Saturday: Hili dialogue

February 4, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Saturday, February 4, 2023: shabbos for Jewish cats and National Frozen Yogurt Day, which some cats like to eat.

It’s also National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, National No One Eats Alone Day, International Cribbage Day, World Cancer Day, International Day of Human Fraternity, and Rosa Parks Day, celebrating the civil rights heroine who was  born on this day in 1913 (she died in 2005). Here’s a brief biography:


Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 4 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*This op-ed by NYT writer Zeynep Tufekci, scared the hell out of me: “An even deadlier pandemic could soon be here” What the hell? It’s bird flu, which is one reason eggs cost so much now, But I didn’t realize that it could kill humans, too (56% mortality rate!):

As the world is just beginning to recover from the devastation of Covid-19, it is facing the possibility of a pandemic of a far more deadly pathogen.

Bird flu — known more formally as avian influenza — has long hovered on the horizons of scientists’ fears. This pathogen, especially the H5N1 strain, hasn’t often infected humans, but when it has, 56 percent of those known to have contracted it have died. Its inability to spread easily, if at all, from one person to another has kept it from causing a pandemic.

But things are changing. The virus, which has long caused outbreaks among poultry, is infecting more and more migratory birds, allowing it to spread more widely, even to various mammals, raising the risk that a new variant could spread to and among people.

Alarmingly, it was recently reported that a mutant H5N1 strain was not only infecting minks at a fur farm in Spain but also most likely spreading among them, unprecedented among mammals. Even worse, the mink’s upper respiratory tract is exceptionally well suited to act as a conduit to humans, Thomas Peacock, a virologist who has studied avian influenza, told me.

The world needs to act now, before H5N1 has any chance of becoming a devastating pandemic.

We have many of the tools that are needed, including vaccines. What’s missing is a sense of urgency and immediate action.

We have effective vaccines against bird flu, but not enough to get them into arms for six months or more (and many are made from chicken eggs—not the optimal strategy). We should, she says, develop mRNA vaccines. But who would do that and get them on the market until the bird flu touches of an epidemics in humans? Tufekci also recommends prophylactic killing of minks (which would be killed for their fur anyway).

I looked Tufekci up on Wikipedia and got ever more worried when I read this about her:

She has been described as “having a habit of being right on the big things” by The New York Times and as one of the most prominent academic voices on social media and the new public sphere by The Chronicle of Higher Education

Right on the big things! Oy!

*From reader Ken, acting as legal newsman (Indented words are his except for the quote)

A three-judge panel of the ultra-conservative federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (comprising two Trump appointees and a holdover from the Reagan era) has struck down as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment a federal statute that prohibits persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, 18 USC section 922(g)(8).

In the case, United States v. Rahimi, a Texas state court judge entered a civil protective order against the defendant in February 2020 after an alleged assault against his ex-girlfriend. Then, according to the criminal complaint filed against him:
“Between December 2020 and January 2021, Rahimi was involved in five shootings in and around Arlington, Texas. On December 1, after selling narcotics to an individual, he fired multiple shots into that individual’s residence. The following day, Rahimi was involved in a car accident. He exited his vehicle, shot at the other driver, and fled the scene. He returned to the scene in a different vehicle and shot at the other driver’s car. On December 22, Rahimi shot at a constable’s vehicle. On January 7, Rahimi fired multiple shots in the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at a Whataburger restaurant.”
The Fifth Circuit decision is the bitter fruit of Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion for SCOTUS last term striking down New York state’s concealed-carry licensing law in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (2022).

You can read the Fifth Circuit’s opinion and weep, er, duck, here.

“Everybody has their Second Amendment rights and all must have guns.” —the Dodo Bird’s verdict, updated.

*Over at the Free Press, Nellie Bowles has her weekly snarky news summary; this week’s is “TGIF: 99 Spy Balloons“. As usual, I’ll give three of her items. I put the first one in because of the Diet Coke button (do click that link; its fascinating):

→ Trump distances himself from the best thing he did: Whatever you think of Donald J. Trump (few really have strong opinions, but if you had to force yourself…), the man oversaw the incredibly fast development of the Covid vaccine. Operation Warp Speed, which cut through bureaucratic red tape, was a huge accomplishment. That, and the Diet Coke button. But the Republican base has turned on the vax. The vax has been coded lib. It’s basically the Latinx of healthcare. And so now we see likely presidential contender Ron DeSantis and Trump sparring over who cared less about the pandemic. Here’s Trump:

Bowles added that “Nikki Haley, two-term governor of South Carolina, is about to announce that she’s running for president.”  She’s a Republican of course. Were I a Republican, I’d consider her a good alternative to the existing wackos.

