Friday: Hili dialogue

April 28, 2023 • 6:45 am

Good morning on Friday, April 28, 2023; we’ll soon be into May! The lusty month of May! It’s also National Blueberry Pie Day, and once again I’ll put in a word for you to try the world’s best version of this most excellent dessert, that served at Helen’s Restaurant in Machias, Maine. It uses the delicious wild “lowbush” blueberries (much more flavorful than the big bland blue balls that we get as “blueberries” in muffins) and uses a mixture of cooked and uncooked berries heaped in a crust and covered with whipped cream. To die for! Have a look:


Further, it’s Biological Clock Day (mine is nearly at midnight), Great Poetry Reading Day, National Arbor Day, National Hairball Awareness Day, National Kiss Your Mate Day, National Superhero Day, and Workers’ Memorial Day and World Day for Safety and Health at Work (international holiday).  Here’s my personal superhero, a Jewish one:


. . . and today’s short poem for Great Poetry Reading Day:

An Irish Airman foresees his Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
from The Wild Swans at Coole. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1919. Public Domain.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 28 Wikipedia page.

Readers’ wildlife photos will start back up this weekend, but now I have to write a post about a big paper a lot of us wrote about merit in science, and an op-ed that I and a coauthor wrote in the WSJ. Stay tuned.

Da Nooz:

*The civil suit against Donald Trump for raping and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll continued, with Trump’s lawyers trying to find implausibilities in Carroll’s testimony:

In her second day of testimony, accuser E. Jean Carroll fended off questions from Donald Trump’s lawyer about why she did not scream when Trump allegedly assaulted her in an upscale department store in the mid-1990s. “You can’t beat up on me for not screaming,” she said during cross-examination. “He raped me whether I screamed or not!” Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called Carroll a liar.

. . .The latest jousting is over whether it is “odd” that Carroll, 79, did not call police immediately after she said Donald Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s.

Carroll said “it’s not an odd fact” that she didn’t report her rape to law enforcement, asserting that many women don’t report their assaults.

. . .Trump attorney Joe Tacopina’s next line of questioning is aiming to cast doubt on E. Jean Carroll’s account by underscoring there is no evidence like a police report or hospital record. Carroll testified to not calling police, seeing a doctor or going to the hospital and said her head and genitals still hurt by the time she returned home after the alleged assault.

“My vagina still hurt from his fingers,” she said.

Tacopina asked if she took the next day off from work, to which Carroll said she tried to resume life as normal.

“Right straight to work just to prove to myself that … life goes on, and that’s how I do it,” she said.

. . .Trump attorney Joe Tacopina is still trying to frame the details E. Jean Carroll describes of the alleged assault as implausible, repeatedly returning to Carroll’s testimony that she was able to eventually raise her knee to Trump’s thigh with her tights pushed down, that she didn’t scream and that she also gripped her purse throughout, while being pinned to the wall.

Tacopina sounded incredulous when he repeated back Carroll’s earlier testimony she had been wearing four-inch heels that day.

Carroll scoffed at Tacopina’s question: “I can dance forwards and backwards in four-inch heels.”

As the Germans say, und so weiter. Remember, if the jury finds the likelihood that Trump assaulted Carroll higher than 50%, it must convict. A civil suit is not a “beyond reasonable doubt” situation.

*Carolyn Bryant, whose words cost the life of Emmet Till 68 years ago, finally died. She was 88, and died in Louisiana, not in the Mississippi town where she accused Emmet Till (a 14 year old black boy visiting from Chicago) of accosting her. Bryant was white. The story is well known.

Only two people knew exactly what happened during the minute they were alone together in the general store in Money, Miss., on Aug. 24, 1955. One, Emmett Till, a Black teenager visiting from Chicago, died four days later, at 14, in a brutal murder that stands out even in America’s long history of racial injustice.

The other was Carolyn Bryant. She was the 21-year-old white proprietress of the store where, according to her testimony in the September 1955 trial of her husband and his half brother for the murder, Till made a sexually suggestive remark to her, grabbed her roughly by the waist and let loose a wolf whistle.

Now Mrs. Bryant, more recently known as Carolyn Bryant Donham, has died at 88. On Thursday, Megan LeBoeuf, the chief investigator for the Calcasieu Parish coroner’s office in Louisiana, sent a statement confirming the death, on Tuesday, in Westlake, a small city in southern Louisiana. Ms. LeBoeuf did not provide further information.

