Sunday: Hili dialogue

April 30, 2023 • 6:45 am

We have reached the tail end of April; it’s Sunday, April 30, 2023, and National Raisin Day. Let us thank Ceiling Cat for the gift of the grape, for without it we wouldn’t only lack raisins, but wine.

It’s also the same days I touted yesterday, because I put up yesterday’s Days assuming it was April 30. So it’s It’s also Adopt A Shelter Pet DayBugs Bunny Day (“On April 30, 1938, a cartoon character known as “Happy Rabbit” made his debut in a short Warner Bros. cartoon titled “Porky’s Hare Hunt”), Eeyore’s Birthday (celebrating the natal day of my animal alter ego), International Jazz DayNational Go Birding DayNational Oatmeal Cookie DayNational Raisin DaySave the Frogs DayWorld Veterinary Day. What I didn’t note yesterday is that April 30 is also the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare (United Nations), International Dance Day (UNESCO), Honesty Day, International Jazz Day (UNESCO), May Eve, the eve of the first day of summer in the Northern hemisphere (see May 1), and Walpurgis Night (Central and Northern Europe)

There’s a Google Doodle today honoring Alan Rickman (1946-2016), the British actor and director who played everything from Shakespeare to Harry Potter. He died at only 69 of pancreatic cancer.

Here’s an interview with Alan Rickman on the wonder of movies and his career as an actor. It was apparently made the year he died.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 30 Wikipedia page. The reason for his celebration today?

Rickman made his debut as Vicomte de Valmont in a Broadway production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses on 30 April 1987.

Da Nooz:

*Ukraine is already ramping up its spring offensive, the latest sign being a serious drone attack on an oil depot in Crimea.

A massive fire erupted at an oil depot in Crimea after it was hit by two of Ukraine’s drones, a Russia-appointed official there reported Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks on the annexed peninsula as Russia braces for an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, a port city in Crimea, posted videos and photos of the blaze on his Telegram channel.

Razvozhayev said the fire at the city’s harbor was assigned the highest ranking in terms of how complicated it will be to extinguish. However, he reported that the open blaze had been contained.

Razvozhayev said the oil depot was attacked by “two enemy drones,” and four oil tanks burned down. A third drone was shot down from the sky, and one more was deactivated through radio-electronic means, according to Crimea’s Moscow-appointed governor, Sergei Aksyonov.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world considered illegal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview this week that his country will seeking to reclaim the peninsula in the upcoming counteroffensive.

. . .The attack reported in Sevastopol comes a day after Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at Ukraine, killing at least 23 people. Almost all of the victims died when two missiles slammed into an apartment building in the city of Uman, located in central Ukraine.

Six children were among the dead, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said Saturday, adding that 22 of the 23 bodies recovered have been identified. Two women remained missing, Klymenko said.

Russian forces launched more drones at Ukraine overnight. Ukraine’s Air Force Command said two Iranian-made self-exploding Shahed drones were intercepted, and a reconnaissance drone was shot down on Saturday morning.

Razvozhayev said the oil depot fire did not cause any casualties and would not hinder fuel supplies in Sevastopol. The city has been subject to regular attack attempts with drones, especially in recent weeks.

(From the AP): In this handout photo taken from video released by the Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel on Saturday, April 29, 2023, smoke and flame rise from a burning fuel tank in Sevastopol, Crimea. A massive fire erupted at an oil reservoir there after it was hit by a drone, a Russian-appointed official there reported on Saturday. (Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel via AP)

*Another day, another mass shooting, this time with a semiautomatic weapon. It was in Texas, of course.

A man using an AR-15-style weapon shot and killed five people Friday, including an 8-year-old — an angry response to the neighbors’ request that he stop shooting in his yard while their baby was trying to sleep, Texas authorities said Saturday. The gunman then fled, prompting an ongoing manhunt.

Authorities charged Francisco Oropeza, 38, with five counts of murder and were searching for him Saturday morning, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told The Washington Post. Authorities believed he was about two miles from the area and were working to apprehend him, he said.

Ten people, all family members, were in the Cleveland, Tex., home during the shooting. Three women, a man and an 8-year-old boy were killed, Capers said. Five others survived, including three children.

The suspect was the victims’ neighbor and went to their home Friday night after they asked him to stop shooting an AR-15-style weapon in his front yard because of the noise, Capers said.