→ Hispanic Democrats want to ban Latinx from state docs: A bunch of racist, transphobic fascists (Hispanic Democrats) are trying to take the most important word in the progressive lexicon and ban it. Yes, elected officials in Connecticut are pushing for a law that would ban Latinx from state documents. “I’m of Puerto Rican descent and I find it offensive,” said state representative Geraldo Reyes Jr., who I’m guessing also doesn’t share his pronouns in his email signature. Hispanic leaders need to sit this one out. Latinx is what white progressives want to call you, and that’s a conversation that happened internally in the white community led by white lived experience. That should be respected. Geraldo should read his Robin DiAngelo.

→ The French had a funny response to being told their name is racist: After the AP said that the term the French is dehumanizing, much fun was had about what to call people experiencing Frenchness. The French had a great response:

*In her new column at the Washington Post, columnist (and atheistic Jew) Kate Cohen decries the fact that the default behavior in American life is to be religious (it’s called “In America, you have to opt out of religion in public life. That’s backward“).  h/t: Merilee

. . . in our country, religion is the default, and the burden of opting out — even the burden of knowing you have the right to — falls on the nonbeliever.

The New York state legislature tried to shift the burden a little last year by passing the Nonreligious Recovery Options bill, which required judges to inform defendants of their right to secular treatment [for recovery from addiction]. “It should be a priority of the court,” the legislature said, “to ensure that a defendant’s treatment matches their preferences so they can actually benefit from the treatment.”

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul demurred, claiming the law set an “uncomfortable precedent” in which judges might have to inform litigants of “their rights to opt out of other mandates.” And so, her veto saved New Yorkers from a dystopian future in which citizens are, willy nilly, informed of all their rights. And it left nonbelievers, once again, with the burden of opting out.

. . .I am grateful for my civil rights and am keenly aware that many countries afford no such escape clause. But mine is supposed to be a nation whose laws and institutions do not endorse any religion, even as they offer protection to those who believe.

In a secular nation, if your public school required you to get your children vaccinated, but your religious beliefs prevented you from doing so, you could get an exemption — not from lifesaving public health regulations, of course, but from public school.

In a secular nation, if you believed Islam prohibited you from seeing an image of the prophet Muhammad, you could choose not to look.

. . .In a secular nation, a legislator who thought abortion was a sin would absolutely have the right not to have one.

In our nation, by contrast, after that religious belief is enshrined into law, someone has to make the legal argument that Missourians “have the absolute right to live free from the religious dictates of others.”

They do — they have that right. We all have that right. It’s right there in the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But as long as this country’s default setting is religious — both culturally and politically — we have to fight for it.

Good for her. If she lived another 200 years or so, Cohen might actually find an America in which secular is the default status.

*The big story at Andrew Sullivan’s new Weekly Dish column, “When the media narratives meet reality” is about three recent narratives that don’t conform to what the media want.  Sullivan first mentions the bias of the mainstream media (MSM), including the NYT, which now, he says, tings all race-based stories with the color of the 1619 Project. He adds:

And this week, the former executive editor, Len Downie, a near-icon of the old school, published a report on journalism and found a broad consensus among his colleagues that, in the words of one editor-in-chief, “Objectivity has got to go!” So every story now assumes “white supremacy” as the core truth of the world.

But this narrative comes up against the three stories:

So what happens when stories arrive which, on the face of it, seem to refute that entirely? Take three recent events: two mass killings of Asian-Americans within two days in California by an Asian-American (in Monterey Park) and a Chinese national (in Half Moon Bay); five black police officers in a majority-black police force with a black police chief all but lynched and murdered an innocent black man; and a trans woman was convicted of the rape of two other women with the use of her penis.

How on earth do these fit into the pre-arranged “white supremacy” template?

What the MSM does, says Sully, is force all such incidents into a Procrustean bed of white malfeasance:

When a non-white person does something awful, it’s called “multiracial whiteness” — a term made famous by the WokePo.

