Tuesday: Hili dialogue

February 14, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to The Cruelest Day, Tuesday, February 14, 2023, but it’s VALENTINE’S DAY! Foodwise, it’s appropriately National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day. Here are some from See’s (not all cream-filled):

And a slightly animated Google Doodle has appeared:

It’s also Frederick Douglass Day (it’s not clear that he was actually born on this day in 1818), International Book Giving Day, Library Lovers Day, National Organ Donor Day (make sure you’ve checked that box on your driver’s license), Race Relations Day, and Statehood Day for Arizona and Oregon.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 14 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Yes, another mass shooting happened yesterday, this time on the campus of Michigan State University.  The gunman killed three and wounded five, and then killed himself.  From the NYT:

A gunman killed three people and wounded five others at Michigan State University on Monday, setting off a three-hour police manhunt and forcing students to hide in their dormitories at one of America’s largest university campuses.

The gunman, a 43-year-old man, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound off campus, the police said. But as hundreds of officers searched for him on Monday night, anxiety rippled across the campus and the nearby community of East Lansing.

“I was shaking the entire time,” said Sophia Nedoff, 19, a dietetics major who learned of the attack after emerging from her chemistry exam. She hid for hours like thousands of other students. “I’m still a little shaken up from it.”

Here’s the latest:

    • The five people who were wounded were in critical condition early Tuesday and were being treated at a nearby hospital. None of the victims’ names have been released.

    • The suspect had no connection to the university, said Chris Rozman, the interim deputy chief of the university’s Police Department, and it was unclear what relationship the victims had with the school. “We have no idea why he came to campus tonight,” Chief Rozman said.

    • A news conference, where more details could be released, is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

    • All campus activities, including classes and athletics, have been canceled for two days.

There’s no information about motive or identity of the shooter at this time; stay tuned.  And of course my gun-loving friends will tell me that there’s absolutely nothing we can do about this. It’s collateral damage from the Second Amendment. . .

This apparently was out last night (h/t Luana):

*As the AP points out, female genital mutilation (FGM), about as barbaric a practice that you can inflict on a young girl, is still prevalent, despite the opposition of even some religious leaders. The AP article doesn’t pin FGM on religion alone, but blames “culture” as well. Since culture and religion are synonymous in many Muslim countries, that’s disingenuous; and I remember Heather Hastie telling us how many Muslim sects still call for FGM. Excerpts from the article:

A global target aims to eradicate the deeply entrenched practice by 2030, and protect the next generations of girls, though campaigners acknowledge the difficulties in achieving that. The United Nations has designated an International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, observed every Feb. 6.

Meanwhile, some women living with the consequences have embarked on deeply personal journeys to heal. They search for answers, sometimes scouring the Internet, amid treatment gaps in many countries, or shame and possible related sexual complications.

. . .Prevalent in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, cutting has been performed in communities of different cultures and faiths. It can be viewed as a rite of passage or linked to beliefs about chastity or femininity and cleanliness, and be fueled from generation-to-generation by social pressure.

“It’s an entrenched social norm and really deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and sometimes in religious beliefs,” said Nafissatou Diop, an official with the United Nations Population Fund. “So to be able to make any change, people need to be convinced that this is not threatening their culture.”

It’s estimated that at least 200 million women and girls are living with the aftermath of the practice, which can include partial or total removal of their external female genitalia and can cause excessive bleeding and even death. Long term, it can lead to urinary tract infections, menstrual problems, pain, decreased sexual satisfaction and childbirth complications, as well as depression, low self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some faith leaders have worked to eliminate the practice, while others condone it. In Egypt, where genital cutting has been widespread but illegal since 2008, top Islamic authorities condemn the practice. In online edicts or television appearances, they cite medical evidence of its harms and say it’s a custom with no sound religious basis. Still, there’s opposition to the bans in Egypt and elsewhere.

According to the article, women who have been subjected to FGM sometimes seek medical repair of the damage, which can be severe (removal of the entire external genitalia and clitoris, for example). But medicine is limited in its ability to fix these problems.  The purpose, of course, it to withhold from women the ability to experience sexual pleasure, and only religion would try to do something like that. (I exaggerate a bit, but not much.)

