Sunday: Hili dialogue

April 23, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s the Sabbath for goyische cats, and remember that the Sabbath (indeed, every day) was made for cats, not cats for the Sabbath. It’s Sunday, April 23, 2023, and National Picnic Day. Let’s hope the weather in your parts is good; here it’s too cold 37º F, 3º C) to picnic. Here’s Gary Larson’s Far Side take on a bird picnic:

It’s also German Beer Day, National Cherry Cheesecake Day, Lover’s Day (but which lover is being celebrated?), World Laboratory Day, World Book Day, UN English Language Day, and UN Spanish Language Day.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 23 Wikipedia page.

Wine of the Day: If you have around $20 to spend for a fantastic white, this is the one for you. It is the dry version of a famous Sauternes, itself the best sweet wine in the world. Normally made from Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that have been infected with a mold that sucks the water out, the sweet wine comes, in effect, from rotten grapes. The mold thus concentrates the sugar in the grape and adds its own flavor (not moldy). A great Sauternes, like Chateau d’Yquem or Suduiraut, is a honeyed, perfumed miracle of a wine (not cheap, but still a relative bargain, for much of the world spurns sweet wines). They are made only in years with pervasive growth of the mold, and grown in an area of France conducive to damp weather.

Here is a dry version of an excellent sweet Sauternes, Chateau Suduiraut, made with the same grapes, but grapes uninfected with mold. It’s therefore pretty dry, but still harbors the heft and aroma of a good sweet wine without the sweet taste. It was so good that I’d recommend drinking it on its own instead of pairing it with food (I had it with chicken breast, rice, and green beans, but poured myself an extra glass for after dinner.) Given the grapes, it’s a wine to drink young, though a great sweet Sauternes can age well for decades.

Reviews of this specimen from 2020 are all good; here’s one from MW Jancis Robinson:

Outer quote mark Really Sauvignon-stinky on the nose. Then rich and broad on the palate. The best and most complete and satisfying example of this wine I can remember. In fact, perhaps the best dry table wine I can remember from a Sauternes château. More delicate than many dry white Pessac-Léognans. Creamy texture and lovely perfume. Just off dry and really admirably long. This would make a great wine for the table. In fact, I could imagine drinking it with various meat dishes – pasta with ragu? (GV) Inner quote mark

I take issue with it being best as a table wine. It’s so tasty that in fact I think it’s better drunk as an aperitif, and NOT with meat (then again, I’m not a Master of Wine like Robinson).  Its price ranges between $15 and $25; I paid $18 and I’d buy several more bottles if I could.

Da Nooz:

*In Sudan, two warlords fighting for the control of the government have wrecked the country. Thousands and been killed and foreigners are fleeing like lemmings. Yesterday President Biden (and other nations) ordered their diplomatic personnel to leave the country:

The U.S. military evacuated American Embassy officials from Sudan’s capital early Sunday morning, starting an exodus of foreign diplomats amid continuing violence as rival military leaders battled for control of Africa’s third-largest country.

The White House announced the move in an overnight statement from President Biden.

“Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract U.S. government personnel from Khartoum,” Mr. Biden said in the statement, referring to the Sudanese capital.

Almost 100 people — mostly U.S. Embassy employees — were evacuated using helicopters that flew in from the nation of Djibouti, about 800 miles away, according to U.S. officials. Just over 100 special operations troops were involved.

There are still many more Americans, not diplomats, stranded there.

*A NYT “news analysis” of the Supreme Court’s decision about the abortion drug mifepristone (to let the FDA approval stand until the lower courts settle the case) suggests that, after the court was burned by overturning Roe v. Wade, it’s now moving towards staying away from its own decision on abortion and leaving those matters to the legislative process. And that means either the states (which was a disaster for abortion) or the Congress It also suggest that the vote to turn the matter back to the appellate court was 7-2, with Alito and Thomas dissenting.

It was an interim ruling, and the majority gave no reasons. But the Supreme Court’s order on Friday night maintaining the availability of a commonly used abortion pill nonetheless sent a powerful message from a chastened court.

