Friday: Hili dialogue

February 10, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Friday, February 10, 2023, and “Have a Brownie Day!” (they are very excited about this).

It’s also a subset of the day: National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, International Cribbage Day, National Flannel Day, International Winter Bike to Work Day, and Teddy Day, during which you’re supposed to give your loved one a teddy bear. But I don’t need one, because I have this one that I got the day I was born. You should know his name by now (he still resides in my office):

Here’s Matthew’s bear and his explanation:

This is Teddy. He used to have eyes but they were glass on bits of wicked rusty wire… The trousers were made by my mother, out of some old trousers of mine, and on the back of his head is a cloth patch where he got burned and his stuffing came out. He also has new paws cos the old leather got very skanky.

Here’s Steve Pinker’s teddy bear Wilfred, which he uses as an example in his psychology class. The caption is “Wilfred J. Bear at work”; I don’t know what the “J.” stands for. Clearly, Canadian teddies hold up better than British or American ones.


In italy, it’s the National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe. Read, learn, and weep.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 10 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*First the obituary: Burt Bacharach, the composer who, along with Hal David, wrote more well-loved pop songs than anyone of our era, died Wednesday at 94.  I can’t even pick one that I like the best, so let’s make do with one of my favorites, “Alfie“, sung here by Dionne Warwick, who made her name singing Bacharach songs. (In this video Bacharach says it’s probably the favorite song that he helped write, and then performs it. I didn’t know that until after I picked it.) It’s simply a gorgeous piece of music—perfect.

Oh hell, here’s the pair playing and singing three more big hits:

And don’t forget that he wrote the Carpenters’ hit, “Close to You” (don’t miss the 1970 live version at the link, with Karen on the drums.

*According to the Washington Post, the fact that the State Department released details of the Chinese weather spy balloon publicly is significant.

Much of the information released by the State Department was revealed earlier this week by The Washington Post, but its wider publication to the media suggested an effort by the U.S. government to name and shame Beijing’s surveillance tactics after its balloon was shot down Saturday off the coast of South Carolina.

An official said high-resolution imagery captured during the U-2 flybys revealed that the airship was capable of signals intelligence operations far beyond the abilities of a weather balloon, boasting “multiple antennas to include an array likely capable of collecting and geolocating communications.” Signals intelligence is a form of spycraft involving the interception of communications or electronic signals to gain valuable information.

The State Department affirmed thatChina’s balloon spy operations are carried out by the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, using technologymanufactured by a firm that has a direct relationship with China’s military.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. officials expect to learn more about the balloon’s capabilities from the forensic examination the FBI is conducting of the debris. FBI personnel have so far only examined the balloon canopy, some wiring and a small amount of electronics, senior FBI officials told reporters Thursday.

The agency is still waiting to process the largest part of the equipment slung under the balloon that likely housed most of the electronics, one of the officials said. The agency has started transporting items to the FBI’s lab at Quantico, Va., to remove the saltwater and process them for further study, the officials said.

Did anybody believe that this was a weather balloon gone astray? Yes, I suppose it is embarrassing for a government to be caught lying. At least when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia in a U-2, there was no pretense that he was in a plane that had gone astray!  [JAC correction: reader Ken notes, correctly, “Actually, when Powers’s U-2 was shot down over the Soviet Union, Ike and Allen Dulles did originally lie by claiming it was a weather plane.” I stand corrected] Every government lies, of course, especially about espionage, but rarely are their lies so nakedly revealed.

*The NYT reports that the Supreme Court is about to take up the perennial but meh issue of which genders/sexes can use which bathrooms. (More serious issues would be showers or changing rooms, and the most serious is rape counselling, prisons, and sports participation.) One of the problems is that some states, and Biden’s own policy, is that anyone can declare themselves as a member of the other sex, and from then on that person has to be considered as a full member of the other sex, with every right accruing thereto. Here’s the beef: Sotomayor brought up the inevitability of this issue coming before the court in 2019, though it was in another case not relevant to it:

But the justices have not yet addressed the question Justice Sotomayor viewed as inevitable. A decision from the federal appeals court in Atlanta last month may change that.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s majority opinion in 2020 in the case on workplace discrimination was a sweeping and, to many, surprising victory for transgender rights. But he took pains to say the ruling was, in one sense, narrow.

“We do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms or anything else of the kind,” he wrote, adding that those “are questions for future cases, not these.”

In dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. chastised the majority for kicking the can down the road.

“The court may wish to avoid this subject,” he wrote, “but it is a matter of concern to many people who are reticent about disrobing or using toilet facilities in the presence of individuals whom they regard as members of the opposite sex.”

The legal landscape changed on Dec. 30, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled by a 7-to-4 vote that Drew Adams, a transgender boy, was not entitled to use the boys’ bathroom in a public high school in Florida. The judges in the majority were all appointed by Republican presidents, six of them by Donald J. Trump. The dissenters were all appointed by Democrats.

The new decision, if it is appealed, may well force the justices’ hands, requiring them to decide an issue they have avoided.

The two sides in the 11th Circuit decision found almost no common ground and appeared to talk past each other.

The judges defined “sex” in a variety of ways, including chromosomes, and the real biological criterion–gamete size–may not be productive in this situation.  I have NO idea how the Court will rule on this one. They were reluctant to rule before, and one would think that, with 6 diehard conservatives, they’d go with the “birth sex” option. Or maybe they’d mandate a third bathroom for everyone, including transsexual and transgender people. Stay tuned.

*I always want to see Pamela Paul’s take on an issue, as she’s a liberal who is seemingly antiwoke (she used to be editor of the NYT’s Sunday Book Review. Her latest column, “What liberals can learn from Ron DeSantis“, argues that Democrats would be making a mistake to write DeSantis off. Why?

First, we shouldn’t underestimate DeSantis. He may resemble Trump in his politics — but not in his intellect or resolve. Compare their respective backgrounds: Whereas Trump’s acceptance into the University of Pennsylvania, after an academic record notable only for its mediocrity, was an egregious example of leveraging personal connections to get into a prestigious university, DeSantis, the son of a TV ratings box installer and a nurse, actually earned his way into the Ivy League. People bent over backward to ascribe some accidental form of grifter street smarts to Trump. But DeSantis is demonstrably intelligent and industrious. He worked his way through Yale while playing baseball and graduated magna cum laude.

He was also an officer in the Navy and a graduate of Harvard Law school. All this means is that we can’t write him off as stupid or lazy. But what about his seemingly crazy politics? Paul:

When I visited Miami from Covid-conscious New York in 2021, the vibe in bars and restaurants in the Wynwood art district — where nobody asked for proof of vaccination and I was the only person in a mask — was euphoric. In that young, overwhelmingly liberal corner of the city, people weren’t faulting DeSantis for his pandemic policies. He also acted decisively last year during Hurricane Ian, a response that won strong bipartisan approval.

In a country where government often looks sclerotic, DeSantis’s knack for action bears notice. We can decry his stunt in shipping migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, but we should also be attending to the real concerns of people living in areas of heavy immigration. Lest we forget, Hispanic voters in Florida preferred DeSantis to his Democratic opponent in last year’s election for governor; they also supported his Martha’s Vineyard escapade, according to a Telemundo/LX News poll. “There are lots of Hispanic voters in this state who really like the governor’s style, this strongman who won’t back down,” one pollster explained at the time.

Democrats need to grapple with this appeal. It would be easy to write DeSantis off as a cartoon culture warrior or as racist, homophobic, transphobic and xenophobic. He may well be all those things, and so may some of his constituents. But he may not be, and either way, it would be foolish to characterize all his followers as such. Assuming a stance of moral superiority will do us no good. (See: Hillary Clinton, “deplorables.”)

Finally, we shouldn’t let DeSantis co-opt positions on which Democrats have historical strength and a natural advantage: education, health care, jobs. There are reasons so many Americans are relocating to the Sunshine State beyond the balmy weather. This month, DeSantis released a budget plan that featured targeted tax cuts aimed at parents, salary increases for state employees, including teachers, and significant investments in schools, including programs in civic education.

In other words, the mistake the Democrats keep making, and one they made with Trump and Youngkin, is to be to elitist, thinking they know what the average American feels, wants, and needs. Her message is that if Democrats want to win in Florida, which may mean winning the Presidency in 2024, they should actually listen to voters. That doesn’t mean going against all our liberal principles, but we should find a way to comport them with what voters want. After all, most of us want a fair deal, Social Security, and good schools for our kids.

