Friday: Hili dialogue

February 24, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Friday, February 24, 2023: National Tortilla Chip Day. Best consumed this way:

Source and recipe here

It’s also Friday Fish Fry Day, National Tartar Sauce Day (a good way to ruin fish), and World Bartender Day. Remember this?

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 24 Wikipedia page.

Wine of the Day: If you’re looking for a sub-$20 Italian wine with finesse, I’d recommend this 2020 Barbera d’Alba (the grape and wine region) from Ghiomo. I can’t remember when I bought it, but you can see the price written on the rear label, and it was $17. I suspect you can find it close to that price.

This is not a gutsy wine, but an elegant one, and I swear that it has a floral nose, much like violets but mixed with red cherry. It’s a high-alcohol wine (15%), but tannins are so mild that it tastes a bit off-dry. It went well with my modest dinner of a skinless chicken breast, rice, and green beans, but would go well with many more robust dishes, and I bet it would be excellent with cheddar or any orange cheese.  I am at ths moment drinking the final sips, and I regret each one, because it means I won’t have any more.

This would be a great bottle to bring to a restaurant, or as a host gift to a friend’s house. If you see it under $20, buy it. I suspect it won’t get a lot better as it ages: it’s already perfect.



Da Nooz:

*Both the NYT and the Washington Post have articles on why many countries in the world are either neutral or even pro-Russian with respect to the war in Ukraine.

In the year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a reinvigorated Western alliance has rallied against Russia, forging what President Biden has trumpeted as a “global coalition.” Yet a closer look beyond the West suggests the world is far from united on the issues raised by the Ukraine war.

The conflict has exposed a deep global divide, and the limits of U.S. influence over a rapidly shifting world order. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed, and not just among Russian allies that could be expected to back Moscow, such as China and Iran.

India announced last week that its trade with Russia has grown by 400 percent since the invasion. In just the past six weeks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been welcomed in nine countries in Africa and the Middle East — including South Africa, whose foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, hailed their meeting as “wonderful” and called South Africa and Russia “friends.”

On Friday, a year after the invasion began, the South African navy will be engaged in military exercises with Russia and China in the Indian Ocean, sending a powerful signal of solidarity at a moment the United States had hoped would provide an opportunity for reinvigorated worldwide condemnations of Russia.

. . . Conversations with people in South Africa, Kenya and India suggest a deeply ambivalent view of the conflict, informed less by the question of whether Russia was wrong to invade than by current and historical grievances against the West — over colonialism, perceptions of arrogance, and the West’s failure to devote as many resources to solving conflicts and human rights abuses in other parts of the world, such as the Palestinian territories, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Well, they can demonize the “colonialism” of the U.S. or our perceived arrogance, but to side with Russia in this conflict, as South Africa has done, is a deeply immoral stance. For one thing, what is Russia doing but “colonizing” Ukraine. More important, the Russians are killing

*Lawyer Alex Murdaugh has taken the stand in his own trial for killing his wife and son, and already the evidence against him is pretty daunting. In such situations I believe lawyers tell their clients, “DO NOT TAKE THE STAND”. That is, of course, because of the dangers of cross-examination.

Well, Murdaugh didn’t get that advice, has taken the stand, and, under soft interrogation by his own defense lawyers, already admitted not only to lying to the cops, but stealing. As I write this on Thursday afternoon, the cross-examination is just beginning: you can see it live at the link above

He’s a goner! From the NYT live reporting:

. . .Alex Murdaugh, the prominent South Carolina lawyer charged with murder, admitted in court on Thursday morning that he had lied to investigators, but insisted that he was innocent. “I didn’t shoot my wife or my son,” he testified in his own defense, a risky move that could determine whether he is acquitted or sent to prison for life.

After denying it for more than 20 months, Mr. Murdaugh admitted on Thursday that he was at the dog kennels where the killings occurred on the night of the murders, blaming paranoia from his addiction to painkillers for his lies. “I lied about being down there and I’m so sorry that I did,” he said on the stand.

