Monday: Hili dialogue

April 10, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Monday, April 10, 2023: the day I fly to Paris and also National Cinnamon Crescent Day: a cinnamon roll shaped like a croissant.

Here are some fun facts about cinnamon crescents and their round relatives (note, sound is dire, so turn it off):

It’s also Siblings Day, Golfer’s Day, Feast of the Third Day of the Writing of the Book of the Law (Thelema), National Farm Animals Day, National Hug your D*g Day, and, in Poland and among Poles worldwide, Dyngus Day, to wit:

In Poland, the day is most associated with water and pussy willows. Males throw water on females and gently hit them with pussy willow branches. Males many times climb on the roof of buildings and hit a tin pan to announce which girls will be soaked. They often sneak into homes and pour water on females while they are still in bed. Sometimes the girls are then taken to a nearby pond or river and thrown in. Occasionally they are even carried out on their beds and the whole beds are thrown in. Girls are able to stop themselves from getting doused by giving boys a ransom of painted eggs. According to tradition, girls are able to take revenge on Tuesday. But, there usually is no waiting, and girls pour water back on boys and whip them with pussy willow branches on the same day.

Here! (Malgorzata says the “celebration” is no long as watery as it was when she was a child.)


Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 10 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Right now Iowa allows abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the state’s Supreme Court will soon rule on the reinstatement of a law (now on hold from a district court) banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat is heard: about six weeks.  That’s bad enough, but to pour salt into the wound, the state, which used to pay for the medical expenses (and sometimes abortion) of women who were raped, is now reneging on that practice as well:

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has paused its practice of paying for emergency contraception — and in rare cases, abortions — for victims of sexual assault, a move that drew criticism from some victim advocates.

Federal regulations and state law require Iowa to pay many of the expenses for sexual assault victims who seek medical help, such as the costs of forensic exams and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Under the previous attorney general, Democrat Tom Miller, Iowa’s victim compensation fund also paid for Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, as well as other treatments to prevent pregnancy.

A spokeswoman for Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird, who defeated Miller’s bid for an 11th term in November, told the Des Moines Register that those payments are now on hold as part of a review of victim services.

“As a part of her top-down, bottom-up audit of victim assistance, Attorney General Bird is carefully evaluating whether this is an appropriate use of public funds,” Bird Press Secretary Alyssa Brouillet said in a statement. “Until that review is complete, payment of these pending claims will be delayed.”

Victim advocates were caught off guard by the pause. Ruth Richardson, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a statement that the move was “deplorable and reprehensible.”

Indeed it is, especially when you know where the money comes from:

In Iowa, money for the victim compensation fund comes from fines and penalties paid by convicted criminals. For sexual assault victims, state law requires that the fund pay “the cost of a medical examination of a victim for the purpose of gathering evidence and the cost of treatment of a victim for the purpose of preventing venereal disease,” but makes no mention of contraception or pregnancy risk.

Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, who served as director of the victim assistance division under Miller, said the longtime policy for Iowa has been to include the cost of emergency contraception in the expenses covered by the fund. She said that in rare cases, the fund paid for abortions for rape victims.

“My concern is for the victims of sexual assault, who, with no real notice, are now finding themselves either unable to access needed treatment and services, or are now being forced to pay out of their own pocket for those services, when this was done at no fault of their own,” she said.

It’s not even taxpayer money! This is just a sleazy way to force rape victims to give birth to any child that resulted.

*The NYT book section has a Q&A about the reading habits and of singer/songwriter Susannah Hoffs (another dream girl for a young Jewish boy: the granddaughter of a rabbi and with a degree in fine arts from Berkeley). And oy, she’s got good taste in books! Here’s a few Q&As:

What books are on your night stand?

“Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius,” by Nick Hornby. “Lincoln in the Bardo,” by George Saunders. “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois,” by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. “Giovanni’s Room,” by James Baldwin. “A Single Man,” by Christopher Isherwood. And always on my night stand, “The Book of Questions,” by Pablo Neruda. At the moment, I’m reading Truman Capote’s novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” He’s a gorgeous writer. And somewhere in the stack is George Eliot’s “Middlemarch,” which I keep meaning to read but never seem to get around to.

Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Sarah Waters, Zadie Smith, Sally Rooney, Helen Fielding, Amanda Gorman, Donna Tartt, Tom Perrotta, Michael Cunningham, Ian McEwan and the journalist David Corn. His piece “It’s About Sex” was fantastic. I did a dramatic reading for my octogenarian parents, which delighted them.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Charlotte Brontë. James Baldwin. Truman Capote.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

I have not read Tolstoy. I need to read “Anna Karenina.”

