Friday: Hili dialogue

March 10, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Friday, March 10, 2023, and National Ranch Dressing Day (I‘m told that the stuff is not healthy, but what is? On the other hand, I also found an article called, “Why you should keep enjoying full-fat ranch dressing.”). Here’s why it’s bad:

Ranch dressing is an American salad dressing usually made from buttermilk, salt, garlic, onion, mustard, herbs (commonly chives, parsley and dill), and spices (commonly pepper, paprika and ground mustard seed) mixed into a sauce based on mayonnaise or another oil emulsion. Sour cream and yogurt are sometimes used in addition to, or as a substitute for, buttermilk and mayonnaise.

Despite the fat (more likely because of it), it’s been the most popular salad dressing in America for three decades.

It’s also National Blueberry Popover Day, International Bagpipe Day, Pack Your Lunch Day, Landline Telephone Day (hands up if you still have yours; I do and I haven’t gotten or made a call on it in a year), and International Day of Awesomeness.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 10 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The Big Nooz is that Trump may soon be indicted for paying $130,000 in hush money to the porn star Stormy Daniels. The payment occurred before the Presidential election in 2016, although Trump admitted having an affair with her ten years earlier.

After all the recent brouhaha about the Georgia grand jury investigation, this old allegation has come out of left field to bite Trump on the tuchas:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office recently signaled to Donald J. Trump’s lawyers that he could face criminal charges for his role in the payment of hush money to a porn star, the strongest indication yet that prosecutors are nearing an indictment of the former president, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The prosecutors offered Mr. Trump the chance to testify next week before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the potential case, the people said. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close; it would be unusual for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him.

In New York, potential defendants have the right to answer questions in the grand jury before they are indicted, but they rarely testify, and Mr. Trump is likely to decline the offer. His lawyers could also meet privately with the prosecutors in hopes of fending off criminal charges.

Any case would mark the first indictment of a former American president, and could upend the 2024 presidential race in which Mr. Trump remains a leading contender. It would also elevate Mr. Bragg to the national stage, though not without risk, and a conviction in the complex case is far from assured.

The Washington Post adds this:

Trump issued a lengthy, rambling statement in which he denied having an affair with Daniels and accused prosecutors of trying to “get Trump.”

If charges are brought in connection to payoffs, they would likely focus on the alleged creation of false records to conceal the nature of the funds paid to Daniels. Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer, has said he fronted the money involved in the transactions and was reimbursed by his then-boss. Falsifying business records is generally a misdemeanor in New York, but prosecutors can bring a felony charge if the fabrication was done to conceal or advance another crime.

But I’m wondering if being indicted is sufficient to prevent Trump from running for President. If there’s nothing unconstitutional about it, a mere indictment surely wouldn’t keep the guy from running, and of course it wouldn’t faze most Republicans a bit, even though a trial and conviction would prevent him from acting as President. And of course Trump would delay a trial as long as possible, which would take it into next year’s election season. But remember, an indictment in this case is not guaranteed. But there’s also possible indictments for interfering with the Presidential election in Georgia.

*The latest death is that of actor Robert Blake (real name  Michael James Gubitosi), who died Thursday of heart disease at 89. I suppose he’s best known for his portrayal of a detective in the t.v. show “Baretta”, but I remember him best as playing murderer Perry Smith in the movie “In Cold Blood,” based on Truman Capote’s book. But I didn’t remember this next part of his life, about the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley (whose own past is, well, “checkered”). This is from Blake’s Wikipedia page:

On May 4, 2001, Blake took Bakley out for dinner at Vitello’s Italian Restaurant in Studio City, California. Bakley was fatally shot in the head while sitting in Blake’s vehicle, which was parked on a side street around the corner from the restaurant, across the street and behind a dumpster next to a construction site. Blake claimed that he had returned to the restaurant to collect a pistol which he had left inside and claimed that he had not been present when the shooting took place. The pistol Blake claimed to have left in the restaurant was found and determined by police not to be the murder weapon.

Blake, tried for the murder, was found not guilty, but later found guilty in a civil suit and ordered to pay $30 million (he later declared bankruptcy).