Mr. Murdaugh confronted the most damning piece of evidence that has surfaced in the trial: a cellphone video taken by Paul Murdaugh about five minutes before prosecutors say the killings took place. It captured the voices of Alex Murdaugh and his wife in the background. Immediately after taking the stand, Mr. Murdaugh addressed the revelations of the video, blaming his earlier denials about being at the kennels that night on paranoia from his longtime addiction to painkillers. “Once I lied,” he said, “I continued to lie.”

. . . In September 2021, three months after the killings of his wife and son, Murdaugh was shot in the head along the side of a rural road. He originally claimed he was shot by an unknown assailant, but he has since admitted — and is doing so from the witness stand again — that he actually asked a distant cousin to fatally shoot him. He said he did not want to kill himself because he believed it would prevent his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, from collecting on his life insurance policy.

. . . Alex Murdaugh admits on the stand that he stole money from clients and pocketed a payment that was supposed to be passed along to his firm. “I’m not quite sure how I let myself get where I got,” he says, but he traces it back to a longtime oxycodone addiction. He said the addiction had became so bad that he was draining his bank account to pay for pills.

“Once I lied, I continued to lie,” said the accused. Do you think the jury will think that now he’s telling the truth?  Murdaugh will be spending the rest of his life in prison. Anybody want to bet otherwise .

*As I reported at the end of January, two students at Stanford were investigated after someone used the anonymous “bias reporting system” at the Universit to highlight a photograph of a student reading Mein Kampf by Hitler. I objected to the chilling effect of an investigation of what was, after all, free speech. But such is the result of these anonymous “bias reporting system” which can bring the system down on students exercising perfectly legal rights.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, a group of Stanford faculty has objected to this whole system, saying it’s an impediment to free speech at the University. (Stanford is a private university, but its policy is to allow free speech.)

A group of Stanford University professors is pushing to end a system that allows students to anonymously report classmates for exhibiting discrimination or bias, saying it threatens free speech on campus.

. . .The system is designed to help students get along with one another, said Dee Mostofi, a Stanford spokeswoman.

“The process aims to promote a climate of respect, helping build understanding that much speech is protected while also offering resources and support to students who believe they have experienced harm based on a protected identity,” she said.

The Stanford faculty’s effort is part of broader pushback against bias-reporting systems around the country. About half of college campuses have one—more than twice as many as five years ago—according to a 2022 survey by Speech First, a conservative nonprofit.

Free-speech advocates have taken several schools to court and forced them to change their systems, alleging they inhibit the exchange of ideas.

Here’s the chilling effect:

At Stanford, students can report a “Protected Identity Harm Incident,” which is defined as conduct targeting an individual or group on the basis of characteristics including race or sexual orientation. The system is meant to “build and maintain a better, safer, and more respectful campus community,” according to the school’s website.

The system defaults to anonymous reporting and most students file that way. They use an online form to describe how the bias was demonstrated, which triggers an inquiry within 48 hours. Both parties are contacted.

Participation in the inquiry is voluntary. But it may not feel that way to accused students, said Juan Santiago, a professor of mechanical engineering who favors getting rid of the system.

It’s one thing to offend an anonymous student by reading an anti-Semitic book, and another to repeatedly harass someone on the basis of their race, religion, disability, or so on. They should eliminate all reports of one-time “hate or intolerance” speech, make all reports non-anonymous, and limit them to the ambit of harassing conduct prohibited by the university. I don’t think that any report of one-time “hate speech” should be considered, and no report should be anonymous. That just fosters retributive reporting at the same time it chills discourse.

*Another day (Wednesday), another mass shooting, this time near Orlando, Florida, and three dead.  It was particularly heinous because the murder returned to the scene of the first shooting and killed a reporter who was covering that crime.

A man riding in a car with his cousin shot and killed another passenger then returned to the same neighborhood near Orlando hours later and shot four more people, killing a journalist covering the original shooting and a 9-year-old girl, Florida police and witnesses said.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina characterized the shootings Wednesday as random acts of violence. Mina said during a news conference that 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the initial shooting that killed Nathacha Augustin, 38, and that “numerous more charges” would follow.

Spectrum News 13 identified the slain reporter as Dylan Lyons. Photographer Jesse Walden was also wounded. Mina said Walden has been talking to investigators while being treated at a hospital.

