Wednesday: Hili dialogue

March 29, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s a Hump Day (“jum hump” in Maltese): Wednesday, March 29, 2023, and National Chiffon Cake Day.

It’s also Manatee Appreciation Day, Smoke and Mirrors Day, and Piano Day. In honor of the last holiday, here’s some music about a piano man (before he lost his hair):

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 29 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Trump isn’t doing that well in his various court cases. A NY state indictment may come down for him in in the Stormy Daniels case, and now he’s taken a hit in the grand jury investigating the January 6 storming of the Capitol: Mike Pence will have to testify.

A federal judge has ordered former Vice President Mike Pence to appear in front of a grand jury investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, largely sweeping aside two separate legal efforts by Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump to limit his testimony, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The twin rulings on Monday, by Judge James E. Boasberg in Federal District Court in Washington, were the latest setbacks to bids by Mr. Trump’s legal team to limit the scope of questions that prosecutors can ask witnesses close to him in separate investigations into his efforts to maintain his grip on power after his election defeat and into his handling of classified documents after he left office.

In the weeks leading up to the Capitol attack by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021, the former president repeatedly pressed Mr. Pence to use his ceremonial role overseeing the congressional count of Electoral College votes to block or delay certification of his defeat.

Prosecutors have been seeking to compel Mr. Pence to testify about Mr. Trump’s demands on him, which were thoroughly documented by aides to Mr. Pence in testimony last year to the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 riot and what led up to it.

This month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked Judge Boasberg’s predecessor as chief judge for the court, Beryl A. Howell, to limit Mr. Pence’s testimony by claiming that certain issues were off limits because of executive privilege, which protects certain communications between the president and some members of his administration.

Of course Pence’s testimony can only hurt Trump, and it’s clear that making Pence testify is not to get him in trouble, but to get closer to Trump’s actions. Is yet another indictment in the offing?

*John McWhorter’s latest column, “I did not feel the need to see people ‘like me’ on TV or in books,” is related to something that Bill Maher talked about the other day. His view:

But still, the idea that a Black person is deprived in not exploring that which they already “relate to” is not as natural as it sounds. This position is rooted, one suspects, as a defense against racism, in a sense that learning most meaningfully takes place within a warm comfort zone of cultural membership. But it’s a wide, wide world out there, and this position ultimately limits the mind and the soul. I question its necessity in 2023. The etymology of the word “education” is related to the Latin “educere,” meaning to lead outward, not inward.

It can be especially ticklish to hear white people taking up the idea that a Black person strays from their “self” when taking up things beyond blackness. The Black cabaret pianist and singer Bobby Short spent a glittering career of several decades performing the lesser-known songs of Broadway’s “golden era.” I have every single recording he made; generations of fans of the Great American Songbook learned the B-side corpus of this genre from his work. He often seasoned his renditions with a bit of soul, but the overall tone of Short was tuxedos, the haut monde Café Carlyle where he played for eons, his friendship with Gloria Vanderbilt — an ongoing affectionate salute to a bygone aristocracy of manner.

. . .Today I sit with “Succession,” Steely Dan and Saul Bellow and they wince not. I see myself in none of them. Yes, Bellow had some nasty moments on race, such as a gruesomely prurient scene in “Mr. Sammler’s Planet.” But I’m sorry: I cannot let that one scene — or even two — deprive me of the symphonic reaches of “Herzog” and “Humboldt’s Gift.” What they offer, after all, becomes part of “me” along with everything else.

It isn’t that I don’t engage with books, films, television and theater by and about Black people. And the truth is that characters I can see as “me” are now not uncommon on television in particular. Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was about as close to me as I expect a sitcom character ever to be, for example. That was fun. But honestly, I didn’t need it. I live with me. I watch TV to see somebody else.

I can see his point when it comes to literature, movies, and other entertainment, and he surely makes a dent in the idea that ethnic groups need to look for “people who look like me” in the arts. But it’s a different matter when it comes to real life, I think. I’m not black, but if I went to a school where there were no other black people, I’m pretty sure I’d like to see some people who look like me. Perhaps, though, McWhorter is limiting his take to materials for entertainment and education.

*Just be glad for America’s freedom of speech, even if various forces of darkness are trying to erode it. In Russia, you can go to jail for drawings made by one of your kids! From the AP:

A Russian court on Tuesday convicted a single father over social media posts critical of the war in Ukraine and sentenced him to two years in prison — a case brought against him after his daughter’s drawings at school opposed the invasion, according to his lawyer and activists.

