Monday: Hili dialogue

January 30, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a cold (12°F, -11°C in Chicago) penultimate day of the month, Monday, January 30, 2023: National Croissant Day.  Here’s what won a prize as Paris’s best croissant, sampled several times when I visited last. Only one Euro, too!

It’s also Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (I’ve learned that they now make bubble wrap that can’t be popped, so that we can no longer have fun); Yodel for your Neighbors Day; and National Escape Day, as well as Fred Korematsu Day in California, Florida, Hawaii, Virginia (Fred was an Asian-American activist); and Martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, and its related observances: Martyrs’ Day in India and School Day of Non-violence and Peace in Spain. Gandhi was assassinated on this day in 1948 at the age of 78. I recommend reading Orwell’s “Reflections on Gandhi” (free online); it’s one of his finest essays.

Here’s Nehru and Gandhi; I love this photo (note that today is the 75th anniversary of his death):

File written by Adobe Photoshop? 4.0

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 30 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The Washington Post compares the earliest police reports about their fatal confrontation with Tyre Nichols in Memphis with what really happened, at least as filmed with bodycams and the skycam. The discrepancy is maddening!

The first time Memphis police described what happened between their officers and Tyre Nichols — the 29-year-old who died of his injuries after being beaten by police — they wrote that “a confrontation occurred” following a traffic stop. Nichols fled on foot, and then “another confrontation occurred.”

“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath,” reads the statement posted on the Memphis Police Department’s Twitter account the morning after Nichols was beaten on Jan. 7. “The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition.”

Brutal video footage released Friday, an hour’s worth of clips from body-worn and mounted cameras showing police pepper-spraying, punching and kicking Nichols, underscores the disparity between what police first reported and what actually happened.

Across the country, police sometimes use passive language that can paint a very different picture from what cameras later show. Initial news releases are often based on police officers’ self-reporting, and were it not for the ubiquity of cameras in modern times, the discrepancies between those filings and the reality of a police interaction may never come to light.. . . Rather than simply complaining of shortness of breath, Nichols, the video showed, could barely sit up after the beating. Officers propped him up against a police car, where he repeatedly slumped over. He can be heard groaning but is not heard forming any words. He twists and writhes against the police car, at times falling over on his side, as he waits 22 minutes for an ambulance.

They give other cases of similar discrepancies, including the George Floyd murder, and it makes you wonder how many times the cops were wrongly exculpated for arrest-related deaths before there were bodycams and outdoor cams.  The guy who invented the bodycam and those who made them mandatory for police to use during a confrontation should get a medal!

*The Congressional Prayer Breakfast, a gala two-day event that surely strides the line between church and state, is being taken over by Congress, who used to manage it.  It had come under control of a private foundation and become a huge affair whose funding was questionable. It’s now going back to its roots.

 The National Prayer Breakfast, one of the most visible and long-standing events that brings religion and politics together in Washington, is splitting from the private religious group that had overseen it for decades, due to concerns the gathering had become too divisive.

The organizer and host for this year’s breakfast, scheduled for Thursday, will be the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, headed by former Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Sen. Chris Coons, a regular participant and chairman of the Senate ethics committee, said the move was prompted in part by concerns in recent years that members of Congress did not know important details about the larger multiday gathering.

. . . The annual event “went on several days, had thousands of people attending, and a very large and somewhat complex organization,” Coons said in an interview. “Some questions had been raised about our ability as members of Congress to say that we knew exactly how it was being organized, who was being invited, how it was being funded. Many of us who’d been in leadership roles really couldn’t answer those questions.”

. . . The larger event, put on by a private religious group called the International Foundation, has always been centered around “the person and principles of Jesus, with a focus on praying for leaders of our nation and from around the world,” the group’s spokesman, A. Larry Ross, said in an email.

CENTERED ON JESUS!  What the bloody hell? This is not a Christian nation, despite what Republicans say.

. . .Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., stopped coming in 2016 because the event “had become an entertainment and lobbying extravaganza rather than an opportunity for spiritual reflection,” a Kaine spokeswoman wrote in an emailed response to questions. Kaine will attend Thursday.

