Monday: Hili dialogue

March 20, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning at the top of the week: It’s Monday, March 20, 2023, and Spring officially starts at 5:24 p.m. Eastern Time. It’s also National Ravioli Day, a day of cultural appropriation. But if you can swallow your guilt, you can swallow these delicious ravioli with mascarpone sauce:

It’s also Crayfish Cravers Awareness Day, The Great American Meatout, a meatless day to protest the treatment of meat animals, National Bock Beer Day, National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, World Frog Day, Bibliomania Day,International Day of Happiness (United Nations), World Sparrow Day, International Francophonie Day, World Storytelling Day, and, last but not least, Atheist Pride Day. Don’t listen to the deluded folk who say that New Atheism lost. It didn’t! It won, and we no longer have to argue for it—for a while. (New waves of atheism resurface every 80 years or so, as the world needs reminding that much of it’s putting stock in fairy tales.) And the secularization of America continues apace

In honor of World Frog Day, here’s a frog I photographed in the laboratory of Vicky Flechas at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia:

The Google Doodle for today honors Mexican chemist Mario Molina, who, if he hadn’t died in 2020, would be 80 today. Molina helped discover the Antarctic ozone hole, and got the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with two others, for discovering how chlorofluorocarbon gases posed a thread to the ozone layer. for his role in discovering the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbon (ClFC) gases. Although born in Mexico City, he got his doctorate at Irvine and spent most of his academic career at American institutions.  He was only the third Mexican-born person to get a Nobel Prize of any kind, and the first in chemistry.

Click on Doodle to go to his page.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 20 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The despot you love to hate, Vladimir “Look At My Chest” Putin, showed some swagger on Saturday by making a surprise visit to Mariupol, one Ukrainian city that, while largely in ruins, is still in Russian hands. It’s no more brazen of him to do that after being indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, for he’s just a big fat medium-sized jerk who likes to swagger. But, as the WaPo notes, international condemnation of the man is growing. It may wind up being the most-condemned country in the world save North Korea, which doesn’t care.

Germany’s justice minister, Marco Buschmann, told the Bild newspaper that German authorities would arrest Putin, in accordance with the warrant, if he set foot in their country. President Biden on Saturday also backed the court’s decision, saying, “it’s justified.”

Officials in Russia, which, like the United States, does not recognize the international court’s jurisdiction, described the warrant as unlawful. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “outrageous and unacceptable” but also “null and void” from a legal perspective.

The visit to Mariupol was Putin’s first known trip to occupied Ukrainian territory since the start of his invasion in February last year. Since then, the West estimates some 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in Ukraine.

He also visited Crimea, more territory illegally annexed that nobody seems to care about:

Earlier on Saturday, Putin visited Crimea, which Russia invaded and illegally annexed in 2014, to mark the ninth anniversary of Moscow’s absorption of the Ukrainian peninsula.

There are 125 countires that have signed the Rome Statute (the US isn’t one), and in those countries he is liable to be arrexted. But of course the countries don’t have to arrest him if he sets foot in them. But he won’t. The Russians could also turn him over to the Hague, but I’ll bet a pretty penny that won’t happen.  But 200,000 dead Russian soldier is a huge number: it’s 3.5 times the U.S. death toll during the entire Vietnam war, but in less than a year. How much longer can the Russians take that rate of attrition before they protest?

*After Chicago voters heaved out our do-nothing mayor, Lori Lightfoot, the slate of possible successors has been whittled down to two candidates, a white moderate and a black progressive Democrat. And they’ve vying like crazy for the Hispanic vote (in the last election I voted for a Hispanic: Jesus “Chuy” Garcia). It will all be over April 4:

The two candidates competing to become mayor of the nation’s third-largest city are courting Hispanic voters, who make up roughly 30% of the population and could decide next month’s election.

Paul Vallas, a former schools chief and moderate Democrat, has strong backing among white voters, while Brandon Johnson, a progressive Cook County commissioner, is working to solidify his support among Black voters. The crucial question is which candidate can expand his base to win the April 4 runoff.

“The wild card is the Hispanic vote,” said Jaime Dominguez, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University.

