Sunday: Hili dialogue

February 26, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Sunday, February 26, 2023, the sabbath for all the goyische felids. It’s National Pistachio Day, celebrating one of the three Luxury Nuts (pistachos, cashews, and macadamia nuts). Here’s an 11-minute video about growing and harvesting the nuts. The variety of complex machines involved, including those that can separated the opened from the unopened nuts, is stunning. Also, there are photos of some toothsome pistachio products at the end. I watched the whole thing.

It’s also Levi Strauss Day, Thermos Bottle Day, and National Set a Good Example Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 26 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*There’s a big controversy in Texas about whether “abortion pills” can be sent to and used in a state that recently banned all abortions except those that could save the mother’s life or health. Texas even bans abortions in pregnancies resulting rape or incest! It’s a big state, and women have to travel a long way to get an out-of-state abortion (that travel is, thankfully, legal).

But what about abortion pills? Can you be sent them from out of state, or use them in state? It’s all in the hands of a Texas federal judge now—and he’s conservative and religious.

Now 45 and a federal judge, Kacsmaryk (kaz-MARE-ik) has the opportunity to impose the most far-reaching limit on abortion access since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

The judge, nominated by President Trump and confirmed in 2019, will soon rule on a lawsuit seeking to revoke U.S. government approval of mifepristone, a key abortion medication. That outcome could, at least temporarily, halt over half the legal abortions carried out across the country, including in states led by Democrats where abortion rights are protected.

While many experts have said the case relies on baseless medical claims, it is Kacsmaryk’s role as presiding judge that has the abortion rights movement bracing foranother crippling defeat.

If the judge gets the FDA to revoke approval of the pills, then they can’t be prescribed anywhere in the U.S. 

The abortion pills lawsuit, which Kacsmaryk could rule on any day, is the latest in a long line of politically explosive cases to appear on the judge’s docket. In a practice known as “forum shopping,” conservative groups have zeroed in on the Amarillo division of the Northern District of Texas as a go-to place to challenge a wide range of Biden administration policies. Because Amarillo is a federal district with a single judge, plaintiffs know their arguments will be heard by Kacsmaryk — who, like any federal judge, is positioned to issue rulings with nationwide implications.

The rationale that the plaintiffs used to bring the case is very thin:

The FDA has repeatedly deemed the two-step medication abortion protocol to be a safe and effective alternative to surgical abortions. But the conservative group’s lawsuit argues that the FDA chose politics over science when it approved “chemical abortion drugs,” purposely ignoring what the plaintiffs claim are potentially harmful side effects.

“The FDA’s job is to protect the health, safety and welfare of America’s women and girls,” said Blake. “These dangerous drugs should never have been allowed on the market.”

A potential ruling by Kacsmaryk against the FDA could take mifepristone off the market, said Liz Wagner, senior federal policy counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“It would essentially be a national ban on medication abortion,” she said.

That doesn’t seem fair, does it? Nor is it. But if you read the long article about the judge, a conservative activist whose rulings are exactly those predicted from his deep Christianity and Republican politics, you know how he’s going to rule. And as this is a federal case, it’ll go to the Supreme Court. Do they have the backbone to overturn a decision that would deny all of America the right to a legal and safe method of abortion? This is a tough one, even for the hyperconservative court that overturned Roe v. Wade.

*We all know by now that Fox News was pushing the “rigged election” scenario on the air, while the very people who were pushing it thought it was wrong and stupid The NYT gives some of the secret backchannel stuff in a post called “What Fox News hosts said privately vs. publicly about voter fraud.

[Tucker]. Carlson and his broadcasting colleagues expressed grave doubts about an unfounded narrative rapidly gaining momentum among their core audience: that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats through widespread voter fraud. The belief was promoted by then-President Trump and a coalition of lawyers, lawmakers and influencers, though they produced no evidence to support their assertions.

Many hosts, producers and executives privately expressed skepticism about those claims, even as they gave them significant airtime, according to private messages revealed last week by Dominion. What they said in those messages often differed significantly from what Fox hosts said in public, though they weren’t always contradictory.

Two days after the election, Mr. Pfeiffer said that voices on the right were “reckless demagogues,” according to a text message. Mr. Carlson replied that his show was “not going to follow them.”

A graphic shows a text exchange between Pfeiffer and Carlson.
Said privately on Nov. 5, 2020:

But he did follow them. The same day, on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Mr. Carlson expressed some doubts about the voter fraud assertions before insisting that at least some of the claims were “credible.”

Here’s part of his Fox show that night:

There’s a lot more at the site, mostly involving Carlson but also other hosts including Laura Ingraham.