The gathering came under heightened criticism in 2018 when Maria Butina, a Russian operative, pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiring to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups with the aim of advancing Russian interests. According to court documents, she attended two breakfasts in hopes of setting up unofficial connections between Russian and U.S. officials.

It took on political undertones with Trump shattering the custom of the address being a respite from partisan bickering. He used his 2020 speech to criticize his first impeachment and attack political opponents, including Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

I was wondering why the FFRF hadn’t intervened, as the very concept of a Jesus-centered breakfast for Congress seems to violate the First Amendment (surely it would have been boycotted by Presidents like Jefferson and Madison if it existed than). But then they showed up:

. . .Earlier this month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter signed by 30 groups to the White House and members of Congress asking them to boycott the event because of questions about the International Foundation.

The organization’s co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said the foundation’s basic concerns with the breakfast remain despite the split with the larger religious gathering.

“For decades, FFRF has protested the appearance of the National Prayer Breakfast being a quasi-governmental gathering, which pressures the president and Congress to put on a display of piety that sends a message that the United States is a Christian nation,” she wrote.

You go, Annie Laurie! Of course they’ll never ditch the damn breakfast, but why can’t they pray in church instead of in government buildings? Nobody’s listening, anyway.

*The NYT has a tech article urging you not to wantonly share your email address with companies, as they can use it to find out all kinds of stuff about you. They also suggest how to deal with this issue:

For decades, the digital advertising industry relied on invisible trackers planted inside websites and apps to follow our activities and then serve us targeted ads. There have been sweeping changes to this system in the past few years, including Apple’s release of a software feature in 2021 allowing iPhone users to block apps from tracking them and Google’s decision to prevent websites from using cookies, which follow people’s activities across sites, in its Chrome browser by 2024.

Advertisers, web publishers and app makers now try to track people through other means — and one simple method is by asking for an email address.

. . . “I can take your email address and find data you may not have even realized you’ve given to a brand,” said Michael Priem, the chief executive of Modern Impact, an advertising firm in Minneapolis. “The amount of data that is out there on us as consumers is literally shocking.”

Then there’s a scary bit telling you how companies can track you using your email, and finally this advice about sharing your address:

  • Create a bunch of email addresses. Each time a site or an app asks for your email, you could create a unique address to log in to it, such as, for example, for movie-related apps and services. That would make it hard for ad tech companies to compile a profile based on your email handle. And if you receive spam mail to a specific account, that will tell you which company is sharing your data with marketers. This is an extreme approach, because it’s time-consuming to manage so many email addresses and their passwords.

  • Use email-masking tools. Apple and Mozilla offer tools that automatically create email aliases for logging in to an app or a site; emails sent to the aliases are forwarded to your real email address. Apple’s Hide My Email tool, which is part of its iCloud+ subscription service that costs 99 cents a month, will create aliases, but using it will make it more difficult to log in to the accounts from a non-Apple device. Mozilla’s Firefox Relay will generate five email aliases at no cost; beyond that, the program charges 99 cents a month for additional aliases.

  • When possible, opt out. For sites using the UID 2.0 framework for ad targeting, you can opt out by entering your email address at (Not all sites that collect your email address are using UID 2.0, however.)

*Citing a new paper in Ecology, the NYT reports on the mutualistic relationship between a strange rabbit and a strange parasitic plant.

Enter the nocturnal Pentalagus furnessi, or Amami rabbit, the world’s only dark-furred wild bunny. In a study published this week in the journal Ecology, Dr. Suetsugu and Hiromu Hashiwaki, a co-author also of Kobe University, posit an evolutionary bargain between Amami rabbits and B. yuwanensis. The root-sucking plants give food in exchange for seed dispersal services — something that has never been documented between a mammal and a parasitic plant.

The five-pound Amami rabbits are sometimes called “living fossils” because their ancestors have died out on mainland China. But on two small, volcanic islands known as Oshima Island and Tokunoshima Island, about 5,000 of the short-eared bunnies soldier on. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers the species endangered, a result of a combined habitat about 130 square miles, and the ever-present threat of annihilation by nonnative predators on the islands, including mongooses, cats and dogs as well as logging operations by humans.