With Mrs. Bryant’s death, the truth of what happened that August day may now never be clear. More than half a century after the murder, she admitted that she had perjured herself on the witness stand to make Till’s conduct sound more threatening than it actually was — serving, in the words of the historian to whom she made the admission, as “the mouthpiece of a monstrous lie.”

“She said with respect to the physical assault on her, or anything menacing or sexual, that that part isn’t true,” the historian, Timothy B. Tyson, told “CBS This Morning” in 2017.

Till was murdered brutally, so battered that his head was barely recognizable, and, in a famous gesture, his mother, Mamie Till, ordered an open-casket funeral in Chicago so people could see what the racists had done to her son.

The strangest part is that Bryant recanted her recantation:

But in an unpublished memoir that surfaced last year, Mrs. Bryant stood by her earlier description of events, though she said she had tried to discourage her husband from harming Till.

“He came in our store and put his hands on me with no provocation,” she wrote. “Do I think he should have been killed for doing that? Absolutely, unequivocally, no!”

Yes, but she knew what telling anybody would result in, and, given that, she should have kept her mouth shut completely. She may not have told her husband, but somebody did. Do I think Till puts his hands on her? No, he was a shy boy visiting relatives. You can say that he didn’t know the ways of the South, but his mother had warned him.

Whatever happened, Bryant lied to somebody and therefore was an accessory to murder, and knew it would happen. Her husband and his half brother were tried for the murder, and others implicated, but of course nobody was ever convicted: it was the murder of a black kid by white men. The next year, both of them admitted that they murdered Till; but nothing could be done because it would be double jeopardy.

Here’s a photo of the Bryants from the NYT:

(from NYT): Carolyn Bryant with her husband, Roy Bryant, and their children during his trial in 1955. Credit…Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Shutterstock

Don’t watch this if you don’t want to see the battered Till, though it was iconic for the civil rights movement. And do see the powerful 2022 movie “Till“.

*According to multiple sources, including the BBC and the National from Scotland, as well as reader Daniel Sharp, a controversial film about transgender issues has been canceled at the University of Edinburgh by protesting students. I’ll let Daniel, who is on the spot, tell the tale:

. . . . my alma mater has disappointed me yet again. Yesterday evening, the Edinburgh chapter of Academics for Academic Freedom organised a screening on campus of a film called ‘Adult Human Female’ which is all about the gender stuff. I haven’t seen the film (it’s available online apparently) but of course it was deemed offensive, transphobic, harmful, etc. They tried to show it back in December but were shut down by activists. I wasn’t there but I did try to go to the rescheduled screening yesterday – only to find the doors barred by masked activists and a sizable protest outside.

I don’t know all the details, but the protestors had every right to sing and speechify all they liked – in fact, the organisers knew a while back that a protest was planned and were fine with it. It’s the people who barred all ways into the venue who were the problem (I suspect the protestors, though disavowing any link to the door blockers, likely knew of the door-barring plan – they were certainly happy about it).

Because the door-blockers would have had to be physically removed and university security wasn’t allowed to do that for fear of escalation, there was no way to enter the building. Thus – the screening was cancelled.

The BBC adds this:

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that again this event has not been able to go ahead.

“In line with our commitment to fostering an inclusive, supportive and safe environment for our whole community, we worked with the organisers and put measures in place to mitigate risks associated with the event.

“However, with protesters restricting access to the venue, safety concerns were raised should the event proceed. It was therefore decided that the screening should not continue.”

There are no activists as intolerant as the sex-and-gender activists. You can watch the whole movie free online at Vimeo here, but I can’t embed it.

*First Amendment Violation of the Month. Reader Gregory sent a link to, of all places, Baptist News Global, which reports, not with approval, of a bill in both chambers of the Texas (of course) legislature that will allow unqualified chaplains to act as school counselors.

A Texas proposal to allow unlicensed “chaplains” to take the place of public school counselors undermines religious liberty, according to Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and others.

The Texas Legislature is considering House Bill 3614 and Senate Bill 763, which would allow Texas schools to hire chaplains to perform the work of school counselors but without any required certification, training or experience.