Mr. Vallas won the Feb. 28 primary with 32.9% of the vote and Mr. Johnson came in second at 21.6%. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who came in third with 16.8%, didn’t make the runoff round.

On Friday, Mr. Johnson won the key endorsement of fellow progressive U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, who also ran for mayor and came in fourth in the first round with 13.7% of the vote.

. . .In recent elections, successful mayoral candidates in Chicago have needed to win over at least two of the city’s three major demographic groups, said Dick Simpson, a former city council member and retired professor of political science at the University of Illinois Chicago.

“From the Johnson point of view, it’s the most important endorsement he’s gotten so far,” he said of Mr. Garcia’s backing, but the race is far from over. “It’s still up for grabs.”

Mr. Dominguez said turnout would be the key. “Even though Chuy won overwhelmingly in his wards in the southwest and near west sides of Chicago, Vallas came in second in all but one,” he said. “So unless Latinos turn out, it’s not going to make much of a difference.”

Chicago is 33% white, 29%, and 29% Hispanic, so you can see the importance of the Hispanic vote in this race. Neither candidate is Hispanic, but everyone is concerned about crime—THE theme of this election—and how people perceive these candidates’s seriousness about rising crime will be the decisive factor. I have no predictions for this one, and in fact I don’t know who I’ll vote for yet.

*Speaking of arrest warrants, you might not know that the ICC also issued one for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Russian commissioner for children’s rights and for the same crime: abducting Ukrainian children to Russia. But what you probably don’t know is the five forms of criminality at issue, as outlined by Reuters:

Daria Herasymchuk, Advisor-Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation, described in an interview with Reuters on March 17 five main ways she said Russia has used to illegally transfer Ukrainian children.

They include:

offering families living in occupied areas to take children for holidays in Russian children’s camps and not returning them during an agreed timeframe;

taking Ukrainian children away from care institutions in occupied areas;

separating children from parents at filtration checkpoints – the places where Ukrainian citizens from regions under Russian occupation are checked and processed before being allowed to enter Russia;

taking away parental rights through laws enforced on occupied territories;

taking children away in cases where they were staying with other adults after their parents were killed in the war

. . . – Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said on March 17 the prosecutors were investigating cases of deportation of over 16,000 children from Russian-occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions. “But the real figure can be much higher,” Kostin said on his Facebook page.

And many of the kids aren’t just seized, but BRAINWASHED:

– A report published in February by the Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale School of Public Health as part of the Conflict Observatory said Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children – likely many more – in sites in Russian-held Crimea and Russia whose primary purpose appears to be political re-education. The report said Yale University researchers had identified at least 43 camps and other facilities where Ukrainian children have been held that were part of a “large-scale systematic network” operated by Moscow.

I hadn’t realized that kids were actually taken away from their parents by Putin and his thugs, and that’s about as heinous a thing as you can do to a child. Imagine the grief of the parents and the terror of the children!

*The invasion of Burmese pythons into Florida (is that okay to say?), despite strenuous effort by both the public and state wildlife officials, continues, and it’s shaping up to be an intractable problem. How far north can they go? The NYT implies that more research about the ecology of the snake could stem the invasion, but I doubt it. And they have no predators, either.

The giant snakes have been making their way north, reaching West Palm Beach and Fort Myers and threatening ever-larger stretches of the ecosystem.

That was one of the few definitive conclusions in a comprehensive review of python science published last month by the U.S. Geological Survey, which underscored the difficulty of containing the giant snakes since they were first documented as an established population in the state in 2000.

Little is known about how long Burmese pythons live in the wild in Florida, how often they reproduce and especially how large the state’s python population has grown, according to the review, which called the state’s python problem “one of the most intractable invasive-species management issues across the globe.”

Nor is it known how exactly they travel. The review theorized that South Florida’s extensive network of canals and levees “may facilitate long-distance movement by pythons,” though it suggested that slithering and swimming to points north may take awhile.

“One python transited continuously for 58.5 hours and traveled 2.43 kilometers in a single day,” the review said of a snake followed with radio tracking.