*Are you going to watch the Superbowl? And are you an atheist? If so, be prepared to take your bathroom breaks during the commercials, as they’re going to be especially annoying this year:

The religiously wary, the spiritually curious — and anyone inclined to appeal to a higher power on game day — are the target audience for a Super Bowl ad campaign with a simple message: Jesus loves them.

A group that includes wealthy Christian boosters is using the biggest megaphone TV marketing money can buy on Sunday to spread the word with two new ads that proclaim “He Gets Us.”

They hope to counter the notion that religion is used to divide people, spending about $20 million to reach more than 100 million viewers at a time when the nation’s Christian population — and religious affiliation of any kind — are in decline.

Because religion is a touchy subject and prime-time advertising is so expensive, it is rare for faith to be promoted alongside the Super Bowl ’s perennially buzzed about beer and fast-food commercials. But the backers of the “He Gets Us” campaign see it as a great opportunity to reach so many people at once.

“It fits with our target audience really well,” said campaign spokesperson Jason Vanderground about the NFL and its big game. “We’re trying to get the message across to people who are spiritually open, but skeptical.”

Why so many ads this year? The explanation is a bit convoluted.

Christianity is still in the majority in the U.S., with 63% of adults defining themselves as believers, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. But that figure is down from 78% in 2007. About 29% of Americans define themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 16% in 2007.

Within the NFL, Christianity has long permeated the culture, and regular fans are accustomed to expressions of faith, from locker-room prayers to Hail Mary passes to players pointing skyward after touchdowns.

That may help explain why there are so few faith-related ads during the big game, said Paul Putz, assistant director of Baylor University’s Faith & Sports Institute. “Football players themselves have often been the advertisements for Jesus,” he said.

An example of on-field proselytizing for Jesus. I suppose the quarterback below is attributing his touchdown to God’s will.

(from the AP): Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) points upward after scoring against Washington Commanders during the first half an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

So why the ads now if the players are advertising Jesus for free? I guess it’s a sign of the secularization of America. We know Christians are worried about that, because they’re constantly trying to reassure us that religion isn’t really on the way out, or will come back again. Or they tell us how to make it come back again.  But, as Beethoven supposedly said when a case of Rhine wine was delivered to him on his deathbed, “Pity, pity. . . too late.”

*This is very sad news for reader E. A. Blair (his email was headed “cat passing), and I withheld it until today, which will be the last for his beloved cat:

The cat in the attached photo is Isa.  She turned eighteen in August of 2022, and she attached herself to me on 11 February 2009.  She is part Maine Coon, and is, by far, the sweetest, most affectionate cat I have had the privilege to serve.  Unfortunately, she will not see the fourteenth anniversary of her adoption.  She has cancer, and due to her age would not survive any surgery or other treatment to alleviate her condition, so on Friday the 10th she will make that trip to the vet from which she will not return.

I have until then to share last cuddles, fusses and purrs.  She will be cremated and her remains will rest in an urn along with those of my late wife and our other cats, Kveldulf, Freti and Thorbjorn.  She is survived by her adopted sister Samone, who will accede to the position of Senior Cat of the House.

I do not know yet if I will adopt a new Junior Cat; I am reaching the point in my life where a young cat could outlive me.  I wanted to share her memory with you and your readers.

Farewell, Isa . . .


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili wants to sit in Andrzej’s lap, but Szaron’s already there. Hili looks upset! (Note Andrzej’s University of Chicago hoodie.)

Hili: That’s unfair.
Szaron: On the contrary, I had a difficult childhood so I’m entitled.
In Polish:
Hili: To jest niesprawiedliwe.
Szaron: Przeciwnie, miałem trudniejsze dzieciństwo, więc mnie się należy.

And a picture of Kulka with the caption, “Greetings from Paulina” (in Polish: “Pozdrowienia od Pauliny”):


I presume the headline below is real, and Matt Dillahunty posted it with a nice snarky comment on his Facebook page:

Shock as legendary singer and guitarist Bonnie Raitt gets listed as “unknown blues singer” by children who need to get off my lawn.
13 Grammy awards
Grammy lifetime achievement award
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
#50 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest singers of all time
I get it. She’s probably not on TikTok as much… but, “unknown”?

From Doc Bill:

From Jesus of the Day:I’d eat those dumplings!