But Alexei Moskalyov fled house arrest before his verdict was delivered in his Russian hometown of Yefremov and is at large, court officials said. His 13-year-old daughter Maria, who has been taken from him by the authorities, wrote him a supportive letter for his trial from the orphanage where she is living, according to his lawyer, telling him, “Daddy, you’re my hero.”

Moskalyov’s case has drawn international attention and was a grim reminder that the Kremlin is intensifying its crackdown on dissent, targeting more people and handing out harsher punishments for any criticism of the war. The broad government campaign of repression has been unseen since the Soviet era.

Moskalyov, 54, was accused of repeatedly discrediting the Russian army, a criminal offense in accordance to a law Russian authorities adopted shortly after sending troops into Ukraine.

He was indicted for a series of social media posts about Russian atrocities in Ukraine and referencing the “terrorist” regime in Moscow that he insists he didn’t make. But, according to his lawyer and activists who supported him throughout the case and trial, his troubles started last spring after his 13-year-old daughter, Maria, drew an antiwar picture at Yefremov School No. 9 that depicted missiles flying over a Russian flag at a woman and child and said, “Glory to Ukraine.”

Two years in jail—a single dad! Remember all the criticism in the U.S. of the war in Iraq? You wouldn’t have had any of that if we’d had a regime as draconian as Russia’s.

*If you don’t mind some gore, but want to see what a bullet from an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon can do (the favorite gun of mass shooters), read and watch the Washington Post’s article “The blast effect“. It not only compares the damage that the high-velocity AR-15 bullet (.223 caliber) can do to that of a bullet from a normal handgun (a 9 mm round), but also gives two animations of what happened to two real children who were killed by these bullets (no photos are shown):

The AR-15 fires bullets at such a high velocity — often in a barrage of 30 or even 100 in rapid succession — that it can eviscerate multiple people in seconds. A single bullet lands with a shock wave intense enough to blow apart a skull and demolish vital organs. The impact is even more acute on the compact body of a small child.

“It literally can pulverize bones, it can shatter your liver and it can provide this blast effect,” said Joseph Sakran, a gunshotsurvivor who advocates for gun violence prevention and a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

During surgery on people shot with high-velocity rounds, he said, body tissue “literally just crumbled into your hands.”

The carnage is rarely visible to the public. Crime scene photos are considered too gruesome to publish and often kept confidential. News accounts rely on antiseptic descriptions from law enforcement officials and medical examiners who, in some cases, have said remains were so unrecognizable that they could be identified only through DNA samples.

And then the real people:

The Washington Post sought to illustrate the force of the AR-15 and reveal its catastrophic effects.

The first part of this report is a 3D animation that shows the trajectory of two different hypothetical gunshots to the chest — one from an AR-15 and another from a typical handgun — to explain the greater severity of the damage caused by the AR-15.

The second part depicts the entrance and exit wounds of two actual victims — Noah Pozner, 6, and Peter Wang, 15 — killed in school shootings when they were struck by multiple bullets.

Yes, many of you won’t want to see this, and if you do you’ll be shocked, whoever you are. But then ask yourself, “why is this type of ammunition even sold in the United States.” If you buy a gun to protect yourself, you don’t need a semiautomatic.

*Should you wash your clothes in cold or warm water? This is the question taken up by the Wall Street Journal, and the answer seems to be “it depends.” That is, Proctor and Gamble opts for cold, saying that its products get clothes just as clean at either temperature, but also admits that, in general, warm water does a better job. I’ve always started the wash with a minute’s worth of warm water, and then switch to cold to save energy. But even cold water doesn’t necessarily save that much energy. From the piece:

The maker of Tide detergent has thrown its marketing weight behind Team Cold. Procter & Gamble Co. argues that a chilly wash cycle reduces the impact of a costly and energy-guzzling domestic chore, and has enlisted rapper Vanilla Ice, actor/musician Ice-T, pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and other celebrities to promote the concept.

Some laundry experts say that’s just spin. They contend cold water doesn’t wash clothes as well, and the energy it takes to try to compensate diminishes the environmental benefits.

Patric Richardson is among the skeptics. The host of “The Laundry Guy” on Discovery+ says that using less detergent, washing less frequently and moving to a shorter warm cycle are better ways to save energy.

. . .P&G has sold a line of Tide designed for washing in cold water for almost two decades and still sells that product, called Tide Plus Coldwater Clean. The latest campaign pitches the overall brand as being effective in cold water. The company says it has reformulated Tide over the years to be more effective.

The company says that while hot water cleans more effectively than cold water when all else is equal, Tide’s products are strong enough to render warmer cycles unnecessary.

