Friday: Hili dialogue

March 24, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Friday, March 24, 2023, and National Cake Pop Day. I don’t know who invented this faux dessert, but I eschew it.

It’s also National Cheesesteak Day (one of America’s finest sandwiches), National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day (when I was a kid we’d call them “rabbit turds”), National Cocktail Day, International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, and World Tuberculosis Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 24 Wikipedia page.

There’s a Google Doodle today (click to go to source) honoring stuntwoman and racer Kitty O’Neil‘s 77th birthday (she died in 2018), who until 2019 was the fastest woman in the world, having set a land speed record in 1976 of 621 miles per hour (999 km/h).

Da Nooz:

*The New York grand jury weighing whether to indict Trump for paying hush money to keep Stormy Daniels mum will not convene tomorrow, so that pushes the earliest possible indictment (if the man is indicted) until Monday, when they meet again.

The grand jury hearing evidence about Mr. Trump’s role in a hush-money payment to a porn star typically does not consider the case on Thursdays and does not meet on Fridays, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has been questioning witnesses about the role Mr. Trump played in the payment to the porn star, Stormy Daniels, and there have been several signals that the prosecutors are nearing an indictment. Still, the exact timing of any charges remains unknown.

Although the special grand jury hearing evidence about Mr. Trump meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, it typically does not hear evidence about the Trump case on Thursdays, according to the person with knowledge of the matter. Special grand juries, which unlike regular grand juries sit for months at a time and hear complex cases, routinely consider several cases simultaneously.

None of the witnesses relevant to the hush-money matter have been seen going into the building where the jury sits on Thursdays. And what may appear to outside observers to be wild swings in the momentum of the investigation are most likely the routine stop and start of the New York grand jury process, either because of scheduling conflicts or other unexpected interruptions.

I still want to know what the signals are that the prosecution is “nearing an indictment” given that the grand jury has to vote to indict Trump by at least 12 of its 23 members. Another development is that House Republicans have demanded that the DA of this case surrender documents and testimony, but the DA refused.

*The issue of trans prisoners and jails has spread to Ireland, according to the Spectator,  Get the name: Barbie Kardashian! (h/t: Jez)

Barbie Kardashian, whose birth name was Gabrielle Alejandro Gentile, is a violent man who identifies as a woman. Last week he was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail – a women’s jail – for threatening to torture, rape and murder his own mother. He is, as the journalist who cornered [Taoiseach/Prime Minister] Varadkar put it, ‘a violent biological male with a penis’.

So what was Varadkar’s answer to this easiest of questions? This was a straightforward query as to whether a person who was born male and has male genitalia and who issues violent threats against women is, as he claims, a woman. It wasn’t ‘No’. It wasn’t ‘Yes’, either. The questions seems to have stumped Ireland’s leader, which is bizarre given he studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. Varadkar answered with a short, awkward silence followed by this statement: ‘Well, look, I, I, I, I don’t, I actually don’t know anything about the case yet, I saw, I first saw it reported at the weekend, erm, and, and, I’m going to have look into it.’

Look into it? All the facts were right there in front of him. The journalist laid them out. What’s more, if Varadkar had already heard about the case, at the weekend, that means he had plenty of time to come to the same conclusion that every other rational person in Ireland has come to: that this man is a man. That this biological male, who made vile threats against his own mum, is a bloke. And, furthermore, that he has absolutely no place in a women’s prison. Varadkar’s shirking of reason – presumably because he’s terrified of being targeted by hardline trans activists – was an embarrassment. He let down the women of Ireland. This is his Sturgeon moment.

My only beef with the reporter is the word “presumably”. Of course Varadkar waffled because he’s afraid of trans activists. And yes, it is a man who identifies as a woman—and has no place (especially given his crimes) in a women’s prison.

*Remember how, when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, they promised that women would get the same opportunities for education as men? At the time you didn’t have to have a lot of neurons to know it’s a lie, but now the extent of the lie is documented by Shabana Basij-Rasikh in a WaPo op-ed. It’s distressing:

March 23rd marks one year since the Taliban decreed that Afghan girls don’t need to be educated past sixth grade. One year since they closed the doors of schools in the faces of an estimated 3 million girls, though of course these girls have been out of school much longer than that, really ever since the Taliban took power.