“Legal sanity prevailed, proving that, at least for now, disrupting the national market for an F.D.A.-approved drug is a bridge too far, even for this court,” said David S. Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University.

Indeed; they can just leave it to the states to disrupt their own markets!

Cynics might be forgiven for thinking that the decision last June, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was a product of raw power. The public reaction was certainly negative, as the court’s approval ratings sank and the decision itself proved deeply unpopular and a political windfall for Democrats.

In his concurrence in Dobbs, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the majority had abandoned “principles of judicial restraint” at the cost of “a serious jolt to the legal system.” Friday’s order avoided a second jolt.

. . .Since the court took up the case on an expedited basis, on its so-called shadow docket, the justices could dissent without saying so publicly, making counting the votes an inexact science. On the available evidence, though, the vote on Friday night appeared to be 7 to 2.

It is all but certain that the court’s three liberal members — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — were in the majority. It is a very good bet that Chief Justice Roberts, who staked out a compromise position in Dobbs, was with them.

And none of the members of the court appointed by Mr. Trump — Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — noted a dissent.

. . .The case now returns to the Fifth Circuit, which will hear arguments on May 17. After it rules, the losing side will almost certainly appeal to the Supreme Court, and the justices would then have another chance to decide whether to weigh in.

It would be a mistake to read Friday’s order as a definitive prediction of where they are headed. But there are reasons to think that an ambitious court has grown cautious.

Yes, cautious about approving a mandate that would ban an abortion pill in states where abortion is already illegal. But it can still allow states to ban sales of the pill, or even criminalize mail-order shipment of the pill. I do believe the court knows it misstepped in its overturning of Roe. But I don’t trust it to do right on other abortion issues. It is, after all, a Catholic court.

. . . the [Supreme Court’s] decision was not unanimous. Alito and Thomas would have allowed the indefensible ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to stand.

In the rush to celebrate the failure of medical zealots (this time) to dredge up an antiabortion activist in robes to countermand the FDA, Alito’s dissent shouldn’t be ignored, for it perfectly encapsulates the degree to which he’s become “unmoored from reason,” as legal scholar Norman Eisen tells me.

The opinion is so lacking in judicial reason and tone that Supreme Court advocates and constitutional experts with whom I spoke were practically slack-jawed. They cite a batch of objectionable arguments and remarks in his dissent.

First, Alito’s dissent begins with an extended, bitter and unnecessary rant about the shadow docket (the use of emergency rulings that have major policy consequences without the benefit of full briefing). . .

. . . But it gets much worse. Alito has the temerity to assert that there would be no irreparable injury in denying the stay because “the Government has not dispelled legitimate doubts” — by whom? where does this standard come from? — “that it would even obey an unfavorable order in these cases, much less that it would choose to take enforcement actions to which it has strong objections.” This unprecedented attack on the government’s obedience to court rulings — based on nothing — is out of order.

. . . Moreover, Alito’s dissent demonstrates that he does not care one whit about the women affected if the drug were suddenly made unavailable. (At least he’s consistent; he also utterly ignored the interests of women in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, giving them no weight in contrast to the seemingly inviolate interest of states in commandeering women’s reproductive choices.) Their irreparable harm doesn’t register.

There’s more, too, but you can read it (if you subscribe). Alito does seem to be becoming, like Thomas, a cranky old judge who yells at clouds.

*If you’re older, like me (and the demographics of readers definitely skew upwards), have you thought about all your online accounts if, Ceiling Cat forbid, the Grim Reaper were to suddenly take you? What about your accounts, your passwords, your photos, and other stuff that you want to leave behind. I have all this stuff saved in one document, but it may not be good enough. Fortunately the WSJ has a convenient guide to dealing with your e-life after your real life is over, “Before you die, secure your digital life.” Here’s a list of the topics covered:

Designate a contact for your passwords.

Name a legacy contact for online accounts. [It tells you how do do this for Apple and Google.]