. . . The exact language of the bill states: “A school district may employ a chaplain instead of a school counselor to perform the duties required of a school counselor under this title. A chaplain employed under this subsection is not required to be certified by the State Board for Educator Certification.”

Currently, Texas law requires school counselors to pass a school counselor certification exam, to hold at least a 48-hour master’s degree in counseling from an accredited institution of higher education, and to have two creditable years of teaching experience as a classroom teacher.

“Professional chaplains help individuals explore their own religious beliefs, especially in contexts such as military service, hospitals and prisons where one’s individual ability to engage in religious exercise may be limited,” [Baptist Joint Committee lawyer Jennifer] Hawks explained. “School counselors perform critical work helping students achieve academically, manage their emotions, learn interpersonal skills and plan for post-graduation options. We should not blur the differences in these important professions. Misusing the title of ‘chaplain’ to shortcut standards for public school counselors undermines religious freedom in public schools.”

There’s only one motivation for this: Christian Nationalism trying to start proselytizing in public schools. This is a violation of the First Amendment, and if it becomes Texas law, somebody better challenge it (although crikey, look at the Supreme Court!)  As Gregory quipped, “Every time Florida does something crazy, Texas says, ‘Here, hold my beer and watch this’.”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are kvetching away:

Hili: Today’s youth is horrible.
A: They were always horrible, from time immemorial
In Polish:
Hili: Dzisiejsza młodzież jest okropna.
Ja: Zawsze była okropna, od niepamiętnych czasów.


A meme from Stash Krod—a B. Kliban cartoon:

Another ducky meme from Nicole (Facilities has placed a realistic wolf statue by Botany Pond to try to scare off the ducks, but they ignore it completely):

Another bad misspelling sent in by reader David:

Two tweets from Masih, showing that the women of Iran are getting more and more fed up with hijabs and the morality police. I think that’s due in large part to Masih’s broadcasting this stuff around the world:

This woman is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any more. Sound up!

From Barry, a guy who’s gone a little too far in his wine descriptions! Clichés? Really?  And does it have to be “particularly Hungarian”?

From Malcolm, the checkout cat:

Barry finds it fascinating that all this gator seems to want is a cuddle:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, an eleven-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, some cool fireworks:

I think that both Taylor Swift and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would object:

Do they learn this or does each corvid figure it out on its own. Regardless, it’s amazing:

25 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Va yi he erev, va yi he bokar…it was evening, it was morning, (the first day): Being jewish, with days beginning at sunset, your biological clock approaching midnight is great news as you must have fully the second half of your life ahead. Wonderful news!

  2. This [allowing uncertified chaplains to serve as school counselors] is a violation of the First Amendment, and if it becomes Texas law, somebody better challenge it (although crikey, look at the Supreme Court!)

    If Texas attorney general Ken Paxton seeks a declaratory judgment on this law in federal court, anybody want to make book on the odds he’ll forum-shop the case to the lone federal district judge sitting in the Amarillo division of the Eastern District of Texas, Matthew Kacsmaryk (aka “Matty the K”), the Trump appointee who’s ruled on the abortion medication mifepristone and other controversial cases?

    Paxton has challenged federal law in 28 cases so far, and 18 of those cases wound up before either Kacsmaryk or in another single-judge division, before Trump-appointee Drew Tipton of the Victoria division of the Southern District of Texas.

    Probably all a big coincidence, huh?

    1. And then there’s this new bill that passed this week as well. (I cut and pasted the description).

      The Texas Senate passed bills Wednesday that would require a display of the 10 commandments in every classroom and allow schools to set aside time for students and employees to read the Bible or other religious texts, and to pray.

      It also stated that the 10 commandments need to be large enough so a student can read it from anywhere in the classroom.

      This has got to be another case that makes it to SCOTUS. But after Kennedy v. Bremerton I guess the SCOTUS majority doesn’t believe in the Constitution’s stated separation of church and state. And this also makes Christianity some sort of state religion with precedence over all other religions. Remarkable that the conservative justices have so little regard for some foundational aspects of the Constitution.

      1. I got an email from FFRF that they are preparing a law suit at this time if the Texas law re. the 10 commandments is passed.