*At the NYT, Stuart Stevens, a Republican political consultant, mourns the viability of South Carolina’s governor as a Republican Presidential candidate in an op-ed called “Nikki Haley has a great future behind her.”  (It now has a new title: “Nikki Haley threw it all away.”) I once thought that Haley was a good Republican candidate, more on the liberal side than most, and though I wouldn’t vote for her I wouldn’t raise as much of a stink as if someone like, say, Trump, were president. But Stevens says she got Trumpier and Trumpier with time:

Whatever that “thing” is that talented politicians possess, Ms. Haley had it. People liked her, and more important, she seemed to like people. She talked with you, not to you, and made routine conversations feel special and important. She seemed to have unlimited potential.

Then she threw it all away.

No political figure better illustrates the tragic collapse of the modern Republican Party than Nikki Haley. There was a time not very long ago when she was everything the party thought it needed to win. She was a woman when the party needed more women, a daughter of immigrants when the party needed more immigrants, a young change maker when the party needed younger voters and a symbol of tolerance who took down the Confederate flag when the party needed more people of color and educated suburbanites.

When Donald Trump ran in the 2016 Republican primary, Ms. Haley stood next to Senator Marco Rubio, the candidate she had endorsed, and eviscerated Mr. Trump as a racist the party must reject: “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the K.K.K. That is not a part of our party. That is not who we want as president.” She was courageous, fighting on principle, a warrior who would never back down. Until she did.

The politician who saw herself as a role model for women and immigrants transformed herself into everything she claimed to oppose: By 2021, Ms. Haley was openly embracing her inner MAGA with comments like, “Thank goodness for Donald Trump or we never would have gotten Kamala Harris to the border.” In one sentence, she managed to attack women and immigrants while praising the man she had vowed never to stop fighting. She had gone from saying “I have to tell you, Donald Trump is everything I taught my children not to do in kindergarten” to “I don’t want us to go back to the days before Trump.”

He blames her changes on Trump:

As a former Republican political operative who worked in South Carolina presidential primaries, I look at Ms. Haley now, as she prepares to launch her own presidential campaign, with sadness tinged with regret for what could have been. But I’m not a bit surprised. Her rise and fall only highlights what many of us already knew: Mr. Trump didn’t change the Republican Party; he revealed it. Ms. Haley, for all her talents, embodies the moral failure of the party in its drive to win at any cost, a drive so ruthless and insistent that it has transformed the G.O.P. into an autocratic movement

Haley’s apparently set to announce her own candidacy for the GOP Presidential nomination. Stevens thinks Trump will be the candidate, but won’t choose Haley for his running mate as she’s “not MAGA enough” for either him or Republicans in general. Ceiling Cat help that party. . .

*The Washington Post gives a number of horrifying vignettes showing how online statements that we’d consider innocuous in the U.S. are seen in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia as ideological criticism that can net young protestors decades in prison. Here are a few:

The world’s political prisons are bulging. A string of popular uprisings over the past few years brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to the streets, protesting against authoritarianism in Hong Kong, Cuba, Belarus and Iran; against the military junta that toppled democracy in Myanmar; and against strict restrictions on speech and protest in Russia and China. Also, Arab Spring uprisings swept Egypt, Syria and elsewhere a decade ago, and protests broke out in Vietnam in 2018. Most of these protests were met with mass crackdowns and arrests. Thousands of participants — largely young and demonstrating for the first time — have been held in prison for demanding the right to speak and think freely and to choose their leaders.

Check this one out:

Ms. Shehab was sentenced to 34 years i
in prison and to a 34-year travel ban.

*If you’re flying a lot (Greta doesn’t want you to), there is good news and bad news, but mostly bad news. Ticket prices are a lot higher than before the pandemic. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they will go down: a little bit:

Shocked by the price of flying lately? You’re not alone.

“Airfares are expensive, more expensive and a lot more expensive,” said Peter Vlitas, executive vice president of partner relations at Internova Travel Group, a travel services provider. He said some customers have even asked if they could save money on plane tickets by flying somewhere close to their destination and renting a car.

For the week starting Jan. 30, leisure airfare prices on top domestic routes averaged $289 for the three biggest carriers in the country, 71 percent higher than in 2019, according to Bob Harrell of Harrell Associates, a company that tracks airfares.

