Thursday: Hili dialogue

February 23, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Thursday, February 23, 2023, and National Banana Bread Day. a treat that wasn’t really developed until the 1930s, as Americans didn’t eat many bananas until then, and there was no baking powder.

It’s also Open that Bottle Night, International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day (presumably for d*gs only), International Tongue Twister Contest Day, National Rationalization Day, Play Tennis DayThe Emperor’s Birthday—of Naruhito, the current Emperor of Japan, and, unfortunately, Red Army Day or Day of Soviet Army and Navy in the former Soviet Union. But toay’s Russian ARmy is not the gallant Red Army of WWII.

Here’s Naruhito, still keeping the dynasty going. He’s 62, and the 126th straight Emperor (or Empress)in the Dynasty:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 23 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*While Biden is meeting with NATO allies in Eastern Europe, Putin met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, to plot various nefarious things to do to Ukraine. By the time you read this, Biden will be back in the U.S., and the conflict will have escalated, at least psychologically. According to the Washington Post, China is blaming the U.S. rather than Russia for the conflict in Ukraine.

Ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has launched a public diplomacy offensive to wrest control of the narrative about its role in the conflict, trying to clear itself of accusations that it has sided with Russia while accusing the United States of turning the conflict into a “proxy” war.

But it HAS sided with Russia, for crying out loud! But I digress:

Few of the positions staked out by Chinese officials in a flurry of speeches and documents this week are new, but they have underscored why Beijing continues to stand by Moscow even as it professes “deep concern” about the conflict: It considers the United States — not Russia — the progenitor of global insecurity, including in Ukraine.

Beijing insists it is neutral in the conflict, but those claims routinely clash with its rhetorical and diplomatic support for Russia.

That was illustrated this week, with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, arriving in Moscow in a show of solidarity with Russia — especially when contrasted with President Biden’s unannounced trip to Kyiv, where he walked the streets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

. . . The China-Russia relationship has stood the test of stormy international circumstances and remained “as stable as Mount Tai,” Wang told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, using a Chinese idiom for rock-solid.

“Crisis and chaos appear repeatedly before us, but within crisis there is opportunity,” he said.

By actively responding to the challenges of the times, the two nations can bring about an even deeper comprehensive strategic partnership, and that relationship “will not be overpowered by a third party’s coercion or pressure” because it is built on a strong economic, political and cultural foundation, Wang added.

That was illustrated this week, with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, arriving in Moscow in a show of solidarity with Russia — especially when contrasted with President Biden’s unannounced trip to Kyiv, where he walked the streets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ah, the new Axis of Evil.

*Let’s put North Korea in that Axis, too, as it’s been firing missiles into the Pacific Ocean like they’re going out of style.

If North Korea follows through on its threat to turn the Pacific Ocean into a “firing range”, it would allow the isolated and nuclear-armed state to make technical advances in addition to signalling its military resolve, analysts said.

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) on Monday, after firing a massive Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Saturday.

Like most North Korean tests, those missiles all fell in the Sea of Japan, which is known as the East Sea in both Koreas.

Now Korea doesn’t yet have nuclear warheads for those missiles, but the intercontinental missile could, I’m told, hit any city in the U.S.  Underground (or even above-sea nuclear tests could be in the offing:

. . . Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, threatened on Monday to go further, saying North Korea’s use of the Pacific as a “firing range” would depend on the behaviour of U.S. forces.

I’m telling you, Kim Yo Jong is going to take over when King Jong Un has his inevitable infarction, and she’s a nasty piece of work. What she means by the above is that they would not just fire missiles in a vertical trajectory, but would test them on long-range flights, as a number of issues have to be worked out through long-distance flight tests before you have a true intercontinental nuke:

Full-range tests into the Pacific would allow North Korea to subject ICBM reentry vehicles to atmospheric stresses and aggregate heat loads that would be more realistic compared to highly lofted trajectories, Panda said.

North Korea’s ICBM technology is coming of age, and perfecting reentry vehicles would increase the threat and pressure on the United States, Shin Seung-ki, a Research Fellow at Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA).

“If that technology is successfully implemented through the test, they will be able to attack the U.S. mainland, which is the purpose of their ICBMs,” he said.

So what do they have to gain by getting nukes? The U.S. has no plans to attack North Korea, nor does South Korea. But a North Korean attack on the U.S. would not only be suicide for that hermit kingdom, but for South Korea as well. Remember, Seoul is only 30 miles from the DMZ. The North Korean leadership of course is starving its people to spend money on armaments, but they also refuse foreign food aid as yet another famine begins to sweep through the DPrK. Does the leadership accept foreign food aid? No way: they call it “poisoned candy.”

