Monday: Hili dialogue

April 3, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Monday, April 3, 2023; National Chocolate Mousse Day. It’s a good dessert but rather light: in France they sometimes serve it à volonté (“at your discretion”)—if you finish your portion you can request more.

It’s also Fish Fingers and Custard Day (ugh), Sweet Potato Day, American Circus Day, Armenian Appreciation Day, and National Fun Day. About that first holiday:

Fish Fingers and Custard Day commemorates the introduction of the Eleventh Doctor on the television series Doctor Who, as well as the memorable fish fingers and custard scene from the episode in which he arrives. The episode, which was released on April 3, 2010, is the first from Series 5 of the show, and is titled “The Eleventh Hour.” BBC declared the first Fish Fingers and Custard Day to take place on the second anniversary of the release of the episode. The following year, Birdseye even put the Doctor, who was played by Matt Smith, on their boxes. The day is marked by people eating fish fingers and custard and sharing photos and videos of them doing so.

Here’s the scene from Doctor Who; the fish fingers/custard bit begins at 1:29.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 3 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*More on the Trump indictment. The NYT has three articles on it. One is about how Trump is trying to use it to his advantage:

And so, while no one wants to be indicted, Mr. Trump in one sense finds himself exactly where he loves to be — in the center ring of the circus, with all the spotlights on him. He has spent the days since a grand jury called him a potential criminal milking the moment for all it’s worth, savoring the attention as no one else in modern American politics would.

He has blitzed out one fund-raising email after another with the kind of headlines other politicians would dread, like “BREAKING: PRESIDENT TRUMP INDICTED” and “RUMORED DETAILS OF MY ARREST” and “Yes I’ve been indicted, BUT” — the “but” being but you can still give him money. And when it turned out that they did give him money, a total of $4 million by his campaign’s count in the 24 hours following his indictment , he trumpeted that as loudly as he could too.

Rather than hide from the indignity of turning himself into authorities this week, Mr. Trump obligingly sent out a schedule as if for a campaign tour, letting everyone know he would fly on Monday from Florida to New York, then on Tuesday surrender for mug shots, fingerprinting and arraignment. In case that were not enough to draw the eye, he plans to then fly back to Florida to make a prime-time evening statement back at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by the cameras and microphones he covets.

Another is about two tactics that, over years of entangling in court, Trump has found have served him well:

Attack. Attack. Attack.

Delay. Delay. Delay.

Those two tactics have been at the center of Donald J. Trump’s favored strategy in court cases for much of his adult life, and will likely be the former president’s approach to fighting the criminal charges now leveled against him if he sticks to his well-worn legal playbook. In fact, his attacks against both the prosecutor and the judge in the case have already begun.

Over more than four decades, Mr. Trump has sued and been sued in civil court again and again. In recent years, he has faced federal criminal investigations, congressional inquiries and two impeachments. He has neither a law degree nor formal legal training, but over the course of that long history, he has become notorious in legal circles for thinking he knows better than the lawyers he hires — and then, very often, fires — and frequently is slow to pay if he does at all.

The third is about how two Senators who voted for Trump’s impeachment now are claiming he’s being politically targeted. One is a Democrat (?): Joe Manchin:

Two senators who voted to convict former President Donald J. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — one a Republican and one a Democrat — have raised concerns that Mr. Trump has been improperly targeted by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, even before they have learned the details of the indictment.

“It’s just a very, very sad day for America,” said Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the Democrat, referring to Mr. Trump’s indictment in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Especially when people are maybe believing that the rule of law or justice is not working the way it’s supposed to and it’s biased — we can’t have that,” Mr. Manchin said. “But on the other hand, no one’s above the law. But no one should be targeted by the law.”

The other’s a Republican:

Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, who cemented himself as an enemy of Mr. Trump’s with his conviction vote for Jan. 6, 2021, went even further on the same Fox News program — casting doubt over the ethics and motivations of the Manhattan prosecutor.

“It’s wrong. I’ll put it this way — no one should be the target of the law,” Mr. Cassidy said. “This seems to be more about the person than about the crime.”

The question is whether someone who wasn’t Trump, but did the same thing with hush money, would have been indicted as well. I can’t answer that question, but perhaps some legal eagles among the readers can weigh in here.

*Speaking of Trump and possible crimes, the Washington Post reports evidence that Trump might have committed even more obstruction of justice at Mar-a-Lago involving the classified documents.

