Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 9, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Thursday, March 9, 2023, and National Crab Day. It’s also Popcorn Lovers Day, National Meatball Day, Barbie Day (the impossibly configured doll was introduced on this day in 1959), and World Kidney Day.’

Speaking of Barbie Day, there’s now a hijab Barbie, modeled after fencer Ibthaj Muhammad, and fully covered except for the face. But where is the Hasidic Barbie, almost as modest as the one below but with a baby carriage and removable wig, or the Hindu Barbie with a bindi mark and sari? Only one religion has its own Barbie—is that fair?

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 9 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Uncle Joe (and yes, that’s meant affectionately) is releasing the proposed budget today, which he says will reduce the federal deficit by at least two trillion dollars. How’s he gonna do that? By taxing the rich:

Mr. Biden’s plans, which will be detailed as part of his budget blueprint, are expected to rely heavily on a familiar batch of tax increases on corporations and high earners along with savings from some spending reductions, including efforts to save money on federal health care programs by expanding legislation he signed last year that allows Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs.

The moves come as Mr. Biden faces pressure from Republicans, who won control of the House last fall, to alter the nation’s fiscal path. House Republicans have refused to raise the nation’s debt limit, which caps how much money the federal government can borrow, unless Mr. Biden agrees to steep cuts in federal spending.

To help increase federal revenues and reduce the nation’s reliance on borrowed money, Mr. Biden is expected to announce a new tax on American households worth more than $100 million that would apply to both their earned income and the unrealized gains in the value of their liquid assets, like stocks. Mr. Biden will also call for the quadrupling of a tax on stock buybacks that was approved as part of a sweeping tax, health care and climate bill he signed last year.

The president is also expected to continue proposing some tax increases to offset the cost of portions of his agenda that have not yet passed Congress. That agenda includes efforts to expand access to child care and reduce its cost, provide federally guaranteed paid leave for workers, establish universal prekindergarten and enable students to attend community college for free.

The paper also adds that this is unlikely to fly with the Republicans due to Biden’s refusal to negotiate over raising the debt limit (our debt is currently $31.4 trillion), although Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says that failure to raise the debt limit (a failure the GOP wants), would wreak financial havoc:

“Congress really needs to raise the debt ceiling … if we fail to do so, I think that the consequences are hard to estimate, but they could be extraordinarily adverse and could do long-standing harm,”

Biden’s new tax would apply only to those making more than $100 million per year, and involve a tax on “unrealized capital gains”: rises in values of stock that are not translated into money because the stocks aren’t cashed in. This of course depends on a continuing rise in stock values, and seems a bit unfair to me since there doesn’t seem to be a decrease in taxes when stock values fall, and also because this is money on paper, and isn’t really translated into spendable cash.

*Keanu Reeves has the rare honor of having not a new organism named after him, but a class of drugs that kills a group of organisms: fungicides derived from bacteria.

German scientists have discovered compounds that kill harmful fungi in plants and humans. In honor of Reeves’s combat skills, they named the antimicrobials “keanumycins,” according to Sebastian Götze, a co-author of the German study.

“We were just basically blown away by the high activity,” Götze said. “That’s why we basically said, ‘Yeah, it’s like an assassin, a hit man or something, killing a couple of different fungi very effectively.’”

During a Reddit question-and-answer session Saturday, Reeves shared his gratitude for the recognition.

“They should’ve called it John Wick … but that’s pretty cool … and surreal for me,” Reeves wrote. “But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us.”

Keanumycins A, B and C are produced from pseudomonas, bacteria commonly found in soil and water, according to the scientists’ study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The compounds are useful in knocking down infections. Keanumycins fight Candida albicans, a fungus that can create yeast infections in people, according to the German research institution’s news release.

The scientists say keanumycins could be used in medicines. Fungi can become resistant to frequently used antifungals, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which leaves medical professionals on the lookout for new remedies.

