Saturday: Hili dialogue

March 4, 2023 • 6:15 am

Welcome to Caturday, also known the tail end of the work week: it’s Saturday, March 4, 2023, and National Pound Cake Day. The cake is named after its ingredients: supposedly a pound each of eggs, sugar, butter, and flour. But it tends to be dry, and is best served with fruit like strawberries or something else to moisten it.

It’s also National Snack Day, and, appropriately World Obesity Day. Further, it’s Benjamin Harrison Day (celebrated on Mar. 4 because until 1937 that was the day all Presidents were inaugurated), Hug a G.I. Day, International Open Data Day, National Sons Day, and, in Poland and Lithuania, St. Casimir’s Day, celebrating the Lithuanian/Polish royal, known for his generosity to the pecuniarily deprived. Casimir died at only 25. Here he is painted with three hands; some say the extra hand was painted originally, painted over by the artist, but reappeared as a miracle:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 4 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Alex Murdaugh’s sentence has come down and it’s life without parole. He’ll be leaving prison in a box (Murdaugh is 54).

A judge on Friday handed down two consecutive sentences of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, to Alex Murdaugh, the once-prominent South Carolina lawyer who was convicted of murdering his wife and son. He called Mr. Murdaugh’s defense “not credible” and “an assault on the integrity of the judicial system.”

. . .In a soliloquy before handing down his sentence, Judge Clifton Newman made it clear that he agreed with the jury’s verdict and believed that Alex Murdaugh had lied in his testimony. “You can convince yourself about it,” the judge said, “but obviously you have the inability to convince anyone else.” Here’s why testifying was a gamble that Mr. Murdaugh decided to take.

. . .The key piece of evidence at trial was a video from Paul Murdaugh’s phone revealing that Alex Murdaugh was at the dog kennels where his wife and son were killed on the night of the murders. Mr. Murdaugh admitted on the stand that he had lied to the police about his whereabouts that night, blaming a mixture of paranoia brought about by his longtime addiction to painkillers and his distrust of investigators.

And he’s still got more trials to sit through:

In an interview on the courthouse grounds, South Carolina’s attorney general, Alan Wilson, told me that prosecutors do not have any plans to drop the charges of financial crimes against Alex Murdaugh, even after he was sentenced to life in prison for murder. “They have a right to have their day in court,” he said of the clients and law partners that Murdaugh has admitted to stealing from, though he adds that he would like for Murdaugh to admit to the crimes in a plea agreement. In all, Murdaugh is accused of stealing about $8.8 million.

The theft charges involve 99 counts!

*Russia has accused Ukraine of perpetrating an attack on Russian soil, alleging that a group of armed Ukrainians crossed the border and killed three civilians:

The Kremlin on Thursday accused Ukrainian saboteurs of crossing into western Russia and firing on villagers. Ukraine denied the claim and warned that Moscow could use the allegations to justify stepping up its own attacks in the ongoing war.

The exact circumstances of the reported attack in the Bryansk region were unclear, as was the strategic purpose of such an assault. The regional governor said two civilians were killed.

If confirmed, it would be another indication following drone attacks earlier this week that Kyiv may be intensifying pressure against Moscow by exposing Russian defensive weaknesses, embarrassing the Kremlin and sowing unease among Russian civilians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukrainian “terrorists” for the incursion, claiming that they deliberately targeted civilians, including children in “yet another terror attack, another crime.”

“They infiltrated the area near the border and opened fire on civilians,” Putin said during a video call. “They saw a civilian vehicle with civilians, with children in it, and they fired on them.”

Attacks on civilians aren’t kosher, and this would give Zelensky a bit of a black eye, but a later AP report claims that renegade Ukrainian militants were responsible:

A day after Thursday’s purported attack, details of what happened remain scarce and conflicting theories about possible perpetrators and their goals are still swirling.

Ukrainian officials have denied involvement and a presidential aide described it as a false-flag attack used by the Kremlin to justify the war in Ukraine.

An obscure group of Russian nationalists who described themselves as part of the Ukrainian military claimed responsibility for the attack, but their status and goals remain unclear.

Now why on earth would Russian nationalists attack Russians? Indeed, it’s truly unclear!

*If you’re American, you probably know that Dominion Voting Systems, which makes voting machines, has filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News for defamation, since Fox implied that the company was complicit in the “fraudulent” election of Joe Biden. Fox is on shaky legal ground here since there’s evidence that they knew they were lying, which is essential for defamation.

In his column this week, Andrew Sullivan takes Fox and its owner Rupert Murdoch to the woodshed for a sound thrashing:

But it’s rare to get real, actionable, behind-the-scenes proof of [Fox’s] deception, and thanks to the Dominion lawsuit, we have it. It will be important to watch the trial, of course, and see how Fox tries to counter the specific claims. But it seems indisputable to me that many Fox journalists absolutely knew they were peddling lies without any foundation, from top to bottom, and broadcast them anyway for the sole purpose of ratings and money.

