Tuesday: Hili dialogue

April 18, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s Tuesday, the Cruelest Day (April 18, 2023)—especially cruel as today’s my last full day in Paris before I head home tomorrow. At least nobody can say that I didn’t eat well! The internet is once again working in my hotel, too. It’s National Animal Cracker Day; I don’t know if they have them outside the U.S., but I loved them (and their string-held box) as a child. Now the box comes with a cardboard handle, and the animals have been freed from their cages!

Photo from NPR

I’ll be back Wednesday afternoon and I expect to begin regular posting by Friday. As of Thursday you are welcome to begin sending in readers’ wildlife photos, which I always need.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 18 Wikipedia page.

It’s also Adult Autism Awareness Day, Income Tax Pay Day in the U.S., National Lineman Appreciation Day, Coma Patients’ Day in Poland, Friend’s Day  in Brazil, International Day For Monuments and Sites, and Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel (the UN’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27, the day Auschwitz Birkenau was liberated)

Da Nooz:

*According to the Washington Post, the Discord Leaks, which I guess by now are established as genuine, have just revealed a disturbing development,

Egypt paused a plan to secretly supply rockets to Russia last month following talks with senior U.S. officials and instead decided to produce artillery ammunition for Ukraine, according to five leaked U.S. intelligence documents that have not been previously reported.

The Washington Post last week reported on another document that exposed a covert scheme by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in February to provide Russia with up to 40,000 122mm Sakr-45 rockets, which can be used in Russian multiple-launch rocket launchers. Sisi instructed his subordinates to keep the project secret “to avoid problems with the West,” the document said.

But the new documents, which The Post obtained from a trove of material allegedly posted on Discord by a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, appear to show Sisi in early March backing away from plans to supply Moscow, a move that would have represented a major rebuke to Cairo’s most generous Western ally, the United States.

In an apparent diplomatic win for the Biden administration, a new leaked document stated that Egypt shelved the Moscow deal and approved selling 152mm and 155mm artillery rounds to the United States for transfer to Ukraine.

Well, Egypt is supposed to be our ally; how could it engage in duplicity like this?

One Western ambassador in Cairosaid the leaks suggest Egypt “underestimated the U.S. response to a possible arms supply to Russia” and wanted to “maximize their benefit from both sides.”

It’s diplomacy, Jake, not ethics. . .

*The NYT has an absorbing op-ed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, “The closing of ‘Phantom,’ the loss of my son, and the future of Broadway.” (“Phantom of the Opera” just closed after a 35-year run.) Curiously, most of his attention is devoted to the last topic, especially the high price of mounting a Broadway musical and the vanishing of the Broadway of yore. My friends who go to NYC and want to see a Broadway musical are invariably facing a menu of pap.

Even a medium-scale musical today can cost $18 million to present. The weekly running costs of “Phantom” prepandemic were about $850,000; the additional requirements of the pandemic era pushed it to almost $1 million, and that’s with minimum royalties going to its creators.

No wonder musicals now feature small casts and minimal sets. No wonder producers turn to jukebox musicals with song catalogs everyone knows. . .

Shows like “The Lion King,” “Hamilton” and “Phantom” are the exception, not the rule.

First, ticket costs. The average is now around $130, unaffordable for too many people. Add to that significant markups from the digital sale platforms with which theater owners enter into contractual arrangements.

. . .But there is, sadly, an all too likely scenario. Broadway, unlike London’s West End, is a worldwide brand name, inextricably linked to New York. So if you want to establish a brand, having a show on Broadway is like renting an expensive loss leader storefront on Fifth Avenue or London’s Oxford Street. OK, your brand will lose money, but it has to be there to ensure a successful worldwide rollout.

Please, no.

*This news is six days old, but I missed it, and since I’ve been following the Elizabeth Holmes Theranos case, I’ll add it anyway.

A US judge said Elizabeth Holmes could not remain free on bail while she appealed her conviction of defrauding investors.

Holmes, who was sentenced in November to 11 years and three months in prison, requested in December to remain free during her appeal. The founder of the blood-testing startup Theranos was found guilty of four fraud-related charges.

Prosecutors said in January that Holmes bought a one-way flight to Mexico, which was set to take off three weeks after she was convicted. They called it an “attempt to flee the country,” according to a filing.

In a court ruling filed Monday, US District Judge Edward Davila said the flight wasn’t an attempt to flee but “ill-advised,” nonetheless. The flight booking led to more scrutiny and speculation into Holmes’ personal affairs and motivations, he added.