*The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that Hadi Matar, the Muslim who attacked Salman Rushdie, blinding him in one eye and costing him the use of his hand, has been rewarded by the Iranian government with one dunam (roughly 1,000 m² of fertile land (he would have gotten more had he killed Rushdie, so the fatwa is clearly still on).

That this reward, a Palestinian-like “pay for slay” emolument, is in part a fulfillment of the 1979 fatwa against Rusdhie, is evidenced by the announcement having been made by Iranian cleric Mohammad Esmail Zarai, secretary of the Popular Organization for Implementing [Ayatollah] Ruhollah Khomeini’s Fatwa to Kill Salman Rushdie (oy, what a committee!) and chief military prosecutor in Mazandaran province in northern Iran.

Here’s Zarai’s announcement:

“We thank the young American [Hadi Matar] from the bottom of our hearts for the courageous action he carried out in an effort to implement the historic fatwa issued by the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini]. His success in blinding Salman Rushdie in one eye and paralyzing his hand brought great joy to the Muslims.

“Salman Rushdie is a dead man walking. In order to honor this courageous act, [Matar] or his legal representative will be awarded, in a special ceremony, about 1,000 square meters of valuable and fertile agricultural land, donated in the name of the late hajj and sheikh Hossein Zarai.

“More land will be awarded to whoever sends this virus of corruption [i.e. Rushdie] to Hell. We believe that this fatwa must be implemented under any circumstances, and we will make every effort to implement this historic fatwa of the Imam [Khomeini].”

The MEMRI article ends this way:

It should be noted that Iran has officially denied any connection to Matar’s attack on Rushdie, and has said that Rushdie himself is to blame for what happened to him.

Yeah, Rushdie brought it on himself by writing a novel. Nothing to see here, folks; move along!

*Reader Jez posted this yesterday.

To mark International Women’s Day, JK Rowling tweeted the link to a petition calling on the UK government to amend the Equality Act (2010) to make it explicit that sex means biological sex. If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures it will be considered for a parliamentary debate. Go here.

As I write this at 2 a.m. Chicago time, there are 98,001 signatures, so they’ll surely reach the 100,000 needed to instigate a Parliamentary debate.

The explanation of the proposed change is here. Remember, you have to be a British citizen to sign.

Below is Rowling’s tweet, which of course will be demonized by the ignorant or the ideologically blind as transphobic:

*John McWhorter’s new column in the NYT, “Why racial discussions should also focus on progress,” tries to move discussion of race beyond white racism and white supremacy to more positive stuff: the progress racial minorities have achieved. Here are some achievements that would have been unthinkable when I was a child:

Let’s try, for one, the notion of Black power. The good word would seem to be that we never really have any. But that isn’t true, and any valid chronicle of the history of what’s been happening to Black Americans since the 1960s must not pretend otherwise.

We have now had a two-term Black president, two Black secretaries of state, one Black (and South Asian) vice president and a Black secretary of defense. These were all borderline unimaginable goals a generation ago.

Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was elevated in 2020 to become the Catholic Church’s first Black cardinal. He was the first Black president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as far back as the early 2000s — a time at which Dennis Archer was also the first Black president of the American Bar Association.

Lowe’s and Walgreens, two of the nation’s largest retailers, are run by Black chief executives. The reason you probably didn’t know that is because there are now enough Black chief executives to bypass the notion of firsts. This contrasts with 2000, when there were only two prominent Black chief executives of Fortune 500 companies — Franklin Raines at Fannie Mae and Lloyd Ward at Maytag — although that, too, was awesome progress over what had come before.

Successes of this kind should be held up front and center, not dismissed as footnotes or all but buried in equal coverage of remaining disparities — although those should of coursebe covered elsewhere in a curriculum.