    1. My favourite comment on a wine was “mendacious little paintstripper”. Can’t remember where I heard it.

  3. In the same vein as the “Used Cows” . . . .

    I stopped for lunch at a diner in rural Kentucky several years ago. In perusing the menu, I saw that one of the options was “French Dip with Odd Juice.” I initially found myself questioning what sort of juice would be considered “odd,” and why they thought it would be appropriate to serve that juice with French Dip. It then occurred to me that they were actually trying to spell “Au Jus.”

    1. On this day:
      1503 – The Battle of Cerignola is fought. It is noted as one of the first European battles in history won by small arms fire using gunpowder.

      1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty: Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 sailors are set adrift and the rebel crew returns to Tahiti briefly and then sets sail for Pitcairn Island.

      1923 – Wembley Stadium is opened, named initially as the Empire Stadium.

      1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci are shot dead by Walter Audisio, a member of the Italian resistance movement.

      1945 – The Holocaust: Nazi Germany carries out its final use of gas chambers to execute 33 Upper Austrian socialist and communist leaders in Mauthausen concentration camp.

      1947 – Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to demonstrate that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.

      1967 – Vietnam War: Boxer Muhammad Ali refuses his induction into the United States Army and is subsequently stripped of his championship and license.

      1973 – The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, recorded in Abbey Road Studios goes to number one on the US Billboard chart, beginning a record-breaking 741-week chart run.

      1986 – High levels of radiation resulting from the Chernobyl disaster are detected at a nuclear power plant in Sweden, leading Soviet authorities to publicly announce the accident.

      2004 – CBS News released evidence of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse. The photographs show rape and abuse from the American troops over Iraqi detainees.

      1765 – Sylvestre François Lacroix, French mathematician and academic (d. 1834).

      1868 – Lucy Booth, English composer (d. 1953).

      1900 – Jan Oort, Dutch astronomer and academic (d. 1992).

      1908 – Oskar Schindler, Czech-German businessman (d. 1974). [In a 1983 television documentary, Schindler is quoted as saying: “I felt that the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them; there was no choice”.]

      1912 – Odette Hallowes, French soldier and spy (d. 1995).

      1926 – Harper Lee, American novelist (d. 2016).

      1928 – Eugene Merle Shoemaker, American geologist and astronomer (d. 1997).

      1937 – Saddam Hussein, Iraqi general and politician, 5th President of Iraq (d. 2006).

      1948 – Terry Pratchett, English journalist, author, and screenwriter (d. 2015).

      1953 – Roberto Bolaño, Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist (d. 2003).

      1960 – Ian Rankin, Scottish author.

      1974 – Penélope Cruz, Spanish actress and producer.

      1978 – Lauren Laverne, English singer and television host.

      To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die:
      1813 – Mikhail Kutuzov, Russian field marshal (b. 1745).

      1865 – Samuel Cunard, Canadian-English businessman, founded Cunard Line (b. 1787).

      1992 – Francis Bacon, Irish painter (b. 1909).

      1999 – Alf Ramsey, English footballer and manager (b. 1920). [Saw the England squad to victory in the 1966 World Cup.]

      2021 – Michael Collins, American astronaut (b. 1930).

        1. It was a 4-4 tie at first.

          From the Wiki link:

          Ali stated that “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger.”


          Oh well. Some other guy went in his stead. No platoon was short one grunt just because Cassius Clay got religion.

      1. RIP Sir Terry Pratchett. He wrote some of the funniest, wittiest (and often most thought-provoking) fantasy novels I’ve read. When he was knighted, he had a sword made for him (as he thought a knight should have a sword) partly with iron from a meteorite.

        1. Yes, a wonderful and thoughtful author. Famously, his request to Neil Gaiman that anything that he had been working on at the time of his death should be destroyed by a steamroller was carried out at the Great Dorset Steam Fair by his assistant crushing his hard drive in August 2017.

  4. The University of Edinburgh’s failure to allow the screening of the film for a second time is inexcusable – they should have been well prepared having seen what happened first time around, when a transwoman student officer was subsequently charged with assault and prohibited from going within a certain distance of protests on campus.

    The Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry raised the issue in the Westminster parliament yesterday:

  5. But a group of squid already has a name: shoal. Though I do like squad better.

    And I don’t know why someone would want to scare the ducks away from that pool. It’s already incredibly dirty and looks like a proper duck pond. Let them use it for a brood of ducklings!