. . . In a further reference to the Mexico flight, Davila wrote in the filing: “Booking international travel plans for a criminal defendant in anticipation of a complete defense victory is a bold move, and the failure to promptly cancel those plans after a guilty verdict is a perilously careless oversight.”

I still have no explanation from anyone why Holmes, during the trial, booked a ONE WAY TICKET.  That implies she wasn’t coming back, but nobody’s mentioned that.

Holmes will report to federal prison for her 11-year sentence in ten days. In the meantime, her business partner and erstwhile paramour Sunny Balwani was also denied freedom on bail while he appeals his 13-year sentence.

*Finally, you’ve heard about the riots and strikes in France over the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64, a raise vehemently opposed by the French people, who want to spend their golden years not working, but written into law by the French legislature on April 15.  So far we’ve seen plenty of cops deployed to stop the rioting, but have managed to miss the unrest itself.

Yesterday Macron affirmed the law but threw a verbal bone to his constuents.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that he heard people’s anger over raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, but insisted that it was needed to keep the pension system afloat as the population ages.

In many cities, opponents to the pension law took to the streets to bang pots and pans during Macron’s televised address to the nation, with the rallying cry: “Macron won’t listen to us? We won’t listen to him!”

In Paris, the gatherings quickly turned into spontaneous demonstrations in several neighborhoods, with some people setting fire to trash cans as police attempted to disperse the crowd. Hundreds of people also started marching in the western cities of Rennes and Nantes.

In many other places across France, the protests remained peaceful, with people chanting and dancing in front of city halls to the sound of pots and pans used as drums. Many reject the changes as unfair, arguing the government could have raised taxes on the wealthy or employers instead.

In his speech, Macron said “this changes [sic] were needed to guarantee everyone’s pension,” after he enacted the law on Saturday. “They represent an effort, that’s true.”

But then he added this, which isn’t going to cut the ice with many French:

“Gradually working more means also producing more wealth for our whole country,” he added.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, I think Andrzej has the wrong interpretation—”meat lover” is more like it!

Hili: The birds are singing beautifully.
A: A music lover.
In Polish:
Hili: Ptaki tak pięknie śpiewają.Ja: Melomanka.


From Only Duck Memes:

From Facebook:

From Barry:

A tweet from Masih below. The Google translation from the Farsi is this:

Received message and video: Hello Jesus Christ.

Our daily work is to walk without obeying the inhumane law of mandatory hijab.

Jesus Christ

We said hello to our tent friends and we don’t have any problems with each other, everyone can have their own cover in free Iran.


“Tent friends” is hilarious. But yes, you should be free to have a tent.

A tweet from Simon, who says, “Frankly, neither of these look too attractive.” That change fee has got to be a mistake!

From Amy. Elsevier is gouging scientists again, charging $3,450 just to process your article after it’s accepted for publication. Editors resigned in protest. I’ve long had a policy of not reviewing for this money-grubbing publisher:

From Steve Stewart-Williams (via reader Barry) on the new “social justice therapy”. It’s pretty much what you imagine: patients, no matter what their issues, are urged to view them through the lens of social justice. I urge you to read the article at the link. First, a quote from that article:

The governing council of the American Counseling Association, or ACA, has endorsed “multicultural and social-justice counseling competencies.” According to these competencies: “Multicultural and social-justice competent counselors assist privileged and marginalized clients in unlearning their privilege and oppression, [help] privileged and marginalized clients develop critical consciousness by understanding their situation in context of living in an oppressive society” and “initiate discussions with privileged and marginalized clients regarding how they shape and are shaped by local, state and federal laws and policies.”

The therapists need therapy!

Two tweets for Holocaust Remembrance Day by the Auschwitz Memorial

This woman was gassed upon arrival:

At 74, this man stood no chance of passing the inspection:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, currently enjoying himself in Madrid. In the first tweet, I guess both parties like it!

Duck swimming through cherry blossoms!

Well, they looked at three species of monkeys, only one lacking an opposable thumb. A larger sample of species might have been better. . .

22 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1783 – Three-Fifths Compromise: The first instance of black slaves in the United States of America being counted as three fifths of persons (for the purpose of taxation), in a resolution of the Congress of the Confederation. This was later adopted in the 1787 Constitution.

    1906 – An earthquake and fire destroy much of San Francisco, California.

