Thursday: Hili dialogue

April 6, 2023 • 6:45 am

Top of the morning to you on this Thursday, the sixth of April, 2023, and the beginning of Passover. It’s also National Caramel Popcorn Day. I will once again use the occasion to brag about my city, for Garrett’s Popcorn Shop has the best caramel popcorn in the world, made freshly in front of you and served warm. Best to mix it 50:50 with cheese popcorn, called “The Chicago Mix,” which is splendid though sounds weird. The sweetness and saltiness meld perfectly. Voilà:

It’s also Fresh Tomato Day, National Burrito Day (again?), National Siamese Cat Day, National Twinkie Day (celebrating the day this snack was created in 1930), World Table Tennis DayInternational Day of Sport for Development and Peace, New Beer’s Eve in the U.S. (the day the Cullen-Harison Act came into force, allowing the consumption of weak beer in the U.S. and eventually leading to the repeal of Prohibition),  Tartan Day in the United States & Canada, Waltzing Matilda Day in Australia, and International Asexuality Day. 

Here: have a basket of Seal Point Siamese kittens:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 6 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The latest trouble for Orange Man is that Mike Pence, who was asked to testify before the grand jury investigating Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection—and appealed a court decision that he had to testify, decided that he won’t appeal further and will go ahead and sing like a canary. This spells Trouble for Trump with two capital “t”s because Pence may have incriminating information about Trump’s activities to foment the revolt.

The decision by Mr. Pence could clear the way for potentially consequential testimony that federal prosecutors have long sought as they explore Mr. Trump’s attempts to stay in office. It is unclear whether lawyers for Mr. Trump, who lost a parallel effort to limit Mr. Pence’s testimony, will also appeal the judge’s ruling.

In a statement, Mr. Pence’s adviser, Devin O’Malley, noted that Mr. Pence had “prevailed” on his attempts to argue that his testimony should be limited because as the president of the Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, he was protected from legal scrutiny by the executive branch — including the Justice Department — under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause. That provision is intended to protect the separation of powers.

“The court’s landmark and historic ruling affirmed for the first time in history that the speech or debate clause extends to the vice president of the United States,” Mr. O’Malley said. “Having vindicated that principle of the Constitution, Vice President Pence will not appeal the judge’s ruling and will comply with the subpoena as required by law.”

Still, Judge James E. Boasberg, who heard the “speech or debate” arguments last month at a closed-door hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, said in his ruling that Mr. Pence would still have to testify about any potentially illegal acts committed by Mr. Trump on Jan. 6 or on the days leading up to it.

L’affaire Stormy Daniels is chicken feed next to this investigation, with is Srs. Bzns.

*From reader Ken, a legal eagle, we have two items:

The Florida senate has passed a Ron DeSantis-backed six-week abortion ban. (As the linked article discusses, the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party and the Florida senate minority leader were both arrested for protesting passage of this six-week abortion ban outside the state capitol building after dark, because the First Amendment apparently ceases to exist after sunset in the Sunshine State.)

The six-week abortion ban passed by the Florida senate does contain an excepion permitting abortions to be performed up to 15 weeks for pregancies conceived due to rape or incest — as long as the pregnant woman can satisfy her burden of presenting sufficient proof that that the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

From the AP article:

A six-week ban would more closely align Florida with the abortion restrictions of other Republican-controlled states and give DeSantis a political win on an issue important with GOP primary voters ahead of his potential White House run.

The same day the Florida senate passed its six-week abortion ban, Gov. DeSantis signed a separate bill that allows Florida residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit and without any training or background check. DeSantis also took the occasion to announce he’s in favor of permitless open carry for state residents.

From the CBS article:

A White House spokesperson slammed DeSantis, who signed the bill into law just days after the school shooting in Nashville. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called it “shameful”

“This is the opposite of commonsense gun safety,” Jean-Pierre said. “The people of Florida — who have paid a steep price for state and Congressional inaction on guns from Parkland to Pulse Nightclub to Pine Hills — deserve better.”

DeSantis previously said that he’d support open permitless carry of firearms because “if it’s concealed, it makes it easier for somebody to potentially do a crime.” He added that he wouldn’t veto a permitless concealed carry bill from his legislature if it didn’t have open carry.

I presume the last paragraph means that criminals would be deterred from committing crimes because, if they wanted to hide their weapons, they’d have to get a permit.