The additional evidence comes as investigators have used emails and text messages from a former Trump aide to help understand key moments last year, said the people, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.

The new details highlight the degree to which special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified national security papers at Trump’s Florida home and private club has come to focus on the obstruction elements of the case — whether the former president took or directed actions to impede government efforts to collect all the sensitive records.

The emphasis on obstruction marks a key distinction so far between the Mar-a-Lago investigation and a separate Justice Department probe into how a much smaller number of classified documents ended up in an insecure office of President Biden’s, as well as his Delaware home. The Trump investigation is much further along than the Biden probe, which began in November and is being overseen by a different special counsel, Robert K. Hur. Biden’s lawyers say they have quickly handed over all classified documents found in Biden’s possession.
Here’s the new evidence:

. . . In the classified documents case, federal investigators have gathered new and significant evidence that after the subpoena was delivered, Trump looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home, apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession, the people familiar with the investigation said.

Investigators now suspect, based on witness statements, security camera footage, and other documentary evidence, that boxes including classified material were moved from a Mar-a-Lago storage area after the subpoena was served, and that Trump personally examined at least some of those boxes, these people said. While Trump’s team returned some documents with classified markings in response to the subpoena, a later FBI search found more than 100 additional classified items that had not been turned over.

Smells like obstruction to me. . .

*Thinking of buying a new car? Or a used one? Forget about it! According to the WSJ, new car prices are the highest we’ve seen in four decades, and jumped hugely during the pandemic. The average price of a new car is $48,000! And used cars also jumped in price, though their price is beginning to fall:

It has almost never been as hard to buy a new or used car in the United States as it is today, despite improving supply issues and inflation beginning to steady.

Vehicle transaction prices — the price you actually end up paying after any dealer discounts or markups — have been climbing higher and faster since 2020 than any other point in more than 35 years, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The consumer price indexes for both new and used cars — the average changes in vehicle transaction price over time — are much higher than they were four years ago in 2019.

The data:

The average transaction price of a new car has jumped nearly $12,000 in the past five years, according to data from auto website For used cars, the average transaction price is still nearly $9,000 higher than it was in February 2018.

“[Prices are] coming down a bit, but not coming down nearly as fast as one would hope,” said Ivan Drury, the director of insights at “If you look back, or if you’ve ever done a transaction before in your life, all of these numbers are bad.”

. . . Car buyers haven’t seen price hikes like these since the 1970s and 80s. What makes the 2020s unique is how much car prices rose in a short period of time. Over the used car market’s worst 12 months of the pandemic, the index rose 45%. There’s never been a 12-month period since the BLS began keeping records in 1947 when used car prices have inflated more.

I’m more than happy with my 2000 Honda Civic LX, which just got a lot of stuff fixed to guarantee that I’ll own it when I die. I think I paid about $5000 for it a long time ago, and it hasn’t yet hit 80,000. (The seller was a business school student leaving Chicago; he bought the car in California and it had virtually no rust. And I’m the little old man who dries it nearly only on weekends.

*I mentioned yesterday that World Athletics has recently banned transgender women from competing in all elite, international track and field events.  John Armstrong, a reader in Financial Mathematics, Probability and Statistics at King’s College London, was asked by members of the UK Athletes Committee to survey the views of athletes on trans competition policy, presumably to act as input for World Athletics. As The Critic reports, his proposal was rejected for using the wrong words (h/t Cora):

I submitted a proposal for ethical review at Kings College London which stated that the aim of the research was “to find the views of athletes and volunteers on the question of when males should be allowed to compete in the female category in athletics”. The ethics committee rejected the proposal, on the grounds that using the terms “male” and “female” in this sentence constituted “misgendering”.

The ethics review form asked me to summarise my project’s aims in easily understandable language. So their objection to the terms male and female was surprising.

This text was not even part of the planned survey. The ethics committee raised no objections to the proposed survey questions. Nevertheless, I was told that I must seek input from the Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team on the “wording used in the survey” and the “presentation of the research”.

It is important scientifically that survey questions are clear. It is impossible to write a clear question on trans inclusion in sports without using the words “male” and “female”. After all, the concept of “woman” is apparently so difficult that it has most of the Labour frontbench entirely baffled. By preventing me from using the word “male”, the ethics review was in effect preventing me from using the concept of sex at all.