They were popular pets but some really stupid owners released them into the wild, and there’s no return. The hatchlings do have some predators, as do the eggs, but I predict they’re here to stay. And this is the most horrific line in the piece:

Pythons, like invasive iguanas, have been known to emerge from the occasional South Florida toilet bowl;

I don’t have to paint a picture here of what could happen to a hapless excreter!

*This is the political equivalent of a cat peeing on a tree to mark its territory, except this time the cat is Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Look at what she’s spending her time doing!:

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed a new law that will allow a monument near the state Capitol marking the number of abortions performed in Arkansas before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

Sanders’ office said Friday night that the Republican governor signed the bill that will allow the creation of a privately funded “monument to the unborn” on the Capitol grounds. The bill, approved by lawmakers last week, requires the secretary of state to permit and arrange the placement of the monument.

It also requires the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to oversee the selection of the artist and the design of the monument, with input from anti-abortion groups.

A law Arkansas approved in 2019 banning nearly all abortions took effect last year when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1973 Roe decision. Arkansas’ ban only allows abortions to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency.

Tennessee lawmakers approved legislation in 2018 allowing a similar privately funded monument on its Capitol grounds. The monument has not yet been installed.

Arkansas’ proposal faced opposition from some anti-abortion Republicans who said it was counterproductive, and Democrats who said the monument proposal was divisive.

This may be technically legal, but in spirit it’s religious, for the whole abortion debate is fueled by religious beliefs. And yes, it is very divisive given that 38% of the states citizens think that “abortion should be legal in all or most cases.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is looking for biodiversity, by which she means “boiddiversity”:

Hili: I have to check the hedge.
A: What are you looking for there?
Hili: Biodiversity.
In Polish:
Hili: Muszę jeszcze sprawdzić żywopłot.
Ja: I czego tam szukasz?
Hili: Bioróżnorodności.


From Annie. Python fans will recognize this one:

A meme from Nicole:

From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

From Masih: another Iranian protestor killed for protesting:

From Malcolm: four cellists play Ravel’s Bolero—on one cello!

From Barry, “The tender story of the rooster and the puppy.” Note the music:

From Ricky Gervais:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, an 11 year old girl gassed to death. I always think about the horror their last moments from when they perceived the cyanide pellets dropping into the room.

Tweets from Matthew. First, a worm with one head and many butts:

I found this one in the thread above. I had no idea such creatures existed; read more about it here. (It’s for camouflage, and some sponges also give off noxious chemicals when nibbled.)

Cat art:

24 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1616 – Sir Walter Raleigh is freed from the Tower of London after 13 years of imprisonment. [Sadly, his freedom didn’t last and he was executed in October 1618.]

    1760 – The Great Boston Fire of 1760 destroys 349 buildings.

    1815 – After escaping from Elba, Napoleon enters Paris with a regular army of 140,000 and a volunteer force of around 200,000, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.

    1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published.

    1854 – The Republican Party of the United States is organized in Ripon, Wisconsin, US.

    1916 – Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity.

    1922 – The USS Langley is commissioned as the first United States Navy aircraft carrier.

    1942 – World War II: General Douglas MacArthur, at Terowie, South Australia, makes his famous speech regarding the fall of the Philippines, in which he says: “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”.

    1985 – Libby Riddles becomes the first woman to win the 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

    1985 – Canadian paraplegic athlete and humanitarian Rick Hansen begins his circumnavigation of the globe in a wheelchair in the name of spinal cord injury medical research.

    1990 – Ferdinand Marcos’s widow, Imelda Marcos, goes on trial for bribery, embezzlement, and racketeering.

    1995 – The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo carries out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, killing 13 and wounding over 6,200 people.

    2003 – Iraq War: The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland begin an invasion of Iraq.

    2010 – Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland begins eruptions that would last for three months, heavily disrupting air travel in Europe.

    2015 – A Solar eclipse, equinox, and a supermoon all occur on the same day.

    43 BC – Ovid, Roman poet (d. 17).

    1828 – Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian poet, playwright, and director (d. 1906).

    1904 – B. F. Skinner, American psychologist and author (d. 1990).

    1908 – Michael Redgrave, English actor and director (d. 1985).

    1915 – Sister Rosetta Tharpe, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1973).

    1917 – Vera Lynn, English singer, songwriter and actress (d. 2020).