*In a remarkable case of developmental evolutionary convergence, Nature reports that the control gene responsible for the independent evolution of gliding and flying in mammals (bats in the latter case) is the same: a remarkable re-use of the same gene to create a new feature:

A shared complex of genes is responsible for flight membranes in mammals from bats to possums.

The ability to fly or glide has evolved seven times independently in different groups of mammals. In each case, a flap of skin, called the patagium, develops between the forelimbs and hindlimbs to act as an aerofoil during flight.

Charles Feigin and his colleagues at Princeton University in New Jersey investigated how this skin flap develops in the marsupial sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) and Seba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata), mammals whose last known common ancestor lived 160 million years ago. The authors identified a network of genes that drives the skin thickening required to kick off the formation of flight membranes in the developing young of both sugar gliders and bats.

The team found that one key gene in this network — Wnt5a — also causes skin thickening in developing mouse ears and on the skin of genetically engineered mice. The results suggest that the genetic toolkit predates mammalian flight and was redeployed from other skin-formation processes.

This finding of the re-use of pre-existing genes and gene networks to create convergent, independently evolved features is one of the nicest findings of “evo devo.” Another example is the re-use of the Pax-6 gene to initiate eye formation in insects and mammals—whose ancestral eyes evolved independently.

*The Washington Post reports that bidet sales in America are rising rpidly, and gives several reasons why you should have one instead of using toilet paper. This doesn’t include the fact that effective ones can be relatively cheap.

There are three reasons for taking the plunge: the environment, savings and performance.

The main one is to reduce clear-cutting mature forests. Every year, Americans flush the equivalent of millions of trees down the toilet. Much of this toilet paper comes from trees logged in Canada’s species-rich boreal forests, the vast landscape of plants and wetlands growing below the Arctic Circle. Nearly a quarter of the world’s last intact forest landscapes are in this region, says the Natural Resources Defense Council, storing about the same amount of carbon as three decades’ worth of fossil fuel emissions.

It can also pay off in less than one year. A paper industry analysis by the research firm RISI found Americans consume about 24 rolls of TP per year on average — some estimates put it above 85 rolls. At today’s prices, the typical person would spendat least $30 annually on toilet paper. Since the cheapest bidet seats sell for about the same price, it’s an investment that can pay off in the same year. Savings for families are even larger.

And reason 3:

In my experience, bidets just work better. You can never get as clean with toilet paper, or even wet wipes, as rinsing with water. “From a hygiene perspective, it just clearly makes sense,” says Evan Goldstein, an anal surgeon in New York City. Bidets also can reduce the risk of illness, from E. coli to urinary tract infections.

When I finally thought about it, the way we use toilet paper didn’t make much sense either. We don’t shower by rubbing paper towels across our bodies. We don’t scrub our hands with dry scraps of tissue. Yet for the most demanding cleanup job in our daily lives, we employ a few thin sheets of paper.

There’s one more reason: you don’t have to argue with Diana MacPherson about which way the toilet roll should be placed: “over’ or “under”!

What are you waiting for?

*The once-prestigious journal Science published an article implying that there was no evidence that transgender women had any athletic advantage over biological women.  (h/t Luana).  They cite only one of several piece of evidene, which, by the way, doesn’t support their claim that there’s no biological advantage of trans women over biological women. Here’s a quote from the article:

For example, a 2021 review found trans women’s muscle mass remains high after transitioning, but their levels of hemoglobin—the oxygen-carrying protein in blood—were comparable to cisgender women’s. Increased levels of hemoglobin facilitate more oxygen transport to muscles when active, and men tend to have higher hemoglobin than women.

Now go to the link and read the paper, where you’ll find this:

After 12 months of hormone therapy, significant decreases in measures of strength, LBM and muscle area are observed. The effects of longer duration therapy (36 months) in eliciting further decrements in these measures are unclear due to paucity of data. Notwithstanding, values for strength, LBM and muscle area in transwomen remain above those of cisgender women, even after 36 months of hormone therapy.

After three years of hormone therapy, trans women retain athletic advantages over biological women, something we already knew from several other studies, no of which the article cites. Nor do they even mention that many organizatons, including some states (and President Biden himself) do not require surgery or hormone therapy for a biological male to compete against biological women; all he has to do is identify as a female. One would think that that’s an important issue to mention, wouldn’t you.

I hate to say this, but this is a partisan article written to support the “right” of transwomen, medically treated or not, to compete against biological women in sports. It’s a dreadful and biased piece, not nearly covering the relevant issues.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,  Hili and Szaron are being cats:

Szaron: I think we should…
Hili: I’m not convinced.
In Polish:
Szaron: Sądzę, że powinniśmy…
Hili: Nie jestem przekonana.