Indeed, especially because “woman” and “man” no longer mean your sex at birth, but the sex you claim to be. It’s even worse because of this view of the King’s EDI committee:

Asking our EDI team for assistance seems unlikely to improve the quality of the research. Our EDI team is part of the university’s human resources function and has no particular research expertise. Until recently, it was teaching in a course aimed at senior managers that sex was a spectrum from male to female with “intersex” somewhere in between.

Apparently Armstrong’s survey wasn’t done, but he describes a number of cases, scientific and medical, in which researchers simply aren’t allowed to ask about biological sex. This affects what can be studied, which grants are given out, and what can be published. As Armstrong concludes, “Activist interference in what can be researched erodes the integrity of science.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are going for a constitutional:

Hili: Are we going for a long walk or are we exploring the closest surrounding?
Szaron: I’m in favor of a long walk.
In Polish:
Hili: Idziemy na dłuższą wyprawę, czy badamy najbliższe otoczenie?
Szaron: Ciągnie mnie na długi spacer.

And a photo of Baby Kulka


From Facebook:

From Stash Krod, a Michael Leunig cartoon:

From Jesus of the Day. All that’s missing is the trigger warning.

A tweet from Masih: acid attack in Isfahan, Iran. The Google translation from Farsi

In October 2013, a series of acid attacks took place in Isfahan city and a number of women were attacked. The perpetrators and Amreen  #AcidAttackIsfahan, who targeted women who did not wear the proper hijab, were never arrested. This action was carried out right after the harsh speeches and hate speech of Friday imams and Ansar Hezbollah in this city. Many believe that the Islamic Republic itself was behind this crime. #Nahsi_12th. 

From Malcolm, humans interacting with kitties. The expression of the jealous cat is a hoot. (Sound up.)

From Barry. That bird (a cassowary) is dangerous!

From Simon, who lived in Nashville. He says, “I’m still fuming over this.”

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a man who lived but nine days in the camp before perishing:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. For the first one Matthew says, “Why is it doing this?” Any guesses? (I have no idea.)


Matthew’s not so sure about the answer given to this one:

An amazing storm in NYC:

26 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. National Chocolate Mousse Day – Who is the guardian of your Nation’s Chocolate Mousse? Where is it kept? How big is it?!

  2. Yeah . . . steer clear of any animal that has in its M. O. “eviscerate”. Another deal-breaker? “Disembowel”

  3. On this day:
    1721 – Robert Walpole becomes, in effect, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, though he himself denied that title.

    1882 – American Old West: Robert Ford kills Jesse James.

    1885 – Gottlieb Daimler is granted a German patent for a light, high-speed, four-stroke engine, which he uses seven months later to create the world’s first motorcycle, the Daimler Reitwagen.

    1888 – Jack the Ripper: The first of 11 unsolved brutal murders of women committed in or near the impoverished Whitechapel district in the East End of London, occurs.

    1895 – The trial in the libel case brought by Oscar Wilde begins, eventually resulting in his imprisonment on charges of homosexuality.

    1922 – Joseph Stalin becomes the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    1936 – Bruno Richard Hauptmann is executed for the kidnapping and death of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the infant son of pilot Charles Lindbergh.

    1948 – Cold War: U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs the Marshall Plan, authorizing $5 billion in aid for 16 countries.

    1955 – The American Civil Liberties Union announces it will defend Allen Ginsberg’s book Howl against obscenity charges.

    1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech; he was assassinated the next day.

    1973 – Martin Cooper of Motorola makes the first handheld mobile phone call to Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.

    1981 – The Osborne 1, the first successful portable computer, is unveiled at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco.

    1993 – The outcome of the Grand National horse race is declared void for the first (and only) time.

    1996 – Suspected “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski is captured at his Montana cabin in the United States.

    2000 – United States v. Microsoft Corp.: Microsoft is ruled to have violated United States antitrust law by keeping “an oppressive thumb” on its competitors.

    1715 – William Watson, English physician, physicist, and botanist (d. 1787). [His early work was in botany, and he helped to introduce the work of Carolus Linnaeus into England. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1741 and vice president in 1772.]

    1778 – Pierre Bretonneau, French doctor who performed the first successful tracheotomy (d. 1862).

    1783 – Washington Irving, American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian (d. 1859).