*One of my friends is such a big admirer of Jimmy Carter that she’s scared to death she’ll turn on the news and find out that he’s died, though of course that can’t be far off. To ease her mind, I sent her an email every morning at a very early hour, so when she wakes up she’ll see the header “Jimmy Carter is still alive.”  I told her that if she doesn’t get that email, the man has passed on.

Many people share her (and my) sentiments, and you can read  how people in Plains, Georgia, are awaiting the inevitable at WXIA Atlanta’s piece, “Keeping watch in Plains: Jimmy Carter’s friends share memories.”

They speak of how they are with him, in spirit, around the clock, by his bedside, as he rests in hospice at home. Those closest to him believe he knows how much he means to them as if they’ve left nothing unsaid. But they want to say it to him over and over again.

“He’s one of the greatest, living individuals that I’ve ever known,” said Pastor Tony Lowden, Mr. Carter’s pastor.

Pastor Lowden treasures photos of the two of them together–a friendship forged through their mutual faith.

Carter and Lowden are with each other frequently now, along with Rosalynn.

“They’re doing fantastic,” Lowden said Tuesday. “They’re loving each other. They’re loving on each other. That’s the most important thing. We should celebrate the moment that they get an opportunity to spend some time together.”

And this is cool:

Just around the corner from the Carter home, one of their closest friends, Nelle Ariail, showed11Alive framed photos on the walls of her home, and scrapbooks that she spread open on her kitchen table–memories of their friendship going back decades.

The Carters, she said, couldn’t do enough for her and her late husband, saying they were always “kind, very kind” to them. Nelle Ariail is a retired teacher; her husband, Dan Ariail, was the pastor of the Carters’ church.

“In losing him, I’ll be losing a friend,” she said.

Ariail remembers vividly that when Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, he called her and asked her and her husband if they would go to Oslo along with him and Rosalyn for the ceremonies.

“Jimmy called here at the house and said, ‘we want y’all to go with us,’” she recalled, adding, “I was surprised, and he said, ‘well, it’s a special time for us, and we want you to be with us.’”

. . .And when her Yorkie was struck and killed by a car, Carter reached out to her–and more.

“We got flowers, we got food, and it was amazing the attention we got from losing a puppy,” Ariail said. “But that’s how he is.”

One more:

Ariail joined the Carter family on five of their Habitat for Humanity builds around the country.

“Hard work,” she said. “President Carter was the first one working and the last one to quit, every day.”

*The Wall Street Journal has an intriguing story about the use of genetic genealogy: tracking down suspects whose DNA is known but can’t be matched to an individual. If people allow their DNA from companies like 23andMe or Family Tree DNA to be used to be given to the cops to make forensic matches, then there’s suddenly a big databank that can be used to narrow down suspects.

And that’s how they solved the case of a serial rapist, identified as the noted French Horn teacher Elliott Higgens. They found a likely second-cousin match in genealogy-company data, and then, using a variety of data and DNA from suspecdts’ offspring, they pinpinted Higgens as a man who committed a series of violent rapes decades ago.  Sadly, Higgens never faced justice because he died in 2014. Read about it in the story “How DNA tied a noted French-horn teacher to a series of unsolved sex crimes.”

*The story really happened in 1985, but it’s back in the news because they just made a bizarre movie about it. First, the facts:

On Dec. 22, 1985, The Associated Press reported the following from Blue Ridge, Georgia:

“Investigators searching for cocaine dropped by an airborne smuggler have found a ripped-up shipment of the sweet-smelling powder and the remains of a bear that apparently died of a multimillion-dollar high.”

Police found a sad scene. A 175-lb. black bear dead near a duffle bag and some $2 million worth of cocaine that had been opened and scattered over a hillside. The parachutist, a former Kentucky narcotics investigator, had fallen to his death in a backyard in Knoxville, Tennessee. His unmanned airplane crashed into a North Carolina mountain. Back in Georgia, the bear, examiners said, had overdosed.

Now the movie, just coming out:

Yes, “Cocaine Bear” is a real movie. And after it opens in theaters Friday, it might even be a hit. Since the trailer first debuted for Elizabeth Banks’ very, very loosely based-on-a-true-story R-rated comedy has stoked a rabid zeitgeist. At a time when much in Hollywood can feel pre-packaged, the makers of “Cocaine Bear” think it can be an untamed exception.

“Hopefully the film lives up to the title,” Banks says, smiling. “That was the goal.”