From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

From Masih. Google translation from Persian:

7 female political prisoners, including Saba Kordafshari, Fariba Asadi, Alia Matalzadeh, Prasto Moini, Zahra Safaei, Golareh Abbasi and Shahreh Hosseini, were released from the women’s ward of Evin prison on Wednesday evening. Saba Kordafshari has been released after enduring about 45 months of imprisonment. In 2017, he was imprisoned for 6 months due to his human rights activities.

Reader Amy found Jerry the Cat (another one!). And a fine looking moggy it is!

From Dom. In India, Cow Hug Day is coming up. Modi loves his cows, as they’re sacred and he’s a Hindu theocrat.

But it’s already happening!

Meet Australia’s Ambassador to Gender Equality.

From the Auschwitz Museum: A Frenchman who died in the camp at age 39.

Tweets from Professor Cobb, who’s on strike. First, a nice mutualism between plants and animals:

I retweeted this tweet from Matthew:

This is hilarious, but also makes me feel really OLD:

39 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. … because I have this one [teddy bear] that I got the day I was born. You should know his name by now (he still resides in my office) ..

    Toasty is like your portrait of Dorian Gray: he shows all the wear & tear while you stay forever young. 🙂

    1. Yesterday I heard on the radio a recording I didn’t know existed: “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” performing “(Do You Know the Way to) San Jose”. It was only afterwards that I learned that Bacharach had died. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, song I remember from my childhood.

      1. In my Spanish high school class, the teacher presented us with a number of pop songs translated into Spanish for us to learn. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” became “Gotas que caen sobre mi,” with the following lines (from memory, but without accent marks) “y como el chico que es mas grande por su cama, nada toma forma…”

        While Manfred Mann performed the original version/cover of the Bacharach/David tune “My Little Red Book” (, where you can see its roots, Love’s version totally transforms this song into one of the best covers of all time (IMHO):

  2. My condolences, E.A. Good on you for adopting an adult cat. It’s so important that people adopt adult cats, as so many rarely do. You saved a life and received a wonderful friendship in return!

    1. Thank you, and thanks in advance to all who express their sympathy. It is early morning, and from what I see in Isa’s behavior, I think she knows that it’s her time.

      I have always adopted adult cats, partly because adoption agencies charge outrageous fees for cats under a year old. The closest I have come to having a kitten was the stray that my wife took in who became Kveldulf; our vet estimated his age at about five months. I have had good luck in the cats that have shared my liife. The personalities have ranged from absolute sweetheart (Astrid & Isa) to gentleman kitty (Thorbjorn & Freti) to lovable rogue (Kveldulf). Samone started out as cat who didn’t have much of a personality, but she is showing a sweet side now, and she will have big pawprints to fill.

  3. On this day:
    1861 – Jefferson Davis is notified by telegraph that he has been chosen as provisional President of the Confederate States of America.

    1906 – HMS Dreadnought, the first of a revolutionary new breed of battleships, is christened.

    1923 – Texas Tech University is founded as Texas Technological College in Lubbock, Texas. [Mentioned on this website just yesterday, for DEI shenanigans.]

    1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warns against United States intervention in Vietnam. [That went well…]

    1967 – The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified. [I wonder how seriously invoking Section 4 was considered when Trump was POTUS?]

    1989 – Ron Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to lead a major American political party.

    1996 – IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in chess for the first time.

    1775 – Charles Lamb, English poet and essayist (d. 1834).

    1824 – Samuel Plimsoll, English merchant and politician (d. 1898).

    1893 – Jimmy Durante, American actor, singer, and pianist (d. 1980).

    1898 – Bertolt Brecht, German director, playwright, and poet (d. 1956).

    1906 – Lon Chaney Jr., American actor (d. 1973).

    1914 – Larry Adler, American harmonica player, composer, and actor (d. 2001).

    1937 – Roberta Flack, American singer-songwriter and pianist.

    1941 – Michael Apted, English director and producer (d. 2021).

    1950 – Mark Spitz, American swimmer.

    1976 – Keeley Hawes, English actress.

    1981 – Stephanie Beatriz, American actress. [Best known for playing Detective Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.]

    Kicked the bucket:
    2005 – Arthur Miller, American actor, playwright, and author (b. 1915).

    2014 – Stuart Hall, Jamaican-English sociologist and theorist (b. 1932). [No, not that Stuart Hall!]

    2014 – Shirley Temple, American actress and diplomat (b. 1928).

    2021 – Larry Flynt, American publisher (b. 1942).