Oy again! That happens to be my favorite novel. But I’d still marry her, after giving her a copy of “Anna Karenina’ on our first date. (Sadly, she’s been married for a long time. . )

Here’s my favorite Bangles song, written and with lead vocals by Ms. Hoffs (another great live version, this time with only a guitar, here):

*At the Free Press I found an interview piece under Bari Weiss’s name called “The Iranian regime’s most hated woman.” And you know who that is (see first tweet below). Masih is so hated that the Iranian regime tried (in vain) to kidnap her, and she’s the nexus of all videos and protest coming out of Iran, which she sends back to her country.  The interviewer is not Weiss but Mary Katherine Ham; but here’s part of Weiss’s intro to the interview:

As she wrote last month, “I am not fearful of dying, because I know what I am living for.”

I have known Masih since 2018, when we worked on this op-ed for The New York Times. I struggle to think of anyone I’ve ever met that is as tireless as she is in her fight for justice.

Today, guest host Mary Katharine Ham talks to Masih about it all: the young woman’s death that sparked the protests; what America should do to support the young people in the streets; and whether or not this could really be the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic.

You can hear the hourlong interview here. It’s excellent, as Masih always is. And she explains why the uprest in Iran is about far more than just the right to doff your hijab. If I could chose my “most admired living woman,” it might well be here.

*The Guardian has a piece on a new book by author David Baddiel, who wrote Jews Don’t Count, whose title pretty well sums it up. His new book, The God Desire, promotes atheism, which he also espouses (I suppose he’s a secular Jew).  (h/t Anne) Unfortunately, Baddiel, like many atheists, faitheists, and accommodationists, seizes the opportunity to take a swipe at Richard Dawkins.

An excerpt or two:

The God Desire presents itself as a similarly rigorous statement of the case for atheism. Yet it is actually a much more subtle and ambivalent book, at its most intriguing when it turns to Baddiel’s reservations about prominent fellow atheists and how his Jewish background colours his atheism.

The central argument is pretty straightforward. We are afraid of oblivion and it is therefore natural to want “an exit door – somewhere through which to escape constantly oncoming Death”. This is the very human desire satisfied by God. Yet a desire, however strong and understandable, “provides no frame for reality. The God Desire should not have to lead to the Delusion [that God exists].” Indeed, the very strength of our desire “for something to exist… that no one has, in concrete terms, experienced” suggests we are dealing with a fantasy that “we collectively will into being”.

This may make The God Desire sound like yet another, rather bloodless attack on religion. But despite his unflinching commitment to atheism, Baddiel makes a point of distancing himself from “something a little macho” in the writings of Bertrand Russell and the “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens: “Some atheists divine – correctly – that what religion provides for human beings is comfort, and then, in a way that can feel a bit adolescent, they feel impelled to say, essentially, ‘Comfort? That’s for babies.’”

He’s mistaking passion for “macho”! It’s not that comfort is for babies, is that one should find solace in things that are real,. Further, a big part of New Atheism was pointing out the damage that religion does, both directly and in enabling “faith”, aka “belief without evidence.”

A bit more, with another potch on Dawkins’s tuchas:

So where does Baddiel’s Jewish identity come in? None of the new atheists, he points out, “come from an ethnic minority background with a religious component”. Dawkins’s work sometimes seems to him like “an attempt to cough out any last shards of [his Christian] upbringing from his intellectual throat”. Yet “it is almost impossible to feel this urge,” he adds, “if, like me, you’re an atheist but also a member of a minority that is associated with religion”.

More specifically, Baddiel is “moved by Jewish survival” over the centuries and knows that earlier generations of Jews “survived because of their tenacity, their closed-community systems, their ability to move geographically when they needed to. But the expression of their survival was the religion… If I am moved by Jewish survival, I am moved by Judaism. There’s no getting round it.”

Doesn’t Baddiel realize that many non-Orthodox Jews are just a hairsbreadth from being atheists. It’s the one religion that you can give up and still consider yourself a member, as I have. There is no cultural Islam, no cultural Catholicism. Jews survived drawing as much on their cultural identity as on their religion.

*Tess Winston, a third-year law student at Stanford Law School, analyzes the politics of her classmates, and how it led to the DuncanGate a few weeks ago. She finds an extreme polarization, with students in the middle remaining silent:

But as a third-year student at Stanford Law School, I see a more troubling problem: an academic environment with two loud camps, one aligning with far-right politics, one aligning with the far left. In between, where most students can be found: silence.