In 2001, when the Taliban’s first regime fell, there was officially not a single girl in elementary school and only a handful in secondary school — that’s in the entire nation of Afghanistan. Less than 20 years later, we had 3.6 million girls enrolled in primary and secondary school, and around 90,000 in higher education.Here are the data:

All of it is gone. Live in silence now behind the walls of your home, the Taliban say to women and girls. Live a ghost life.

This girl, like every Afghan girl who refuses to give up on her education, had two choices: go overseas or go underground. Become a refugee from Afghanistan or, effectively, become a criminal within Afghanistan. Pursue the limited educational opportunities open to refugees, or pursue them in our homeland and hope the Taliban never find out.

This girl and her family chose the former.

In Kabul and across Afghanistan, the secret schools are opening again, with girls coming to learn from women who may never have been teachers before, but who now quite literally risk their lives to beat the darkness back.

It can feel distant to a global audience, the struggle of Afghan girls. It can be easy for policymakers and private citizens to want to look elsewhere, or to want to focus on the perceived political gains or risks of reminding voters of the horror of Kabul’s fall in August 2021. Or to simply imagine that the problem is too intractable, the need too great, the damage too deep, the Taliban simply too immune to the pressure of global public protest.

I wish that more Western feminists, or liberals in general would protest this kind of discrimination. Some don’t know about it, others don’t care, and still other ignore it because Muslims, after all, are people of color. But there’s no doubt that some of the world’s worst treatment of women take place in Muslim-majority countries. The best way to keep women down is to deny them an education while at the same time urging them to breed.

*At last. a decision based on data rather than ideology: World Athletics (the body governing international track and field events) has banned trangender women from competing against biological women in “female” sports events. Until we have data contravening the present data, which is that if a man transitions after initiating or competing puberty, he has an average advantage over biological women in nearly any sport.   (h/t: Athayde)

The governing body’s president, Lord Coe, said no transgender athlete who had gone through male puberty would be permitted to compete in female world ranking competitions from 31 March.

A working group will be set up to conduct further research into the transgender eligibility guidelines.

“We’re not saying no forever,” he said.

Under previous rules, World Athletics required transgender women to reduce their amount of blood testosterone to a maximum of 5nmol/L, and stay under this threshold continuously for a period of 12 months before competing in the female category.

Lord Coe added the decision was “guided by the overarching principle which is to protect the female category”.

He noted that there are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in the sport.

The World Athletics Council also voted to reduce the amount of blood testosterone permitted for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD), such as South Africa’s Caster Semenya.

DSD athletes will be required to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 2.5 nanomoles per litre, down from five, and must remain under this threshold for two years in order to compete internationally in the female category in any track and field event.

I’m not sure, though, whether the 2.5 nanomole/l titer is sufficient to “level the playing field” for athletes who have gone through male puberty. I know of no data showing this, so it may be a ill-advised judgement call.

Here’s one other and older solution—for swimming:

In June 2022, Lord Coe welcomed the move by Fina – swimming’s world governing body – to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they had gone through any part of the process of male puberty, insisting “fairness is non-negotiable”.

Fina’s decision followed a report by a taskforce of leading figures from the world of medicine, law and sport that said going through male puberty meant transgender women retained a “relative performance advantage over biological females”, even after medication to reduce testosterone.

Fina also aimed to establish an ‘open’ category at competitions, for swimmers whose gender identity is different than their sex observed at birth.

The Wall Street Journal has a related story with some added information.

*A captive bear prone to flying the coop has been moved to a zoo with tighter security measures. The AP reports:

An escape-artist bear from Missouri is headed to a Texas zoo with a moat in hopes that it will put an end to his wandering.

The St. Louis Zoo cited the “specific and unique personality” of the Andean bear named Ben in announcing the move Tuesday. His soon-to-be home at the Gladys Porter Zoo near South Padre Island in Brownsville, Texas, has a long history of working with Andean bears. But it’s still adding some extra security measures.