. . .It’s a pretty simple and old-as-time story of corruption. After their own election analysts called Arizona for Biden, the brass immediately understood that if they remained true to even the most cursory journalistic standards, their ratings and revenue would take a huge hit. And they did. So they dropped the last wisps of gauze from their nether regions — and went all in on lies. Soon enough, they fired the one man with integrity, Chris Stirewalt, who had called the election right. Of all the people to hold to account, they chose him.

This was far more than “reckless disregard for the truth.” It was a fully conscious dissemination of untruth. It was Walter Duranty-esque in its brazenness. It was not that they got carried away and believed their own stuff. They always knew it was garbage. Fox News president, Jay Wallace, remarked that “the North Koreans do a more nuanced show” than Fox Business did. “It’s remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things,” Fox news exec Bill Sammon agreed. And he’d know.

And the topic they were lying about was not some minor culture-war controversy, or some genuinely vexing congeries of electoral glitches that could be aired out. It was the core foundation of democracy itself — the basic public legitimacy of our elections, the charge that the fraud was “massive” and comprehensive and that democracy was over. Rupert Murdoch decided to throw the full weight of his media empire to give this lie oxygen — and thereby helped foment an armed insurrection against the peaceful transfer of power.

He takes the Left-wing media to task for lying by omission and using euphemistic language, but is harder on Fox:

What Fox did is different. They haven’t abandoned the tradition of objective fact in favor of moral narrative. They still privately believe in empirical reality; they will just happily trash it in public if they think it will lose them viewers and thereby money. The core principle is money. Not truth, money. Not ethics, money. Not even obeying the law. Money. Murdoch’s News Corp. knew full well that hacking people’s phones was a crime and the opposite of journalism — but they did it anyway for the money and lied, lied, lied their way through the fallout. Similarly, they knew the 2020 election was no more fraudulent than any other, but lied about it anyway — for the exact same reason: “green.”

It’s another good column. Now if Sullivan would just move a little more towards the Left and also give up his Catholic delusions, he’d be on the side of the angels. Even as a center-right columnist, though, he’s well worth reading, for he’s beholden to no one.

*Well, this is perplexing. The drugstore chain Walgreen’s has decided not to sell abortion pills even in states where they’ll legal. As the WaPo reports:

Walgreens will not distribute abortion pills in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas or Montana ― states where they are currently legal ― as the company treads carefully amid intense legal and political pressure from the antiabortion movement.

At issue is a decision by the Food and Drug Administration in early January to allow brick-and-mortar drugstores to carry mifepristone, part of an abortion drug cocktail that is now thought to account for more than half of abortions in the United States. Walgreens has said it intends to become a certified pharmacy under the program, although it would distribute only “in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do so,” said company spokesman Fraser Engerman at the time.

But the FDA decision drew the attention of 20 Republican state attorneys general, who in a letter sent Feb. 1 warned of legal action if the drugstore chain participated.Walgreens responded to each of them by promising not to distribute the drug in their state, Engerman said.

So the firm is not distributing pills even where they ARE legal, under some kind of threat that has no teeth. Even if they become illegal, they can’t go after the pharmacies for doing what was legal at the time. It’s social pressure (and Republican pressure), of course:

Walgreens is among the major pharmacies that have come under intense pressure by antiabortion activists. Its annual shareholder meeting in late January ended with a bang as protesters burst from the podium. Days later, at a CVS Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, demonstrators on both sides of the debate tried to drown each other out with megaphones. On Feb. 14, another protest erupted at the Walgreens national headquarters in Chicago.

Well, I ain’t buying there until they distribute the pills where it’s legal to do so. You can tweet at them if you want, comme ça:

*Over at The Free Press, Nellie Bowles’ weekly news summary is written this week by Suzi Weiss: “TGIF: Crime & Punishment“. She’s not as snarky or as entertaining as Nellie (what a nepostic crew!), but here are three items anyway:

→ Goodbye, Lori! No one’s favorite mayor, Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, is out of a job. Lightfoot conceded Tuesday night, telling her supporters, “Obviously, we didn’t win the election today. But I stand here today with my head held high.”

Lightfoot won only one term as the Windy City’s head honcho, but what a term it was. The homicide rate is up 40 percent since she took office in 2019; public transit ridership has plummeted; and O’Hare has become a homeless shelter. There’s also a new casino. TGIF will miss Lori!

The race is now between two opposing visions for the future of the Dems: Paul “Proactive Policing” Vallas and Brandon “Defund the Police” Johnson. The runoff election will be in April.