Make plans for your social media accounts. [They tell you how to do this for Facebook ant Twitter.]

Talk it through [i.e. discuss your digital assets with your family.]

Don’t leave it until you’re hit by a truck!

*Justice after 43 years? The AP reports that France has just convicted a University of Ottawa professor of terrorism in absentia. The question is whether he’ll be extradited, for he was before, only to be released and repatriated after several years in solitary confinement.

A Paris court convicted a Lebanese-Canadian professor in absentia on terrorism charges Friday and sentenced him to life in prison over a deadly Paris synagogue bombing in 1980 that was for decades one of France’s biggest unsolved crimes.

The court issued an arrest warrant for suspect Hassan Diab, who lives and teaches in Ottawa, Canada, and denies wrongdoing. He was convicted of terrorist murder for an attack that killed four and wounded 46.

For victims, the ruling means justice at last, more than four decades after a bombing described as the first antisemitic terrorist attack in France since World War II.

But for Diab and his supporters, the decision is a shock and a judicial error. His lawyers say he was in Lebanon studying for university exams at the time of the attack and is a victim of mistaken identity, a scapegoat for a justice system determined to find a culprit.

French authorities accuse Diab of planting the bomb on a motorbike outside the synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris, where 320 worshipers had gathered to mark the end of a Jewish holiday on the evening of Oct. 3, 1980. Several were children celebrating their bar mitzvahs.

Diab was previously extradited from Canada to France in 2014, where he spent over three years in jail, but the case collapsed and he went back to his family. The Globe and Mail says the conviction on appeal is a travesty, that the proceedings were not transparent, and that Diab should not be extradited to France again (this is at the discretion of the Canadian minister of justice.

*And Ceiling Cat bless the Hawaiian wildlife authorities, who have closed off an entire beach on Oahu for 5-7 weeks while a mother Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi, a highly endangered species) nurses her single pup.

Authorities have erected a “temporary fence” around the beach to protect the mother and pup, according to a Facebook post from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The fence is intended to “promote public safety and seal protection during the nursing period,” the department said. “People are encouraged to use other areas for beach and ocean recreation.”

The department added the pup will most likely stay with its mother while it is nursing for the next five to seven weeks.

They noted mother seals in particular can be “very protective of their pups” and have seriously injured swimmers in the past, making it “unsafe to swim” in the Kaimana Beach area, the department added in a news conference about the birth.

But what about the miscreants who could bother them at night? No worries!

There will be a 24/7 law enforcement presence on the beach to protect the seals, said Jason Redulla, chief of the division of conservation and resources enforcement, during the news conference.

“It’s better for you at this point to find another beach to recreate at,” Redulla noted.

Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered seal species in the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are estimated to be just around 1,570 seals left in the wild.

The species is threatened by habitat loss, entanglement in fishing gear, diseases, and occasional intentional killings from humans.

Here’s a video and a news briefing about the mom and little one. Note that they sell the act as a way to protect swimmers from being attacked by mom instead of a way to protect the seals! If you go to the Facebook post, you’ll see the fence cordoning off a full 50 meters around the seal pair as well as a lot of pictures of mom and pup.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s implicit request is bloody obvious (Szaron is in on it, too):

Hili: Here you are at last!
A: How can I help you?
Hili: Stop asking stupid questions.
In Polish:
Hili: Jesteś wreszcie!
Ja: W czym mogę pomóc?
Hili: Przestań zadawać głupie pytania.


From Seth Andrews, who doesn’t understand this sign. Neither do I. My best guess is that it’s a sign saying you’ll get a $100 fine for jaywalking, and someone put a squirrel on it:

From Malcolm, a lovely FB photo of a dragonfly covered with morning dew.  Photo credit: Photo: Lasse Andersson

From Jesus of the Day, a story in two medieval paintings:

From Masih; more women defy the Iranian regime by removing their hijabs. The sound is annoying after the first cry of the women.

This scene, retweeted by Ricky Gervais, will make you tear up unless you have a heart of stone. Please watch it!