Oropeza frequently shot the gun in his yard, Capers said, and allegedly became angry when the neighbors said their baby was trying to sleep around or after 11 p.m. Authorities saw video footage of Oropeza walking up to the victims’ front door before going inside.

“The neighbors walked over and said … ‘Hey man, can you not do that, we’ve got an infant in here trying to sleep’ or whatever,” Capers said. “They went back in their house and then we have a video of him walking up their driveway with his AR-15.”

All five victims were shot in the head, he said. Two of the women who were killed were found lying on top of the surviving young children in a bedroom, “trying to protect them,” Capers told The Post by phone from the scene.

What is remarkable about this latest spate of killings is the trivial things that provoke them: a kid ringing the doorbell, a ball rolling into somebody’s yard, and now some neighbor’s complaining that a guy is shooting an AR-15 rifle next door to their house! Isn’t that illegal, anyway? And can’t we at least ban these kind of weapons?

*In the NYT, op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg describes “This is what the Right-wing takeover of a progressive college looks like.” And yes, it’s not pretty. The “progressive” college is New College of Florida, a pretty good public liberal-arts school in Sarasato. After Ron DeSantis appointed six activist conservatives, including Christopher Rufo, to the college’s Board of Trustees, Goldberg says that things began disintegrating:

When I spoke to Rufo in early January, he said that New College would look very different in the following 120 days. Nearly four months later, that hasn’t entirely come to pass, but it’s clear where things are headed.

The new trustees fired the school’s president, replacing her with Richard Corcoran, the Republican former speaker of the Florida House. They fired its chief diversity officer and dismantled the diversity, equity and inclusion office. As I was writing this on Friday, several people sent me photographs of gender-neutral signage scraped off school bathrooms.

But day-to-day, students, parents, and professors told me, life at New College has been pretty much the same. Faculty have mostly been left alone to do their jobs. Corcoran, several professors said, was rarely on campus. Sam Sharf, who chose New College in part because she feels safe there as a trans woman, said that classroom discussions in her Politics of the African Diaspora and Alternatives to Capitalism classes haven’t changed, though she’s constantly aware that such subjects might soon be taboo, and is planning to transfer.

Whatever New College’s administration does, this will likely be the last year classes like the ones Sharf is taking are offered, because a bill making its way through the Florida Legislature requires the review of curriculums “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States.” The sense of dread on campus, however, goes beyond what’s happening in Tallahassee.

Well, we shall see. Right now things aren’t horrible,

. . . Eliana Salzhauer, whose 17-year-old son is a New College economics student, compared the seemingly inexorable transformation of the school to Twitter under Elon Musk: It looked the same at first, even as it gradually degraded into a completely different experience. “They are turning a top-rated academic institution into a third-rate athletic facility,” she said.

Salzhauer was referring, in part, to the hiring of Mariano Jimenez, who previously worked at Speir’s Inspiration Academy, as athletic director and head baseball coach, even though there’s no baseball diamond on campus. In the past, New College hasn’t had traditional sports teams, but the administration is now recruiting student athletes, and Corcoran has said he wants to establish fraternities and sororities, likely creating a culture clash with New College’s artsy queer kids, activists and autodidacts. Before Wednesday’s board meeting, about 75 people held a protest outside. “We’re Nerds & Geeks, not Jocks & Greeks,” said one sign.

But, as Goldberg reports, the trustees themselves just rejected five tenure applications (at least there’s still tenure!), and though I don’t know the candidates, that is a bit worrying, since when trustees turn down an application, it’s usually been approved by the department and the administration right through the President’s office. This is a watch-and-see situation, but it’s already clear that the right has the same ability as the left to hit colleges in the solar plexus.

*Our new mayor Brandon Johnson takes office in may (he defeated Paul Vallas, who promised to be tougher on crime), but he’s already got me worried. Yes, he seems a bit soft on crime, though Chicago is plagued with it. This is described in the new Quillette piece, “Chicago’s criminal irresponsibility.” Bolding is mine. And yes, this “wilding” happens more often than I’d like, and involves looting, vandalizing, and terrorizing onlookers.