. . . The far-right students make up a small and unpopular camp; there are perhaps half a dozen in my third-year class of 180 students. But their words and actions — such as trying to block the graduation of a progressive student who had mocked the conservative Federalist Society and its Stanford chapter’s invitations to speakers seemingly with the aim of provoking a reaction — have an outsize effect.

The far-left students in my class are more numerous — perhaps 20. (The left-right balance is closer in the classes behind me.) They are also far more outspoken than those on the right. And they hold more social influence because, in my experience, the many law students with left-of-center politics, but not far left, fear being labeled moderate or conservative by them.

The far-left students have a dismissive shorthand for fellow students whose politics they consider not sufficiently progressive: “future prosecutors.” The message is loud and clear — prosecutors are the bad guys. But also: Be careful what you say.

. . .It’s even worse outside the classroom. Expressing nuance about certain matters — whether on Israel or policing — is essentially taboo for anyone who doesn’t want to invite social ostracizing.

I know this from helping organize a spring-break trip this year to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Far-left, pro-Palestinian students opposed the trip, urging classmates to abstain from visiting the “apartheid state” of Israel. One student, who ended up going anyway, was first subjected to an intervention-like meeting with critics of the trip. Others, intimidated, dropped out. One told me, “It’s not my fight.”

She ends her piece after describing Dean Martinez’s long letter establishing a format for teaching First-Amendment principles (and nothing that DEI administrator Tirien Steinbach had been put on leave):

Students can play a role, too. I hope more will speak their piece rather than remaining silent, taking back the room with the sort of thoughtful exchanging of views that is essential to the legal profession.

. . . But if there is one place where people should understand the value of learning to engage — and disagree — respectfully, it is law school.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is still angry (and chubby, too!):

Hili: I’m outraged again.
A: What about?
Hili: It’s just what I’m trying to figure out.
In Polish:
Hili: Jestem znowu oburzona.
Ja: Na co?
Hili: Właśnie próbuję to ustalić.

Paulina giving Szaron a snack:

And we have four photos of Kulka taken by Paulina: “Paulina hunted Kulka today” (Polish: “Paulina polowała dziś na Kulkę.”)


From Stephen:

From Paul Karasik at The New Yorker:

Two from Jesus of the Day:

From Barry:



From Masih: A hijab-enforcing woman gets a lot of pushback from women in a Tehran subway. The Google translation from the Farsi:

Watch the video of one of the hijab persecutors once more; The unique unity of women against an Amer Ba Maruf in the subway and the last sentence of the video, which says with strength and confidence to Amer Ba Marouf: “I was in your place, I would not have been so tongue-in-cheek this last time.” The formation of the alliance that you see between the women in this video was and is the main goal of the campaign #Our_Camera_is_our_Weapon to gather the harassers from all over the streets of Iran. Teaching this solidarity and multiplying courage so that women know that they are not alone and that passing women and men will also accompany them, until the day of the big protest without hijab in the streets of the city. From now on, the videos of men and women’s solidarity against abusers will be replayed to educate and multiply this unity.


I found this. Did you have any idea? This is a special “Panda” edition Oreo from China, and there are six different panda cookies.

From Malcolm: How to help bumblebees trapped against your window. Read the whole thread. Key: give then a 50% sugar solution to let them refuel, and let them go outside.

From Simon, who says: “It’s amazing to me that every govt panel I’ve ever been on has been rigorous about rooting out even the possible appearance of a conflict of interest, and then a Supreme Court justice can do whatever he likes. Unbelievable. They need enforce standards, and term limits.”

Harlan Crow, of course, is the rich guy who gave Thomas free flights, cruises, hotels, and vacations,.

From the Auschwitz Memorial: A boy gassed upon arrival. He was 12 years old:

Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, Easter Cat:

A cryptic goose:

. . and a groaner:

25 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    837 – Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to Earth at a distance equal to 0.0342 AU (5.1 million kilometres/3.2 million miles).

    1710 – The Statute of Anne, the first law regulating copyright, comes into force in Great Britain.

    1815 – The Mount Tambora volcano begins a three-month-long eruption, lasting until July 15. The eruption ultimately kills 71,000 people and affects Earth’s climate for the next two years. [1816 was known as the Year Without a Summer; summer temperatures in Europe were the coldest of any on record between the years of 1766 and 2000 and there were major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.]

    1866 – The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded in New York City by Henry Bergh.

    1912 – RMS Titanic sets sail from Southampton, England on her maiden and only voyage.

