Sunday: Hili dialogue

April 16, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Sunday, April 16, 2023. I am writing this at about 1 a.m. Chicago time, but it won’t be posted until the usual time. First, a note: my hotel Internet was down all night and was just fixed—supposedly. If posts stop coming, don’t worry, I am not dead yet; it is the Internet. And since it’s Sunday, perhaps you can participate in National Eggs Benedict Day, but remember that Anthony Bourdain warned us never to odor this dish in a restaurant—or eat brunch out in general. There is a caveat given in the video below: order eggs with hollandaise sauce early in the day.

Da Nooz

I am far away from America, and so get the news only online. Here are a few items of interest.

*The NYT has a video op-ed (8 minutes) featuring a 27 year old woman who found she was eight weeks pregnant—and in Texas, that most draconian of anti-choice states. Have a look at “This is what a post-Roe abortion looks like.” She managed to get the pills by getting a doctor in another state to prescribe them, having them sent to a mailbox in a “legal” state, and then forwarded to Texas. She got them just in time, as the pills are safe up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. The regimen was not innocuous, she said, after taking the second set of pills, “medication abortion is extremely painful.”

What the woman did may well have been illegal, so she didn’t reveal what she did until today, and of course her face is blocked out and her name is not revealed.  Welcome to much of America—and, if the Supreme Court backs the Texas appellate course decision—all of America.

*I was unaware that, since yesterday, serious fighting has broken out in the beleaguered country of Sudan, where rival military factions are battling it out for control of the government:

Fighting raged across the capital of Sudan for a second day on Sunday, as months of rising tensions between factions of the armed forces suddenly spiraled into an all-out battle that threatened to scuttle the last remaining hopes of a transition to civilian rule.

By Sunday morning, it was unclear who was in control of Sudan, with both the Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group each denying that the other group had claimed control of key installations. Residents of the capital hid in their homes through a night of fighting that appeared to intensify as the sun rose on Sunday. At least 56 people were dead and almost 600 injured, mostly in Khartoum.

The chaos was an alarming turn for a nation that only four years ago was an inspiration in Africa and the Arab world. Jubilant protesters, symbolized in part by a young woman in a white robetoppled their widely detested ruler of three decades, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, ushering in hopes for democracy and an end to the country’s grinding isolation.

The revolution faltered 18 months ago when Sudan’s two most powerful generals, who are now fighting each other, united to seize power in a coup. But pro-democracy protesters refused to back down, continuing to lose their lives in demonstrations.

*The Leaker, aka Jack Teixeira, a low-level member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was charged yesterday on only two counts, and neither of them carries whopping prison time:

Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guard member suspected of leaking a trove of classified military intelligence, was charged by the federal government Friday with retention and transmission of national defense information and willful retention of classified documents.

The two criminal charges, relayed during an appearance in federal court here Friday morning, carry a maximum of 15 years in prison. Teixeira, 21, did not enter a plea and is detained pending a hearing Wednesday. The government is seeking continued detention.

Teixeira was arrested Thursday afternoon at a family residence in Dighton, Mass., after a fast-moving investigation related to leaks of military intelligence that started with a small online group and eventually led to hundreds of government secrets spilling out to the wider world.

As a result, dozens of highly classified documents have been leaked, revealing sensitive information intended for senior military and intelligence leaders on subjects including U.S. spying on allies and exposing the grim prospects for Ukraine’s war with Russia.

*The grim prospects for the war? The link above notes documents suggesting that the war will grind on into next year with neither Russia nor Ukraine making significant advances—and no peace talks. (Peace talks can only mean that Russia gets to keep part of Ukraine.)

That conclusion comes from one of the documents leaked by Teixeira, although these documents have not been verified by the U.S. government as authentic. But it’s likely they are, and thus this is depressing:

The analysis concludes that, even if Ukraine recaptures “significant” amounts of territory and inflicts “unsustainable losses on Russian forces,” an outcome U.S. intelligence finds unlikely, the nation’s gains would not lead to peace talks.

“Negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely during 2023 in all considered scenarios,” says the document, which has not been disclosed previously.

The assessment, based on close U.S. scrutiny of each side’s troop counts, weaponry and equipment, could galvanize the war’s critics who have called on major powers such as the United States and China to push for Kyiv and Moscow to reach a settlement and end a conflict that has displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands dead or wounded.

Asked about the DIA’s assessment, a U.S. official said the decision on when to negotiate is up to President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian people, underscoring what has been a hands-off approach to mediation espoused by the administration since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. The United States will continue to stand with Kyiv and provide it with the equipment and weapons that will bolster its position at the negotiating table, whenever that day comes, the official said.

But “bolstering its position at the negotiating table” is a long way from Ukrainian victory. Zelensky wants unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine (he probably wants Crimea back, too), and Putin will never put up with this. I would not be surprised if the U.S. is already leaning on Zelensky to give up part of eastern Ukraine to end this conflict, while officially saying that we’re applying no pressure.