From Merilee:

From David:

I posted this on FB three years ago:

From Masih; the source of the chemical attacks on schoolgirls is not certain, but I’m guessing it’s the Iranian government:

From Barry, who says, “This is accurate.” It totally IS!

From Simon, clearly on TruthSocial:

From reader Jez, who notes, “Just in case you haven’t seen this one. Years ago, Marcus Clawrelius’ predecessor, Tilly, behaved similarly during a nature programme on TV, but it only happened the once:”  Marcus Clawrelius is, I believe, Jez’s cat:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Greek Jew who did not survive:

Tweets from Professor Cobb; the first summarizing Trump’s day yesterday. Sound up.

Sleeping filefish:


43 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. I for one applaud Science Magazine (the journal) in dismantling the cis-dominated hegemony of sport which has minoritized and harmed the victims of incompetent medical school graduates that disabled them from making varsity.

    [ raises vegan latté ]
    [ “sssssssip” ]

  2. The three-year-old Facebook post with the two cats reminded me of this duet by the cats name of Sammy and Frank:

  3. ^^(the Titania-style comment was satirical, btw – not serious – but definitely part of my daily critical-theoretical exercises.)…

  4. I am reading a book about punctuation (Shady Characters). In the chapter on the asterisk, it has a picture of baseball fans holding up signs with asterisks on them to protest Barry Bonds playing on steroids. It reminded me of the trans sports controversy.

    1. The most famous asterisk in history — or at least in sports’ history — is the one reactionary old Major League Baseball commissioner Ford Frick put next to Roger Maris’s name in the record book, to remind everyone that Maris’s record 61 homeruns in1961 came during a 162-game season, as opposed to the 154-game season in effect when Babe Ruth set the 60-homerun record in 1927.

      That asterisk even made it into the title of Billy Crystal’s movie about Maris’s record-setting season:

  5. We just recently finished a master bath renovation that took right about 1 year to complete. (Hold on a sec, thinking about it brought on an anxiety attack.)

    Anyway, as the electrical contractor was doing the electrical rough-in the wife and I decided a bidet toilet seat would be nice. I asked the electrician to please add one more new outlet behind the toilet for a bidet toilet seat. Turned out to not be an easy thing to do. It would have required running a new dedicated circuit, and the main is at the opposite end of the house. Worse, my electrical panel is full, no more space for a new circuit, so I would have had to upgrade that as well. It would have been thousands of dollars, so we decided against it.

    So just a warning, it might not be as easy as it might seem to add a bidet toilet seat. Depends on circumstances and building codes in your jurisdiction.

      1. True. But if you want warm water rather than cold you will need either electric or you will need both a cold and hot water supply line. Toilets are only provided with a cold water supply, at least in the US. Quite often new electric is easier to install compared to a new hot water line, just depends on your circumstances.

        And if you want anything more than a blast of water it requires electric.

        1. We have Japanese seats on ours. The issue for us is that we needed to not only install outlets, but also step down transformers to supply 100v 60hz. Luckily, I am handy that way.
          Also, once you get used to heated seats, anything else is a physical shock to the system.

          1. I just spent a couple of weeks in Japan and coming back to regular toilets again was a shock.

        2. “… if you want warm water rather than cold you will need either electric or you will need both a cold and hot water supply line.”

          Oh my, I never thought of that – that’s a deal breaker, right there – imagine the potential maintenance, the things that can not work well, or stop working. Then the repair gets ignored yet the fixture gets used, and things accumulate.

          I think the Keep It Simple directive applies here.

          There are compostable wet wipes now a days too.

  6. One more schoolgirl targeted in a “gas attack” yet no bystanders or teachers affected? A strange gas indeed.

    1. …just a thought, no bystander or teacher wants the attention of the authorities perhaps their life and livelihood depend on it. Also, the translated tweet mentions more than one student and it looks very traumatic for the mother of the one mentioned.

      1. We are talking about an alleged attack with a supposedly incapacitating poison gas here, not someone claiming to be allergic to scented shampoo. That more than one student was affected, as in almost all previous “attacks”, while everyone outside the peer group is spared, is even stronger evidence for social contagion. Wailing by mothers makes it worse.

        The Iran regime is beastly and Ms. Alinejad may sincerely believe what she is reporting. But truth and curiosity still matter.