Then we had the horrific murder of Tyre Nichols. The five black cops, we were told, killed another black man because they had internalized white supremacy: “If you think the Memphis police officers had to be white in order to exhibit anti-Blackness, you need to take that AP African American Studies course Ron DeSantis just banned,” Mondaire Jones, a former congressman, explained, referring to critical race theory, which posits exactly that.

For The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, the murderous cops were non-white people “carrying water” for whiteness:

I need so many people to understand this regarding Tyre Nichols. Several of the police officers who murdered Freddie Gray were Black. The entire system of policing is based on white supremacist violence. We see people under the boot of oppression carry its water all the time.

. . .This is why, in pieces devoted to the disproportionate number of black men in jail for murder, the MSM never provide data on the disproportionate number of black male murderers. You’d think that would just be logically relevant. Ninety percent of those convicted of murder are men — but we don’t view the system as biased against them, because they commit 90 percent of the murders! Similarly, if black men — around six percent of the population — have been responsible for more than 50 percent of all murders over the years, you can see why they might be over-represented in prison, without any reference to any system of “whiteness” at all.

But with critical race theory, the black officers didn’t actually kill anyone. Whiteness did — by infesting their brains and souls, like the fungally-challenged people in “The Last of Us.” CRT denies human agency to members of minorities, strips them of choice, renders them inert as individuals. They are only ever instruments of the “system.” They may identify as black, but they’re all Clayton Bigsby underneath.

In other words, what used to be called “Oreos.”

. . . My point is simply that every case is different, that multiple explanations of each are possible, that racial animus can go in every direction from every racial group to any other racial group, and that the fiction that someone with a dick is in every respect indistinguishable from a woman born as female is bound to come undone at some point. Because it just isn’t true.

There’s a lot more to this column, and it’s one of Sullivan’s best ones, showing up not only the hypocrisy of the “MSM” (mainstream media), but its desperately incessant confirmation bias. Read it (and subscribe it you frequent his site).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is frustrated (but she’s very pretty today).

Hili: I have a dilemma.
A: What dilemma?
Hili: I don’t understand everything.
A: Welcome to the club.
In Polish:
Hili: Mam dylemat.
Ja: Jaki?
Hili: Nie wszystko rozumiem.
Ja: Witaj w klubie.

And here is Andrzej’s picture of Baby Kulka:


From Merilee: A Persian rug:

From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy on FB.  Does a baguette dog count?

From Malcolm: a reverse waterfall in Utah, with wind blowing the waters back up:

Titania tweeted! (This is about the Scottish affair, of course.)

From Masih:

From Ken. The great news is that the two purloined Emperor tamarin monkeys have returned to the Dallas Zoo. I thought they were wearing oxygen masks but those are their mustaches! (Click on the picture to see both monkeys.) The news says they were found in an abandoned house in Lancaster, Texas. Stay tuned; they need to find the thief!

An academic analogy from nature sent by reader Simon. This scares the hell out of me, and I hope the antelopes were okay.

From Luana: ChatGPT doesn’t like men:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, one who survived (and turns 98 today!) and one who didn’t.

Tweets from Matthew First, a duck being watered by a duck.

Manchester University faculty and students, including Matthew, are on strike for 18 days. Here’s a picket line, and a bus going by announces its solidarity with the strikers:

34 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1555 – John Rogers is burned at the stake, becoming the first English Protestant martyr under Mary I of England. [She was known as Bloody Mary for a good reason.]

    1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.

    1794 – The French legislature abolishes slavery throughout all territories of the French First Republic. It would be reestablished in the French West Indies in 1802.

    1861 – American Civil War: In Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from six breakaway U.S. states meet and initiate the process that would form the Confederate States of America on February 8.

    1945 – World War II: The Yalta Conference between the “Big Three” (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin) opens at the Livadia Palace in the Crimea.

    1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps Patty Hearst in Berkeley, California.

    2004 – Facebook, a mainstream online social networking site, is founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin.

    1818 – Emperor Norton, San Francisco eccentric and visionary (d. 1880). [Bizarrely, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco and currency issued in his name was honoured in some establishments that he frequented.]