. . . The film, itself, takes the basis of the real story and imagines what might have transpired if the bear didn’t quickly die but went on a coke-fueled rampage through a national forest, terrorizing park wardens, campers and drug dealers seeking the lost shipment. After an initial taste, the bear goes after more cocaine with all the zeal of Yogi pursuing a picnic basket.

Shoot me now, folks! I bet it gets more viewing than Tàr! Here’s the trailer for “Cocaine Bear’, which has been watched 16 million times:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is distracted:

Hili: I lost my thought.
A: And what now?
Hili: I will find it in a moment.
In Polish:
Hili: Zgubiłam myśl.
Ja: I co teraz?
Hili: Zaraz ją znajdę.
. . . and a photo of Szaron:


From Science Humor (I don’t know who drew the cartoon):

From Somewhere on Facebook:

A Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson. I didn’t understand it until reader Thomas explained it to me:

From Masih, who’s fomenting anti-Iranian-government demonstrations all over Europe. This one’s from Belgium:

From Malcolm, a “cats being cats” video:

From Luana:  Vanderbilt decided to suspend the two EDI deans who sent out a message of solidarity to students after the Michigan State shooting (see here):

From Simon sent on yesterday (Pancake Day), the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office disses the Prime Minister (a “tosser”, I found, is the same thing as a “wanker”):

From the Auschwitz Memorial, look at the crime for which he was imprisoned and then died:

Tweets from Matthew. Not bad for a medieval artist, though the first duck lacks a tail:

Genuine eel metaphors! Click on the picture to see more:

Stoats, weasels, and others of that ilk are all vicious killers, but I do love them so, and so does Matthew:

45 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. So what do they have to gain by getting nukes?

    They’ll be able to use the threat to deter the USA (and others) from escalating conflicts in which North Korea is involved much like Russia has managed to do with Ukraine.

    1. And tyrants who don’t have nuclear weapons come to a grisly personal end: Khadaffi, Saddam Hussein, Ceausescu, Mussolini, … (Yes, I know the last was an anachronism. I’m trying to flesh out my list. Changes of power in small states attract little attention because no one asks, “Who has the nukes?” Imagine a coup in Canada compared to, say, Russia, or France.).

      Those who would conspire to depose and murder Kim Jon-Un have to worry that he might nuke the part of the country that supports them…and they have to worry that a successful coup would result in invasion by foreigners bent on securing the nuclear weapons.

      “Smite thine enemies”, indeed.

  2. On this day:
    532 – Byzantine emperor Justinian I lays the foundation stone of a new Orthodox Christian basilica in Constantinople – the Hagia Sophia.

    1455 – Traditionally the date of publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed with movable type.

    1763 – Berbice slave uprising in Guyana: The first major slave revolt in South America.

    1820 – Cato Street Conspiracy: A plot to murder all the British cabinet ministers is exposed and the conspirators arrested.

    1836 – Texas Revolution: The Siege of the Alamo (prelude to the Battle of the Alamo) begins in San Antonio, Texas.

    1886 – Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of aluminium from the electrolysis of aluminium oxide, after several years of intensive work. He was assisted in this project by his older sister, Julia Brainerd Hall.

    1898 – Émile Zola is imprisoned in France after writing J’Accuse…!, a letter accusing the French government of antisemitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

    1917 – First demonstrations in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The beginning of the February Revolution (March 8 in the Gregorian calendar).

    1927 – German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg writes a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he describes his uncertainty principle for the first time.

    1945 – World War II: During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.

    1947 – International Organization for Standardization is founded.

    1954 – The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh.

    1981 – In Spain, Antonio Tejero attempts a coup d’état by capturing the Spanish Congress of Deputies.

    1633 – Samuel Pepys, English diarist and politician (d. 1703).

    1685 – George Frideric Handel, German-English organist and composer (d. 1759).

    1868 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (d. 1963).

    1889 – Victor Fleming, American director, cinematographer, and producer (d. 1949).

    1940 – Peter Fonda, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2019).

    1944 – Johnny Winter, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 2014).

    Joined their ancestors:
    1792 – Joshua Reynolds, English painter and academic (b. 1723).

    1821 – John Keats, English poet (b. 1795).

    1855 – Carl Friedrich Gauss, German mathematician, astronomer, and physicist (b. 1777).

    1930 – Horst Wessel, German SA officer (b. 1907). [A street gangster and pimp, after his murder in 1930 he was made into a martyr for the Nazi Party by Joseph Goebbels.]