An amazing commercial ad, retweeted by Emma Hilton:

From Gravelinspector: Mama mallard plus ducklings in a Tesco (UK supermarket chain) parking lot:

From Malcolm:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a brave man takes the place of another among a group of prisoners who, in retribution for another’s escape, were starved to death by the Nazis:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, a cute one:

Cuttlefish walking on “all fours,” tweeted by Matthew:

20 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. Today is Saint George’s Day in England, where little is done to commemorate the country’s patron saint.

    On this day:
    599 – Maya king Uneh Chan of Calakmul attacks rival city-state Palenque in southern Mexico, defeating queen Yohl Ik’nal and sacking the city.

    1500 – Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvarez Cabral reaches new coastline (Brazil).

    1635 – The first public school in the United States, Boston Latin School, is founded in Boston.

    1914 – First baseball game at Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, in Chicago.

    1927 – Cardiff City defeat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final, the only time it has been won by a team not based in England.

    1985 – Coca-Cola changes its formula and releases New Coke. The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than three months.

    2005 – The first YouTube video, titled “Me at the zoo”, was published by co-founder Jawed Karim.

    2018 – A vehicle-ramming attack kills 11 people and injures 15 in Toronto. A 25-year-old suspect, Alek Minassian, is arrested.

    1858 – Max Planck, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1947).

    1895 – Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand author and director (d. 1982).

    1899 – Minoru Shirota, Japanese physician and microbiologist, invented Yakult (d. 1982).

    1907 – Lee Miller, American model and photographer (d. 1977).

    1926 – J.P. Donleavy, American-Irish novelist and playwright (d. 2017).

    1928 – Shirley Temple, American actress, singer, dancer, and diplomat (d. 2014).

    1933 – Annie Easley, American computer scientist, mathematician, and engineer (d. 2011).

    1936 – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter (d. 1988).

    1939 – Lee Majors, American actor.

    1954 – Michael Moore, American director, producer, and activist.

    1988 – Alistair Brownlee, English triathlete.

    1990 – Dev Patel, English actor.

    Thou ominous and fearful Duck of Death:[With apologies to the Bard of Avon’s King Henry VI, Part I.]
    AD 303 – Saint George, Roman soldier and martyr.

    1016 – Æthelred the Unready, English son of Edgar the Peaceful (b. 968).

    1605 – Boris Godunov, Russian ruler (b. 1551).

    1616 – William Shakespeare, English playwright and poet (b. 1564). [His birth is usually attributed to this day, too.]

    1850 – William Wordsworth, English poet and author (b. 1770).

    1915 – Rupert Brooke, English poet (b. 1887).

    1983 – Buster Crabbe, American swimmer and actor (b. 1908).

    1986 – Jim Laker, English international cricketer and sportscaster; holder of world record for most wickets taken in a match (b. 1922).

    1986 – Otto Preminger, Ukrainian-American actor, director, and producer (b. 1906).

    1991 – Johnny Thunders, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1952).

    1992 – Satyajit Ray, Indian director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921).

    1998 – James Earl Ray, American assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. (b. 1928).

    2005 – John Mills, English actor (b. 1908).

    2007 – Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician, 1st President of Russia (b. 1931).

    1. Watch for the 5 o’clock shadow on the runner who lines up beside her in the big race, while she throws up in her mouth.

  2. That egard ad and its desperate tweeting to the Christian conservatives is pretty cringe.
    I wonder what ‘truth’ they’re referring too. Ben shaprio might be right to say biological males are biological males, kinda like a broken clock, but his truth is certainly as postmodern as the no gender ideologs.

    1. Egard ad is also appealing to (formerly) center left women who’ve had enough of males being allowed to participate in women’s sports.

  3. For some time, it has been clear that Alito is a very bitter and frustrated man. It seems that he views his mission in life to impose his religious morality on the rest of the nation. As a true ideologue, he has no concern that he is helping to rip the nation apart. He is aided and abetted by Clarence Thomas. At least for the moment, the other conservative justices seem to understand that upholding the rulings of theocratic lower court judges can only contribute to the further erosion of public confidence in the Supreme Court as an institution. But, it may be too late to stop the erosion.