*The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is getting itself in order, first adhering to the Chicago Principles of Free Speech and then to Chicago’s Kalven Principle of institutional neutrality on moral, political, and idelogical issues. Now, in what Faux News calls a “woke backlash” (judge the news by its veracity, not by the messenger), UNC has voted to ban DEI statements (you can find this verified elsewhere, including the local newspaper, which is paywalled):

UNC voted to ban DEI statements and compelled speech from admission, hiring, promotion and tenure at its Board of Governors meeting Thursday.

The board stated the university “shall neither solicit nor require an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement,” according to the resolution. An employee or applicant also can’t “be solicited or required to describe his or her actions in support of, or in opposition to, such beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles.”

“Practices prohibited here include but are not limited to solicitations or requirements for statements of commitment to particular views on matters of contemporary political debate or social action contained on applications or qualifications for admission or employment included as criteria for analysis of an employee’s career progression.”

Note that they avoided mentioning DEI statements but those of course are banned along with the others. Better yet, UNC-CH avoided requiring ANY statement of fealty to political, social-action, or ideological positions. This holds not only for admitting students, but for hiring staff or faculty, including promotions.  Good for them.

*You have surely heard (I wrote about it on this site, and FIRE on theirs), that Penguin and Puffin had decided to make substantial changes in Roald Dahl’s children’s books so they wouldn’t be deemed offensive in today’s climate. These changes were of course made after Pecksniffery by “sensitivity readers”:

Dahl died decades ago, and so he had no say in this. Now, under pressure, notably from FIRE, Penguin and Puffin have walked back their decision a bit: now you can buy many of his books in both the original and bowdlerized versions:

Puffin announces today the release of The Roald Dahl Classic Collection, to keep the author’s classic texts in print. These seventeen titles will be published under the Penguin logo, as individual titles in paperback, and will be available later this year. The books will include archive material relevant to each of the stories.

The Roald Dahl Classic Collection will sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers, which are designed for children who may be navigating written content independently for the first time.

Readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer.

FIRE takes some credit for this: in an email I got they said this.

Just this week, we gave you the chance to join our fight to convince Roald Dahl’s publisher and estate not to rewrite his books by committee to match current sensitivity concerns. You did just that, and good news — it worked!On Friday, Puffin announced they’ll release unaltered “classics collection” versions of the books — giving readers, in Puffin’s words, “the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”

Apparently FIRE got 1700 readers to chime in on some letter or petition to the publisher.

. . . Together, we accomplished something important,

Indeed. You DO NOT CHANGE AN AUTHOR’S WORDS AFTER THEY’RE DEAD. Or, if you do, indicate where the changes have been made AND keep the original book in print. Can you imagine them doing this to Mark Twain or Harper Lee?

Now Dahl was no angel: he was a rabid anti-Semite (though not in his books, I think). But that doesn’t give people the right to go altering his prose after he’s dead.

*Over at The Free Press, newly sign-on reporter Adam Popescu floats a conspiracy theory about the three unknown balloons,  “The secrets in our skies.”

Last week, President Biden told the world the balloons are probably “tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”

“[N]othing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.”

Which suggests it could be any old company from Peoria or Stockholm or wherever doing something anodyne like researching wind patterns or sending fried chicken into the stratosphere.

What the president didn’t say is that the balloons were likely dispatched by a Chinese company that’s not at all a company in the way Americans imagine them, but really, an extension of the Chinese military intelligence regime.

. . .First things first—what are the odds China is behind all this?


Consider that there is a lot of stuff up there from countries around the world, including the United States—mostly balloons that collect topographic data, gauge weather patterns, and enhance our communications.

In 2022, that stuff included 366 unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, floating above the United States. Most of them were perfectly innocuous, but 171 could not be explained.

. . .Is there any chance the three mystery crafts were not spying on America?

I asked Miles Yu, the China-born director of the Hudson Institute’s China Center, whether he thought there is a world in which the mysterious flying objects were not working for Chinese intelligence.

“Impossible,” Yu told me. “The Chinese government can and does exert significant influence over any private enterprise, far beyond what the U.S. could do.”

The evidence is thin, but Popescu takes it as a given that they were indeed Chinese balloons, and that Biden is hiding that from us because he doesn’t want to exacerbate tensions with China. Popescu adds another hearsay bit:

Former Navy pilot Ryan Graves said that the federal government’s silence on this story reflects a broader reticence to communicate plainly and candidly about national security, American airspace, or UAPs.