The second weekend of April in Chicago was a wild one. On Friday April 14th, hundreds of teenagers took over a public beach creating chaos. There were reports of illegal fireworks, a 14-year-old boy was shot, and the window of a police car was smashed. The following day, crowds of Chicago youth decided to heed social-media invitations to participate in a genre of mob madness known as “wilding.” Hundreds of young people, mostly teenagers, descended on the Loop district of central downtown. Ample video evidence documents incidents where innocent victims were beaten.

In an area limited to just one intersection, about 200 juveniles were fighting, vandalizing storefronts, and jumping on moving vehicles. Several pedestrians and motorists, including tourists, were attacked and escorted to safety by the police. Before pulling its crew out of the area, a local TV station reported that one man was beaten so badly he required hospital treatment after a group of youths smashed the windshield of the car in which he and his wife were sitting.

This particular episode of wilding received national attention, probably because of its central location and the shocking nature of some of the videos. Eventually, the Chicago’s mayor-elect, Brandon Johnson, issued a public statement: “In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend. … However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.” In unprepared remarks, he went on to say that “demonizing children is wrong” and that “we need to keep them safe as well.” The mayor-elect characterized the Chicago teens’ predatory takeover of downtown as an example of “silly decisions” kids make.

And here’s a tweet from a Tribune reporter:

Let’s go, Brandon!

*Theranos fraudster Eizabeth Holmes was supposed to report to prison on Thursday (she has an 11 year sentence for wire fraud), but has managed to delay this once again, even though her request to remain free during the appeal process had been denied by a federal judge. (I still think she’ll never do time.) The Wall Street journal, who has covered her case most thoroughly, gives the details:

Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced Theranos founder convicted of criminal fraud, doesn’t have to report to prison Thursday.

Ms. Holmes appealed her guilty verdict to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December and this week asked it directly if she could stay out of prison while her case makes its way through the appeals process, according to a legal filing Wednesday. The request automatically puts Ms. Holmes’s reporting date on hold while the court considers her request.

Ms. Holmes previously had asked the judge who oversaw her trial in federal court in San Jose, Calif., if she could remain free pending appeal, but U.S. District Judge Edward Davila earlier this month denied her request, saying in a filing that he didn’t think her arguments for a new trial were strong enough to merit a different outcome. Judge Davila set a reporting date of April 27, 2023, at Ms. Holmes’s sentencing hearing in November.

The Ninth Circuit denied a similar request by Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Ms. Holmes’s No. 2 at the blood-testing startup, who was convicted of defrauding Theranos investors and patients. Mr. Balwani has started serving his nearly 13-year prison sentence at a low-security facility in San Pedro, California.

As far as I understand, it could be months or years before Holmes could go to prison during this process. They might even give her a new trial, though both of these possibilities seem to me unlikely. What do the lawyers amongst our readers think? Reader Ken usually gets it right: will she be wearing the orange suit any time soon?

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is meowing for a treat (I don’t know what it is.)

Hili: What is in that little bag?
Paulina: The producer asserts that it’s something delicious for you but I didn’t try it.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Co jest w tej torebce?
Paulina: Producent twierdzi, że coś pysznego dla ciebie, ale ja nie próbowałam.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina)

A photo of Szaron, also by Paulina:


A cat meme from Nicole:

From Thomas:

From David. Misspelling can have bad consequences!

Ariana Grande obeyed that sign in a famous incident:

A tweet from Masih, showing Iranian people getting fed up with the morality police:

A good tweet from Titania (and note the virtue-flautning poster over the bench):

Somehow I don’t think that tactics like these, even if the protestors don’t hurt the art itself, isn’t a great way to call attention to climate change:

From cesar: Big Brother comes to Minnesota:

From Barry: a kangaroo being a jerk:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a fit-looking Czech who survived only five weeks after arriving at Auschwitz:

Tweets from Matthew. If this first one is real mimicry—and I suspect it is—then it’s really cool. It may have evolved to get these leeches close to predatory fish, so they can clamp onto them and suck their blood:

As many Brits have pointed out, the NYT erred here. Real Toad in the Hole is Yorkshire pud backed with sausages in it.

One critic of the misguided picture above is our friend Emma Hilton from Manchester (she’s also Matthew’s colleague, who called my attention to her tweet below).

Below that: a real Toad in the Hole, and it’s a dinner dish:

Jamie Oliver makes a real Toad in the Hole:

16 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1492 – Spain gives Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration. He is named admiral of the ocean sea, viceroy and governor of any territory he discovers.

    1789 – On the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first President of the United States.