*Finally, the viral Elon Musk is about to launch his gigantic Starship, designed to carry people to both the Moon and Mars. Its first launch, a test flight that may take place this week, will be unmanned. Liftoff will be from Texas:

It’s the biggest and mightiest rocket ever built, with the lofty goals of ferrying people to the moon and Mars.

Jutting almost 400 feet (120 meters) into the South Texas sky, Starship could blast off as early as Monday, with no one aboard. Musk’s company got the OK from the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday.

It will be the first launch with Starship’s two sections together. Early versions of the sci-fi-looking upper stage rocketed several miles into the stratosphere a few years back, crashing four times before finally landing upright in 2021. The towering first-stage rocket booster, dubbed Super Heavy, will soar for the first time.

For this demo, SpaceX won’t attempt any landings of the rocket or the spacecraft. Everything will fall into the sea.

“I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement. It won’t be boring,” Musk promised at a Morgan Stanley conference last month. “I think it’s got, I don’t know, hopefully about a 50% chance of reaching orbit.”

The damn thing has THIRTY THREE MAIN ENGINES and can carry up to 100 people all the way to Mars. Its first flight will last 90 minutes, and the rocket will be re-usable  Here’s a photo (and caption) from the AP:

This undated photo provided by SpaceX shows the company’s Starship rocket at the launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. (SpaceX via AP)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili shows that she is a (secular) Jewish cat:

Hili: I suspect that nothing is OK.
A: I suspect that you exaggerate.
In Polish:
Hili: Podejrzewam, że nic nie jest dobrze.Ja: Podejrzewam, że możesz przesadzać


From reader Thomas:

From Anna:

From Jesus of the Day:

Two tweets from Masih: More brave Iranian women. Would you remove your hijab knowing that you might be arrested by the dreaded morality police and jailed? Or worse?

From Simon, another academic meme from Oded Rehavi. No gratitude!

From Pyers. How could this have happened?

From Barry. I too was much relieved after reading this explanation from Marjorie Taylor Greene:

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. Sound up on the first one!

Trombidium is a genus of mite:

Sound up to hear the purr. A cat is a cat:

23 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. The damn thing has THIRTY THREE MAIN ENGINES and can carry up to 100 people all the way to Mars.

    The first stage has 33 engines. The second stage (which is the only bit that gets into space) has another six.

    It’s not big enough to carry 100 people to Mars – that was just Elon talk.

    1. Time required to get to Mars: 7-8mos. Even 100 people in a small box sitting on Earth for that length = lunacy. Ain’t gonna happen.

    2. Maybe not 100 people, but 10 is another matter. Also, that figure was assuming transport flights after a Mars colony was established, not for early exploration missions. And by the way, they’re already discussing larger, longer Starships (the upper stage, as opposed to the Super Heavy booster).

      What is much more important though is how it works for Earth to orbit flights. It is to be the first fully reusable orbital rocket and if it works well, would lead to extraordinary reductions in launch costs, allowing the types of space development we used to dream about. I doubt there would ever be many Starships going to other planets, rather I would expect specialized interplanetary spacecraft to be built in orbit, when it is much less expensive to do so.

      1. I admire your optimism. I do not think the cost reductions will be as wonderful as you say, at least not for the typical satellite launch. It’ll be great for Starlink where you need to launch a lot of satellites into the same orbit, but for more conventional applications, I am sceptical that you could find enough customers who want to put their satellites into similar orbits to make it cheaper than putting them all on Falcon 9s.

  2. You know, where you’re making the sauce for the Eggs Benedict, you want to whip it thoroughly.

    Because there’s no taste like foam for the hollandaise.

  3. On this day:
    73 – Masada, a Jewish fortress, falls to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the First Jewish–Roman War.

    1746 – The Battle of Culloden is fought between the French-supported Jacobites and the British Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, in Scotland. After the battle many highland traditions were banned and the Highlands of Scotland were cleared of inhabitants.

    1853 – The Great Indian Peninsula Railway opens the first passenger rail in India, from Bori Bunder to Thane.

    1912 – Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel.

    1917 – Russian Revolution: Vladimir Lenin returns to Petrograd, Russia, from exile in Switzerland.

    1943 – Albert Hofmann accidentally discovers the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD. He intentionally takes the drug three days later on April 19.

    1947 – Bernard Baruch first applies the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

    1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pens his Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.

    1821 – Ford Madox Brown, French-English soldier and painter (d. 1893).

    1867 – Wilbur Wright, American inventor (d. 1912).

    1889 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and composer (d. 1977).

    1895 – Ove Arup, English-Danish engineer and businessman, founded Arup (d. 1988).

    1911 – Guy Burgess, English-Russian spy (d. 1963).

    1918 – Spike Milligan, Irish actor, comedian, and writer (d. 2002).

    1919 – Merce Cunningham, American dancer and choreographer (d. 2009.

    1921 – Peter Ustinov, English actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2004).

    1922 – Kingsley Amis, English novelist, poet, and critic (d. 1995).

    1924 – Henry Mancini, American composer and conductor (d. 1994).