    1925 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    1944 – Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler escape from Birkenau death camp.

    1970 – Paul McCartney announces that he is leaving The Beatles for personal and professional reasons.

    1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is signed in Northern Ireland.

    2010 – Polish Air Force Tu-154M crashes near Smolensk, Russia, killing 96 people, including Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and dozens of other senior officials and dignitaries.

    2019 – Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope project announce the first ever image of a black hole, which was located in the centre of the M87 galaxy.

    1778 – William Hazlitt, English essayist and critic (d. 1830).

    1847 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American journalist, publisher, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (d. 1911).

    1929 – Max von Sydow, Swedish-French actor (d. 2020).

    1932 – Omar Sharif, Egyptian actor and screenwriter (d. 2015).

    1941 – Paul Theroux, American novelist, short story writer, and travel writer.

    1947 – Bunny Wailer, Jamaican singer-songwriter and drummer (d. 2021).

    1959 – Brian Setzer, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    Still, this whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual. Or a diagram of some kind. A flowchart would have been nice: [With apologies to Darynda Jones.]

    1813 – Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Italian mathematician and astronomer (b. 1736).

    1909 – Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic (b. 1837).

    1919 – Emiliano Zapata, Mexican general (b. 1879).

    1962 – Michael Curtiz, Hungarian-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1886). [Directed 102 films during his Hollywood career, mostly at Warners, where he directed ten actors to Oscar nominations. James Cagney and Joan Crawford won their only Academy Awards under Curtiz’s direction. He put Doris Day and John Garfield on screen for the first time, and he made stars of Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Bette Davis. He himself was nominated five times and won twice, once for Best Short Subject for Sons of Liberty and once as Best Director for Casablanca.]

    1966 – Evelyn Waugh, English soldier, novelist, journalist and critic (b. 1903). [Waugh’s first wife was also called Evelyn – friends referred to them as “He-Evelyn” and “She-Evelyn” for clarity when talking about them.]

    2000 – Peter Jones, English actor and screenwriter (b. 1920).

    2014 – Sue Townsend, English author and playwright (b. 1946).

  2. … I’d still marry her, after giving her a copy of “Anna Karenina’ on our first date. (Sadly, she’s been married for a long time. . )

    Mebbe so, boss, but based on her favorite writers — Capote, Baldwin, Isherwood, Cunningham — she seems to spend the shank of her reading time with gay dudes.

  3. In defense of collectors, I’d point out that collecting something doesn’t mean endorsing it. Clarence Page, the well-known black columnist from Chicago, collects items from Jim Crow days, such as signs that say “black entrance.”

  4. None of the new atheists, he points out, “come from an ethnic minority background with a religious component”.

    Although he didn’t discover it until fairly late in life, Hitchens was half Jewish — on his mum’s side, the half that counts.

    I think it’s a misnomer to call Russell or Hitchens or Dawkins “macho,” though there’s an aggressiveness to their writing on religion that one is more likely to encounter among males.

  5. Dyngus Day is a HUGE holiday here in Buffalo, NY. Parties everywhere, a parade in “Old Polonia” on the East Side, lots of food & drink & dancing & pussy willows. A great time!

    1. My wife (who was no longer a ‘girl’ at the time) got hit by a young man with a pussy-willow when we lived in eastern Slovakia. She’s still furious about it.

      1. I work at a supermarket where the Floral Department sells pussy willows. So that’s what they’re for. I didn’t know.

  6. “future prosecutors”

    Dunno about now, but it used to be that a few years in a prosecutor’s office — especially a US Attorney’s Office — could serve as the launching pad for a political career for graduates of top-ranked law schools.

    Also, for those who could afford to defer the big bucks for a year or two, prosecutors’ offices were places that top-ranked law students could go to get some trial experience before joining a silk-stocking law firm (since associates starting at such firms right out of law school could spend a decade or more lugging some senior partner’s briefcase to court before getting the chance to try a case on their own). During their initial interviews, these young lawyers could impress the hiring partners at fancy downtown civil law firms (“litigators” who may not have actually tried very many cases themselves) with boasts about having gone 30-0 or 35-1 (or some such) in jury trials during their time as prosecutors.

    1. Makes sense to me… I find it strange that “future prosecutor” would be a pejorative. I wonder if that’s just a part of the SLS culture, or if that attitude pervades throughout US law schools.

  7. Richard Dawkins is happy to describe himself as a cultural Christian. He is on record as saying:

    “I’m not one of those who wants to stop Christian traditions. This is historically a Christian country. I’m a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.