    1912 – The Cunard liner RMS Carpathia brings 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic to New York City.

    1930 – The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced that “there is no news” in their evening report.

    1945 – Italian resistance movement: In Turin, despite the harsh repressive measures adopted by Nazi-fascists, a great pre-insurrectional strike begins.

    1946 – The International Court of Justice holds its inaugural meeting in The Hague, Netherlands.

    2019 – A redacted version of the Mueller report is released to the United States Congress and the public.

    1813 – James McCune Smith, African-American physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author (d. 1865).

    1857 – Clarence Darrow, American lawyer (d. 1938).

    1882 – Leopold Stokowski, English conductor (d. 1977).

    1900 – Bertha Isaacs, Bahamian teacher, tennis player, politician and women’s rights activist (d. 1997).

    1924 – Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2005).

    1940 – Joseph L. Goldstein, American biochemist and geneticist, Nobel Prize laureate.

    1946 – Hayley Mills, English actress.

    1953 – Rick Moranis, Canadian-American actor, comedian, singer and screenwriter.

    1971 – David Tennant, Scottish actor.

    Right, hello! Um, my name’s Gregg, the Duck of Death – and don’t laugh!:

    1802 – Erasmus Darwin, English physician and botanist (b. 1731).

    1945 – John Ambrose Fleming, English physicist and engineer, invented the vacuum tube (b. 1849).

    1955 – Albert Einstein, German-American physicist, engineer, and academic (b. 1879).

    2002 – Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian ethnographer and explorer (b. 1914).

    2019 – Lyra McKee, Irish journalist (b. 1990).

    2022 – Harrison Birtwistle, British composer (b. 1934).

  2. Three- fifths Compromise: Looking back, I find it remarkable that the counting of a human being as 3/5 of a person, and slavery itself was never questioned when we learned about the 3/5 Compromise in high school social studies in Virginia (U.S.) in the early 1960’s. It was just an administrative matter of fact agreement between larger and smaller states and agrarian and non-agrarian states. Were these deeper issues discussed anywhere in the 50’s and 60’s?

    1. During most of American history, even to a large extent today, any discussion of the Constitutional Convention was supposed to reflect the “genius” of the Founding Fathers in their ability to create a nation out of a disparate conglomeration of essentially independent states. Since the Founders were demigods, any criticism of them bordered on treason and was vaguely anti-religious. In other words, schools were not supposed to challenge the nation’s origin myth. Today, maintenance of the origin myth is a critical goal of the right-wing in the culture wars. For them, this is what must be taught in elementary and high schools, although the myth has been debunked by scholars for many decades. For political ends, Ron DeSantis in Florida is pushing fairy tale history. He thinks this is what his constituency wants to hear.

      1. Thanks historian. Enlightening as always! (Ad DeSantis could well be about what his constituents want)

    2. The reference in the text of the Constitution is to free and fixed-term indentured persons, Indians not taxed, and “other Persons.” Race is nowhere mentioned and the point was not sanctimonious hand-wringing over slavery per se, African or otherwise.
      The Southern states wanted their slaves to count as full persons for the purpose of sending representatives to Congress (even though the slaves couldn’t vote.). But the South wanted them to count not at all in the assessment of the population-based taxes they would have to remit to the national Treasury. The North said No to this arbitrage and both sides agreed on 3/5 for both purposes. It has nothing to do with the worth of a human being. It was just a clever compromise to keep the South from pulling a fast one. Like all compromises it was likely deeply offensive to entrenched advocates on both sides. The abolitionists in the North might well have hoped the new Republic would provide a mechanism to abolish slavery everywhere but the South was having none of it. If the Northern politicians threw their abolitionists under the bus to get a deal, fine. That’s politics. Remember there was talk of creating not just a single nation out of the Revolution but two (or more) separate blocs. The whole “more perfect union” thing was a grubby Realpolitik compromise, not just the 3/5 rep-tax business.

      Indeed, the 3/5 deal the North agreed to worked out better for the South because it gave slave States more seats in the House or Representatives than they would have had if only their free persons counted (as the North wanted) . In the long run this was an advantage that more than compensated for remitting more tax.

      I’m not sure what of this has been debunked by modern historians, or what of it should annoy right-wingers. Your Founding Fathers dealt in whatever horse-trading was necessary to get the job done. The objection I have to Historian’s analysis is that he doesn’t say what he thinks was the motivation for the North’s endorsement of the 3/5 Compromise, only that he doesn’t think it arose from demi-god virtue, a stance I heartily share with him.