*On March 2, four Americans crossed the Mexican border, one of whom wanted a tummy tuck (plastic surgery is much cheaper there). A few days later, two of them were found dead and the other two alive (one critically injured) in the cartel-ridden border town of Matamoros. But now there’s a weird twist:

Five [living] men, lying face down with their hands tied, were found by the Mexican authorities on Thursday along with a letter purportedly written by a powerful criminal cartel, blaming the men for a recent attack on four Americans, according to two people familiar with the investigation.

The note apologized for the assault, which left two Americans and one Mexican dead, and claimed that the cartel was offering up the men who had carried it out, according to photos reviewed by The Times. The people who described the discovery were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

“We have decided to hand over those involved and directly responsible for the events, who at all times acted of their own volition,” the letter said. The five men were found, alive, along with the note, in Matamoros, the border city on the Rio Grande where the Americans were attacked.

It was not clear whether the message was accurate or actually written by the cartel. The Mexican authorities will question the five men, officials said, to try to determine whether they actually participated in the abduction and killings.

The article mentions that such notes are often found but are not to be trusted. If it was written by the cartel itself, I don’t understand why they’re giving up the men. Do they think that will take the heat off of them? Or it could have been written by a competing cartel trying to move attention off themselves to another cartel. At any rate, if the guys surrendered were canny, they’d simply deny that they committed the murders. They might indeed be innocent people whom the cartel wanted disposed of; but in that case why didn’t they just kill them?

*Texas has executed its fifth condemned prisoner this year, and it’s only mid-March. (Four more have been executed this year in other states.) The murder of which the man (and two accomplices) were accused took place over thirty years ago:

Texas has executed an inmate convicted of the drug-related killings of four people more than 30 years ago, including a woman who was 9-months pregnant.

Arthur Brown Jr., 52, insisted he was innocent before receiving a lethal injection Thursday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was condemned for the June 1992 slayings, which took place in a Houston home during a drug robbery.

Authorities said Brown was part of a ring that shuttled drugs from Texas to Alabama and had bought drugs from Jose Tovar and his wife Rachel Tovar.

Killed during the drug robbery were 32-year-old Jose Tovar; his wife’s 17-year-old son, Frank Farias; 19-year-old Jessica Quiñones, the pregnant girlfriend of another son of Rachel Tovar; and 21-year-old neighbor Audrey Brown. All four had been tied up and shot in the head. Rachel Tovar and another person were also shot but survived.

The execution was by lethal injection with pentobarbital, probably the most humane way to die (it’s how pets are “put to sleep”—so long as the drug comes from a reliable source.

Brown was defiant in his final statement.

“What is happening here tonight isn’t justice,” he said. “It’s the murder of another innocent man.”

He said he’d proved his innocence “but the courts blocked me.”

“The state hid the evidence so long and good that my own attorneys couldn’t find it,” he said in a loud voice, looking at the ceiling of the death chamber while strapped to a gurney and not making any eye contact with a half-dozen relatives of his victims who watched through a window a few feet from him.

As the lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital took effect, he took two deep breaths, gasped and then began snoring. After six snores all movement stopped. He was pronounced dead 17 minutes later, at 6:37 p.m.

Brown’s attorneys tried to get him off by requesting a DNA test (which the judge for some reason denied) and also raised a “defendant is intellectually deficient” defense:

“Mr. Brown’s intellectual limitations were known to his friends and family. … Individuals that knew Mr. Brown over the course of his life have described him consistently as ‘slow,’” his attorneys wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.

This of course assumes that had the defendant been smarter, he could have chosen not to kill. But all determinists know that no murderer could have chosen not to kill, not even smart people like Ted Bundy. That makes execution a purely retributive punishment. (Life in prison without parole is as well, unless the murderer is periodically examined and consistently deemed to be a danger to society.)

*The state of Maine has decided to crack down on vanity license plates that could be suggestive or salacious, and rescinded the plates of this car, owned by a vegan:

AP caption: Peter Starostecki and his kids Sadie, center, and Jo Jo, pose behind their car with the vanity license plate that the state of Maine has deemed in appropriate, Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Poland, Maine. The vegan family’s car will soon have a randomly selected plate. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Now why on earth would “LUVTOFU” be offensive, especially when it’s on the car of a vegan family? The state’s excuse:

Maine had for several years allowed people to put just about any combination of letters and numbers on their vehicle plates, including words and phrases that other states would ban. But the state decided to change course and this year recalled 274 plates it deemed inappropriate.