    1868 – Constance Markievicz, Irish revolutionary and first woman elected to the UK House of Commons (d. 1927). [She was also elected Minister for Labour in the First Dáil, becoming the first female cabinet minister in Europe. She didn’t take up her seat in Westminster.]

    1902 – Charles Lindbergh, American pilot and explorer (d. 1974).

    1913 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (d. 2005).

    1915 – Norman Wisdom, English comedian, actor and singer-songwriter (d. 2010). [Oddly, he was big in Albania: ]

    1948 – Alice Cooper, American singer-songwriter.

    1957 – Matthew Cobb, British zoologist and author.

    1970 – Hunter Biden, American attorney and lobbyist, son of U.S. President Joe Biden.

    1972 – Dara Ó Briain, Irish comedian and television host.

    Became immortally challenged:
    1968 – Neal Cassady, American novelist and poet (b. 1926).

    1975 – Louis Jordan, American singer-songwriter and saxophonist (b. 1908). [My first earworm of the day: “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”.]

    1982 – Alex Harvey, Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1935).

    1983 – Karen Carpenter, American singer (b. 1950).

    1987 – Liberace, American singer-songwriter and pianist, (b. 1919).

    2013 – Reg Presley, English singer-songwriter (b. 1941). [Second earworm of the day. Altogether now: “Wild Thing! I think I love you…”]

    1. If I’m gonna get stuck with an earworm from “Wild Thing,” it’s not gonna be from The Troggs’ original, but Jimi’s cover. (I’d forgotten all about how he samples Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” at the 2:50 mark. It’s left to us mere mortals to wonder why):

      1. Good observation about ‘Strangers in the Night”, I would not have noticed in Jimi’s cacophony, if not pointed out.

  2. Kickin’ Hili Dialogue

    I’m not sure the ‘notify of replies’ button is working – is it just me?

    Anyone? Anyone?

        1. The other pov from FDR…

          “I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird, and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.”

        2. Klipspringers are “a species of least of concern,” whereas African Wild Dogs are listed as endangered, so they’re really David. Best of luck next time doggies!

    1. Yes, Klipspringers, Oreotragus. It looks as if the African wild dogsLycaon pictus, aka. painted dogs, gave up.
      I don’t think the paths of klipspringers and wild dogs often cross, the former are typical mountain dwellers, mostly nocturnal, while the latter are found in the plains and are more diurnal.
      Klipspringers are of ‘least concern’, while the painted dogs are ‘threatened’.

  3. With regard to “the French,” it is worth remembering that Napoleon Bonaparte’s title was “Emperor of the French.”

    1. Why is the French considered ‘verboten’? I’m mystified how it could possibly be ‘racist’. The woke appear completely out of their minds.

  4. How is it that there is a Left and a Far-Left, but there is only a far or ultra Right? Surely, not every conservative policy or action someone on the Left disagrees with is intrinsically extreme?

      1. Exactly Mark, I always considered myself left of centre, but with the mind-blowing Woke onslaught, I’m probably part of that moderate right. I’m all for liveable minimum wage, good medical cover for all, pro-choice, pro-secular, pro-fire arm control, pro helping Ukraine with all means, etc. etc. But I’m against trans-activist nonsense like ‘trans women’ competing in women’s sports or Tatiana’s Scottish reference above. Or considering ‘the French’ a racist term, or ‘rule of the thumb’ (?). Or considering black cops murdering a black man ‘white supremacist’, or such, frankly, idiotic, notions.
        The far right maybe evil, but the far left is completely nuts, in my modest opinion. Evil, but not even evil: nuts.

        1. Where good medical cover for all sits on the political spectrum depends I think on how you plan to finance it. In the European model, only the basic safety net for the poor is financed through the progressive tax system. Everyone else is compelled to purchase private insurance and the state stays out of it except to twist the arms of people who could afford insurance but want to freeload off the public system. Because all must pay, all must be accepted regardless of health—the insurance regime just sets the premiums high enough to cover claims. The Canadian approach is to try to pay everything for everyone out of the tax system and prohibit private payment altogether, whether by insurance or out of.pocket. This means that high income earners pay in tax many times the cost of the care they require through their own working lives. Health spending is highly negatively correlated with income and social status. You have to confront that any tax-funded system will inevitably resemble a municipal welfare operation.