      1. If I may tack on to your apt comment, Leslie:

        US Constitution, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

        I make no claims to expertise in this matter, but I am curious where the formulation that some human beings were counted as being worth only “3/5ths of a person” originated. Yes, I realize that counting only three fifths of a given population can be spun as counting each person in that population as only three fifths a man or woman (a lesser human), but seriously, do any of us really wish that the South had gotten its way, with the entire slave population counted for representation purposes, thus boosting the number of slavery advocates in Congress, while not, in fact, representing those slaves at all?

        One does not need to elevate people into demigods to realize that in politics—and life—there are sometimes only bad answers to worse problems. To further betray my less refined roots: sometimes life serves you a shit sandwich and you have no alternative other than to bite. What is the greater folly: to praise those who faced such unappetizing choices, or to sneer at them from our positions of comfort for having shit on their mouths?

        I am now open to hearing all the wonderful ways in which our generation would have righted all the wrongs of the past and avoided all the dirtiness of life.

    1. At least this pareidolia works for me. I’ve been on sites where a person presents images of Mars rocks taken by a Mars rover and claims they are actually various animals, or another person presents images of lunar geological features they claim are alien cities, or pictures of tree bark they claim show a religious figure, then get upset and insist I’m lying when I say I just see an uninteresting rock, or geological feature or tree bark. And they get especially angry when I call it pareidolia and explain the concept. At least I really can perceive that as a lion wearing glasses!

  3. That number in the flight price looks very familiar: it’s very close to 2^31= 2,147,483,648 . So I would bet good money that some programmer used a variable that was only meant for positive integers, and then performed a subtraction that resulted in a negative number. Voilà, there’s your astronomic result.
    The airline is lucky that the number came out with the correct sign – worst case, someone could have bought a ticket and got a $2.14 billion cashback.

    1. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, using ibm and cdc mainframes for physics and engineering applications, we used to preset the entire core image to negative infinity (i think either a 32 or 60 bit representation) which would be a flag to the system if not reset to a legitimate value when the program ran, that something was not right in the program and crash it.
      Don’t know if this helps or not. I have not followed programming practices (now called coding i think) in around thirty years or more.

  4. I still have no explanation from anyone why Holmes, during the trial, booked a ONE WAY TICKET.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if you missed my answer, but last time you asked this question, I did come up with a good explanation that fits all the facts:

    She was going to do a runner.

    That implies she wasn’t coming back, but nobody’s mentioned that.

    I mentioned it. The prosecution mentioned it. Only the judge appears to deny that it was an attempt to flee but he denied bail anyway.

    That change fee has got to be a mistake!

    The bottom one is a software bug. 2,147,483,647 is the largest positive number that can be expressed as 32 bit signed integer*. -2,147,483,648 is the largest magnitude negative number that can be expressed as 32 bit signed integer*. When you see either of these numbers instead of a reasonable calculation result, it is a good indication the the programmer screed up.

    * using 2’s complement arithmetic.

      1. I suppose it might be defamation if a news outlet opined publicly that a one-way ticket indicated intent to flee, without the ticket-holder having admitted to such. Sometimes just publishing a fact without editorial speculation as to intent is all that needs to be said.

        I notice in my random click-bait feed now that most headlines begin, “Internet erupts over Celebrity X’s support for JK Rowling.” or “DeSantis reamed a new one over anti-LGBTQ2S+ law”. The story is the (fake) outrage, not the event itself. So just a simple fact—Holmes bought a one-way ticket— is refreshing.

  5. My maternal grandmother brought each grandchild a box of animal crackers every time she visited—which was every Wednesday. I loved the box (with its attached fabric string), the animals, and the cookies. I used to census the animals in each box and eat them one body part at a time.

    1. I can’t remember if I remember Animal Crackers or if they were another of those cool things you could get only in the States. If they had been available I would definitely have eaten them body part by body part, so perhaps not. We did have arrowroot cookies in generic ovals, though.

      I’m not sure that the animals have been freed from their cages. I think the viewer’s eye is just inside the cages looking out.

    2. My mother used to buy my brother and me boxes of Barnums’ Animal crackers at the store in order to keep us quiet and good. But I remember having to choose between those and the cowboys and Indians. I just did a quick search and see they were made by Nabisco.

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