“If we set the water on cold, how strong do we need our product to be to be sure we don’t need more temperature?” says Todd Cline, a technical expert in P&G’s fabric-care business. “We don’t think you need to use warm or hot.”

He says the company has found clothes get just as clean in cold cycles in both controlled lab tests and in consumer tests. Convincing the public is another matter. “Habits are hard to change,” Mr. Cline says. “People just hit the button to normal, and normal defaults to warm.”

All I can say is that my clothes are washed in mostly cold water, I do use concentrated Tide (though just because it’s reasonably priced and comes in big jugs), and I’ve never found my clothes to emerge less than sparkling clean.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili reminds me of the old Groucho Marx joke that he’d never want to join a club that would have him as a member.

Hili: I was thinking about joining a skeptics club.
A: And what happened?
Hili: My skepticism won.
In Polish:
Hili: Zastanawiałam się nad wstąpieniem do klubu sceptyków.
Ja: I co?

Hili: Zwyciężył sceptycyzm.

And a photo of Baby Kulka with flowers:


From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

From David:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Masih, another woman protestor in Iran is shot in the eye—and in the stomach:

From Simon, Randy Rainbow takes the mickey out of George Santos:

From Barry, this baby panda’s sneeze scares the hell out of its mom:

From Luana, who apprised me of something I didn’t know: there’s a violent wing of trans activists movement:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman who died at 23.

Tweets from Matthew, the first being a lovely duck and ducklings video. Sound up.

Don’t worry if you’re flying to Japan. (Sound up.) America is the pits, and I’ve seen this many times from a plane.

Matthew says, “Forget the cheesy bits and look at the skills”:

26 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1857 – Sepoy Mangal Pandey of the 34th Regiment, Bengal Native Infantry mutinies against the East India Company’s rule in India and inspires the protracted Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny.

    1867 – Queen Victoria gives Royal Assent to the British North America Act which establishes Canada on July 1.

    1871 – Royal Albert Hall is opened by Queen Victoria.

    1951 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.

    1961 – The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C., to vote in presidential elections. [Poor old DC – what was that about no taxation without representation?]

    1971 – My Lai Massacre: Lieutenant William Calley is convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison.

    1973 – Vietnam War: The last United States combat soldiers leave South Vietnam.

    1990 – The Czechoslovak parliament is unable to reach an agreement on what to call the country after the fall of Communism, sparking the so-called Hyphen War.

    2014 – The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales are performed.

    2017 – Prime Minister Theresa May invokes Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, formally beginning the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

    1780 – Jørgen Jørgensen, Danish adventurer (d. 1841).

    1869 – Edwin Lutyens, British architect (d. 1944).

    1929 – Richard Lewontin, American biologist, geneticist, and academic (d. 2021). [Our host’s doctoral advisor.]

    1943 – John Major, English banker and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. [Described by the late, great Linda Smith as “The man who ran away from the circus to become an accountant”.]

    1943 – Vangelis, Greek keyboard player and songwriter (d. 2022).

    1960 – Jo Nesbø, Norwegian writer, musician and football player.

    1961 – Amy Sedaris, American actress and comedian.

    1972 – Priti Patel, British Indian politician, Secretary of State for the Home Department. [As Home Secretary, her proposed policy on immigration would have prevented her own parents from living in the UK.]

    Here, freed of the Duck of Death’s scythe, we learn that pain is knowledge and all knowledge pain: [With apologies to Federico Fellini.]

    1912 – Robert Falcon Scott, English lieutenant and explorer (b. 1868).

    1985 – Janet Watson, British geologist (b. 1923).

    1994 – Bill Travers, English actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1922).

    2017 – Alexei Abrikosov, Russian physicist, 2003 Nobel laureate in Physics (b. 1928).

    1. Also born today, 1874, Lou Henry, future first female Stanford grad in geology, linguist, architect, FLOTUS, and driving force behind the Girl Scout Cookie, Lou Henry Hoover, in Waterloo, IA

    1. After the school shooting in Nashville, Joss Berry, the Press Secretary for the Governor of Arizona, tweeted a picture calling for transphobes to be shot. AFTER the shooting. It’s all over Twitter.

      (She just resigned.)

  2. With all due respect, I don’t think anyone is in a position to say what another person needs or could make due with, whether it’s speech, housing, food, or self-defense. Why should someone who feels that they need a gun for self-defense have to make do with the least effective weapon? Should police also eschew semi-automatic weapons because they don’t “need” them? It’s unrealistic to start any discussion of gun violence with “assume there were no guns”. Guns don’t cause violence like food doesn’t cause obesity.