The article conveys almost no doubt that these are Chinese balloons, but this conspiracy theory, which might of course be correct, is more editorializing than reporting, which is NOT what The Free Press is supposed to be doing.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej wax philosophical:

Hili: What is art?
A: Sometimes I wonder about it myself.
In Polish:
Hili: Czym jest sztuka?
Ja: Też się czasem nad tym zastanawiam.


From Welcome to the Jungle via Merilee. Wouldn’t you like to be greeted in the morning with a cappuccino like this one?

From Nicole:

From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy (a great Facebook site):

From Masih. The Google translation from Farsi is this:

I can’t believe that there is only one picture of you left in my arms! Many times I have dreamed that you come and hug you and say: I finally found you… Every day that passes I become more determined to find you; My dear, what has the Islamic Republic done to you? #Ibrahim_Babaei #Mehsa_Amini

Two tweets from President Zelensky:

From Barry; I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but you can’t see it too often:

A wonderful meal from reader Malcolm. Great presentation on the plate! (There’s sound).

From Dom, who says it shows “a very rare pinniped, the Mediterranean Monk Seal, fewer than 700 estimated population, caught on a camera trap.” Wikipedia says it’s the rarest species of pinniped.

Can you spot the seal and mom?

From the Auschwitz Memorial, an Italian dead at 36. Does anything remain of him save this photo?

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. GOOD NEWS! Thor, the wandering walrus, has made it to Iceland! Thor has his own Wikipedia page that describes his out-of-range wanderings in the Netherlands, France, and Britain.

This is a personal tweet from Matthew, who says, “These stories were books first, which I loved. Henry was my favourite engine, and even now green is my favourite colour. And 3 (his number) is my favourite number. This story deeply upset me.”  Sound up.

34 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Meanwhile, in the UK:

    A boy took his own copy of a certain book to school. A fellow pupil collided with him in the corridor. The book got dropped. It acquired a slight dent and a slight smudge. That’s it.

    Both boys have been suspended from school (yes, really). The headmaster (“principal” is USA-speak) felt the need to consult the police and local “community leaders” over the incident.

    Guess which book it was.

    1. The Free Press is really getting into weird territory. This piece is particularly odd, since it comes just as TFP is getting a lot of mainstream media attention with “The Witch Trials of J.K Rowling”- this is not the time to publish something conspiratorial that could alienate potential subscribers. I still subscribe, but I question their editorial choices.

      1. TFP alienated me several months ago to the point where I cancelled my subscription. When Bari Weiss started her Substack, I was an early supporter and paying subscriber. At the time I was looking forward to reading more by Bari, but as time went on and posts by her became less and less as she promoted herself to editor of what has turned into a newsletter, I lost interest in reading what others were writing, including the TGIF of Nellie Bowles (pace Jerry). I must say that the increasing overt religiosity the newsletter has turned me off, too.

        1. So far I have stuck with two paid substacks, The Free Press and Sullivan’s The Weekly Dish. Freddie deBoer was so hit and miss I cancelled (he called me a “fucking dumbass” for doing so, confirming for me how he regards paying subscribers). Quillette no longer has such a lively discussion since they closed the Circle, but you have to pay to read all the articles. If it were a bit cheaper, I’d subscribe to Spiked! – anyone can read the articles, but commenting costs £50/year.

          1. I really wish Steven Pinker had a blog. I bet it would only take him a few days to get thousands of subscribers.

  2. IRT the clip from Thomas the Tank Engine, for those who don’t know already, the narrator is Ringo Starr. Oh, Henry eventually repents and is released, in case you were wondering.

    1. Burned into my soul, they are! We still have a full set of VHS tapes. Played over and over and over again for all 3 boys. Still, unlike most entertainments for small children, they are the least objectionable.

  3. On this day:
    747 BC – According to Ptolemy, the epoch (origin) of the Nabonassar Era began at noon on this date. Historians use this to establish the modern BC chronology for dating historic events.

    1606 – The Janszoon voyage of 1605–06 becomes the first European expedition to set foot on Australia, although it is mistaken as a part of New Guinea.

    1616 – Galileo Galilei is formally banned by the Roman Catholic Church from teaching or defending the view that the earth orbits the sun.

    1909 – Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, is first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in London.

    1919 – President Woodrow Wilson signs an act of Congress establishing the Grand Canyon National Park. [Ten years later on this day, President Calvin Coolidge signs legislation establishing the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.]

    1935 – Robert Watson-Watt carries out a demonstration near Daventry which leads directly to the development of radar in the United Kingdom.

    1971 – U.N. Secretary-General U Thant signs United Nations proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.

    1980 – Egypt and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.

    1993 – World Trade Center bombing: In New York City, a truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center explodes, killing six and injuring over a thousand people.