As a linguist, McWhorter also focuses on the advances of black English, which he describes like this:  “Beyond its awesome grammatical structures, it is fascinating that such a dialect primarily confined to Black usage just 50 years ago now decorates the speech of countless Americans who are not Black at all.” He also says that “hip-hop” has been a “glorious revolution” in music, though it’s there that McWhorter and I part ways.

*Barney the purple dinosaur, whom I despise but kids love, has gotten a makeover to prepare for a new animated cartoon about him. The new version is on the right below, the old on the left:

(from yahoo!): The classic PBS version of Barney pictured alongside his Mattel makeover. (Photo: Everett Collection/Courtesy of Mattel)

yahoo! entertainment decided to check the accuracy of the new Barney by actually asking paleontologists to weigh in. (h/t Ginger K.). The question was this, “We weren’t so interested in whether they thought the new cartoon iteration of the Tyrannosaurus rex was adorable, which he is, or horrifying, which he also is. But how does he compare to an authentic dino?”

They weren’t happy:

“T. rex would have had legs similar to a chicken. New Barney has legs like an elephant,” O’Connor tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Both Barneys are missing the bird-like toes.”

Davis remarked that dinosaurs “stood in a horizontal posture with their tails off the ground,” which is definitely different than Barney’s depiction.

. . .Anthony Maltese, curator of the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center who digs up fossils himself, observed that there are too many fingers on the new Barney.

“I don’t even know where to start with it. Tyrannosaurus rex should only have two fingers,” Maltese said. “It’s pretty well known for only having those two with claws on them. So, it having double the number of fingers on the hands is just. … it’s a nice invention.”

. . .Our experts agreed on most things, including that, in real Cretaceous life, Barney’s teeth would be much more ferocious.

. . .”The color choice is also problematic. Looking at living, non-feathered reptiles, purple is a very rare scale color.”

It’s actually more likely that green, which Barney has as an accent shade, is the dominant color.

. . . Speaking of feathers, many of our dino authorities thought Barney would have some.

. . . While birds, the most closely related living species to dinosaurs, have a specialized vocal organ called a syrinx that allows them to sing, the fossil record indicates that tyrannosaurs did not. Sadly, their vocalizations would have sounded more like the hisses and grunts of a crocodile than a catchy ditty about love, hugs and happy families.

Oh for crying out loud! What kid is gonna love a feathery shark that would grunt? The article has an animated webpage alternating between the new kids’ Barney and an “authentic” Barney, and the real one is not endearing.

But animals on kids’ shows aren’t expected to be realistic. Is Kermit the frog realistic? (see below):

The t.v. Kermit:

A real frog: note lack of vertical posture, absence of yellow fringed collar, and presence of webbed feet and eyes placed laterally instead of atop the cranium. Real frogs also have four fingers on each limb and not five on the front.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are taking up space on Andrzej’s and Malgorzata’s bed:

A: Is there any room for a human as well?
Hili: Of course, you are always welcome.
In Polish:
Ja: Czy jest tu jeszcze miejsce dla człowieka?
Hili: Oczywiście, zawsze jesteś mile widziany.


From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

From Merilee, a Mark Parisi cartoon:

Another from America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

Retweeted by Masih; these girls are violating at least four laws, the lack of hijabs being the most prominent. Notice how they dress when they’re not constrained by Muslim-based law:

From Colin Wright (subject of a post yesterday) on the EEB Language Project, subject of a different post yesterday. Here are the most harmful terms suggested to date. Notice that, confusingly, the Project suggests that “gender” be replaced with “sex,” although noting they’re not the same thing.

A cassowary from Simon, who says, “Sound up!”:

From Barry with the comment, “Down, boy—down!”

From the Auschwitz Memorial. Remember that about a million Jews died at Auschwitz (out of 1.1 million people), so there could be a different photo each day for 2740 years.

Tweets from Matthew. I agree with the tweeter’s decision!