Some people are fighting back.

So far the state has rejected all of the appeals, including one brought by the vegan whose license plate referenced tofu.

The state concluded the license plate “LUVTOFU” could’ve been seen as a reference to sex instead of admiration for bean curd. The motorist insisted there was no mistaking his intent because the back of his car had several tofu-related stickers.

“It’s my protest against eating meat and animal products,” Peter Starostecki, the disappointed motorist, said after a zoom session with a hearing examiner for the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

I was no aware that “tofu” had any sexual connotations. There were other plate victims, too:

Heather Libby and her best friend grudgingly gave up their matching license plates that contained a word for a female dog.

Maine stopped reviewing vanity plate requests after 2015, giving rise to a spate of “offensive” plates:

Residents in a state known for being laconic and even-tempered soon were sporting uncensored plates pairing the F-word with “snow,” “haters,” and “ALS,” — the incurable neurodegenerative disease.

I guess the state has the right to do this despite freedom of speech, and I suppose there are plates that are in the state’s interest to ban because they could cause road rage incidents.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is puzzled:

Hili: I see something I do not understand.
A: We all have this problem sometimes.
In Polish:
Hili: Widzę coś, czego nie rozumiem.
Ja: Wszyscy często mamy ten problem.


From Thomas: a Far Side cartoon from Gary Larson:

From j.a.h., another evolution-of-humans diagram from Imgur:

Here’s reader Divy’s cat Jango, a male tabby who has a deep but unrequited love for Hili. He sees her on my website, and Jango’s comment for this one is:

Meowza! I’d like to knead my paws on that soft belly 😻

Below Masih gave a speech when accepting Time Magazine‘s “Women of the Year” contest, and naturally uses it to promote the cause of Iranian women. If the government there is overthrown, which would be nice, she would be one of the main causes:

From Barry; when your head is a drinking platform.

From Debra, bobcat invades home, takes over d*g bed:

From Simon; maybe it makes sense to the cat. (Yesterday Szaron walked over my keyboard and pasted the same paragraph into my text five times in a row.):

From Malcolm, “Bambie zoomies” and other artiodactyls gamboling:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but six weeks in the camp. His eyes in his face-on photo are haunting:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a sleepy call duck:

Another duck tweet. Quack, indeed!

Another nice example of mimicry that Matthew found on Twitter. I retweeted it:

36 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. I think that about 50 years ago I read the line, “Indicted ain’t convicted”, in Mike Royko’s book, “Boss”, on Mayor Daley of Chicago.

    1. Yet if you google it, the percentage of people who get convicted from an indictment is very high. Federal indictments have a 95% conviction rate. This doesn’t include plea bargains. Either way, I’d be happily surprised if DJT is convicted.

  2. “LUVTOFU”





    That is a howler!

    [ if that is a double entendre I claim it! ]

    1. But I must say, I also could not understand the problem – even with my “F” tripwire, I thought “but it’s tofu, I don’t see how the F word works there.”

    2. Coincidentally and curiously, the Chinese slang expression, “to eat doufu (tofu) 吃豆腐,” means to want to have sexual intercourse, and not in a nice way.

    3. Speaking of vanity plates, I saw a car once with the plate “SHRINK”. I couldn’t work out if the owner was a psychiatrist or a laundry operative.

      1. I remember a California plate on a vintage convertible Mustang: “Satan”. He was an old white guy, didn’t look anything like evil incarnate…oh, wait. 😉

  3. On this day:
    1535 – Spaniard Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the fourth Bishop of Panama, discovers the Galápagos Islands by chance on his way to Peru.

    1629 – Charles I dissolves the Parliament of England, beginning the eleven-year period known as the Personal Rule.

    1661 – French “Sun King” Louis XIV begins his personal rule of France after the death of his premier, the Cardinal Mazarin.