The travel booking app Hopper forecasts that domestic airfare will reach about $277 for a round-trip ticket this month and then increase as more people book their spring and summer trips. Airfare is expected to peak around $350 this summer.

There is good news: That number is lower than last year’s peak of $400, when a post-omicron wave of travelers returned to the skies despite airlines still operating at lower capacity.

On the not-so-great side, plane tickets are still expected to cost more than they did before the pandemic began.

A bit of mitigation:

To find fares that are better deals, Expedia travel expert Melanie Fish said in a statement sent to The Washington Post that leaving on a weekday instead of a weekend will be less costly.

Everything is costing more. I don’t even remember what an egg tastes like: I haven’t bought any for months—not because I can’t afford them, but because something inside me refuses to pay $6 a dozen when I used to get them for 99¢ on sale. And gas. . . and be prepared to empty your wallet if you rent a car.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has a tough decision to make:

Hili: I’m lying down and thinking.
A: What about?
Hili: Whether to get up or continue lying down.
In Polish:
Hili: Leżę i myślę.
Ja: Nad czym?
Hili: Czy już wstać, czy jeszcze poleżeć.


All cats today! From Beth:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Terry, a Kim Warp cartoon:

I posted this on Facebook ten years back from yesterday:

From Maish.  The Google translation from Farsi isn’t of much use, but I suspect these are two Iranian men showing solidarity with the protesting women of Iran, removing their “hijabs” at the end.

Every time the regressives and narrow-minded people humiliate us #White_Wednesday_women and #our_cameras_weapon with facial expressions or attack here and there, I believe more than ever that they are angry with the uprising of us ordinary people. With simple cameras and the daily release of protest videos, we have made our voice global over the years, and you know in your privates that we are right.

You know in your privates that we are right?

From Amy, one more tweet of Jerry the Cat, on staff at England’s de Havilland Aircraft Museum:

A tweet from Barry: “The video that NASA doesn’t want you to see.” I’m not sure exactly why, though.

A new kitten meets its future housemate:

From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Look at that eagle!  Too much CAPSLOCK, though.

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman sent to Auschwitz at 17, where she died.

Tweets from Matthew. And look! A leucistic hawk, still with a red tail:

Oy! Snakes in the ceiling! Does anybody recognize the species?

26 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

    1. I don’t have the common abhorrence of reptiles, but I would have been out the door in a flash with that reveal.

        1. The snake is a reticulated python. I used to own one that I got as a hatchling. She eventually grew to be 17 feet long!

  1. On this day:
    1349 – Several hundred Jews are burned to death by mobs while the remaining Jews are forcibly removed from Strasbourg.

    1779 – James Cook is killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii.

    1849 – In New York City, James Knox Polk becomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.

    1852 – Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children, the first hospital in England to provide in-patient beds specifically for children, is founded in London.

    1876 – Alexander Graham Bell applies for a patent for the telephone, as does Elisha Gray.

    1899 – Voting machines are approved by the U.S. Congress for use in federal elections.

    1929 – Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre: Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone’s gang, are murdered in Chicago.

    1949 – The Knesset (parliament of Israel) convenes for the first time.

    1989 – Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issues a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.

    2005 – YouTube is launched by a group of college students, eventually becoming the largest video sharing website in the world and a main source for viral videos.

    2018 – A shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is one of the deadliest school massacres with 17 fatalities and 17 injuries.

    1483 – Babur, Moghul emperor (d. 1530).

    1813 – Lydia Hamilton Smith, African-American businesswoman (d. 1884). [She also died on this day.]

    1819 – Christopher Latham Sholes, American journalist and politician, invented the typewriter (d. 1890).

    1898 – Fritz Zwicky, Swiss-American physicist and astronomer (d. 1974). [In 1933, Zwicky was the first to use the virial theorem to postulate the existence of unseen dark matter, describing it as “dunkle Materie“.]

    1942 – Michael Bloomberg, American businessman and politician, 108th Mayor of New York City.

    1947 – Tim Buckley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1975).

    Went home in a box:
    1975 – Julian Huxley, English biologist and eugenicist, co-founded the World Wide Fund for Nature (b. 1887).

    1975 – P. G. Wodehouse, English novelist and playwright (b. 1881).

    1989 – James Bond, American ornithologist and zoologist (b. 1900).