    1922 – Carl Reiner, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2020).

    1936 – Lee “Scratch” Perry, Jamaican singer, songwriter, music producer, and inventor (d. 2021).

    1937 – Jerry Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2008).

    1938 – Sergei Novikov, Russian mathematician and academic, winner of the Fields Medal.

    1950 – Carl Palmer, English drummer, percussionist, and songwriter.

    1957 – Spike Lee, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1958 – Holly Hunter, American actress and producer.

    1965 – William Dalrymple, Scottish historian and author.

    The Duck of Death strikes again:
    1929 – Ferdinand Foch, French field marshal (b. 1851). [Said to have declared: “My centre is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking”, but it is possibly apocryphal.]

    1964 – Brendan Behan, Irish republican and playwright (b. 1923).

    1997 – V. S. Pritchett, English short story writer, essayist, and critic (b. 1900).

    2013 – James Herbert, English author (b. 1943).

    2019 – Mary Warnock, English philosopher and writer (b. 1924).

    2020 – Kenny Rogers, American singer (b. 1938).

    1. On this day for 2015 can’t be right. A solar eclipse occurs only at new moon and a super moon is a full moon visually larger than average.

  2. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “outrageous and unacceptable” but also “null and void” from a legal perspective.

    Peskov makes Baghdad Bob seem like young George Washington copping to the felled cherry tree. Peskov gives me the creeps; I wouldn’t trust that guy any further than I could throw Putin’s horse.

    That four-cellist/one-cello rendition of “Bolero” is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while.

  3. There is a huge difference between restrooms that are individual booths like the one inside the airplane and restroom that have multiple booths and multiple sinks, usually what you have in the airport. A lot of women use this bigger restrooms to wash and change after a long trip. But I’m assuming that the all gendered restroom was an individual booth, like the family restrooms, and they are just fine.

  4. I love the video of the four Cellists playing Bolero, but about half-way through I began to doubt that it was real. Bolero played on four cellos, yes, but I would think that it would be impossible four two bows not to be using the same string or four two chords to not overlap. I’d be happy to be wrong, and, in either case, good job, humans!

    1. I think it is real, DrB. The bridge isolates acoustically the normally unbowed portion of the strings between itself and the tailpiece from the normally bowed portions. (They are tightly tensioned by the bridge and can’t be fingered for pitch so are being used only for effect.). The angles of the other three bows are all different, indicating they are playing (or fingers are plucking) different strings. I’d have to check the score but it’s common in harmony for overlapping two-string chords to share a note, even if an octave apart. Then the two bows could play the same string—or one bow could play the note for both chords—, with only the metre and articulation varying between the two bows on the unshared notes. It’s also possible they dropped out a note or two or cheated on the articulation to avoid conflict on the shared string—overtones help the ear fill in what it expects to hear. They aren’t miming. You can see the strings vibrating when they should be and no string is so slack that bowing would produce no tones to be dubbed in later.
      Of course anything is possible. Sometimes a trick is just easier to pull off than the real thing but that doesn’t mean the real thing is impossible with skill and practice for people who do this for a living. The bowing is not inconsistent with how it would have to be if it was real.

      I didn’t play cello but I did play violin for five years giving it up in high school as fundamentally untalented. At least piano I can get listenable-to music out of.

  5. The Ukrainians apparently now have missiles that disperse mines, and can launch them to make their deposits ahead of and behind the Russians, so either they can’t move or they’re killed if they do. Four days after a contingent of 434 was sent to Vuheledar, only 13% had survived. And now the wounded are being sent back to the front. This is what happens when a KGB guy is running the show.

    With evidence like this and others on how strapped Russia is, one might wonder if they aren’t beginning to look vulnerable to attack by another country, but I guess the question would be who. There’s nobody to the north, and otherwise, except for China, everyone else is either too small or separated by considerable geographic barriers, and then the question would be how to administer anything that large.