An original color photo, but with colors enhanced:

Mitosis is, of course, the normal process of cell division. Here we have whole-felid mitosis:

36 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. In its defense, Hijab Barbie the Fencer is actually kind of cool… Burqa Housewife Barbie wouldn’t pass muster at all…

  2. And what about Mormon Barbie with her magical underwear? (Actually, that would probably have to be several Mormon Barbies with one Ken.)

            1. There was a Australian parody some years back, feral Barbie, with nose ring, axillary hair, ripped clothing, Doc Martin boots.
              Mattel was not amused.

      1. In fact Mattel sells a range of ‘role model’ Barbies and the Ibthaj Muhammad doll was introduced about five years ago along with dolls representing a variety of other inspiring women (Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart,…), the Barbie website currently features the 2023 cohort of role models which includes dolls based on real-life business women, sports women, academics and other high achieving women from around the world I’d suggest therefore that the Muhammed doll is not a sop to aggressive demands from the Islamic community (I’d imagine that many mullahs and ayatollahs would actually be less than enthusiastic about it) but part of a response to previous allegations that Barbie itself promotes an outdated model of femininity in which women are expected to be no more than decorative and sexy ‘home-makers’.
        If you wish to buy such a thing a hindu Barbie in a sari and a japanese Barbie geisha can both be found via a quick internet search.
        Mattel is in the business of making profits and I’d expect that they will produce pretty much whatever Barbie variations they believe there is a market for.

  3. On this day:
    1776 – The Wealth of Nations by Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith is published.

    1841 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the United States v. The Amistad case that captive Africans who had seized control of the ship carrying them had been taken into slavery illegally.

    1842 – The first documented discovery of gold in California occurs at Rancho San Francisco, six years before the California Gold Rush.

    1933 – Great Depression: President Franklin D. Roosevelt submits the Emergency Banking Act to Congress, the first of his New Deal policies.

    1945 – World War II: Allied forces carry out firebombing over Tokyo, destroying most of the capital and killing over 100,000 civilians.

    1997 – Comet Hale–Bopp: Observers in China, Mongolia and eastern Siberia are treated to a rare double feature as an eclipse permits Hale-Bopp to be seen during the day. As the comet made its closest approach to Earth on March 26, all 39 active members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed ritual mass suicide over a period of three days, in the belief that their spirits would be teleported into an alien spacecraft flying inside the comet’s tail.

    1997 – The Notorious B.I.G. is murdered in Los Angeles after attending the Soul Train Music Awards. He is gunned down leaving an after party at the Petersen Automotive Museum. His murder remains unsolved.

    1451 – Amerigo Vespucci, Italian cartographer and explorer, namesake of the Americas (d. 1512).

    1824 – Amasa Leland Stanford, American businessman and politician, founded Stanford University (d. 1893).

    1892 – Vita Sackville-West, English author, poet, and gardener (d. 1962).

    1918 – Mickey Spillane, American crime novelist (d. 2006).

    1923 – Walter Kohn, Austrian-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2016).

    1930 – Ornette Coleman, American saxophonist, violinist, trumpet player, and composer (d. 2015).

    1934 – Yuri Gagarin, Russian colonel, pilot, and cosmonaut, first human in space (d. 1968). [Coincidentally, Sputnik 9 was successfully launched on this day in 1961, carrying a dog and a human dummy, and demonstrating that the Soviet Union was ready to begin human spaceflight.]

    1941 – Ernesto Miranda, American criminal (d. 1976).

    1942 – John Cale, Welsh musician, composer, singer, songwriter and record producer.

    1943 – Bobby Fischer, American chess player and author (d. 2008).

    1945 – Robert Calvert, English singer-songwriter and playwright (d. 1988).

    1945 – Robin Trower, English rock guitarist and vocalist.

    1947 – Keri Hulme, New Zealand author and poet (d. 2021).

    Went the way of all flesh:
    1566 – David Rizzio, Italian-Scottish courtier and politician (b. 1533). [Brutally murdered after Mary Queen of Scots’ husband, Lord Darnley, accused his wife of adultery with him. The murder was the catalyst of the downfall of Darnley, and had serious consequences for Mary’s subsequent reign.]