    1. 1899 – Voting machines are approved by the U.S. Congress for use in federal elections.

      Yet-to-be-born Venezuelan strongman Hugo Rafael Chávez immediately begins conspiring with Dominion Voting Systems and the Smartmatic Group to rig the 2020 US presidential election.

  2. Shockingly:

    In addition to its prevalence in immigrant communities in the US, FGM was considered a standard medical procedure in America for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. Physicians performed surgeries of varying invasiveness to treat a number of diagnoses, including hysteria, depression, nymphomania, and frigidity. The medicalization of FGM in the United States allowed these practices to continue until the end of the 20th century, with some procedures covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance until 1977.


  3. Nikki Haley is a very ambitious person. It seems that her political strategy is Trumpism without Trump. She will argue that it is time to move past the man Trump, but his ideas (if one concedes that Trump has any ideas) will continue through her, the representative of a new generation that will lead the MAGA cult but without quite as much craziness. She may be playing the long game – realizing she has virtually no chance for the Republican nomination in 2024, but setting the groundwork for 2028. Of course, as Stuart Stevens has pointed out, she has thrown away any principles she may have had.

    1. Whatever her politics, I wonder what makes her think a woman of color has a snowball’s chance in a volcano at becoming the GOP’s nominee? I would also like to add that I think anyone who puts their hat in the ring with Trump is a masochist.

      I think Trump already said “she’s very disloyal” for having the temerity of challenging him. That’s probably as soft as he’ll go.

      1. When she was governor of South Carolina she made sure to reference “South Carolina values.” Perhaps while on her presidential campaign someone will ask her if SC values “trump” those of other states.

  4. … Stuart Stevens, a Republican political consultant, mourns the viability of South Carolina’s governor as a Republican Presidential candidate in an op-ed called “Nikki Haley has a great future behind her.” (It now has a new title: “Nikki Haley threw it all away.”)

    “Hey, Mister Deejay, do we have a tune we can dedicate to Nikki Haley?”

    Sure do. As with most matters in American life, there’re some Dylan lyrics on point. Below, Bob warbles them on Johnny Cash’s show.

    (Recall what Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio, what Lindsey Graham, what Ted Cruz, and what nearly every other Republican with a lick of sense had to say about Donald Trump in 2016, before his hostile takeover of the Grand Old Party was a done deal. Now I ask you: did Trump change or did these pusillanimous politicians forfeit any pretense to integrity?)

  5. .Jerry expresses disappointment that airline tickets and gasoline are still expensive. I’m a little confused here. Isn’t that how you nudge people to participate in the collective action problem of fighting climate change: by making gasoline and flying more expensive so people will consume less of that CO2-emitting fossil fuel? Thank of those higher prices as the carbon tax you never had.

    Now sure, you might wish that more of the prices you pay for fuel were going to government so it can subsidize windmills and electric cars under the IRA—these Dinky toys can’t work without subsidies— instead of to the shareholders of airlines and fossil fuel companies. But in the end it doesn’t matter: scarcity generates high prices and if financing of carbon-intensive industry is inhibited by ESG rules, the high prices will not translate into more supply. (Constrained supply is economist-speak for “Leave it in the ground.”)

    This is what you all want, isn’t it? Along with higher electricity prices to make wind and solar viable?

    1. “—these Dinky toys can’t work without subsidies—”

      As if the fossil fuel companies can. Do you have any idea how many more subsidies American oil companies get than the “Dinky toys” companies?

      Oil companies get billion$ from direct subsidies for fossil fuel production to support exploration, extraction, etc. and they get additional subsidies in the billion$ for overseas fossil fuel projects. They also get billion$ of subsidies on the consumption side to help consumers afford fossil fuels for heating and transportation. There are also implicit subsidies in the billion$ for building and maintaining infrastructure and the impacts that burning fossil fuels have on climate and health. Then there’s the indirect subsidy of the U.S. military that spends billion$ to protect oil supplies and shipping routes around the globe.

      Compared to the fossil fuel industry, the subsidies that clean energy/renewables get is a pittance. Not only that, many of the incentives and tax breaks renewables get are only temporary. The U.S. government, as it stands today, is not really interested in renewables or the subsidies it needs to flourish. At least the Biden administration has shown more interest, but when one political party only wants to “drill baby drill” it makes if difficult to move off fossil fuels and the trillion$ of subsidies it receives annually.