          The first formula would, indeed I think, qualify as a centre-right idea. The Canadian formula is a hard far-left policy now, copied nowhere in the world except North Korea*. Like the less rigid NHS in the UK, it has the status of a state religion.

          Americans would not like the coercive elements of any sort of “cover for all” system and of course prices of medical services are so high in America that paying for it all is difficult no matter how you do it. I suggest that who pays to fix your bad knee is less an ideological problem than an economic one, although granted when we are talking about one seventh of your economy it can’t not be political.
          * In both countries, senior government officials, the armed forces, and professionals athletes have their own semi-secret back.doors so they don’t wait in ration-queues.

    1. There was a time, particularly in my youth, when Republicans had a vital moderate wing. (Hell, there was a time when it even had a “liberal” wing, the so-called “Rockefeller Republicans.”) These were the “Eisenhower Republicans,” or the “cloth-coat” Republicans Dick Nixon alluded to in his infamous “Checkers” speech.

      These moderate, conservative Republicans had both an Eastern Establishment wing — people like Prescott Bush and the Boston Brahmins, such as the Cabots and the Lodges and the Cabot-Lodges — and a midwestern wing, led by the likes of Illinois senator Everett Dirksen. These are the Republicans who joined with northern Democrats to pass the landmark civil-rights legislation of the 1960s. They were typified on the US Supreme Court by justices like the second John Harlan and Potter Stewart.

      This brand of moderate, conservative Republicanism has been on the wane for decades now. And, with the rise of Trumpism, these moderate, conservative Republicans (the ones who believed — or at least professed to believe — in limited government, balanced budgets, free trade, open markets, personal responsibility and rectitude, and in upholding the norms and traditions of US government) have either been driven from the GOP entirely or, if they remained, been reduced to fecklessness. (This mirrors, and is very much related to, the way in which Evangelicalism has overwhelmed mainline Protestantism in American Christianity.)

      That is why you hear so much more about the far or ultra-right than you do about the “moderate right” these days, DrB. Moderate conservativism, at least for the time being, has all but ceased to be a meaningful force in American political life.

        1. Yep, and PA’s Hugh Scott, NY’s Jacob Javits, and even Mitt Romney’s dad, George — you know, for those of us of a certain age, Jim. 🙂

      1. “Moderate conservativism, at least for the time being, has all but ceased to be a meaningful force in American political life.” I’d consider that a great loss. We need some moderate conservatism as a balance , not extreme fascistoid idiots like Boebert, Gaetz or Greene, Jewish space-lasers, seriously? It looks like the extreme right is not just evil (we already knew that), but just as nuts as the extreme left.

  5. Religion & opting out: My kids have told me that when their friends would ask what religion they were, and they replied None or something like that, there would be a pause indicative of mental non-computation and then they’d often reply, “Well, what were you before that?”

    1. Well, I guess that is not an unreasonable question since so many atheists were indoctrinated in a religion before throwing the religious yoke.
      About the greatest achievement in my life (to me) was when my late mother (she was an elder in the Dutch Reformed church) asked about her religion in her care home, said ‘none’. When asked why, she said one could not remain a believer with a son like me (we had many unending discussions about religion). I consider that one of her greatest gifts.

  6. The United States is a secular nation, though. Kate Cohen gets her abortion reference wrong. A legislator who is a devout Christian has no special individual power to prevent someone from having an abortion just because he is Christian, any more than if he opposes abortion for any other reason. What he can do is band together with like-minded legislators and pass a secular law that bans or restricts abortion. As long as the legislature is created under a secular authority and as long as the law doesn’t make reference to religious authority in its text, it is a secular law.

    I think the reason why some laws, like abortion, have a religious flavour is simply that many Americans inform their thinking with appeals to religious authority. At least the loudest, most organized do, which is how elections are won and laws made.

    There is nothing anyone can do about this. You can’t tell people they can’t appeal to God in deciding how they should advocate on a public issue. We think they shouldn’t, but who are we? Otherwise you’re saying the electorate is wrong and should be ignored. Sounds good, but wait till your ox is gored.

    The reference to paintings of Mohammed is also off the mark. The United States does not criminalize paintings. The fuss is coming from those who think you should. But you don’t. If some coward caves in to them that’s on her, not the country.

    The vaccination question is closer. It’s controversial everywhere, even in atheist Europe because it’s about parents and their kids’ health.

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