    “So, yes, I like singing carols along with everybody else. I’m not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history”.

    I don’t think David Baddiel has actually read much of what Dawkins has written.

    1. I think your last sentence applies to most of the people who have knocked Dawkins.
      He’s portrayed as the bad cop so others can pose as the good cop and say “I’m a nice atheist, unlike Dawkins and those New Atheist meanies.” As public, outspoken atheists, Dawkins and Hitchens are popularly portrayed as the “extreme” against which “moderate” atheists can define themselves. It’s nonsense, and the bad cop/good cop game is obnoxious, but it does seem to faciliate the spread of atheism.

  8. Baddiel’s “Jews Don’t Count” is quite good and has many examples illustrating where, well, … Jews don’t count.

    As Jerry says, many Jews are atheists. It is not a contradiction. Judaism is not just the name of a religion. Judaism is a culture and, according to some, a people or even a nation. Jews (often in the past called “Hebrews,” even in the U.S.) are the people and Judaism is the name of the associated religion. Once can be a member of the Jewish people but not practice the Jewish religion. I kinda wish that Jews the people and Jewish the religion had different names.

    Me? Atheist Jew.

  9. “Watering” the girls with a bucket of water was also an Eastern Monday tradition in Hungary, but it pretty much went out of fashion in this original form and for a while it is done only as part of organized folklore events. By the time I was a boy it was replaced by a softer method: using perfume instead of a bucker of water. The girl then gives a painted egg as “payment” for the “watering”.

    Nevertheless, this is a fertility ritual and the egg is a fertility symbol (just like the bunny). These are traditions of the original pre-Chirstian Spring celebration. Almost like Christianity is just some painting on ancient core of this holiday. English and German did not even bother to change the name.

  10. “There is no cultural Islam, no cultural Catholicism. Jews survived drawing as much on their cultural identity as on their religion.”
    But cultural identity and religion are often intertwined. Consider the relationship of the Catholic Church to Irish or Polish cultural
    identity. In an older and maybe deeper way, the Orthodox Church is connected to Slavic (except west Slavic) identity because Church Slavonic is the written language underlying the evolution of Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian cultures. Correspondingly, Hebrew survived among us Jews as a liturgical language—and then was miraculously revived as a vernacular and literary language in Eretz Yisroel.

  11. PCC (E) flees the country on Hug Your D*g Day! His pet bias and specism is so blatant. Clearly a raging cat supremacist. I believe Stanford have a class for that!

    Have a tasty trip and send us your food pix – I liked them last time “we” all went to France!

  12. Regarding rescuing bees, I have had good luck with a drop of honey on a toothpick. Just put it upwind, or somewhere near the front of the critter, and they will put their proboscis on it in seconds.

  13. The question of the “comfort” conferred by religion is a contentious one. I haven’t read Baddiel’s book, although he is a well-known celebrity, and writer, here in the UK. But from a personal perspective as someone who was brought up in a devout Roman Catholic household, religion has done me no favours at all. Dawkins is completely right to point out the absurdity of the delusions of theism, which have been one of the great curses of mankind, throughout history and almost certainly back into pre-history.
    For me, because religious viewpoints, which are contradictory and therefore must misdescribe reality, religion is the one of the fundamental dangers to humankind. Our very survival might well depend on denying religion and engaging in a profound re-evaluation of who we are, derived from a scientific, and especially an evolutionary, understanding of what it is to be the kind of species we are.
    On the other hand, until our education system is put on a more sensible footing where we don’t teach young children nonsensical “truths” about God, Adam and Eve and the Flood, there will be those who are left with minds contaminated by whatever religious garbage that has been fed to them during their formative years. What do we say to those who have an honest and profoundly felt faith, however false, that provides them with meaning in their lives, or those who have turned to faith as a, perhaps, less harmful personal obsession than illegal drugs, alcohol or gambling?
    I recently came across someone on a Facebook group who said he’d been abused as a child, he’d had an appalling life, and ended up in prison. And, as I understood what he was saying, his faith had helped him, and was the only thing that he had left to cling onto. He understood what my position was concerning God, but would it have been right to pull his “safety blanket” away from him? I decided that it would not and told him if the comfort of faith was so important to him, he should keep it. Sometimes atheists/humanists have also to be pragmatists. One of the very few differences I have with Dawkins, who also dismisses comfort as a problem, is the recognition that another deep problem with faith is that it creates dependencies in some people, which are very real even if the Gods aren’t.

  14. Not that it matters to the importance of the article, but the Bari Weiss article you linked to is not a new one, it’s from October.

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