    1931 – Nellie Melba, Australian soprano and actress (b. 1861).

    1934 – Edward Elgar, English composer and academic (b. 1857).

    1965 – Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian (b. 1890).

    1976 – L. S. Lowry, English painter (b. 1887).

    2000 – Stanley Matthews, English footballer and manager (b. 1915).

    2014 – Alice Herz-Sommer, Czech-English Holocaust survivor, pianist and educator (b. 1903).

    1. I’ve been in the presence of two Gutenberg Bibles, one in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the other in the Huntington Library in California. There are a number of Gutenberg Bibles around the world. Who else has been in the presence of one?

    1. Thank you! Assuming he’s taking the first line as one of the axes, a perpendicular to it can’t have a slope of 3! Maybe it’s a test to get her to tell him that, and if she can, she must be sober??

    2. The lines can be perpendicular to each other while at the same time *both* lines are sloped such that the second line has the slope specified by the equation. In other words the X-Y frame of reference is twisted in relation to the two perpendicular lines. So, it is possible, but I wonder if the cartoonist really thought about what he/she was saying.

        1. Exactly! Only a right bisector meets the base line at 90 degrees.

          (I’m commenting only because I missed it.)

  3. Larry the Cat is, of course, making a clever pun about his current lodger. Tosser also refers to the traditional (in England, anyway) method of turning a pancake during cooking, which is to flip it in the air with a deft flick of the wrist and then catch it in the frying pan. Some villages even hold pancake races in which the contestants must toss their pancakes whilst running.

  4. The second medieval duck looks to me as though it’s supposed to be a barnacle goose Branta leucopsis.

    I guess the point of the Far Side cartoon is that the guest has arrived before the hostess has finished setting the table, hence ‘early man’. Or maybe there’s something else I am missing???

    1. Yes & the first is a goose too.

      My guess is many of those are geese after all they feature more in history than ducks, eg prophetic geese in Rome.

      Anseriformes anyway.

      1. Yes, the first image actually has ‘Anser’ (= ‘goose’)written on it, above the bird’s back so the artists intention there is clear!

  5. According to the BBC:

    <Hacked Crimean radios play Ukrainian intelligence chief’s speech
    In a broadcast that will have come as a surprise to many residents of Crimea, two radio stations of the occupied region played out a speech asserting that Ukraine will restore its control over areas captured by Russia.

    Rather than this being a change of heart by Russia, it appears to have been a successful hack of the airwaves to ensure an address by the head of Ukrainian intelligence was broadcast.

    Instead of scheduled programming, the Sputnik v Krymu (Sputnik in Crimea) and Vera stations in several regions of Crimea broadcast a statement by Kyrylo Budanov, as well as the Ukrainian national anthem.

    A video with the recording of the speech being played out live on the radio has also been published online, in which a man who introduces himself as Budanov can also be heard saying that all “traitors” will be killed.

    “To all patriots, the time to act has come! Sit tight. We’re headed your way,” he adds.

    And the street outside the Russian embassy in London has been turned the colour of the Ukrainian flag:

  6. OK. I clicked on the Cocaine Bear trailer. OMG. Is it a horror film or a comedy? It looks scarily ridiculous! Sure to be a massive hit.

    I’ll wait until it comes to Amazon Prime for free. By them I will have forgotten about it.

        1. I actually watched that one, cuz, Samuel Jackson (I did laugh a lot). But yeah, that flick might be the one that started it all! 🤪

  7. In Pittsburgh, Manhattan Eels are known as Allegheny Whitefish.

    Also, ref to use of 23&Me and such databanked data to productive ends, Michael Connelly’s novel Fair Warning somehow wound up in my hands. I rarely read fiction and didn’t expect to get very far into it, but without detailing the plot except to say that it’s more or less based on the discovery of the gene for nymphomania, it’s a pretty well-crafted tale of how such data could wind up being used to nefarious ends.

      1. I can recall once being part of a team that was cannon-netting shorebirds nearby to the outlet of the Mersey estuary in NW England. The principle of cannon-netting is that a net is set up just above the high tide line at the place where the shorebirds are predicted to form their high tide roost. The net is then fired over the top of the birds when they have settled to roost which allows large numbers to be captured for banding, if all goes to plan. Sometimes the birds settle to the left or the right of the net in which case a person is despatched to try and nudge the birds along a bit so they are in the catch zone. Obviously too direct an approach will make them all fly away completely so the ideal approach is to creep slowly along the tide line on one’s belly in the hope that they will just shuffle along a bit. On this occasion I was the lucky person designated to perform this task and so I was afforded a very close and personal view of what the river had discharged into the sea and it did indeed include a substantial number of ‘Mersey Salmons’! Not the loveliest experience of a beach I have had!!