    1. Those of us who are not crack shots have long been discriminated against by federal regulators. There`s nothing new about it and I’ve complained in the past.

      As an elderly spinster told me: “Plinking away with a pistol, what chance would I have? But if I could plant some land mines among my roses and petunias, as well as my front lawn, and let loose with a fully automatic Uzi, I could get some of the buggers before they get me.”

      Mike Royko, column from July 24, 1990, titled “Big Bang Theory Of Self-Defense:

      1. Your spinster correspondent must be looking forward to automatic AI-targeted machine guns.
        All those fey videos of robots picking up and putting down boxes are a distraction from where the development is going on for the military.

      2. Or a nice sawed-off shotgun.

        Millions of combatants in World War I were killed by all manner of weapons, including aerial bombs, artillery, bayonets, hand grenades, pistols, revolvers, and rifles. The machine gun, the war’s most prolific killer, slaughtered untold thousands. Poison gas brought its own horrific casualties. Yet only one weapon—the pump shotgun American troops used beginning in 1918—led to a diplomatic protest. Ironically, the protest came from Germany, which during World War I had unleashed on its enemies such instruments of killing as the Zeppelin airship bomber, the Maxim MG-08 machine gun, the Type 93 U-boat, the Big Bertha howitzer, the Paris Gun, and, of course, chlorine gas.

        On July 21, 1918, German soldiers captured a U.S. soldier from the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division, near Baccarat, France. He was carrying a weapon they had never seen: a Winchester Model 97 pump-action shotgun. On September 11, near Villers-en-Haye, the Germans captured a U.S. soldier from the 6th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division, who was also carrying a Winchester Model 97.

        On September 15, 1918, the German government officially protested the use of the shotgun in a note verbale—an unsigned diplomatic note—transmitted to the Spanish Embassy in Berlin, then to the Swiss Embassy, and eventually to the American legation in Berne, Switzerland. The note asserted that the use of shotguns by U.S. forces violated Article 23(e) of the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions and warned that any American captured with a shotgun or shotgun ammunition would be executed.

        1. Those WW1 military histories which I’ve read and which discuss the effectiveness of various weapons, consistently claim artillery was the greatest killer by a significant margin, though I no longer recall the figures.

          Yes – how ironic that Germany should object to combat shotguns.

          Edit. My comments are still being sent to moderation, whether I use my correct WordPress name – davelenny – or the name used in this post.

    2. With all due respect this makes no sense. The law is basically a set of consensual self-restraints and rules we place on ourselves in a given society to enable us to live our individual lives without unduly impinging on the rights of others to live theirs. It includes all sorts of limitations on what we can do and in principle there is no particular reason why a society should not introduce laws that restrict the kind of firearms or the kind of ammunition people can own or use. Few people would argue that it is unreasonable to prohibit people from driving fast cars at 200 mph on any road they choose so why is it any different to place limits on the types of weapons you can have or use?

      1. That’s all well and good when it’s true, but problems arise when society is so divided that it’s not a set of consensual self-restraints but restraints placed on one group by another group bitterly opposed to the first. We used to have a more or less unified society, but now we have at least two separate factions that hate each other and think the other side is not just wrong but evil. In a situation like that, the law is not always consensual agreement on norms, but sometimes an attempt by one side to impose its will on the other.

        Furthermore, we do have the Constitution, which is a law that sets limits on the types of laws that can be passed. Of course, the Constitution is itself up to interpretation, but the currently prevailing interpretation would seem to oppose the introduction of laws prohibiting all effective rifle ammunition. (.223 is one of the smallest calibers of rifle ammunition. A hunting rifle in .308 – the standard hunting rifle round – would be far more powerful.)

  3. The Russian father and daughter are heroes. I am not sure, however, that Ukraine treats war dissidents or god forbid pro Russian voices much better. Ukraine is under martial law, the right to free speech is suspended regarding war-related topics. Countless people seen as traitors or collaborators have been arrested, often for nothing more than to continue one’s job as a school teacher under the Russian occupation, quite a few political parties were banned, demonstrations or strikes are prohibited, males cannot leave the country and are conscripted against their will. War is a very ugly thing. Even before the war, dissidents were sometimes arrested (Kotsaba) or assassinated (Komarov).
    Is it possible in today’s Ukraine to publicly propose ceding Crimea and Donbas to Russia without having to fear judicial consequences, like being arrested for endangering the territorial integrity of Ukraine? Does anyone know? In Spain, a Ukrainian dissident blogger has just been arrested for high treason against Ukraine.