    1995 – The UK’s oldest investment banking institute, Barings Bank, collapses after a rogue securities broker Nick Leeson loses $1.4 billion by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts.

    2008 – The New York Philharmonic performs in Pyongyang, North Korea; this is the first event of its kind to take place in North Korea.

    2012 – Seventeen-year-old African-American student Trayvon Martin is shot to death by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in an altercation in Sanford, Florida.

    1564 – Christopher Marlowe, English playwright, poet and translator (d. 1593).

    1802 – Victor Hugo, French author, poet, and playwright (d. 1885).

    1829 – Levi Strauss, German-American fashion designer, founded Levi Strauss & Co. (d. 1902).

    1846 – Buffalo Bill, American soldier and hunter (d. 1917).

    1852 – John Harvey Kellogg, American surgeon, co-created Corn flakes (d. 1943).

    1893 – Wallace Fard Muhammad, American religious leader, founded the Nation of Islam (disappeared 1934).

    1908 – Tex Avery, American animator, producer, and voice actor (d. 1980).

    1916 – Jackie Gleason, American actor and singer (d. 1987). [His first album, Music for Lovers Only, still holds the record for the longest stay on the Billboard Top Ten Charts (153 weeks), and his first 10 albums sold over a million copies each.]

    1928 – Fats Domino, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 2017).

    1928 – Ariel Sharon, Israeli general and politician, 11th Prime Minister of Israel (d. 2014).

    1932 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2003).

    1933 – James Goldsmith, French-British businessman and politician (d. 1997). [His Referendum Party paved the way for Brexit.]

    1947 – Sandie Shaw, English singer and psychotherapist.

    1954 – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish politician, 12th President of Turkey.

    1956 – Michel Houellebecq, French author, poet, screenwriter, and director.

    Started checking out the grass from underneath:
    1887 – Anandi Gopal Joshi, First Indian women physician (b. 1865).

    1994 – Bill Hicks, American comedian (b. 1961).

  4. I wish they did have cleaned up versions of Mark Twain. I was accustomed to reading books to my kids, Lord of the Rings, Wrinkle in Time, and others. I started reading Huckleberry Finn to them but it got too hard to constantly make that correction. I quit long before finishing it.

    1. There is a bowdlerization of Huck Finn in which every instance of the n-word has been omitted or sterilized. The editor of this was Alan Gribben, professor of English at the University of Texas.

    2. I would be fairly surprised if there wasn’t already a bowdlerised version of Harper Lee. If she is still alive (checks : Wiki ; nope ; died February 19, 2016) then someone will be targeting her literary executor to get an emasculated version out.
      There will be “consultancy” fees to be paid, of course – “suivez la monnaie!

  5. At least one of the three smaller balloons, the one shot down over Alaska using a missile that cost around $400k, appears to have been from a student group that launches small balloons with trackers (this particular group is based in Illinois too). The tracker on this one stopped transmitting over Alaska that day.

  6. How remarkable, a day dedicated to the life and work of anthropologist / structuralist Claude Lévi-Strauss! (j/k)

    Though apparently not related to the blue jeans family, people noting the wide range of his work have adapted one of the clothing company’s slogans to say: “Lévi-Strauss, there is still a little bit of anthropology in everything he writes.”

  7. I agree that the religion stuff is very annoying (e.g., “the secular case for Christianity”). I was also bothered by Zoe Strimpel’s deranged piece calling for WW3.

  8. “Texas even bans abortions in pregnancies resulting rape or incest!”

    That usually means “I think that abortion should be allowed, the others don’t, but they are even worse because they don’t allow exceptions for rape or incest.”

    I don’t get it.

    Whatever your personal stance on abortion is, if someone actually believes that abortion is murder, then why should there be an exception for rape or incest? On the other hand, if they don’t believe that abortion is murder, it implies that there is a logically coherent position which says that abortion is wrong, or should be discouraged, but less so for those exceptions. But I’ve never met anyone in the latter category. Those who say that abortion should be legal essentially always say for any reason (perhaps up to a certain stage of pregnancy, but here as well no different treatment depending on circumstances).

    If one is interested in combating the Texas position, then try to convince them that abortion isn’t murder. But given that they believe that, insisting on no exceptions simply means that they take their own arguments seriously.

    Note also that in those countries where there is essentially no abortion debate, that is due to a compromise having been reached, which both sides can live with, usually something like allowed for any reason in the first three months, after that there has to be a reason (life of mother, seriously deformed fetus, low life expectancy, etc.). Nothing will change in the States as long as each side continues to defend its extreme position. If the “pro-choice” advocates would come forward with a compromise along the lines outlined above, there would be more of a chance. Even if you really believe it should be allowed at all stages for any reason, wouldn’t it be better to create a better environment for those affected?