The Amami rabbit lives only on those two islands, where it eats over 30 species of plants. Camera traps set at night showed the rabbits gobbling up the fruits of the parasitic plant—fruits that taste blah to humans. Then, studying the rabbit droppings, scientist found that 55% of the seeds make it through the animal’s digestive tract intact. More important, the rabbits tend to burrow (and defecate) at the roots of large trees, which are just where the seeds need to go to parasitize a new host.

Now we can’t say that the fruit has promoted evolution of the rabbit but it’s possible that the fruits have evolved to become attractive to rabbits, who can disperse the seed well and deposit them where they can grow well. The more attractive a fruit is to an Amami bunny, the better dispersal ability it has, and the ability to disperse can give you an individual advantage at reproducing if you find an uncrowded habitat with little competition.  Here’s an Amami rabbit from the article:

(from the NYT): The five-pound, black-furred Amami rabbits of Oshima Island and Tokunoshima Island in Japan are sometimes called “living fossils” because their ancestors have died out on mainland China. Credit: Kyodo News Stills, via Getty Images

And the plant:

(From the NYT): The B. yuwanensis fruit does not perform photosynthesis, but leaches its energy from the roots of other plants. Technically, it’s a parasite. Credit: Kenji Suetsugu and Hiromu Hashiwaki

*Over at The Free Press, Bari Weiss interviews Ken Burns on what he calls his most important film, “The U.S. and the Holocaust”. I liked the series, though the last bit, showing the attack on the Capitol and connecting it with America’s indifference to Jews during WWII, seemed a bit, well, forced.  Just a bit of the interview:

BW: I want to start with one of the first scenes of the six-hour documentary, which is about the Frank family. Many have read the diary of Anne Frank, but you decide to tell this story in a new light by focusing on her father, Otto Frank, and the way that he desperately tried to get the Franks into the United States. He couldn’t, despite having all of the connections one would need to make it from Europe into America. This theme—America’s policy toward Jewish refugees during the war—underscores the entire film. Why did you decide to open with this story of Otto Frank desperately trying to escape, instead of the story that we know, of an innocent little girl hiding in an attic?

KB: Let’s remember that the diary of an innocent girl, who is often the point of entry for many Americans and certainly schoolkids to the story of the Holocaust, isn’t about the Holocaust. It’s about everything leading up to the moment of her arrest and the overshadowing fear of hiding in the secret annex. As a country, we think we’re disconnected from that, but we are not. We are culpable. Otto Frank had connections in the United States. He had crossed every t and dotted every i and he still couldn’t get in. What I wanted to do is leave our audience with the sense from the very beginning that she could be here and still be alive.

We’re required to particularize this story in a way that we don’t usually do. We say six million and it means nothing. It’s opaque. It’s dense. By particularizing it, you begin to realize that it’s not a number; it’s a set of individuals. And that the lost potentiality of those individuals is the greatest crime.

Which symphonies weren’t written? What children weren’t tended with love? What gardens weren’t raised? There’s a lot of missing human beings as a result of the madness that we call, in retrospect, the Holocaust.

Remember the old saying, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” That was attributed to Stalin, but the attribution is probably wrong. Still, it sums up what Burns says in the penultimate paragraph above.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili makes a joke:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m waiting for the binary numeral system to turn out to be non-binary.
In Polish:
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Czekam aż system zerojedynkowy okaże się niebinarny.


From Merilee, a Dave Coverly “Speebump” cartoon:

From Jesus of the Day:

A Scott Metzger cartoon from the Cat Butler FB page (h/t Anna):

From Zelensky, who doesn’t even have a blue checkmark (ten to one he’d NEVER pay for verification):

From Luana:

From Barry. Peter Hotetz is described on Twitter as “Vaccine Scientist-Author-Combat Antiscience, Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology, Dean, @TexasChildrens and Chair in Tropical Pediatrics. I guess he knows his onions!