    1933 – Joan Bakewell, English journalist and author.

    1947 – Gerry Rafferty, Scottish singer-songwriter (d. 2011).

    1954 – Ellen Barkin, American actress.

    To me, in political terms, [Mitch] McConnell is actually far worse than the Duck of Death: [With apologies to Dean Obeidallah.]

    1689 – Aphra Behn, English author and playwright (b. 1640).

    1756 – Jacques Cassini, French astronomer (b. 1677).

    1788 – Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, French mathematician, cosmologist, and author (b. 1707).

    1828 – Francisco Goya, Spanish-French painter and illustrator (b. 1746).

    1850 – Marie Tussaud, French-English sculptor, founded the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (b. 1761).

    1958 – Rosalind Franklin, English biophysicist and academic (b. 1920).

    1991 – David Lean, English director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1908).

    2021 – Helen McCrory, British actress (b. 1968).

    1. 1918 – Spike Milligan, Irish actor, comedian, and writer (d. 2002).

      All together now, “Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite “

      1756 – Jacques Cassini, French astronomer (b. 1677)

      Also scion of a family of surveyors, who collectively “cost Louis the Whatever more territory than any of his wars”, because their survey (controlled and constrained, in part, by astronomical observations) was more accurate (and less flattering) than previous estimates.
      Cassini’s astronomical work has lead to at least one big division.

  4. I don’t remember a lot of fanfare this February 1st for World Hiijab Day, whose “ stated purpose is to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab for a day and to educate and spread awareness on why hijab is worn… (the) goal was also to normalize hijab wearing.” You see, Muslim women choose to wear it! Yay.

    Although promoted by some liberal and feminist groups as empowering and inclusive — and a jab at right-wing “Islamaphobes” — I’ve always thought it sexist and regressive. The hiijab symbolizes a Modesty Culture where women who fail to conform are considered sluts. Displaying naked hair apparently drives men into uncontrollable lust so it’s on women to exercise control. And on men and government to control the women so they do so.

    What’s happening in Iran is absolutely consistent with the idea that women are commodities whose “virtue” needs careful protection. It’s also a vivid example of why trying to use a hiijab as a symbol of Women’s Right to Choose is absolute nonsense.

    I suspect the usual hoopla over World Hiijab Day was, under the circumstances, subdued.

  5. I think it is well into the time to wonder what is the endgame for the protesters in Iran. They suffer terribly, while the regime seems willing to continue in the causing of this suffering. With what the protesters are doing, the result they dream about will never happen.

    1. Good observation, Mark. Do you think Masih and her sisterhood in Iran have overestimated their ability to effect regime change in their country?

    2. the result they dream about will never happen.

      Assuming that all the protestors have an identical – or even largely overlapping – set of aims.
      You’ve never tried running a protest group, have you? It’s a rare, or dictatorially managed, group of n members that has less than ~1.5n aims and even rarer that there are less than disputes within the group.
      They’ll probably get somewhere, eventually. But as you say, the regime seem fairly unconcerned over using lethal force. What the body count between here and there will be, I’m not willing to guess. Iran tolerated losses in the order of 100,000/year for the 7 years of the Iran-Iraq war, so that is a marker for what the regime have done in the past.

      1. It does seem the Muslims don’t mind the termination of earthly life so much as they are sending their Muslim women to their eternal reward. Iran must be a frightening place at the moment. GROG

  6. “I too was much relieved after reading this explanation from Marjorie Taylor Greene:”

    Actually she has a surprisingly correct idea about the solar system. With her track record I totally expected her to be a flat-earther or thinking that the Sun is a giant reflektor mounted on the ceiling.

    I am not sure she understands her own argument though. It sounds like she just repeat something she heard.

    1. Yes: What does her explanation, no matter how correct, have to do with the price of bananas in this case?

    2. I think she might be referring to Milankovitch orbital cycles which over time scales on the order of 100,000 years are thought to affect climate through changes in solar insolation. They are one of the mechanisms for climate change adduced by those who don’t accept the warming effects of carbon dioxide added to the earth’s atmosphere over over shorter time scales.

      A simpler version of this argument is, “It’s the sun!” The failure of all these insolation arguments is that if they were true, the earth’s upper atmosphere would warm as the earth’s surface did. What has actually happened is that the upper atmosphere has got colder as the surface has warmed.

  7. For us audiophiles, there’s also the last day of Axpona, an audiophile mecca show in Chicago happening today. I’m getting jealous of all the audiophiles posting pictures of exotic audio equipment presentations by day, indulging in deep dish pizza by night!

    If only I were still traveling I’d go in a heartbeat!

  8. The MTG comment on climate change suggests a way to reduce the drag on our governmental system. Create a requirement for office such that each candidate for congress must pass a small battery of 5th grade tests in various subjects. Yes, this would require a constitutional amendment, but, it’s worth a try.

    1. Can we at least get a thorough background check on would-be Congress members? That would at least weed out lying weasels like Santos.

Leave a Reply