    1847 – Mary Anning, English paleontologist (b. 1799).

    1983 – Ulf von Euler, Swedish physiologist and pharmacologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905). [Shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1970 for his work on neurotransmitters.]

    1989 – Robert Mapplethorpe, American photographer (b. 1946).

    1992 – Menachem Begin, Belarusian-Israeli soldier, politician and Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1913).

    1996 – George Burns, American comedian, actor, and writer (b. 1896).

    1997 – Terry Nation, Welsh author and screenwriter (b. 1930). [Especially known for his work in British television science fiction, he created the Daleks and Davros for Doctor Who, as well as the series Survivors and Blake’s 7.

    2006 – John Profumo, English soldier and politician, Secretary of State for War (b. 1915).

  4. Speaking of Barbie Day …

    None of that stick-figure silicone Barbie doll stuff for me. I’m all about the bass, about the bass, no treble. (Dig the crazy four-handed double bass):

    1. Great cover, thanks! The first bassist, Casey Abrams and the first singer, Haley Reinhart were both finalists on season 10 of American Idol. I think it’s the only season of American Idol I’ve seen and they had a lot of talent that year. I forget who won, but it wasn’t Casey or Haley. I was routing for Casey. Looks like he landed on his feet, though.

  5. So, Barbie “appropriated a culture” (for argument’s sake) for cash? And in a way to make a backhanded political statement?

    Cynical, sleazy, … pathetic, IMHO.

  6. As I write this at 2 a.m. Chicago time, there are 98,001 signatures, so they’ll surely reach the 100,000 needed to instigate a Parliamentary debate.

    The petition has now reached over 100,500 signatures. You can see a map here, darker colours represent a higher per capita number of signatories:

    It is clear that Scotland is more concerned about the issue than the rest of the UK. That’s almost certainly because of the Gender Recognition Reform bill that the Scottish parliament passed before Christmas, which would allow for gender self-id. The bill has been blocked by the UK government, the first time that it has felt the need to step in since Scottish devolution 25 years ago.

    1. As I watched it I began to imagine the eye popping rage this video could induce in those poor clerics that are so terrified of how easily females can lead them into temptation. Brought a grin to my face.

    2. I noticed and enjoyed that karate kick as well.

      To add to darrelle’s comment, can you imagine what the prude clerics felt as they watched the booty shaking. 🤯

  7. If you like or are at least intrigued by cassowaries, read my friend Andy Mack’s book, Searching for PekPek, about his field work surrounding them in Papua New Guinea (PNG). PekPek is cassowary shit.

    PNG is apparently rife with missionaries of various sects, and altho not the focus of the book, there are some interesting observations about their brotherly love in it as well – how they have their own airstrips and radio transmitters and don’t share with each other.

    1. And thinking of racial progress, I’ve just finished reading and enjoying Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen, a crime novel set in Atlanta, 1950, mostly about the first ‘Negro Officers’ and the corroding constraints imposed by Jim Crow.

  8. Speaking of Crocodilians, a week of so ago just down the road from me an alligator ate a woman who was taking her dog for a walk. Someone captured the event on their phone. The alligator attacked the dog, the dog avoided the attempt, and thereby tripped the woman. The alligator then grabbed the fallen women and took her into the water. Gruesome.

    Someone tried to help her, but was unable to. Apparently the person was on the phone with a 911 operator asking them what she should do as she was holding a branch out to the attacked woman, but in short order she was “gone!”

  9. President Biden’s proposed tax on unrealized capital gains will apply on households of net worth greater than $100 million. Does this mean that every household will have to compute and report its net worth in order to prove to the IRS that it does not have to pay tax on its unrealized capital gains? If the IRS disputes the vale of your house or your art collection or a wholly owned business that doesn’t trade on the stock market, will this be another trigger for audits?