From Malcolm. If dictionaries were audiobooks, this would be under “cacophony.”  Sound up!

From the Auschwitz Memorial: Mother and child died together:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a useful fact (if you’re on Jeopardy!):

This is stunning:

This is lovely, and not messy at all!

9 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. they now make bubble wrap that can’t be popped


    What is the point of that?

    OK I did watch the video. It looks like it’s totally pop-able if you’ve got a sharp knife.

    1. There is soft plastic imitation bubble wrap to be had. About a 3×5 card. No sound, but you can pop one side, and then pop the other side back in. Because children and adults seem to need fidget devices.

  2. On this day:
    1649 – Charles I of England is executed in Whitehall, London.

    1661 – Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, is ritually executed more than two years after his death, on the 12th anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.

    1703 – The Forty-seven rōnin, under the command of Ōishi Kuranosuke, avenge the death of their master, by killing Kira Yoshinaka.

    1820 – Edward Bransfield sights the Trinity Peninsula and claims the discovery of Antarctica.

    1826 – The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, is opened.

    1908 – Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is released from prison by Jan C. Smuts after being tried and sentenced to two months in jail earlier in the month.

    1930 – The Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union orders the confiscation of lands belonging to the Kulaks in a campaign of Dekulakization, resulting in the executions and forced deportations of millions.

    1933 – Adolf Hitler’s rise to power: Hitler takes office as the Chancellor of Germany.

    1939 – During a speech in the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler makes a prediction about the end of Jewish race in Europe if another world war were to occur.

    1948 – Following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in his home compound, India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, broadcasts to the nation, saying “The light has gone out of our lives”. The date of the assassination becomes observed as “Martyrs’ Day” in India.

    1956 – In the United States, Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s home is bombed in retaliation for the Montgomery bus boycott.

    1969 – The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.

    1972 – The Troubles: Bloody Sunday: British paratroopers open fire on anti-internment marchers in Derry, Northern Ireland, killing 13 people; another person later dies of injuries sustained.

    2020 – The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

    1882 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, American lawyer and statesman, 32nd President of the United States (d. 1945).

    1902 – Nikolaus Pevsner, German-English historian and scholar (d. 1983).

    1915 – John Profumo, English soldier and politician, Secretary of State for War (d. 2006).

    1925 – Douglas Engelbart, American computer scientist, invented the computer mouse (d. 2013).

    1927 – Olof Palme, Swedish statesman, 26th Prime Minister of Sweden (d. 1986).

    1930 – Gene Hackman, American actor and author.

    1937 – Vanessa Redgrave, English actress.

    1937 – Boris Spassky, Russian chess player.

    1946 – John Bird, Baron Bird, English publisher, founded The Big Issue.

    1951 – Phil Collins, English drummer, singer-songwriter, producer, and actor.

    1974 – Olivia Colman, English actress.

    Left the building:
    1836 – Betsy Ross, American seamstress, said to have designed the American Flag (b. 1752).

    1948 – Orville Wright, American pilot and engineer, co-founded the Wright Company (b. 1871).

    1958 – Ernst Heinkel, German engineer and businessman; founded the Heinkel Aircraft Company (b. 1888).

    1982 – Lightnin’ Hopkins, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1912).

    2011 – John Barry, English composer and conductor (b. 1933).

  3. From Zelensky, who doesn’t even have a blue checkmark …

    Zelensky seems to have a gray checkmark, which nowadays is Twitter-speak for verified governmental organisations, they also have gold checkmarks for verified businesses.

  4. Apropos using a different email address for each company that you interact with, I’ve been doing this for a long time. It has other benefits than the one that PCC(E) explains. If a company’s customer database is hacked, the hackers only get the email address I use for that company, which (a) thwarts any attempt to use that address to break into accounts with other companies, and (b) tells me whose database got hacked, if I suddenly start getting spam sent to the email address I use for that company.

  5. I’m guessing that dog is a Malamute. They are among the chattiest of dogs and someone had the bright idea of setting their cries to music:

Leave a Reply