        The good news is none of these girls seem to have been seriously injured. None has been claimed to have died and none have turned up in photos of survivors of the regime’s brutality.

        1. I get your point and is why I gave it some thought. It is difficult to tell from thousands of kilometers away and I certainly don’t have any information to say otherwise. It does seem selective and the tweet video focuses on one incident. It features the mother by what I can see rather than the daughter. Do you think these are a sort of hoax trying to manipulate sympathy for the cause, what other pupose could there be. They did’nt do there assignment. (I jest) I think I will reserve my judgement for now.

          1. Yes, we should not rush to judgment. I will say only that I believe the sufferers are completely sincere and are not knowingly participating in a hoax or otherwise dissembling.

  7. Once tried, Garrett’s Chicago Mix popcorn produces a life-long craving.

    It’s tough for those of us who don’t live in Chicago!

  8. “There’s one more reason: you don’t have to argue with Diana MacPherson about which way the toilet roll should be placed: “over’ or “under”!”

    After years of bickering between my wife and youngest daughter on the ‘over’ side and my two elder daughter’s on the ‘under’ side (and never allowing myself to be drawn on the issue) I finally decided to do the right thing; I removed the holder and re-positioned it – vertically.

    1. Addendum to above: the possessive apostrophe in “daughters’ was my autocorrect’s fault. Smart technology is not as smart as it likes to think it is.

  9. I couldn’t stop watching the “easy rider” tweet…unexpected and hilarious with a touch of schadenfreude.

    And more on abortion: Idaho is the first state to ban out-of-state abortions for minors. So if you aid or abet a minor’s abortion, you go to jail (not clear what happens to the minor). My overarching question is how and the hell do they enforce this? Stop every car leaving the state with check points at the borders, and any female under the age of 18 gets a mandatory pregnancy test or something? The Dobbs decision has really brought out the idiocy of “small government” Republicans.

      1. I didn’t see that from the clip until you pointed it out. Was that deliberate? If so, then I take back my schadenfreude. Not cool.

        1. Who knows … I look at things like this through the context of “no free will”. It changes one’s view of things, mine at least.

    1. Not quite, Mark. The law criminalizes taking a minor child out of the state to obtain an abortion without the consent of the parent or guardian. It’s the third party (which could I suppose be a non-custodial parent), who goes to jail.

      Enforcement would presumably result from:
      1) Parent discovers child is missing, calls police who issue Amber Alert, concentrating on roads that cross into Washington, Oregon, and Canada, as for any suspected child abduction.
      2) If unconcerned parent doesn’t report child missing, a routine traffic stop where minor child and person she’s with don’t seem “appropriate” could cause State Trooper to think dirty, that accompanying non-parental person at the wheel is up to no good.
      3) Parent finds out child has had an abortion, calls police. Terrified child coughs up name of her “trafficker”, more out of fear of parent than of police.

      (No state applies criminal sanctions to a pregnant woman of any age who has an illegal abortion herself.)

      1. Try not to break your arm while trying to touch your nose behind your head… For you, there is no outrage here, just a bolding of “without the consent of the parent or guardian.” OMG! The Horrors! Do you not understand real world problems, or something? Why does this bold pronouncement of yours somehow redeem this law as fair and sound? Or even sensical? You’re an apologist for absurdity, and I wonder why.

        1. You asked a question to the aether about how the law could be enforced, Mark. I answered by explaining that a child reported by its parents to be missing would prompt a police search. That’s how. If a custodial parent takes her child out of state to get an abortion, no offence is committed under the Idaho law. So nothing to enforce.

          I don’t have to have an opinion about the laws of foreign countries. You asked a question that was predicated on your incorrect understanding of the Idaho law. Nothing says I have to preface my answer with performative throat-clearing.

          When I read about the Idaho law initially reported in a headline as you seem to have seen it, my first thought was, “Wait. That can’t be true.” And with a few seconds of enquiry I found that it wasn’t. I didn’t even have time to be outraged first.

  10. It’s late (on holiday and this is the first time that I’ve been in range of WiFi since today’s Hili was posted):

    On this day:
    1320 – The Scots reaffirm their independence by signing the Declaration of Arbroath.

    1652 – At the Cape of Good Hope, Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck establishes a resupply camp that eventually becomes Cape Town.

    1712 – The New York Slave Revolt of 1712 begins near Broadway.

    1808 – John Jacob Astor incorporates the American Fur Company, that would eventually make him America’s first millionaire.