    1791 – Anne Lister, English diarist, mountaineer, and traveller (d.1840).

    1807 – Mary Carpenter, English educational and social reformer (d. 1877).

    1904 – Iron Eyes Cody, American actor and stuntman (d. 1999).

    1922 – Doris Day, American singer and actress (d. 2019).

    1924 – Marlon Brando, American actor and director (d. 2004).

    1925 – Tony Benn, English pilot and politician, Secretary of State for Industry (d. 2014). [An ex girlfriend lived next door to his son Hilary and babysat for his children. We sometimes saw Tony playing football in the garden with his grandchildren when he came for Sunday lunch.]

    1934 – Jane Goodall, English primatologist and anthropologist.

    1949 – Richard Thompson, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1958 – Alec Baldwin, American actor, comedian, producer and television host.

    1961 – Eddie Murphy, American actor and comedian.

    1964 – Nigel Farage, English politician.

    Don’t Fear the Duck of Death:
    1897 – Johannes Brahms, German pianist and composer (b. 1833).

    1901 – Richard D’Oyly Carte, English composer and talent agent (b. 1844).

    1950 – Kurt Weill, German-American composer and pianist (b. 1900).

    1990 – Sarah Vaughan, American singer (b. 1924).

    1991 – Graham Greene, English novelist, playwright, and critic (b. 1904).

    1998 – Mary Cartwright, English mathematician and academic (b. 1900).

    1999 – Lionel Bart, English composer (b. 1930).

    2014 – Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith, American guitarist, fiddler, and composer (b. 1921).

    2022 – June Brown, English actress (b. 1927). [Dad made his first TV appearance in The Rough and Ready Lot alongside her in 1959. It was written by Alun Owen who later was screenwriter for the Beatles’ debut film A Hard Day’s Night.]

  4. I’m more than happy with my 2000 Honda Civic LX …

    You oughta be, boss; that’s like the ultimate hip-to-be-square sled.

    1. When I went to work at NASA Langley Research Center in the 1970’s, my mentor told me that I could identify the laboratory director as the guy who drove the oldest car there. The implication being, of course, that the boss was the best engineer and that the best engineer was the one who could keep his car running the longest.
      The realtor wife of one of my engineer colleagues drove a Cadillac – my colleague had the only Cadillac shop manual I have ever seen.

  5. There is a reason why almost all Republican politicians are condemning the legal actions being taken against Trump, even those that have spoken out against him previously (many of whom now consider this a mistake). It all has to do with the retention of political power and nothing to do with the merits of the case against him. To the chagrin of many Republican politicians, Trump has retained his grip on the base of the Republican Party, those people that vote in primaries. For a Republican politician to suggest that there is even a possibility that Trump may be guilty of the New York charges or any future ones by prosecutors elsewhere is to sign his political death warrant. Hence, Republican politicians will stick by Trump regardless of the consequences to democracy and the rule of law. As I have commented before, the primary system, once viewed as an extension of the democratic process, now serves as the breeding ground for demagogues and authoritarians because the people that vote in primaries are often those with the most extreme views. Politicians understand this and must shape their positions to assuage this group, which is usually a distinct minority of the overall electorate.

    1. … the primary system, once viewed as an extension of the democratic process, now serves as the breeding ground for demagogues and authoritarians because the people that vote in primaries are often those with the most extreme views.

      This process has been rapidly advanced by the shift of power from the political parties to “dark money” interests since SCOTUS’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee (2010). The Republican Party of Ike through the Bushes — the Party from the Fifties through the first decade of the 21st century, when the Party still had some legitimate control — would never have nominated the likes of a Donald Trump.

      Hell, it nominated an insurgent conservative in 1964, Barry Goldwater (and paid a heavy price for it at the polls), but by today’s standards, ol’ Barry would be run out of the GOP as a RINO (just ask such rock-ribbed conservatives as Jeff Flake or former AZ house speaker Russell Bowers or Liz Cheney among many, many others).

    2. “It all has to do with the retention of political power and nothing to do with the merits of the case against him.”

      Yes. One of the more frustrating things in my life is listening (reading) people on “my side” engage with the claims of the RP machine as if they (the RP politicians making claims) actually cared about them. As you say, they don’t. They will, and do, say whatever they calculate will increase power for them or decrease power for their opponents. Other than how it may affect that goal, the content of the claims means nothing to them. Engaging with them as if they are genuine and sincere is to miss the point.