  4. Dak Prescott points to the sky after a touchdown to thank his mother. It is not a Jesus thing.

    Though obviously there are many examples of NFL players who do the prayer thing.

    1. I don’t watch American football, but living in Missouri, one cannot escape Patrick Mahomes. A local tv news station had an article about how his faith is in everything he does. My immediate thought was something we used to say as kids in the 1980’s: “gag me with a maggot!” I guess when he lost the last Stupor Bowl he must not have been praying enough or have been faithful enough, like he had when they won. Gawd is quite fickle about which teams he helps win, apparently.

  5. Plainly, these youngsters baffled by a rotary phone need to watch some old movies, like Mr. Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder. Get out of the gaming chatrooms on occasion, boys, and tune into Turner Classic Movies.

    1. Good thing it wasn’t a party line (and likely they would have misinterpreted that name) like we had when I first used our single, black, metal phone (owned by the phone co.) back in Arlington, VA

  6. My heart breaks for E.A.Blair and Isa. You were fortunate to have been staff to such a wonderful loving cat. Maybe at some point you could adopt another senior cat?

    1. If (or, more probably, when) i adopt a new cat, my fellow commenters here on WEIT will be among the first to know. We have a spring election coming up here, and I work for the election commission, so I will peobably start looking for a new cat after the voting ado dies down (the election is only one day, but the auditing process for all the paperwork lasts about two weeks).

  7. You want to hope your Court doesn’t mandate a third space for bathrooms. At public venues, women invariably find the queue for theirs at intermission is much longer because theirs don’t have walls of urinals (or a trough like at the old Maple Leaf Gardens.). They will, sensibly, demand that the trans be carved out of the men’s space, not theirs. Fine, but even if men are allowed to use the non-gendered bathroom, there will be fewer urinals in total because transmen have to sit down to pee and, so I’m told, many transwomen want to, in order to stay in character. And trans people will resent men who don’t appear to be trans using “their” bathroom as a spillover from the men’s bathroom, which will be under stress because urinals had to be removed from it to make the trans bathroom in the first place.

    The result is that transwomen will find themselves having to share bathrooms with men — women will refuse to use those spaces — which is what the transwomen were trying to avoid by barging into women’s bathrooms in the first place. It will leave everyone angry and resentful. Even the women will resent that the construction budget didn’t expand their,space which was inadequate to begin with. Especially since the trans-friendly space is unlikely to get much use in the first place, given the tiny number of trans people.. Another example of trans activists wrecking something that works, barely, and then flitting on to their next chaos project.

    Police here have begun to lay charges against men violating women’s spaces especially where there are children, and to Hell with what the Ontario Human Rights Code says about self-affirmed gender identity.

  8. Jerry the #dehavecat returns from an extended lunch hour as if there isn’t a problem

    An extended lunch hour from one point of view is “allowing the workforce to show their self-management skills” from another point of view. What problem?
    The third interpretation being “give ’em enough rope” …

  9. Sorry, E.A., to hear about your lovely Isa. I’m glad to read he didn’t leave you alone. Losing a beloved pet is one of life’s many bitter experiences, one that only time can heal. Though I have found that replacements do speed up the grieving process. We can’t do that with humans, but I’m glad we can with pets.

  10. I’m ambivalent about the Super Bowl this year, but I’ll have it on in the background. If it’s a close game, I might take the time to watch the second half. I’ve been seeing those “Jesus gets us” ads all season. I fast forward commercials, so haven’t actually seen one in its entirety. I never watch “live” tv, and wouldn’t watch television (esp. the NFL) if I couldn’t fast forward commercials.

    Not interested in Rihanna at half-time either. It seems these half-time shows nowadays are just about glitz, glamour, and sexy dancing; the music is an afterthought. Plus, I can’t stand that underneath umbrella, ella, ella, ella, song.

  11. I could hardly care less about (American) football, and will only note that some among us will once again be celebrating the high holy day of Superb Owl Sunday.

  12. Whenever I see athletes thanking God for intervening in their cosmically insignificant games, I think of “God’s Song” by Randy Newman:

    Man means nothing; he means less to me
    Than the lowliest cactus flower
    Or the humblest Yucca tree.
    He chases round this desert
    Cause he thinks that’s where I’ll be
    That’s why I love mankind.
    I recoil in horror fro the foulness of thee
    From the squalor and the filth and the misery.
    How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
    That’s why I love mankind.

Leave a Reply