    1. Yeah, the RAAM (Remote Anti-Armor Mines), they have proven in Vuhledar they can be absolutely devastating. They can be shot from about 17 km (that is over 10 miles for US-ians).
      Russian tank commander sees a tank in front going ‘boom’. “Ai, Yuri, it is a minefield here, let us reverse following precisely our own tracks back, so we wont encounter mines” Kaboom! These RAAMs dropped behind advanced armour are absolutely evil.
      Decimation is bad, a 10% loss rate. In NATO standards a unit suffering 20 to 30% losses is considered to render the unit unfit for battle (beaten) and must retreat. 87% losses is appalling, mind boggling, basically annihilation.
      The thing is, in Vuhledar this destructive scenario happened again and again and again, and again. I think it is more than just stupidity. There is some serious lack of communication between previous and following troops (like: avoid that tree-line, their artillery is focused there: that info is not transmitted to the next group). There is great competition and animosity between different groups, the command is incompetent and doesn’t give a shit about casualties. Most of these are minorities or prisoners anyway, good riddance, these losses will purify Russia. Or what?

      Why do these troops continue to engage the meat grinder? Because if they don’t they will be shot by their ‘enforcers’. Certain death, and a minefield may give you a small chance to survive.
      And how to surrender (your life saver)? Ukrainians must know you want to surrender, lest you’ll be killed, but your own should not know, lest you’ll be killed. Not an easy problem.

      1. Yep to your good riddance scenario on the part of P*tin, I think. And the Russian troops are between the proverbial rock & hard place. But Russians are increasingly speaking out via videos, it seems. My fondest scenario is P*tin gets around some war widows or bereaved mothers, one of whom powders his cheek with Novichuk.

        I’m currently reading Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe (which to astonishment contained a card autographed to my father by Ike) after having sat around the house I grew up in and then mine, now for over 70yrs. Just last night I was reading a section where he talks about the conqueror mentality, where troops keep piling into a place wherre they keep getting clobbered. That seems to me to be part of the explanation, too.

  6. The horror of holocaust victims seeing those pellets is unthinkable, but I did hear of people who weren’t killed by the poison, but awoke in the ovens! It beggars the mind how cruel people can be. Of course we all want to get on with our lives and the temptation to turn away is strong, but we have to learn from what happened, or it will happen again.

    1. I don’t think waking up in the ovens was commmon; the Sonderkommando worked over the bodies after removing them, taking out teeth and the like, and they’d be able to tell if someone’s still alive.

      1. I’ll bow to your greater knowledge on this, but it is incredible that we should even be asking these questions. (This comment may have appeared on the wrong identity. I made my comment using my phone and I might have put the wrong email address in, sorry.)

        1. I really wish I hadn’t started to think about this. I haven’t researched this so what follows is speculation (I’m basing this on a half-remembered TV documentary I watched some time ago) but if the people who survived the gas chambers had been selected for death, it seems unlikely that they would have been allowed to go on living. The Sonderkommando, as I understand it, were prisoners and would not have been armed so they wouldn’t have been able to dispatch anyone who was still living. Which would mean that it would have been left to the SS guards to *waste* a bullet on them, or alternatively instruct the Sonderkommando units to throw them in the ovens anyway. Practices may have varied from camp to camp, of course; I just hope I’m wrong.
          Here in the UK the Conservative Government have been involved in a storm recently having been accused of using language from 1930s Germany against “illegal” immigrants. Of course, even the opposition, said that this was going too far, the assumption here is obviously that the Nazis were “other”, and we can’t draw equivalence to “decent” people today. The Nazis weren’t other, they were human beings too: in the pleasant surroundings of Wannsee, at the conference, amid the hushed tones of liveried servants and the chink of fine china, people who would have thought of themselves as nice, decent, cultured individuals were making difficult decisions – as they would have seen it – that had to be made. As Arendt described it: “The banality of evil”. Cruelty is so much easier by remote control. Today we other the Nazis and the immigrants; nothing much has changed except that the lessons from history are now there, to be learned, or ignored.

  7. Doubts are being expressed in various media as to whether Putin actually visited Mariupol or whether it was not just a staged propaganda appearance with carefully selected images of another city. The wildest speculation, by the way, is that a Putin double visited Mariupol.

  8. Make that “Crawfish Cravers Awareness Day” per website.
    Lagniappe: Also acceptable – mudbugs, crawdads.

Leave a Reply