    1. Yes, Ruth, I think we are all crossing our fingers on this as we give Zelenskyy the benefit of the doubt while he’s facing a foreign invasion. All countries do consider it treason to give aid and comfort to the enemy in time of existential war. And his general mobilization of the entire country—he had no choice other than surrender—puts all of it at risk of attack as a legitimate military target. Dissenters may need to be made to disappear, so as not to give them the public forum a trial would entail. All that will come later. The pacification of the Donbas might be a decades-long struggle even after the Russian Army withers away.

      1. “Dissenters may need to be made to disappear, so as not to give them the public forum a trial would entail.” I have read that this is indeed what happens in some cases. They are arrested and nobody knows where they are and they can’t be contacted. I don’t agree that this “needs” to be done for the greater good. What a horribly slippery slope. In a situation such as war, when very difficult decisions have to be made, where diverse evils have to be weighed against each other, where emotion easily drowns out reason, free speech is needed more than ever to protect against bad decision making resulting from groupthink.

        1. I was being economical with words. By “needs” I meant, “in Zelenskyy ‘s opinion, and his is the only one that counts in Ukraine right now.” If it’s a slippery slope it’s for Ukrainians to negotiate without tumbling if they can. He’s our guy. We backed him as the best hope for Ukraine. If Ukraine loses the popular will to fight, we’ll see it on the battlefield, not in the newspapers.

      2. The pacification of the Donbas might be a decades-long struggle even after the Russian Army withers away.

        Going from the somewhat comparable history in Britain, of a significant population “persuaded” (if not actively forced at gun point) to resettle from one region to another, for essentially reasons of the State’s economy, then the strife will be continuing until the 2300s. Maybe later.
        Given the oral service that the Russian Orthodox Primate is giving to Putin, the religious patina applied to the war is going to be applied with more trowel than sable-hair brush.

  4. There is nothing particularly exotic or magical about the lethality of the .223 round. It’s lighter and slower and therefore less lethal than the bullets fired from familiar hunting rifles and the standard battle rifles of yesteryear, all around .30 in. caliber. Being shot at close range with a rifle absolutely produces devastating injuries considering that the normal engagement range of a reduced-power rifle like an AR-15 is in the 50-200 yard range, much more for a bigger, heavier rifle. Canadian farmers like the .223 for varmint control, feral pigs particularly, because the bullet that misses is less likely to hit a neighbour’s livestock in the next section. (Bolt-action .223s are still legal here.). Canadian soldiers shot in the trunk with full-caliber rifle bullets during the Second World War did not make it to the attention of trauma surgeons but were buried where they fell. The vast majority of survivable injuries were burns, splinters and fragments from exploding ordnance, or bullets striking limbs if bleeding could be stopped in time.

    The proliferation of handy, light, semi-automatic rifles capable of firing a lot of these reduced-power bullets quickly at close range may well have enabled the mass urban shooter. But it’s not the bullet. It’s the whole package. If small rifles chambered for .223 have any legal utility, they must have ammunition.

  5. The Washington Post piece is very graphic, and effective. Let’s hope that people who are in a position to effect change see it and are moved by it.

    It’s worth a try. Rather like some of the cigarette commercials from the 1960’s and 1970’s that showed the devastating effects of smoking, perhaps graphic descriptions of the devastating effects of high-powered weaponry on the innocent can help turn the tide.

  6. From America’s Cultural Decline into Idiocy:

    I do hope that those mini-Crocs were originally intended to be hung, in pairs, from the rear-view mirror of somewhat out-of-date cars, as a change from a pair of fluffy dice.
    (Does America have the culture (sense : Petri dish) of “boy racers”, Ford Cortinas, and fluffy dice? If not, you don’t know how lucky you are!)

  7. It is recommended that bedding be washed at 60C to kill bed mites; much lower and you merely get clean mites.

  8. P&G needs us to save money on energy so that we can still afford Tide.

    Cheers to those other readers who must also pay attention to mites (and other allergens) in the wash. Some of mine is done at 140F+ . . . for a very long time. And an extra rinse or two. The climate gods can slay me now.

    Back to saving energy on laundry: Why simply worry about electricity? People expend energy, too. Kris Kristofferson (via Johnny Cash) had the right idea:

    . . .Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes
    And found my cleanest dirty shirt . . .

  9. If this goes through, it proves that fake emails work (actually I don’t know if it was fake, just a random gmail name, 123). My email is now blocked as I haven’t been able to post for over a week unless I use my wife’s email address. We’ll see what happens when I use a random address.

  10. Trans extremists are violent. Just search the internet for #LetWomenSpeak. Trans extremists are dangerous misogynists.

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