  8. But toay’s [sic] Russian ARmy [sic] is not the gallant Red Army of WWII.

    The Red Army displayed great heroism and fortitude and other positive qualities while fighting the Great Patriotic War, but I’m not sure I’d count gallantry among them. At some of the toughest battlefronts against the Germans, there were Soviet political commissars stationed behind the frontlines, with orders from the Kremlin to shoot any Russian soldiers trying to retreat. Also, after the Wehrmacht was defeated on the Eastern Front, some elements of the Red Army exercised a type of “victor’s justice” against German POWs and some committed war crimes against civilians across Eastern Europe while chasing the Germans back to their homeland and racing the allies to Berlin.

      1. Rape by Russian soldiers is [Spoiler Alert] one of the fates that befall Jutta, the sister of the German protagonist, Werner Pfennig, and Frau Elena, the woman who raised these two orphans, in Anthony Doerr’s wonderful WWII novel All the Light We Cannot See.

        Such rapes were among the “war crimes” I had in mind.

    1. The Red Army also used punishment battalions, ranks of convicts impressed out of the prisons and hurled into the cauldron, with the aforementioned commissars behind them to make sure they and their primitive weapons stayed pointed in the direction of the Germans for their brief time remaining on this earth.

      Gallantry is indeed a strange term to use in the context of the Red Army unless you had taken your honeymoon in the USSR or something.

      I suppose we shouldn’t sell them short, though. The Red Army is estimated to have accounted for 90% of the German soldiers killed in the Second World War. It’s not a stretch to guess that the Western Allies accounted for at least 90% of the German civilians killed (and pretty well all the French killed by both sides.). The Soviet Air Force had no long-range heavy bombers and the Red Army didn’t reach Germany proper until the final weeks of the war, the civilians fleeing ahead of them from the prospect of rape.

      1. Putin has let out tens of thousands of convicts to fight in Ukraine and promised them freedom and money upon their return. The NYT had an article that revealed many of the convicts were imprisoned for violent crimes, and presumably these violent criminals will be roaming free in Russian society. If anything, it shows the desperation of Putin.

    2. The Red Army placed so little value on the life of its soldiers that I wonder how much pride they should feel for having been part of it. If seriously injured, they were neglected because Communist medicine preferred them dead if it was not cost-effective to treat them. Unsurprisingly, Soviet attitude to crippled war veterans were awful. And of course, soldiers who survived German captivity were viewed as traitors and many ended up in labor camps.

      Mass rapes did not only target Germans, for they also occurred in Poland and parts of the Soviet Union that were reconquered. In fairness, raping civilians was hardly a Soviet specialty during WW2.

      The saving grace of the Red Army is really that its leaders had no Generalplan Ost. Colonizing Eastern Europe to establish Communism was not benevolent.

  9. The film [Cocaine Bear], itself, takes the basis of the real story and imagines what might have transpired if the bear didn’t quickly die but went on a coke-fueled rampage through a national forest, terrorizing park wardens, campers and drug dealers seeking the lost shipment.

    A Hollywood bear should never go full Tony Montana, man, never.

  10. The Larson cartoon is one of his weaker ones IMHO. I take it that on the one hand the man is a caveman, in other words and early man. On the other hand, he is the first to arrive at the party.

    At least, that is my take on it. I had to think about it for a fit. As I said, weak.

  11. I’m not so sure about that “gallant” Red Army thing. Defeated the Germans sure. Also subjugated Poland, the Baltics, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans for almost fifty years.

  12. “China is blaming the U.S. rather than Russia for the conflict in Ukraine”

    Not a surprising attitude from the nation that gobbled up Tibet, wrecked Hong Kong, and now drools over the prospect of conquering Taiwan. The Chinese government can hardly understand why anyone would be concerned over the freedom of Ukraine, or anywhere else. In retrospect it was a great mistake for the US to have so tightly tied its economy to China’s. We enriched and empowered a nation that is now the poster-boy for illiberal authoritarianism—at our own expense.

      1. I thought the 99-year lease was up and the British had to pull up stakes and move out anyway because the landlord wanted to occupy the property.

  13. Re: Eel sayings. I remember being in the Netherlands on business, and someone described a dishonest person as “an eel in the crease.” As Americans, we were puzzled until it was explained/figured out that this is their way of saying “snake in the grass.”

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