    1762 – French Huguenot Jean Calas, who had been wrongly convicted of killing his son, dies after being tortured by authorities; the event inspired Voltaire to begin a campaign for religious tolerance and legal reform.

    1876 – The first successful test of a telephone is made by Alexander Graham Bell.

    1891 – Almon Strowger patents the Strowger switch, a device which led to the automation of telephone circuit switching.

    1906 – The Courrières mine disaster, Europe’s worst ever, kills 1,099 miners in northern France.

    1922 – Mahatma Gandhi is arrested in India, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years in prison, only to be released after nearly two years for an appendicitis operation.

    1969 – In Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. He later unsuccessfully attempts to recant. [It was Ray’s birthday, too.]

    1970 – Vietnam War: Captain Ernest Medina is charged by the U.S. military with My Lai war crimes.

    1977 – Astronomers discover the rings of Uranus. [Thereby enabling numerous schoolboy jokes…]

    2019 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX, crashes, leading to all 737 MAX aircraft being grounded worldwide.

    1849 – Hallie Quinn Brown, African-American educator, writer and activist (d. 1949)

    1903 – Bix Beiderbecke, American cornet player, pianist, and composer (d. 1931).

    1957 – Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabian terrorist, founded al-Qaeda (d. 2011).

    1958 – Sharon Stone, American actress and producer.

    1963 – Rick Rubin, American record producer.

    1964 – Neneh Cherry, Swedish singer-songwriter.

    1971 – Jon Hamm, American actor and director.

    1983 – Rafe Spall, English actor.

    Bit the dust:
    1826 – John Pinkerton, Scottish antiquarian, cartographer, author, numismatist and historian (b. 1758).

    1913 – Harriet Tubman, American nurse and activist (b. c.1820).

    1948 – Zelda Fitzgerald, American author, visual artist, and ballet dancer (b. 1900).

    1988 – Andy Gibb, Australian singer-songwriter and actor (b. 1958).

    1998 – Lloyd Bridges, American actor and director (b. 1913).

    2005 – Dave Allen, Irish-English comedian, actor, and screenwriter (b. 1936).

    1. 1661 – French “Sun King” Louis XIV begins his personal rule of France after the death of his premier, the Cardinal Mazarin.

      He had to do something to make it into the Abbey Road medley. 🙂

  4. … although Trump admitted having an affair with her [Stormy Daniels] ten years earlier.

    I don’t think Trump has ever made such a public admission (as opposed, perhaps, to private “locker-room talk”). Indeed, last night he once again issued a public statement denying he’d ever bumped uglies with her.

    1. Yep, I just learned that on checking his W’pedia page to make sure I remembered correctly that he was the Mexican kid at the beginning of Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

  5. At this point doesn’t a story about Trump potentially being indicted qualify as a “dog bites man” story?

  6. I guess the state has the right to do this [regulate vanity license plates] despite freedom of speech, and I suppose there are plates that are in the state’s interest to ban because they could cause road rage incidents.

    In Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (2015), SCOTUS decided, 5-4, that automobile license plates constitute a form of “government speech” subject to stricter regulation than is private speech under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.

    Samuel Alito wrote a dissenting opinion for himself and three other justices arguing that vanity plates are akin to mobile billboards, thus constituting a “limited public forum” and subject to broader First Amendment freedom of expression.

    1. Back in the ’70s, Playboy had an article about a bartender who wanted “Cock” on his vanity plate and “Tail” on his wife’s. He was denied.

      Mel Blanc had “KMIT” on his plate. He told the DMV that it stood for “Know Me In Truth.” It actually means “Kiss Mir in Toches” (not sure of the spelling) or “Kiss My Ass” in Yiddish. That’s all, folks.

  7. Some ranch dressings can have inosinate and glutamate listed as ingredients in them – take a gander. those are two of the three umami “flavor enhancers”. I’m not sure about guanylate though.

    note that parmesan cheese has glutamate in it as-is – sometimes the ranch stuff has cheese powder ior maybe milk solids in it – gotta check the label. They are variable on this, I’d have to check.

    personally, I think the dill is necessary for the signature of ranch… there’s maybe celery seed too. It is an interesting one, that ranch.