    I’ve also never understood the “up until birth” argument. Nothing magic happens then. Premature fetuses are viable weeks or months earlier (up to 8 weeks earlier even with no medical intervention in many cases). As far as being dependent on the mother, that doesn’t change at birth either. Yes, theoretically someone else could take care of it. Yes, such abortions are extremely rare. But, but the same token, if that is the case, why not give up the extreme position in favour of a compromise which would help those who need it?

      1. Short answer: If you give the anti-abortion folks an inch, they’ll want you to go the whole nine months.

        Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

      2. Evidence? Your strategy is obviously not working in the States, and mine is working in several countries. What is more important: being “right” or helping people in difficult situations.

  9. Regarding the FOX story, which is Huge imo…it shows what little regard FOX has for their viewers and how greed rules the roost. But ironically, I bet it’s FOX viewers who will never know how they are lied to and duped. At least the rest of us know for certain what we already knew- FOX is nothing but a propaganda outlet. I hope Dominion gets their $1.6 billion.

    And regards to mifepristone, it also treats hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes and Cushing syndrome. What happens to these folk if the zealot bans the drug? Untreated Cushing syndrome can be fatal. Maybe there’s another drug that can replace it. Either way, when zealots start deciding what drugs can and can’t be used, you start entering very dangerous territory. I thought insurance companies were bad enough, getting in the middle of the patient and their doctor.

    1. And regards to mifepristone, it also treats hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes and Cushing syndrome. What happens to these folk if the zealot bans the drug?

      They die on the pyre of sacrifices that had to be made. That’s the Christian way of justifying these things. I’m sure that will be a great consolation to them.

  10. Yet again on abortion access, a male and probably a bunch of them telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.
    The obvious, you’re not in Iran but it’s heading that way if a male, religious conservative can call the shots, albeit a targeted judge for those said values. Makes me want to puke.

    1. You’re missing the point. Most “pro-life” people are concerned not with the woman’s body, but with the life of the fetus. You might think that that is irrelevant, but the evidence shows that the “pro-choice” side has convinced no-one by trying to frame it as a women-should-control-their-bodies issue. Why not? Because that is not the motivation of the other side. You can disagree with that, but you don’t have a chance of convincing anyone unless you address their own motivation.

      Interesting that many “pro-choice” folks sing a different tune with regard to what women should be allowed to do with their own bodies when it comes to porn. That is even more clear-cut, because there is no third party (i.e. the fetus) involved. Yes, some will say that no woman really likes to do porn and so on. But then the “pro-life” side can say that no woman really wants an abortion.

      Bottom line: whether you like it or not, arguments have to be logical to have any chance of success.

      1. Philip, I think compromises, like in Europe, almost by their nature are rarely logical. The trouble with logic is that you sometimes end up coming to a logical conclusion that violates something that you hold to be inviolable, perhaps like withdrawing your support for your own side and going over to the other side in an existential conflict. The most you could concede logically would be to say, “OK, I understand your position and you’ve convinced me that my position is logically inconsistent but I’m still not budging from it. I just can’t.”

        Two sides compromise only when the cost of continued conflict from their ideological or religious position is too high for both to bear. The logic of game theory applies only to the conflict strategy, not to the underlying viewpoints. (If the cost is too high for only one side to bear, it simply concedes defeat.). The compromise, if achieved, will be something that both sides can live with but each will still be angry and resentful that the other side did not concede more…and often angry that the negotiators for one’s own side did not hold out for a better deal. (“Why only 13 weeks? I coulda got 20! Those holy rollers oughta have conceded. on rape and incest.” No logic, just interest.)

        In America there is no political need for compromise on the abortion issue. The costs of conflict remain affordable by both sides, partly because the Supreme Court has allowed the individual states to decide the issue for themselves, and they have done so. I have difficulty imagining what circumstances would raise the cost of conflict enough that a European-style compromise on abortion would ever be agreed to in American states that currently prohibit it. Perhaps if politically powerful women found they couldn’t easily get abortions out of state, they might force a compromise that they could live with. Or the cost of unwanted babies might become intolerable.

        An example of a compromise that worked for 70 years despite being illogical and resented was the “three-fifths” rule in the U.S. where slaves were counted as three fifths so as to deny the southern states representatives in Congress based on their total population while thwarting their desire to pay per capita taxes based only on their free population. The northern states would have preferred to prohibit slavery everywhere in the new republic but the cost of that conflict was too high for a fledgling country to risk immediate collapse over slavery.

Leave a Reply