  6. The Emmett Till case resonates today whenever a woman makes a complaint against a man of sexual assault with a story that doesn’t quite add up. We are exhorted to “believe the victim!” —skepticism is violence—yet the prosecution still must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This means we cannot after all take her testimony as “her truth” and must let the defence try to discredit it. If it later comes out that the woman lied like a rug, we have to ask, Was the defence unfairly hobbled that it failed to undermine her truth in Court?

    Emmett Till certainly didn’t deserve to be beaten to death no matter what happened in Mrs. Bryant’s store. Her perjured testimony exaggerating the events may have induced her husband to murder and the jury to acquit. Yet feminists are very uncomfortable with the idea that a woman today would be accused of “exaggerating” an assault, or that the defence would be permitted to minimize the significance of what she says happened They criticize the famous V-J Day photo of the sailor kissing the nurse as sexual assault and don’t like people to make excuses for the sailor.

    I don’t think she was an accessory even if she lied (first to protect herself from gossip and then to protect her husband from prison.). To be an accessory you have to provide assistance, not just an excuse, to the person who commits the crime after you discover he is planning to commit it.

    Finally, suppose she had been telling the truth about Till’s behaviour, however unlikely you think that is. I strongly disagree that she would have had a moral obligation to keep silent and not share the truth with her husband, even in the South of 1955. Practically she would want to get ahead of the story in case it got back to him through gossip. More fundamentally, women should not be told to worry about the predictable consequences that will befall their assailants in their decision about what to do and whom to share with. The assailant’s well-being ought to be the last thing on her mind. Till is of course a sympathetic character because he was murdered by white men who got away with it. But Mrs. Bryant is not so easy.

  7. I’m requesting indulgence to explore more of the Bryant-Till episode. Something about the story as I first heard it long ago has always deeply troubled me. Her obituary in The Economist came out in the most recent print edition — their obits are often delayed, sometimes weeks, while the writers work on the distinctive style that the magazine is known for. It’s the first complete one I read–I subscribe to it but not to American newspapers. I also found a link to a free version of the obit in The New York Times and there is also a long write-up in Wikipedia. I haven’t seen the movie. So some second thoughts by your leave:

    First, it seems that Mrs. Bryant never told her husband anything at all about her brief encounter with Emmett Till, whatever it amounted to — not before his death, anyway. She and her sister-in-law both agreed that it was better to keep quiet, knowing the retaliation her violent husband was likely to carry out against the boy from Chicago. The Times cites research that implicates a (black) farm worker playing chequers on the porch as the informant who ratted them out to curry favour with Mr. Bryant. Not even for 30 pieces of silver. Just for a few bucks in store credit.

    Second, Mrs. Bryant seems likely to have been present in her husband’s posse’s car — The Times thinks surely under duress — when a witness heard an unidentified female voice identify Emmett as the boy in the store. But later in better light she denied the boy they kidnapped was him. No matter, though. Emmett on his own identified himself to Mr. Bryant’s posse. This would be where she could have been regarded an accessory — indeed an old warrant for her arrest was recently found in the courthouse that was never served.

    Third, the jury in the trial of Mr. Bryant and his half-brother never heard her infamous testimony about what advances the boy had supposedly made toward her, which she recanted years later. The judge, who was praised by both black and white observers for being scrupulously fair, ordered the jury out of the courtroom while he heard her testimony. He ruled it inadmissible as being irrelevant to the guilt or innocence of the two men. The newspapers and the world heard it, but the jury did not. The headline in The Times link and in the on-line edition of The Economist that Mrs. Bryant’s testimony “doomed” Emmett Till is therefore just wrong: Emmett Till was already dead. We don’t know what she told Mr. Bryant when/if he confronted her about it after he heard the story from the farm worker. For her life she would have had to convince him she hadn’t flirted with Till.

    I have always had trouble with the idea that a woman would gratuitously and maliciously tell her husband a lie that would surely get a young boy murdered whom she didn’t even know. There is evidence that she did no such thing. I have no trouble believing that she would let herself be induced to lie about it in court if it might help get him off. (As it was, the jury was only too happy to oblige without hearing what she had to say.) Carolyn Bryant has been vilified as a monstrous, vicious liar. Reading about the case caused me to doubt what I thought I knew for certain.

    Thanks for your patience.

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