    1. Nice, but the “acorn” is a screw, so I have an alternative. I think the sign means “Don’t scare squirrels into the street, walk around them”.

    2. I don’t get it either. It’s in Quebec, where the judge’s gavel is a common way of indicating fines, and they do put the $ sign after the amount. Usually signs in Canada prohibiting you from doing something have the ubiquitous red circle with the slash through the forbidden activity.

      Could it be a sign for drivers saying they must respect pedestrians in the crosswalk or face a $100 fine?

      I note with approval that the sign is made in two parts. This allows l’amende to be amended without having to make a whole new sign.

      1. P.S. Yes, it’s a Quebec sign warning drivers of a pedestrian crosswalk. They have variations for school crosswalks and disabled persons’ crosswalks. All feature the dashed line at the bottom of the sign. No 🐿s

  4. Frans de Waal wrote a book called “Mama’s Last Hug” in which he related the story of Mama, the chimpanzee in Ricky Gervais’s video (which had already gone viral). de Waal had worked with Mama and his description of her was extraordinary and well worth reading. Although chimps are ostensibly male dominant, Mama was the matriarch of her group, and no male got to become alpha without Mama’s say so. She was an amazing mediator. de Waal related stories about her bringing warring males together, drawing their hands together in a gesture of conciliation. She was an amazing chimpanzee. Stories like this strengthen the case for thinking of great apes as non-human people perhaps?

  5. Hawaiian monk seals…who have closed off an entire beach on Oahu

    While visiting Kauai last year, we saw similar fencing around parts of a very popular beach protecting both monk seals and green turtles. The turtles came in at sunset as the seals went out to feed. The fenced areas were “guarded” by volunteers who educated the curious about the animals. The tourists were persistent though and in one area with no volunteers for protection, the tourist pressed in close to the poor creatures. *sigh*

  6. Re. the chimp video; relieved to know I don’t have a heart of stone. 😭

    That morning-dew-bejeweled dragonfly is a thing of beauty…as is the bunny eating blackberries.

  7. …”who doesn’t understand this sign”

    Gentlemen, it is perfectly clear! If you walk in a southwest direction and startle a squirrel, you will be hit by a mallet and forced to pay the squirrel $100 for emotional distress. The squirrel will also accept cashews, almonds, acorns, and pecans.

  8. Re the “optical illusion”:

    I doubt I would see it as a picture of Earth from space without reading the suggestion first. It was immediately obvious it was all wrong for it. There are all those lights in the dark area, many spread out. In photos of Earth you usually wouldn’t see stars because they aren’t that bright (this comes up with moon hoaxers not understanding why stars don’t appear in brightly lit scenes on the Moon or in orbit) and those large light blobs clearly aren’t stars. Then the “Earth” (actually sky) looks wrong too compared to actual images of Earth. So the level of familiarity is a big issue with this claimed illusion. I wish I’d seen it without reading the suggestion.

  9. The advocacy piece on the Diab conviction in the Mope and Wail quoted by the AP says the Federal Minister for Justice has discretion in the case in the event France makes an extradition request.

    Strictly true but possibly confusing. The Minister cannot order anyone extradited unless our courts grant the request. He can terminate the process at any time and order the subject person freed. This is what Mr. Diab’s advocates are calling on him to do, of course, on the grounds that France has committed a miscarriage of justice.

    Because extradition is a political process between states, the politicians must always keep the larger national interest in mind. The issue is not what we think of France’s justice system but what France and other countries chasing their criminals will think of us if the Minister decides to spring him. (He hasn’t been arrested yet so far as I know.)

    For a lawyer’s view on another.politically fraught case:
    (Readers may be aware that Ms. Meng eventually cut a deal with the US DoJ who then dropped their extradition request. Ms Meng and our “two Mikes” all were freed without the politicians having to.make a public decision.)

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