“We’re confident it’s going to be good for Ben,” said Walter Dupree, the Texas zoo’s curator of mammals.

Ben gained notoriety in February by busting out of his habitat twice.

The first time, the 4-year-old, 280-pound (127-kilogram) bear tore apart clips that attached stainless steel mesh to the frame of a door. But he was recaptured before the zoo opened for the day.

Zoo workers then added zip tie-like attachments made of stainless steel that had 450 pounds (204 kilograms) of tensile strength. But Ben managed to escape through those about two weeks later. The zoo was open this time, but he was captured less than an hour later on a public path.

Ben now lives in a nonpublic area of the St. Louis Zoo, where he can move indoors and out — and even splash in a pool — while he awaits his move.

“He’s so fun, he’s so playful — we would love to be able to keep him here,” said Regina Mossotti, the St. Louis Zoo’s vice president of animal care.

Here’s Ben with the AP’s caption; isn’t he adorable?

This 2021 photo provided by the St. Louis Zoo shows the zoo’s Andean bear named Ben. . . the escape-artist bear from Missouri is headed to a Texas zoo with a moat in hopes it will put an end to his wandering. (JoEllen Toler/St. Louis Zoo via AP, File)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili is inspecting the workers for Listy (photo is mine):

Hili: The keyboard is dirty again.
I will clean it in the evening when I switch off the computer.
(Photo: J.A.C)
In Polish:
Hili: Znowu brudna klawiatura.
Ja: Wyczyszczę wieczorem, jak zgaszę komputer.
(Zdjęcie: J.A.C.)

And a picture of Szaron taken by Andrzej:


From Richard (I’ve never been to an Ikea, but I presume the exit is hard to find):

From Barry (note that Greta Thunberg just got an honorary theology degree from the University of Helsinki).

From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:

From Maish, with the Farsi translation (sound up):

Elaha Tavaklian, a protester who was injured by a bullet in the eye area, has published a video of herself before surgery in Italy. She is hospitalized in Italy to remove the bullet that entered his head through her eye.

In this video, #Elaha_Tokalian says that silence in front of the unjustly shed blood is treason, because those who remain silent see the suffering of young people and the lives lost. #Mehsa Amini

Some geographical trivia from Malcolm:

From Gravelinspector. This is just WRONG!:

From Barry: Ain’t nature wonderful?

From the Auschwitz Memorial, the family gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. The first is a couple of seniors dancing to “In The Mood” and “Rock Around the Clock”, two hits from different generations.

How wonderful! Sound up:

A Tasmanian Devil does a U-turn:

8 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1199 – King Richard I of England is wounded by a crossbow bolt while fighting in France, leading to his death on April 6.

    1603 – James VI of Scotland is proclaimed King James I of England and Ireland, upon the death of Elizabeth I.

    1721 – Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated six concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt, now commonly called the Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046–1051.

    1882 – Robert Koch announces the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis.

    1921 – The 1921 Women’s Olympiad began in Monte Carlo, becoming the first international women’s sports event.

    1989 – In Prince William Sound in Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (38,000 m3) of crude oil after running aground.

    1993 – Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 is discovered by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker, and David Levy at the Palomar Observatory in California.

    1999 – Kosovo War: NATO began attacks on Yugoslavia without United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approval, marking the first time NATO has attacked a sovereign country.

    1999 – A lorry carrying margarine and flour catches fire inside the Mont Blanc Tunnel, creating an inferno that kills 38 people.

    2015 – Germanwings Flight 9525 crashes in the French Alps in an apparent pilot mass murder-suicide, killing all 150 people on board.

    2018 – Students across the United States stage the March for Our Lives demanding gun control in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. [Has anything changed in the five years since?]

    1693 – John Harrison, English carpenter and clock-maker, invented the Marine chronometer (d. 1776). [Also the anniversary of his death.]

    1826 – Matilda Joslyn Gage, American activist and author (d. 1898).

    1834 – William Morris, English textile designer, poet, and author (d. 1896).

    1874 – Harry Houdini, Hungarian-Jewish American magician and actor (d. 1926).

    1887 – Roscoe Arbuckle, American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1933).