    1803 – Louisiana Purchase: The United States purchases the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, more than doubling the size of the young nation.

    1897 – J. J. Thomson of the Cavendish Laboratory announces his discovery of the electron as a subatomic particle, over 1,800 times smaller than a proton (in the atomic nucleus), at a lecture at the Royal Institution in London.

    1905 – Albert Einstein completes his doctoral thesis at the University of Zurich.

    1943 – World War II: The British submarine HMS Seraph surfaces near Huelva to cast adrift a dead man dressed as a courier and carrying false invasion plans. [This was the start of Operation Mincemeat.]

    1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide after being married for less than 40 hours. Soviet soldiers raise the Victory Banner over the Reichstag building.

    1945 – World War II: Stalag Luft I prisoner-of-war camp near Barth, Germany is liberated by Soviet soldiers, freeing nearly 9,000 American and British airmen.

    1963 – The Bristol Bus Boycott is held in Bristol to protest the Bristol Omnibus Company’s refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews, drawing national attention to racial discrimination in the United Kingdom.

    1973 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that White House Counsel John Dean has been fired and that other top aides, most notably H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, have resigned.

    1980 – The Iranian Embassy siege begins in London.

    1993 – CERN announces World Wide Web protocols will be free.

    1999 – Neo-Nazi David Copeland carries out the last of his three nail bombings in London at the Admiral Duncan gay pub, killing three people and injuring 79 others.

    2004 – U.S. media release graphic photos of American soldiers committing war crimes against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

    2008 – Two skeletal remains found near Yekaterinburg, Russia are confirmed by Russian scientists to be the remains of Alexei and Anastasia, two of the children of the last Tsar of Russia, whose entire family was executed at Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks.

    1777 – Carl Friedrich Gauss, German mathematician and physicist (d. 1855).

    1877 – Alice B. Toklas, American memoirist (d. 1967).

    1896 – Reverend Gary Davis, American singer and guitarist (d. 1972).

    1920 – Tom Moore, British army officer and fundraiser (d. 2021). [Raised an astonishing £32.8 million (worth almost £39 million with expected tax rebates) for the UK’s National Health Service by walking around his garden in the run-up to his 100th birthday at the start of the Covid pandemic.]

    1938 – Larry Niven, American author and screenwriter.

    1943 – Bobby Vee, American pop singer-songwriter (d. 2016).

    1949 – António Guterres, Portuguese academic and politician, 114th Prime Minister of Portugal and 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations.

    1956 – Lars von Trier, Danish director and screenwriter.

    1975 – Johnny Galecki, American actor. [Best known for playing Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory.]

    1982 – Kirsten Dunst, American actress.

    Dead’s not good, but at least it’s simple:
    1865 – Robert FitzRoy, English admiral, meteorologist, and politician, 2nd Governor of New Zealand (b. 1805). [Captain of HMS Beagle who fortuitously chose Darwin to be his gentleman companion. FitzRoy coined the term “forecasts” for his meteorological predictions, established what would later be called the Met Office, and as Governor of New Zealand (1843 to 1845) he tried to protect the Māori from illegal land sales claimed by British settlers.]

    1900 – Casey Jones, American railroad engineer (b. 1864).

    1903 – Emily Stowe, Canadian physician and activist (b. 1831).

    1943 – Beatrice Webb, English sociologist and economist (b. 1858). [Webb coined the term “collective bargaining”, was among the founders of the London School of Economics, and played a crucial role in forming the Fabian Society.]

    1983 – Muddy Waters, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and bandleader (b. 1913).B

    1989 – Sergio Leone, Italian director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1929).

    1994 – Richard Scarry, American author and illustrator (b. 1919). [I loved his books as a child.]

    2015 – Ben E. King, American singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1938).

  2. Last week my daughter attended a large conference held at a downtown Chicago hotel. She was told NOT to leave the hotel by herself, go in groups, and absolutely do not go to the park. When they went to a famous steak house to eat, they went in a chartered bus. What’s the point of going to Chicago if you can’t safely go out? Next year it’s in Dallas.

    1. I live close to the Hilton hotel downtown. I take long walks around the city every day, including in the evening (not too late, though). Been doing it for years. It’s fine. There are unsafe neighborhoods, to be sure, but downtown itself is fairly safe.