    1896 – In Athens, the opening of the first modern Olympic Games is celebrated, 1,500 years after the original games are banned by Roman emperor Theodosius I.

    1909 – Robert Peary and Matthew Henson become the first people to reach the North Pole; Peary’s claim has been disputed because of failings in his navigational ability.

    1917 – World War I: The United States declares war on Germany.

    1929 – Huey P. Long, Governor of Louisiana, is impeached by the Louisiana House of Representatives.

    1930 – At the end of the Salt March, Gandhi raises a lump of mud and salt and declares, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire”.

    1947 – The first Tony Awards are presented for theatrical achievement.

    1965 – Launch of Early Bird, the first commercial communications satellite to be placed in geosynchronous orbit.

    1992 – The Bosnian War begins.

    1994 – The Rwandan genocide begins when the aircraft carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira is shot down.

    2009 – A 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes near L’Aquila, Italy, killing 307.

    1135 – Maimonides, Jewish philosopher, Torah scholar, physician and astronomer (March 30 also proposed, d. 1204).

    1671 – Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, French poet and playwright (d. 1741).

    1810 – Philip Henry Gosse, English biologist and academic (d. 1888). [His son Edward’s memoir about their relationship inspired the opening section of Peter Carey’s 1988 Booker Prize-winning novel Oscar and Lucinda.]

    1890 – Anthony Fokker, Dutch engineer and businessman, founded Fokker Aircraft Manufacturer (d. 1939).

    1892 – Donald Wills Douglas, Sr., American businessman, founded the Douglas Aircraft Company (d. 1981).

    1926 – Ian Paisley, Northern Irish evangelical minister and politician, 2nd First Minister of Northern Ireland (d. 2014).

    1928 – James Watson, American biologist, geneticist, and zoologist, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1931 – Ram Dass, American author and educator (d. 2019).

    1961 – Rory Bremner, Scottish impressionist and comedian.

    I am a lot of things, young lady … Duck of Death, Death dealer, fate sealer … but I am no liar: [With apologies to Cambria Hebert.]

    1520 – Raphael, Italian painter and architect (b. 1483).

    1528 – Albrecht Dürer, German painter, engraver, and mathematician (b. 1471).

    1944 – Rose O’Neill, American cartoonist, illustrator, artist, and writer (b. 1874).

    1971 – Igor Stravinsky, Russian-American pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1882).

    1992 – Isaac Asimov, American science fiction writer (b. 1920).

    1996 – Greer Garson, English-American actress (b. 1904).

    1998 – Tammy Wynette, American singer-songwriter (b. 1942).

    2014 – Mickey Rooney, American soldier, actor, and dancer (b. 1920).

    2015 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (b. 1918).

    1. Thanks for doing this. It’s fun to scan through and be reminded of people I haven’t thought about for a while.

  11. The cat in the video with the door may have been trying to get its human to follow it outside. Although it does also look like it is engaging in typical infuriating cat behaviour.

  12. There’s one more reason: you don’t have to argue with Diana MacPherson about which way the toilet roll should be placed: “over’ or “under”!

    Because those who oppose me shall lose! Muhahahahaha!

    I actually bought a portable bidet which is a squeeze bottle with a spout that is angled appropriately. Why? Because if there is a disaster I don’t want to have a dirty bum and it’s easier to carry around than TP.

    1. “Diana MacPherson”

      Oh no – my wires crossed and I thought it meant Diane Morgan – Philomena Cunk’s alter ego.

  13. The Trump cyclist (who may be a mocking liberal) was deliberately knocked down by a skateboard to the delight of very many. I totally disagree with personal violence against someone whose political beliefs and actions you find abhorrent. Of course, the people who find it funny think it is okay because they are correct whereas it is criminal when the other side does it because they are wrong. And neither side sees how similar the two are. Anyone posting this view can expect to be vilified.

    1. I agree with you, JA. The cyclist was exercising his First Amendment rights, not trying to sack the Capitol. I couldn’t see from the video that the skateboard was deliberately propelled. A front-wheel diversion produces a very hard fall easily able to produce concussions and fractures of face, teeth, ribs and collarbones. Not everyone is able to get up.

      Some here think it not only funny but hilarious. Maybe they enjoy dropping rocks off overpasses, too. Or maybe they sincerely believe the skateboard got loose accidentally and found a mind of its own.

  14. I told the kids about the ducks predicting the earthquake. I can’t imagine where they get their pedantry from, but they replied that there’s a difference between “predicting” and “detecting more quickly” …

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