I don’t remember O’Hare being a homeless shelter, but I’ll check it out Monday (the link supports her claim).  But the casino deal is done, and we don’t need no stinking casinos! And good riddance to Lightfoot!

→ Mr. President, those are inside thoughts: President Biden told a group of black sorority sisters and fraternity brothers that “I may be a white boy, but I’m not stupid’’ at an event at the White House earlier this week. He also “joked” that the Congressional Black Caucus chairman Steven Horsford and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries “don’t talk to me anymore.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as when Joe told Charlamagne tha God that if you were undecided on voting for him or Trump, “you ain’t black”—but still, not great!

→ Something niceThis story is about a lady, Carol Buckley, who is best friends with this elephant, Tarra, and the decade-plus custody battle she waged to get Tarra back. Tarra and Buckley met in a tire store outside of L.A. And the pictures are just stunning.

*A biology note: Although the term “invasive species” is frowned on by “progressives” as being uncomfortably close to “illegal alienx,” invasive species is what we have in the multiplication of the late drug king Pablo Escobar’s pet hippos in Columbia.

The drug lord Pablo Escobar won worldwide notoriety for the cocaine he smuggled out of Colombia.

Less familiar is what he smuggled in. In the late 1970s, the billionaire Medellín Cartel kingpin acquired four hippopotamuses, reportedly from Africa or the United States, to go with the elephants, giraffes and antelopes at the private zoo on his estate in western Colombia.

When Escobar surrendered to authorities in 1991, the government seized his Hacienda Nápoles estate — and allowed the animals to roam free.

Big mistake.

In the 30 years since, the original hippos — three females and a male — have multiplied to more than 130. Hippos aren’t native to South America. Without natural predators, the aggressive, territorial animals have settled into the Magdalena River in central Colombia.

Now the insatiable herbivores are devouring plant life, crowding out native animals, polluting soil and water, and threatening people. (Hippos are among the world’s most dangerous animals, capable of killing a human with a single bite, responsible for an estimated 500 deaths each year.)

I mean, they could kill 130 hippos if they wanted to, but I happen to like the animals and (forgive me) think it’s kind of nice that they’re doing so well in Colombia.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili got caught in the rain, but Andrzej is busy working:

Hili: I’m wet and you do not see me.
A: I do but I have to save this document.
Hili: Always some excuses.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem mokra, a ty mnie nie widzisz.
Ja: Widzę, ale zanim cię wpuszczę muszę najpierw zapisać dokument.
Hili: Ciągle jakieś wymówki.


From What is My Spirit Animal via Merilee:

From Doc Bill:

A teaching moment from Unique Birds and Animals:

Masih got selected as one of Time Magazine‘s “Women of the Year”:

From Gravelinspector: A clever way to launch cats up to their vantage points:

From Dom: a peregrine male gives his mate a prize catch:

From Malcolm: rare video indeed, and taken from a drone:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, another teenager died in the camp:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a tweet from Dr. Cobb. What is this shrimp doing with all that DNA?

Les flics help a duck family cross the street:

A big mystery. I bet there’s enough information in this photo to solve it!

19 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1493 – Explorer Christopher Columbus arrives back in Lisbon, Portugal, aboard his ship Niña from his voyage to what are now The Bahamas and other islands in the Caribbean.

    1519 – Hernán Cortés arrives in Mexico in search of the Aztec civilization and its wealth.

    1675 – John Flamsteed is appointed the first Astronomer Royal of England.

    1681 – Charles II grants a land charter to William Penn for the area that will later become Pennsylvania.

    1789 – In New York City, the first Congress of the United States meets, putting the United States Constitution into effect.

    1837 – The city of Chicago is incorporated.

    1882 – Britain’s first electric trams run in east London.

    1917 – Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first female member of the United States House of Representatives.

    1933 – Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the 32nd President of the United States. He was the last president to be inaugurated on March 4.

    1966 – In an interview in the London Evening Standard, The Beatles’ John Lennon declares that the band is “more popular than Jesus now”.

    1986 – The Soviet Vega 1 begins returning images of Halley’s Comet and the first images of its nucleus.

    2018 – Former MI6 spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, England, causing a diplomatic uproar that results in mass-expulsions of diplomats from all countries involved.

    1847 – Carl Josef Bayer, Austrian chemist and academic (d. 1904).

    1913 – John Garfield, American actor and singer (d. 1952).

    1916 – Hans Eysenck, German-English psychologist and theorist (d. 1997).

    1923 – Patrick Moore, English astronomer and television host (d. 2012).

    1928 – Alan Sillitoe, English novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet (d. 2010).

    1936 – Jim Clark, Scottish racing driver (d. 1968).