  3. The economic health of a city is often determined by its image. It must be viewed by businesses (from large corporations to mom and pop storefronts) as a place where investment in the city means that their physical facilities are safe from crime, particularly in the form of rampaging youth destroying property and threatening bystanders. The current situation in Chicago means that its long-term prognosis for economic viability is poor. The Chicago Tribune has posted an article describing a recent incident of chaos. It notes: “A Walgreens was looted, a break-in was attempted at the Art Institute, two Chicago Transit Authority buses were attacked, the windows and windshields of a number of vehicles were broken, a couple was beaten and robbed, a police officer suffered a broken bone, another officer was mobbed and had his radio stolen and two teens were shot, Hopkins said.”

    Clearly, both the outgoing and incoming mayors cannot take it upon themselves to condemn in the strongest terms these incidents, perhaps because they are deluded enough to think that such statements would offend minority communities within the city. Above all else, physical safety is the number one priority of citizens. In Chicago, they view the downtown area (the “Loop”) as unsafe and will shun going there. Businesses will close and the economic downward spiral will accelerate. The incoming mayor doesn’t seem to understand this and has done nothing to assure the citizens that he will take all measures necessary, consistent with law, to make the Loop safe. The decline and fall of Chicago as a great city is not pre-ordained. It can be reversed with the proper leadership. But, for the present, at least, such leadership does not seem to be present. /news/criminal-justice/ct-cpd-downtown-ticktock-20230430-uri4777syfa4vkjmn7q7rbhdwi-story.html

    1. The African-American comedian Jimmie Walker was once asked “Does poverty cause crime?” He answered “Crime causes poverty. Businesses stay away from high-crime areas. No businesses means no jobs.”

  4. A notice on Tw1773r says the color on the spikes was added to the photograph – there is no note about the original color of the tangible pieces in real life.

    1. Of course, it’s equally possible that these are Victorian (they match the sizing of the facing stonework suspiciously well) originals, and possibly even “listed” features of the building.
      It’s not as if this sort of thing is new.

  5. 1993-CERN announces WWW protocol will be free. Kudos to CERN for this wonderful decision. And similarly to our host and his co-authors for making their “Big Paper” freely available under a creative commons license this past week.

  6. If this first one is real mimicry—and I suspect it is—then it’s really cool.

    Not knowing where this was photographed, my first question is – are there any “sea horses” in the wild in this area, and do any of them look like this.
    [When I was a SCUBA trainee in the 1980s, it was news that there was one species of seahorse found in British waters – on the south coast, in a very sheltered, shallow, warm area. Earlier this year (possibly from work done last year) a second colony was reported, from a few hundred miles away. Global warming in action?]

  7. Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes was supposed to report to prison on Thursday (she has an 11 year sentence for wire fraud), but has managed to delay this once again, even though her request to remain free during the appeal process had been denied by a federal judge. (I still think she’ll never do time.)

    Absent flight or death (both of which seem extremely unlikely), Elizabeth Holmes is headed for the joint (to the extent that the minimum-security federal facility in Bryan, TX can be considered “the joint”).

    It is unlikely that her latest legal maneuver will buy her more than the 30 extra days on the outside that the same ploy got her former partner-in-crime, Sunny Bulwani. The hard, cold truth is that the federal Bail Reform Act of 1984 — specifically Title 18 of the United States Code section 3143(b) — makes it all but impossible for a defendant in Holmes’s situation to remain free on bond pending appeal.

  8. Every visible Tw337 from PCC(E) shown on the section at the bottom of the “mobile” website is marked with the “potentially sensitive content” cover-up.

    Even the damselfly one.

    Also the “squabbling with Amazon” one.

    Not all, though.

    How can content have feelings? It is weird. Content has a nervous system? Is “everything interconnected”?

    So bizarre.

    1. What if they were cats instead of kangaroos? I’m inclined to think that no one would be surprised to see a cat do that. (But I suppose being a cat does not make a cat any less a jerk for doing that.) Of all critters I perceive that cats are most zealous about maintaining their “personal space.”

  9. I hate to defend the NYT, but here was nothing wrong with their “Toad-in-a-hole” story. Many words and expressions have different meanings on each side of the Atlantic. The NYT used the US meaning, the video used the UK meaning. It’s sort of like you criticized the London Times for running a story on “The most impressive bonnets in the UK” and illustrating a bunch of car hoods.

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