    Unrealized capital gains on stocks reflect current stock prices which may be in a bubble and could fall with a correction any day. The tax bill could be very large if the gain is calculated on the cost base of a stock purchased decades ago, more than the cash reserves of the household. Stocks would have to be sold to pay the tax, it being folly to borrow against the value of stocks to pay a dead-loss expense like a tax. These sales would cause stock prices to fall, which would hurt every modest household holding stocks in their retirement accounts, even tax-free ones that don’t attract income tax until withdrawals are made. Even civil service pensions would take a hit.

    Any household with a net worth of $100 million will easily afford the tax advice to avoid paying any taxes based on wealth, whether an actual tax, tried unsuccessfully in Europe, or used as a trigger for some variant of enhanced income tax.

    I would think Republicans and Democrats who have any well-off constituents in their blue islands of prosperity will deep-six this proposal as not just unfair but bad for all investors, even the archetypal widows and orphans.

  10. Re John McWhorter citing the influence of “black speech” among non-blacks at this point.

    I’ve also noticed something (as have many others) in terms of not just the words non-blacks are adopting, but they way they pronounce words.

    One of these is the adding of an “H” (or “ch”) in to the sound of “st” words. So “street” is pronounced “Shtreet” or “Schtreet.” “Strong” is pronounced “Schtrong” etc.

    Many years ago I noticed this speech pattern among black people from the USA. It seemed one of the most distinct markers that, for instance, the person calling in to a radio show was black.

    But this has seeped everywhere. At this point I hear it all the time among white people too, especially white Americans. And not just young people…I now hear everyone from white reporters, radio personalities, news anchors, tech industry types…everyone seems to have changed to this pronunciation. And I certainly don’t think it’s conscious. Just another way language and pronunciation changes in subtle ways as time goes on.

    (And when it comes to trends, I can not WAIT until the horror of “vocal fry” finally begins to wane. I listen to lots of podcasts and when someone has bad vocal fry it’s torturous. I listened to a podcast with a young silicon valley upstart and his vocal fry was so extreme I literally had trouble understanding what he was saying. It was like a constant stream of sizzling bacon out of which consonants would poke here and there).

    1. A couple of months ago one of the hosts of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” A Martinez (I gather “A” is his full first name), referenced “being on the DL.” (I wonder if his favorite libation is a martini.) Yesterday I heard a podcast host refer to “nat gas” (natural gas). Anymore it must be a stretch for some to pronounce a three syllable word. (Or is it efficiency taken “to the next level”?)

  11. I agree with PCC—“hip-hop” has been anything but a “glorious revolution” in music. Its inescapable hegemony is an ear-aching disaster to anyone who appreciates melody, harmony, and actual singing. Anyone who loudly blares that stuff in public is hereby invited to visit the seventh circle of hell, for committing violence against music.

    “What kid is gonna love a feathery shark that would grunt?” I dunno, if kids love Pokemon they could easily love realistic Barney. I probably would have liked him if I was a kid.

  12. “He also says that “hip-hop” has been a “glorious revolution” in music, though it’s there that McWhorter and I part ways.”

    Oh…I’m with you on that!

    I grew up listening to hip-hop among other genres, and still enjoy some of it. So I’m not “anti-hip-hop” as if it is without value.

    However, I do resent it’s level of influence at this point. At least we’ve passed the point were every-damned-pop-song HAD to have a guest rapper. But, still, it’s influence in lowering the bar in terms of demands on melody, harmony, complexity of song structure, and even the “organic” quality now forgone in voices and instruments in most popular music….is a drag.

  13. Is there any evidence that Barney is actually intended to be a Tyrannosaurus? My younger sister used to watch that show when she was a little kid in the early 1990s, and I recall there being an episode in which Barney gives his age as 200 million years old, which is around three times too old for that genus. Based on his age, I always assumed him to be some type of plateosaurid.

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