    1944 – Bobby Womack, American singer-songwriter (d. 2014).

    1951 – Chris Rea, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1967 – Tim Vine, English comedian, actor, and author.

    Hopped the twig:
    1852 – Nikolai Gogol, Ukrainian-Russian short story writer, novelist, and playwright (b. 1809).

    2019 – Keith Flint, English singer (The Prodigy) (b. 1969).

    2022 – Shane Warne, Australian cricketer, coach, and sportscaster (b. 1969).

    1. And I just read Tom Sizemore died last night of a brain aneurism. I really like his acting, but unfortunately drug addiction dragged him down the tubes.

  2. As I understand it, the hippos are a tourist attraction so some locals don’t want them to be removed. That had delayed doing something about them, and now they are having an even more serious problem.

    1. And all species tend to do very well when introduced into environments where they have no predators or competitors. It’s not exactly a gold star for hippos that they’re doing so well in Colombia. Maybe Colombia should import some crocodiles or whatever it is that eats the babies. That might make a popular tourist attraction, too.

      1. Supposedly, the most dangerous threat to a young hippo is an adult hippo. Lions are also predators, but I don’t know if jaguars are or live in that area of Colombia. Crocodiles, as you mention, are also predators, so maybe caimans? Seems like a proper conundrum.

      2. Adult hippos have basically no predators. Although there are some cases of a troop of lions killing a hippo far from its waters, it is thought to be rare.
        Hippo populations are mainly checked by available food -starvation (populations drop in dry years), and disease (eg. Anthrax).

  3. That’s quite a DNA burden. I wonder how much it costs energetically to support that much DNA. How much does it weigh? Does it risk filling the entire cell with DNA? Also, I wonder if having that much DNA around implies a high mutation rate. If not, how is all that DNA kept in check from running amok? So crazy to have such a giant genome, no? I suppose that’s why it’s a paradox.

  4. Congratulations Masih! Well deserved.

    Nice Riker’s Beard groaner.

    No Walgreens around here, but I’d boycott if there were. I don’t understand why such a large company is kowtowed by extremists with no real power except outrage. Strange.

    1. It’s possible that Walgreen’s is more worried about loonies burning their drugstores down in the middle of the night.

      1. Never know what loonies will do with fire. 42 Catholic churches and one small town got torched in Canada in 2021 over a hoax.

        1. Yep, occurs to me they even wrote a song about it::

          Onward Xtian soldiers
          Burning down drug stores
          With the cross of Jeeezus
          Going on before….

          1. I was talking about actual fires. Not just boogey-men in the night created in the fervid imaginations of abortion crusaders.

  5. With the moose antlers, occurs to me that there may have been a profit motive behind that.  I gather those antlers are worth big bucks to turn into power for Chinese.   It wouldn’t surprise me if that was a clever way of finding antlers at a time when they were known to be about to molt, without tracking the moose and continually spooking them in the process. 

  6. “But it’s rare to get real, actionable, behind-the-scenes proof of Fox’s deception, and thanks to the Dominion lawsuit, we have it.

    Know where you won’t hear word one about Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News? Fox News itself.

    Fox’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, has said on air that it is a major media story and that he should be covering it, but that his bosses at Fox News have forbidden him from doing so:

    1. The next time a right-winger whines about the unreliability of MSM media, they should be reminded that the biggest “alternative news” organ is not merely unreliable but outright lies to its viewers on issues of national importance.

  7. Those are excellent questions, Norman @#5.
    1). DNA replication costs two high-energy phosphate bonds for each nucleotide base incorporated into the growing polymer. ATP, GTP. TTP, and CTP are hydrolyzed to the monophosphates by DNA polymerase, (The pyrophophate is rapidly hydrolyzed to 2 PO4, which further pulls the reaction to the right.). But the formation of the double helix is strongly favoured energetically so requires no additional energy. And it has to be done only once in each cell cycle. Compare protein synthesis which requires two ~P bonds to make each letter in the RNA plus at least three ~P bonds to add each amino acid to the growing polypeptide chain, and has to be done all the time even in non-dividing cells. And active transport across membranes is a continuing grinding metabolic burden. Still, the cost of making all this DNA is not zero from the krill’s point of view. I guess the selfish genes fly below the radar. As long as that DNA isn’t replicating or transcribing it is silent, even it it mutates (or passes on mutations) when it replicates.

    2) the molecular weight of one nucleotide-ribo-phosphate can be added up and the weight of 48 billion base pairs calculated. I might do that when I finish shoveling the driveway. From some research work I did many years ago I can tell you that it takes a lot of bacterial cells to get enough DNA to work with if you’re not amplifying it with PCR. I’m going to bet the mass of DNA in a krill cell is tiny, even at 15x ours.

    Edit: reference

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