The two were in an unmarked news vehicle on Wednesday afternoon covering the first homicide when a man approached and shot them, Mina said. The man then went to a nearby home where he fatally shot T’yonna Major and critically wounded the girl’s mother. Officials have not released the mother’s name.

Mina said Thursday that investigators do not know the motive for any of the shootings. He said Moses is a known gang member but that the shootings didn’t appear to be gang-related. It was not clear if Moses knew that two of the victims were journalists and Mina noted that their vehicle didn’t look like a typical news van or feature the station’s logo.

*I’d almost forgotten about Harvey Weinstein, only to learn yesterday that he’d just been sentenced to 16 years in prison in a California courtroom. You know what the charges involved: sexual misconduct. This is on top of the 23 year-sentence he previous got in New York for similar conduct:

Weinstein was sentenced in a Los Angeles courtroom, where a jury in December found him guilty of rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by a foreign object.

The charges stemmed from an assault on a former model and actress, identified in court as Jane Doe 1, at a Los Angeles hotel in February 2013.

The woman told the judge on Thursday that she had been a “very happy and confident woman” until Weinstein raped her. Then, “I lost my identity. I was heartbroken, empty and alone,” she said, choking back sobs.

Weinstein, the powerful co-founder of Miramax Films, a U.S. movie production and distribution house, will serve the sentence after completing his 23-year sentence for a sexual misconduct conviction in New York.

. . .Speaking in court on Thursday, Weinstein he did not know Jane Doe 1 and argued that she had fabricated her account for money.

“This is a made up story. Jane Doe 1 is an actress. She can turn the tears on,” said Weinstein, speaking from a wheelchair.

“Please don’t sentence me to life in prison,” he said to the judge. “I beg your mercy.”

Weinstein is 70. He’s appealed the sentence in New York, but it looks pretty much that he’s going to spend his life in prison.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s working hard as the editor of Listy:

Hili: We are working too hard.
A: So go and rest.
Hili: I can’t, I have to keep an eye on you so you don’t loaf around.
In Polish:
Hili: Za dużo pracujemy.
Ja: To idź odpocząć.
Hili: Nie mogę, muszę pilnować, czy się nie lenisz.


From Science Humor:

From Now That’s Wild:

Reader Divy (front left) and her tech (background) do veterinary work on exotic species. Here’s a giraffe that the examined yesterday (taking a fecal sample), and Divy’s caption (“never a dull day. . . “).

Retweeted by Masih. The “IRGC” is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the dreaded “Revolutionary Guards”. They’re the part of the Iranian Army responsible for National Security, most of which involves terrorizing innocent civilians.

From Michael, an orang playing with tiger cubs:

From Dom. Although I’m not big on vandalism, this seems relatively harmless and does make a point to the Russians in the embassy:

From Malcolm. What a graceful kitty!

From the Auschwitz Memorial: another Czech Jew “exterminated” in Auschwitz:

Tweets from Matthew Cobb. I didn’t know that people with autism (“on the spectrum”) were overrepresented in research:

I may have shown this before; I think it’s the duck who insists on drinking water only when it’s iced and in a cup from McDonald’s. Sound up,

Live and learn! (Sound up):

27 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Jerry, in your first “Da Nooz” article, something appears to be missing at the end of the paragraph on South Africa. “More important, the Russians are killing ???”

  2. On this day:
    1582 – With the papal bull Inter gravissimas, Pope Gregory XIII announces the Gregorian calendar.

    1607 – L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, one of the first works recognized as an opera, receives its première performance.

    1711 – Rinaldo by George Frideric Handel, the first Italian opera written for the London stage, is premièred.

    1868 – Andrew Johnson becomes the first President of the United States to be impeached by the United States House of Representatives. He is later acquitted in the Senate.

    1920 – Nancy Astor becomes the first woman to speak in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom following her election as a Member of Parliament (MP) three months earlier.

    1920 – The Nazi Party (NSDAP) was founded by Adolf Hitler in the Hofbräuhaus beer hall in Munich, Germany.

    1942 – An order-in-council passed under the Defence of Canada Regulations of the War Measures Act gives the Canadian federal government the power to intern all “persons of Japanese racial origin”. [Coincidentally, on this day in 1983 a special commission of the United States Congress condemned the Japanese American internment by the USA during World War II.]