    1. This just in, from the fridge (why not frige? Dunno ):

      Hidden Valley Ranch dressing has all three umami “flavor enhancers” : inosinate, glutamate, and guanylate.

      Friday pub quiz question :

      inosinate and guanylate are both in _this_ category of biochemicals.

  8. The cartel story is particularly interesting when one considers the rapidly increasing talk amongst Republicans of conducting military operations in Mexico against the drug cartels. I’m not claiming a connection, but I also wouldn’t rule it out.

    1. Turning the military on the cartels was a popular fiction subject in the late 1980s & early 1990s, lots of fodder for cheap action novels there.

      I’m not so sure it’s a good idea in reality, remember what happened when they send Pershing after Villa.

  9. I think indicting Trump on the Stormy Daniels payoff is a bad idea. Paying money to someone to keep an affair quiet may be unseemly, but it’s not (and shouldn’t be) illegal. While the financial chicanery by which the money was paid may be illegal, you’re getting way too deep into the legal weeds for normal folks to really understand, and it will just look like a politically-motivated prosecution. Add in the fact that the chicanery is normally a misdemeanor and the arbitrariness of elevating it to a felony makes it looks even worse.

    Heck, I loathe the man and badly want to see him perp-walked to jail, but it would look politically motivated even to me.

    1. Did she actually ever get paid? I seem to recall that there was an atty who was supposed to handle that but made off with the $ instead.

      1. Michael Cohen paid her with his own money and was reimbursed by Dump from campaign funds. He was sent to jail for that.

    2. Didn’t Michael Cohen to to jail for doing what Dump told him to do? If he went to jail for that, Dump should as well, IMO.

    3. I think you can relax, Dean. Breathless and gleeful predictions of Mr. Trump’s imminent impeachment, indictment, or forced resignation have been swirling around the man—“This is surely the end for Trump!”—since Election Night 2016 as even us foreigners know. Unlike Trump, who never actually took steps to “Lock her up”, his opponents have been trying unceaselessly—at great public expense—to lock him up for the past six years.

      But I am curious. What crimes do you want to see him perp-walked to jail for? Why hasn’t he been indicted for any of those other grave crimes you imply he has committed, and why are the prosecutors confining themselves to what you acknowledge is chicken-feed? Or are you just keeping the flickering flame of hope alive that some smoking gun will turn up that convicts him of the crime of the century?

      I get that you loathe him but it is healthier for democracy to say simply that you hope to see him repudiated as yesterday’s man in the Republican primary or, failing that, in the general election. Jailing political opponents has real consequences, mostly bad.

      1. Jailing political opponents is great. If they’ve broken a law that warrants jail time and they are tried as prescribed by law and found guilty.

          1. Why Leslie, that’s exactly what several different jurisdictions are working on. There are multiple investigations by multiple law enforcement agencies / jurisdictions looking at multiple different possible crimes by Trump and many of his associates. Exactly as prescribed by our laws. Takes time, particularly when going after big fish like Trump. You’ll have to be patient.

            I’m sure that if any indictments are made, and if Trump is found guilty of any crimes, no doubt you’ll then opine how bad it makes the Democratic Party look.

    4. I understand your view, but disagree. It would be nice if even the wealthy and powerful were held to account in our society. We almost always let the powerful and wealthy off in circumstances like this for just the sorts of reasons that you explain.

      I couldn’t care less if some people will think it’s politically motivated or a witch hunt. Many that think that will do so no matter what the evidence is. No matter whether Trump is charged or not those that support him will continue to do what they always do. They make their own reality. Doesn’t matter to them whether they have to make shit up completely from scratch or use real events as a starting point and then make shit up about them.

      Meanwhile, the liars, cheaters and scumbags among the powerful will continue to get away with things that would see regular people like me in serious legal trouble or jail, and worse, they will continue to be the pool of “talent” that most of our leaders come from.

      1. Yeah, it doesn’t take much scrutiny to understand there really are two tiers in our supposedly one tier justice system. One for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else. And there are many Trump allies, including Trump himself, that believe a POTUS (at least a Republican one) is above the law.

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