      1. You lost me at implicit subsidies, Mark. It’s either a subsidy or it’s not.

        The so-called trillions of dollars received by the oil and gas industry have been looked at by the International Monetary Fund. Much of these are ordinary business expenses reasonable for any kind of industry where much has to be invested up front before anything is produced and some investment comes up empty.. These expenses are tax-deductible as for any corporate enterprise. Some people say that if a corporation makes $100 in profit and the government tales only $35 in tax, the $65 it gets to keep is a subsidy. Calling the United States Navy an oil-and-gas industry subsidy is a bit rich.

        The largest imputed subsidies are racked up by countries that burn a lot of coal and are willing to tolerate deaths (costed by the IMF @ $2million each) in mines and from air pollution. Rich countries don’t subsidize their energy industries nearly to that extent. The next largest “subsidy” is not applying an arbitrarily large carbon tax, which you would pay as the end user, not the producer.

        But let’s imagine you are right: the true cost of a gallon of gasoline with all those subsidies removed is $20 a gallon. Would American pay that or would they riot? The French rioted. Subsidies are bad until you have to pay the unsubsidized price yourself. Then you like them a lot.

        Americans and Canadians and Europeans and Chinese love fossil fuels. We don’t have a Republican Party in Canada but we still aren’t giving up gasoline and natural gas or even coal any time soon. You won’t either. But the price of all energy will rise if you constrain supply of fossil fuels because the alternatives are more expensive.

        I do hope you’re right that your government is not as seriously interested in weather-dependent electricity as it wants us to think. The “Buy American” provisions of the IRA risk setting off a trade war, which would be destructive in a world trying to cope with a wounded China and war n Ukraine. Let’s hope it abandons decarbonization before too much damage is done.

        1. You mentioned the IMF, and that you got lost regarding implicit subsidies. The IMF doesn’t dismiss them.

          According to a recent IMF report, the burning of coal, oil, and gas was subsidized by $5.9 trillion in 2020. This new way of calculating the proper pricing of pollution takes into account the health costs of air pollution and contributions to the impacts of global warming.

          Seems reasonable to me, why dismiss it? Data is data, no?

          $20/gallon?…bring it. It wouldn’t cause riots (unless done overnight) it would change the paradigm. Quickening the abandonment of fossil fuels and putting the trillion$ into renewables is an optimistic-ish future that I would wholeheartedly support. I know, you’re opposed to this future (or can’t grok it) if fossil fuels aren’t a major player. I’m not. I don’t think anyone who acknowledges the stakes, abstract as they are, feel any different. Especially for the younger generations and those not yet born who will inhabit an inhospitable planet.

          Anyway, I know we won’t persuade one another, but I appreciate the debate.

          Lastly, I make a lot of money off fossil fuels (esp. the distribution via pipe-lines) so it’s not like I don’t have skin in the game. You’ve accused me in a past post about “hating the rich” or some such. Sorry, you’re very off base on that, though I did relish the irony of the accusation. I’m not self-loathing either; I’m a wealthy individual who is willing to sacrifice plenty, esp. tax-wise to help us abandon fossil fuels. So far, I’ve never been asked by those who can actually make a difference.

  6. “Ticket prices are a lot higher than before the pandemic. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they will go down: a little bit:”
    You have your “good news” and your “bad news” the wrong way round…

  7. In Australia Pussy Arsed Bitch is only sometimes offensive. What we find offensive is that kids can go to school and uni and be gunned down. There in lies the problem

  8. A side note …. I have been hearing of a few women who are now considering removing themselves from the organ donor list if their uteruses are going to be implanted into trans women, in the future of course if it is ever possible. I am reasonably confident that this would snowball into many women and have very dire effects on transplant lists. The gender war has very long and unexpected tentacles

    1. At least in some countries, on the organ-donor card, one can tick the box “except” and write exceptions (or tick the box “only” and write only the organs one wants donated. Some people happily donate to those in need, but don’t want to donate to, say, the cosmetics industry.

      With regard to the original comment (transwomen getting uterus transplants), I see this as somewhat down the slippery slope from the pronoun nonsense. Once one agrees to the pronouns, either one goes all the way or has to backtrack at some point, which most don’t want to do.

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