    1949 – The Armistice Agreements are signed, to formally end the hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

    1991 – Gulf War: Ground troops cross the Saudi Arabian border and enter Iraq, thus beginning the ground phase of the war.

    2008 – Fidel Castro retires as the President of Cuba and the Council of Ministers after 32 years. He remains as head of the Communist Party for another three years.

    2022 – Days after recognising Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states, Russian president Vladimir Putin orders a full scale invasion of Ukraine.

    1743 – Joseph Banks, English botanist and explorer (d. 1820).

    1786 – Wilhelm Grimm, German anthropologist, author, and academic (d. 1859).

    1827 – Lydia Becker, English-French activist (d. 1890) [A leader in the early British suffrage movement, as well as an amateur scientist with interests in biology and astronomy.]

    1938 – Phil Knight, American businessman and philanthropist, co-founded Nike, Inc.

    1942 – Paul Jones, English singer, harmonica player, and actor.

    1955 – Steve Jobs, American businessman, co-founded Apple Computer and Pixar (d. 2011).

    Gave up the ghost:
    1810 – Henry Cavendish, French-English physicist and chemist (b. 1731). [Noted for his discovery of hydrogen, which he termed “inflammable air”.]

    1825 – Thomas Bowdler, English physician and philanthropist (b. 1754). [Known for publishing The Family Shakespeare, an expurgated edition of William Shakespeare’s plays edited by his sister Henrietta Maria Bowdler.]

    1993 – Bobby Moore, English footballer and manager (b. 1941).

    2014 – Harold Ramis, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1944).

    2020 – Katherine Johnson, American physicist and mathematician (b. 1918).

    1. Katherine Johnson who died three years ago today at the age of 102, was a very good friend whose office was next to mine for a number of years. In addition to her excellent work in allowing the Mercury astronauts to gain confidence in computer-based calculations, she was a powerful supporter and effective leader for K-12 girls to take STEM courses and aspire to STEM careers well before the educational establishment had invented the STEM acronym. A really great lady who I miss. Thanks for the memory.

    1. That’s my favorite Mexican beer; I actually had one last night at a local Mexican restaurant. Don’t forget the lime. 🙂
      It’s also missing some Pico de gallo.

  3. As a South African living in the US, and I was just back there for three months where the naval exercises with Russia and China are widely debated, I am deeply embarrassed by the government’s continued engagement with both countries, and especially with the defense by some of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, it is often hard for people outside to understand just how unsupportive the west was of the aspirations of the black South African majority for far too long. When I was growing up there it was only Russia and China that supported the ANC (and others like the PAC) in their fight against apartheid, the US even considered the ANC as a terrorist organization. Yes, eventually the US and UK and other countries did help end apartheid by various means including sanctions, but memories are long. South Africa has tried to position itself as independent, allied with the west is most regards like still having a largely capitalist economy largely dominated by companies with western connections and working closely with the west on things like AIDS and the coronavirus, but being allied with Russia, China, Brazil in the BRICS grouping that includes others like India which also try to maintain a neutral stance (for example, currently benefiting enormously from 4X greater trade with Russia). Small countries like South Africa with an extremely complicated geopolitical history have a hard time staying on good terms with all the superpowers, but still, having joint military exercises with Russia and China is not good.

    1. I was staying at a hotel in Durban when the ANC had a rally there, at the hotel. It was kind of interesting. I have had the experience to travel there once during apartheid, and a couple of times during what seemed to me to be a golden period after apartheid but before things started falling apart. My last couple of visits have given me the impression of general decay and decline of personal safety. My trips there were always for work, and the last one was about six years ago.
      I did become a fan of SA Rugby Springboks as well.

      I don’t find the Ramaphosa government’s stance on China particularly surprising. China has very strong colonial ambitions in Africa, and SA is a perfect target, besides being ruled by people with explicit socialist views.
      I do not think they will be happy with the long-term results, though. It may even give them a different perspective on the Boer.

      Those are my own observations. I know at least a couple of regulars here have close ties with SA, and could explain the situation there with more knowledge and nuance than I.

