probably can’t, absent an actual conviction by a court on an actual insurrection charge. You know, the kind where you can cross-examine witnesses and the jury screened against partisanship has to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that you’re guilty. Some legislators doubtless would very much like to, all by their little selves, or at least see some value in creating the impression that they could, if only those darn Republicans would co-operate. Ken Kukec can no doubt explain why this action would not amount to a bill of attainder.

    One haphazardly selected view of what it would take to remove someone from the ballot under the 14th Amendment:

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