    1901 – Ub Iwerks, American animator, director, and producer, co-created Mickey Mouse (d. 1971).

    1911 – Joseph Barbera, American animator, director, and producer, co-founded Hanna-Barbera (d. 2006).

    1926 – Dario Fo, Italian playwright, actor, director, and composer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2016).

    1930 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (d. 1980).

    1949 – Nick Lowe, English singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer.

    1960 – Nena, German singer-songwriter and actress. [She has sold over 25 million records, making her the most successful German pop singer in chart history.]

    1973 – Jim Parsons, American actor.

    Life is a copiously branching bush, continually pruned by the Duck of Death of extinction, not a ladder of predictable progress: [With apologies to Stephen Jay Gould.]
    1882 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet and educator (b. 1807).

    1905 – Jules Verne, French novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1828).

    1962 – Auguste Piccard, Swiss physicist and explorer (b. 1884). [Known for his record-breaking hydrogen balloon flights, with which he studied the Earth’s upper atmosphere.]

    1978 – Park Mok-wol, influential Korean poet and academic (b. 1916).

    2016 – Johan Cruyff, Dutch footballer (b. 1947).

    2021 – Jessica Walter, American actress and voice artist (b. 1941). [Played a psychotic and obsessed fan of a disc jockey in the 1971 Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me and later the role of Lucille Bluth in the sitcom Arrested Development.]

  2. Another development is that House Republicans have demanded that the DA of this case surrender documents and testimony, but the DA refused.

    The United States congress has no supervisory authority over state-court prosecutions under the federal constitutional doctrine that’s come to be called “Our Federalism.”

  3. The press release from World Athletics is here. Scroll down to the section titled “Transgender and DSD Regulations”. The first sentence contains links to PDFs of the new policies, if you are interested in reading the details.

    The press release notes that an earlier proposal was to allow MtF transgender participants to compete if they met the limit of testosterone levels below 2.5nmol/L for 24 months, regardless of earlier bodily development. That would make it consistent with the new DSD policy. However, that proposal was rejected and the new policy is “must not have experienced any part of male puberty either beyond Tanner Stage 2 or after age 12 (whichever comes first)” in addition to maintaining a testosterone limit of 2.5 nmol/L consistently since puberty. The policy has a procedure for verifying this, with looser requirements for those who have undergone gonadectomy.

    Particularly frustrating while reading the policy is the fact that they use the term “transgender female” to refer to males who are transgender and “transgender male” for females who are transgender. Athletes who want to compete under the new transgender policy must declare a gender identity of “male” or “female”. (There is no provision for non-binary or any other gender identity.)

    It seems reasonable that if a male never goes through male puberty, any athletic advantage would be eliminated. This might, from an athletic standpoint, be comparable to an XY individual with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (which is not one of the DSDs covered by the DSD policy). However, individuals with DSDs like 5α-reductase type 2 deficiency and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 3 deficiency (covered by the DSD policy) would be comparable to MtF transgender persons who have gone through male puberty. And those all should, in my opinion, be excluded from the female category of sport.

    1. I think you’re right about the DSD athletes, Quercus. World Athletics may have been trying to be indulgent and inclusive toward a group who have a bona fide medical condition that is rare and can’t be gamed. But allowing a biological male who has gone through male puberty, even one who had sincerely believed he was a girl growing up, to compete as a woman merely because he suppresses his testosterone levels is unwise. The trans athletes will demand the same accommodation as they insist they are every bit as sincere as the DSD athletes.

      Edit: And, of course, a DSD male still has an unfair advantage over women and should be DQ’d on that ground by itself. Life sucks sometimes. Go do something else.

      Still, better this than nothing. A preposterous male nobody with allegedly suppressed testosterone under cycling rules just won a women’s bicycle race in New York City, to a chorus of oohing and ahhing from the adulatory activists. Elite cycling has the credibility of roller derby at the best of times.

  4. Nesquik Cereal would like to argue with Chocolate Covered Raisins over the right to the title of Rabbit Turds.

  5. I had no idea that the International Date Line was so convoluted.

    It’s great that World Athletics made their decision just in time for the anniversary of the first international women’s sports event.

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