  4. I’m not so sure that the articles opining that many countries are either neutral or pro Russia are accurate in their assessment. The UN just held a vote last night to call for Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from Ukraine and the results were 141 In Favour, 7 Against, and 32 Abstentions. Nearly identical to a similar vote held in October 2022. Russia has one big friend and several smaller ones and the numbers have not changed significantly since they first invaded Ukraine.

    According to a Guardian article on the UN vote,

    “South Africa stressed that the principles of territorial integrity in the UN Charter were sacrosanct, and applied in the case of Ukraine, but claimed the resolution would not advance the cause of peace.”

    Looks like the South African government is being cagey, trying to play nice with both sides. Not surprising given their size and history.

    1. Meanwhile, the US has its own division on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Matt Gaetz and a number of other Republican representatives are behaving as if they work for Putin, hardly the first time either, with their Ukraine Fatigue bill. Coincidently, the group behind this proposed bill coincides nearly name for name with those who supported the January 6th insurrection. Go figure.

      Meanwhile, Putin doesn’t feel safe in his own country and moves only by armored train these days. And the Russian military and some of it’s “contractors” are squabbling over who gets priority over their rapidly disappearing ammunition reserves*, while the Wagner Group (Putin’s favorite hired guns) is now accusing Russian military command of treason. Yep, things seem to be going well for Putin.

      * Interestingly, it has been reported that Russia purchased a large amount of artillery shells from North Korea for a handsome sum, but that there has been no sign of this alleged ammunition purchase reaching the combat zone. A deal gone bad? Decrepit shells? Serious transportation issues?

      1. Like the 1000 Volvo’s iirc that Nth Korea received and never paid for… except this is the reverse. I find it kinda funny… like cheating little school boys, if they weren’t such a bunch of crazies.

  5. I watched some of the Murdaugh court proceedings and have to say it made for compelling TV. I would have continued until the end but had social obligations that interfered. I didn’t know much beforehand. Maybe it would be worth finding it online and watching the whole thing.

    1. If you listen to podcasts, there is a good Dateline NBC episode from 11/8/22 called Dark Waters that gives the backstory, and then a followup from this week (2/20) about the trial itself.

  6. So here is a news item which won’t be seen much outside Arkansas, but the Corp of Engineers demolished what was left of Oklahoma Row:

    What is that? Well it is a fascinating story of William Harvey, another crazy populist in the history of the USA. Hopes and dreams, success and failures, apocalyptic predictions, and it all ended up under a lake. Read more:

    1. Fascinating story, Kevin. Thanks!

      I liked the poignancy of Mr. Harvey’s fundraising letter that he argued would be the most important letter ever written to save civilization….and drew not a single reply.

    2. But would you mind terribly if I pointed out that you (or auto-complete) omitted the (silent) “s” in “Corps”? Neither the Engineers nor the Marines are a corporation.

  7. It’s interesting how badly distorted the Mercator projection is. That distorted face illustrates it very well.

    1. Max Blancke hasn’t posted on this so I’ll open the bidding, Norman. The illustration shows one big strength of Mercator in that it represents his two ears (and the back of his head for that matter, split down the middle) as if you were looking straight at them at the same time you can see his face face on. This is a powerful representation of the reality you would see if you shifted your viewpoint by orbiting around his head (which in real life would involve voyaging around the world.). You can look into his ears even while you look into his mouth. For navigation at sea this was more important than preserving the relative sizes of DR Congo and Greenland or depicting the rotating world as a snapshot where the edges would disappear around the horizon.. This is where Max has actual experience but I’m told it’s easier to sail a course using a Mercator projection than with other “conformal” projections. Distortion of distance in the high latitudes was a small price to pay for this convenience because there was no reason or ability to sail so close to the poles anyway.

      An early exposure to wokism came when a friend carped that Mercator maps were racist because they made Africa and Brazil look smaller, and Norway and Canada bigger, than they really were. I’ve been sticking up for Mercator ever since.

      All flat maps distort something. Even small areas of the earth are not truly flat.. The ones that depict the land masses accurately are less useful for navigation because the oceans are chopped up to make the countries fall into place and compass bearings are meaningless. Parallels of latitude are shown as sweeping curves—look at the Canada-U.S. border on any non-Mercator map—even though they are really straight lines as seen on the ground. (They curve with the earth but not on it.)

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