      For example, to my mind this is the key failure of journalism over the past 20-30 years. The RP formally adopted the BLT (Big Lie Tactic) back during Bush Jr’s first run, thanks Karl Rove, and have been using it more and more brazenly since then. They lie almost all the time. And yet the press, even the “so called” liberal press, continued year after year to treat RP lies as if they warranted the normal respect due reasonable political discourse. During Trump’s reign it looked just plain ridiculous.

      Regardless of intentions the press, especially the “liberal press,” is responsible for helping to dupe what seems like most of the population into thinking that all of the political parties in the US are comparably honest participants in our nations political discourse. The ludicrous “Both sides are just as bad.” If instead they had made a habit, or maintained a habit, of pointing out the errors and lies instead of simply reporting what both sides have said, maybe we wouldn’t have had to suffer Trump, the current SC, etc.

      1. Well said and my sentiments, exactly. The GOP also knows that through bullying and gish gallop they can make the MSM kowtow to them. I don’t understand why journalists can’t realize this rhetorical trap and counter. Drives me nuts, I tell ya.

        1. Me too. Best guess, it’s all about the clicks / views. Or, shorter, it’s all about $$. Maybe not all but too much about those things, anyway.

  6. Perhaps the duck isn’t feeding the fish, rather it’s wetting the food it has in it’s bill? Maybe the fish are just slurping up spilled grain (or whatever that food is) and the duck doesn’t care.

    1. I think the duck sees open pink fish mouths and can’t help itself: they are like open duckling beaks waiting for food.

  7. As Armstrong concludes, “Activist interference in what can be researched erodes the integrity of science.”

    Indeed. On her crowd funding page Dr Laura Favaro writes:

    I’m an academic who has been researching the silencing, discrimination and harassment of female academics who raise questions about gender identity theory, including those that are ‘gender critical’ such as myself. As a consequence, I have been ostracised, subjected to false complaints, had my research stopped, my research data taken away, and I have lost my job. I’m raising funds because I am having to take the case to an Employment Tribunal.


    One result of my Times Higher Education piece was that my university, City, received complaints alleging that I had somehow been unethical during my research. These complaints were baseless: City investigated and could find no ethical wrongdoing on my part. But despite this, I have been frozen out, and further such baseless accusations have been taken at face value, leading to the suspension of my research, and the withdrawal of access to my data.

  8. I don’t think the cloud explanation is wrong so much as badly worded. The final paragraph contains this sentence

    this water is spread out for miles in the form of tiny water droplets or crystals, which are so small that the effect of gravity on them is negligible.

    which is only half the answer IMO. I think it should read “..the effect of gravity on them is negligible in comparison to the forces due to air resistance”.

    1. Doesn’t “..the effect of gravity on them is negligible in comparison to the forces due to air resistance” just mean they fall slowly, but should still fall continuosly? Obviously not true for hailstones. How about .”the effect of gravity (which is reduced by friction – terminal fallspeed on them is offset by other atmospheric forces which cause the moisture to rise or be held up (

      It is curious indication of worldviews that most people ask why the atmosphere doesn’t float off rather than why the atmosphere isn’t condensed on the earth’s surface.

      1. But argon and carbon dioxide are heavier than nitrogen; still they aren’t layered out at the bottom. Anyhow, clouds are water droplets and/or small ice particles, not water vapour.

    2. Clouds fly for the same reason airplanes fly. Air exerts pressure (duh). Air is not a vacuum. “Lift” allows heavier than air objects to fly. In an airplane thrust from the engines keeps it going forward. But pilots can land planes even if all the engines fail. Check out the Canadian one that landed on a soccer field. Or the film
      Dunkirk where the pilot’s fuel runs out and he lands on the French coast. The first lesson a person learns in a flying lesson: the instructor helps them take off and then shuts off the engine.
      Isnt physics great?

      1. Aircraft fly because the airflow over the wings generates a pressure difference between the top and bottom surface. Clouds move with the air rather than through it.

  9. And I’m the little old man who dries it nearly only on weekends.

    Presumably after you’ve washed it ?

  10. The time when Fix thought hush money payoffs were a bad thing:…

  11. If by some chance Trump makes it to the slammer, he’ll have
    plenty of time to write his memoir “My Struggle”.

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